What to pack when moving to a cattle station

Written by Steph Coombes – Editor, Central Station

So, you made the leap and applied for your first job on a cattle station. Then you made it through the interview and landed the job – yasss!

Now it’s time to start packing, and you might be feeling a little anxious. Chances are, if you forget something it’s going to be a decent amount of time before you can run into town to buy it (or a couple of weeks to arrive in the mail).

The very first time I worked on a cattle station, I made some pretty basic packing errors. Now, while these were relatively simple things that I forgot to pack, boy did I notice the impact of not having them! (I still shudder when thinking about my chapped lips which I couldn’t stop licking even though I knew that was the wrong thing to do! And no… body moisturiser does not work to replace chapstick!!).

So, in an effort to try and save anyone else from going through multiple face-palm moments, I reached out to a group of cattle station managers and owners and asked them to help me compose a list of what people should pack when heading out to a cattle station.

Disclaimer: As I’ve mentioned in a couple of different blogs, no two stations are the same – and something which is considered “essential” on one station may indeed be considered “nice to have, but not essential” on another – so if you have any doubts, ask your employer before you start spending!

Clothing – essentials

  • Long sleeve cotton work shirts
  • Jeans (I’ve only ever seen people wear boot cut, but I have heard a few jillaroos say last year that they swear by skinny leg jeans. Also, you want good quality jeans, but nothing too fancy because they will end up ripped with red dirt, oil, and grease stains on them. That is pretty much guaranteed! Always keep your “town” jeans separate to your “work” jeans!)
  • Shorts for flood fencing or days in the yards (if you’re allowed to wear shorts in the yards)
  • Bamboo, explorer or cotton socks (just make sure they’re good quality)
  • Cotton underwear (and plenty of it, because it might be a hot minute before the next washing day)
  • Sports bra (for the ladies – trust me, doesn’t matter if you’re not on a horse or bike that day, driving down a dirt road is cause enough to need to wear one!)
  • Cotton bandanas (so many uses, but namely sun protection)
  • Respectable casual clothing for night times and days off
  • Race wear for the races or any sort of formal event (you can buy online, but you might want to bring outfits with you, to save you buying them)
  • 2 pairs of work boots (a spare pair is a good idea. Some people like to have one pair for riding horses/bikes, and one pair to run around in in the cattle yards. I like to wear boots for riding, and shoes in the yards. If you’re going to be doing flood fencing or working in muddy yards, one station manager recommended these boots).
  • Thongs/ sandals and joggers (the first time I went out to a station I packed one pair of boots and that was it. Not a single pair of flip flops. That made walking around after a shower lots of fun…)
  • Bathers
  • Wide brim hat and cap
  • Sunglasses
  • Good quality warm winter coat and jumpers (it’s hard to imagine ever being cold, but it definitely happens, especially the further inland you are)
  • Belt – with pocket knife or leatherman

Linen/sleeping supplies – essentials

  • Swimming towel (you never know when the opportunity will arise, and if your station supplies you a towel, chances are they wont want it to leave the bathroom)
  • Swag with warm bedding (and make sure your swag is packed before heading off. I made this mistake and the first night I ever stayed in my swag I had no pillow, no sheets, no blankets – nothing – just a piece of canvas and some cold desert air)
  • Pillow (pretty well everywhere you go should supply a pillow, but the quality can be hit or miss and honestly I just wouldn’t risk it, bring a pillow you know and like)

Equipment – essentials

  • Pocket sized notebook and pencil (go chase your local Elders or Landmark for these)
  • 5 litre water bottle with your name on it
  • Camelbak (if you’ll be spending any time on a horse or bike)
  • Torch (don’t rely on your smartphone)
  • Watch (especially if the station doesn’t allow you to bring your phone to work)

Toiletries – essentials (& enough to last you 3 months)

  • Deodorant
  • Sunscreen
  • lip balm
  • moisturiser
  • hand cream (tuff hands)
  • aerogaurd
  • 3d chaff cream
  • powder or liquid daktarin (athletes foot)
  • spare hair ties
  • feminine hygiene products (for girls)
  • toothpaste/ toothbrush
  • shampoo/ conditioner
  • face wash
  • body wash/ soap
  • razors
  • condoms (its better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it)

Medical supplies

  • panadol/ nurofen
  • band aids
  • paw paw ointment
  • prescription medicine (enough for 3 months)
  • bite cream, savlon or similar
  • cold ‘n’ flu tablets
  • cotton buds

Nice to have, but not essential;

  • Leather dressing (to look after your boots and belt)
  • Diary (not the “dear diary” type, but to start the good habit of recording what you did each day)
  • Gatorade or Staminade (not all stations will supply)
  • Fencing Pliers (make sure they’re engraved so they don’t get mixed up with station supplies)
  • Camp Chair
  • Bed Linen (is generally supplied, but again quality can be hit or miss so you might like to use your own)
  • Towel (as above)
  • Cigarettes (if you smoke)
  • Books to read
  • Photos of family and mome
  • Ipad, Computer, and Chargers (if you use them regularly)
  • Mosquito net (depending on if/and where you’ll be camping out)
  • 2 way radio (almost all stations will supply one, but if you’re going to be doing this for awhile you might like your own)
  • 2 way radio pouch (see above)
  • Headlamp
  • Battery operated alarm clock (if you’re camping out, accessing a phone charger can be competitive)
  • Motorbike helmet and motorbike goggles (*if you’ll be riding a motorbike. Some stations will supply these, but if you’re going to be spending a lot of time on a bike it might be nicer to have your own helmet)
  • Motorbike gloves (optional for fair skin)
  • Tissues
  • Vitamins
  • Pannikan

Think we’ve missed something off the list? Leave a comment below to let us know 🙂