Host: Carlton Hill
Written by Raqual – Station Cook, Carlton Hills Station.
Its 1996 . . . I’m fresh out of the RAAF after serving as a Fire fighter . . . I was looking for something to do with my new found freedom and I wasn’t really qualified to do much. Then I saw an ad in the Land newspaper asking for a camp cook . . . on a cattle station . . . in the Kimberley . . . Righto then . . . where the hell is The Kimberley? So I called the number to find out more. My friends all laughed and said “You are going to cook . . . do they have a doctor handy?” or “You won’t make it, you’ll be home in a few weeks” Well . . . I was going to show them!
So I jumped on a bus and headed west. I was excited and nervous and terrified my friends would be right. 24 hours later I got off the bus in Kununurra . . . I had no clue who was picking me up or what the plan was . . . and then I saw this tall, lean, dirty, gorgeous cowboy walk through the crowd and my heart just leapt into my throat. He introduced himself and all I could stammer out was “Please tell me they all look like you!” it is true what they say about first impressions!! And that is how I ended up at Carlton Hill for the first time. Now 17 years later and here I am . . . I’m still cooking . . . in fact I’m now a qualified Chef taking a sabbatical and doing what I love doing . . . cooking on cattle stations. Thank you to those friends who laughed at me all those years ago.
I came back as camp cook in 2006 and 2007 . . . then returned last year to work with Nat and Squirrel again as Station Cook. I knew the station cook’s job here was a big contract but I had no idea how busy it would be. With one full stock camp . . . a boat camp . . . and core station staff . . . we have 27 people here this year. Throughout the year not only do I feed all the hungry ringers, the station crew, and the many visitors we get I also look after any domestic cleaning that needs doing.
I’m doing something I love doing. I enjoy the early morning starts and being the first person everyone sees when they come to breakfast. And getting the Thankyou’s and occasional hug after they’ve eaten a good hearty meal. I enjoy going through my recipes and finding new things to cook with the basic ingredients we get. My chef friends in the cities ask me why? I answer them with “what other restaurant could I cook in where I look out the window to see poddy calves and horses roaming around on the grass or see a ringer ride by on his horse?”
I started Raq’s Kitchen facebook page nearly three years ago with the intention of sharing my cooking with my friends. It’s just a facebook page . . . nothing special . . . but before long I was getting LIKES from people I didn’t know and then more and more. I was getting flooded with questions about how to do this or that until one day I woke up to over 500 likers. I was speechless that at least 500 people like my cooking, my recipes. It was amazing knowing that so many others were sharing my day. I love showing them what I do as a station cook . . . On a remote cattle station . . . in the Kimberleys . . .