Working hard, or hardly working?

Host: Robert Johnstone

The ordinary, everyday experiences that come with working in remote areas of Australia, and the privilege to explore the beautiful landscape is all part of the ‘perks’ that come with the job. Ensuring that “work life balance” is maintained can sometimes seem impossible during the full swing of the mustering season. Nevertheless, when the opportunity arises to explore the sights from above in a chopper, go sailing along the western coast line, or get dropped into a remote water hole to flick out a line and try your luck, the opportunity is quickly taken.

The perks of the job – Barramundi fishing from a chopper.

Taking a relaxing break in one of the many remote water holes, Louisa Downs, WA. 

During the northern dry season (April – November), I generally base myself at a station a couple of hours east of Fitzroy Crossing. With a few trips back and forth to Queensland, I spend the majority of this time travelling over northern WA and the NT for spaying, and pregnancy testing for live export. Travelling from station to station has provided me the opportunity to work alongside some great men and women from various cultural and social backgrounds. Importantly, the role of Indigenous people in the northern cattle industry is crucial to many stock teams and I have been incredibly privileged to work alongside some highly valuable Indigenous stockmen. These men speak with conviction and kindness, and they have taught me a great deal about their culture and history. It’s fascinating to think that with modern technology I can receive a phone call or Facebook message from one particular Indigenous stockman, knowing that he’s sitting under the stars around a campfire with a billy of tea in the middle of the Kimberleys and I’m at home, in Central Queensland.

Phone conversations are soon swapped for cattle yard yarns to occupy the sometimes monotonous and hard days of spaying or pregnancy testing. Standing at the back end of a cattle crush for days at a time with a ‘chief tail holder’ by my side, earns some interesting conversations and stories. Generally, it’s a fun time and the far-fetched stories and tales of trials and tribulations of station life never cease to amaze. The yarns become bigger from year to year and the bush telegraph if only printed on paper and publicised would become a number one seller I’m sure. The art of diplomacy and being impartial is however one talent I have acquired quite quickly in my line of work.

The 2015 team at Margaret River Station, WA.

For all these people involved in the northern beef industry the end of the season marks the point where many feel they can begin to finally escape, unwind, and reflect on the year that was. For myself, the end of the 2015 season, marked another successful year and the start of another completely new chapter. For the many hours travelling to my office (the cattle crush), soon turned into endless trips to wedding venues and wrapping my head around the idea of married life.