Hi all! It’s been a while since I wrote a decent update, so here it comes. Poor yourself a cup of tea and enjoy reading part 1: A true outback experience 🙂
Let’s go back to a little more than 3 months ago. A new adventure started. After 6 months of non-stop traveling my money ran out. So work had to be done to earn some more. But what to do! Since Romain and I wanted to travel some more together we decided to find something we could both do. The search came to an end when we found work on a cattle station near Cloncurry, about 8 hours with the car west from Townsville. Romain would be mustering cows and I would be helping to clean the house. Why not! Monday the 20th of June was our first working day.
A 3-months day to day diary seemed a bit extreme, so here a few passages from my experiences working at a cattle station 🙂
Confused by smoko, dinner and tea
Monday the 20th of June – This morning the guys called that they would be coming over for smoko. Uh, what? Smoko? What is that? Luckily Mia the youngest was sick at home and helped me out. Apparently that’s a morning tea with something small to eat. We found a chocolate cake in the freezer so that was what they were getting :). Easy peasy! The next days they got me all confused about having dinner and tea. Not what you would expect; turns out that dinner means lunch and tea means dinner! Silly Aussies.
Friday the 24th of June – At the end of another cleaning day, I was glad to hear the guys come in. They went out for a last mustering job and Nathan asked me if I wanted to join. Of course! Romain on the motorcycle, Nathan on the quad and I hopped in the truck with Kiwi. A few minutes later Nathan asked me if I wanted to ride the quad. Don’t need to ask that twice! Man, that was cool. The best thing I’ve done all week! Maybe not for Nathan though, I accused me of killing him almost in the barbed wire haha 😉 When we came back we drank a beer and saluted to the beginning of the weekend. Or, at least I did 🙂
The job itself is exactly as the job description said: cleaning, cleaning and cleaning. Bleaching walls, washing and ironing clothes, cleaning windows, washing cars, raking leaves, vacuum the house, blowing leaves, mopping the veranda and so on. 8 hours a day. Pfff, I couldn’t lift my arms anymore at night.. A pretty tough job after doing nothing but relaxing for over 6 months! Hand-feeding the little calf Delta was my highlight of the day 🙂 she is now only about a week old. She’s still really thin and bony so I hope she’ll keep drinking and grow some strength!
You win some, you loose some…
Tuesday the 12th of July – An early morning today. Delta was already calling for me. We just got a second calf who was abandoned by her mother. Just one or two days old, but surprisingly big! The kids named her Olivia. I prepared some milk, put it in the feeder for Delta and put some in a bottle for Olivia. I hope she will drink today, because yesterday she refused after I tried repeatedly. “Olivia, where are you! I got some nice breaky for you!” She was nowhere to be found. Ah, there she was. Laying peacefully in the bushes, eyes half open. I petted her on her head, “good morning sweety.” She didn’t move. I walked to the other side and petted her once more. She felt cold, and stiff.. She didn’t make it through the night. Sweet Olivia, rest in peace.
Wednesday the 13th of July – A day not like most days. At 7.15 my ride was waiting for me. Well, ride isn’t exactly the right word.. flight! Jup, I went to work with the helicopter today! Mark took me to his brothers property about 30 minutes flying. It was good that this day had such a good start, cause arriving there hell was waiting for me. I was cleaning the quarters today, the place where the workers sleep. “Take your time, it is bad,” Penny told me before I went off with the vacuum cleaner in one hand and cleaning wipes in the other. Turned out that ‘bad’ was a big understatement! After observing the damage, I made a game plan. So much dust, sand, garbage and dead insects, I think that place haven’t been cleaned in.. forever! Oh, and not to forget.. there were way too many spiders for my taste! Oh my god. People that know me know I’m not good with those little creatures. I still blame my 3 older sisters for that scaring me with them when I was little. So I went back to the main house and got some instant insect kill spray. From that day on that spray became my best friend. After 6,5 hours non-stop cleaning I was done. Or well, I might have skipped the kitchen cupboard and the shower walls. There were just too many spiders. I left them a note: “If you like it cleaner as it it, please get rid off the spiders. Enjoy!” After this long working day the heli was already waiting again. Pretty cool I must say!
Time for some rodeo-action!
Sunday the 31st of July – Every year the McMillans organise a rodeo event in Quamby. We were there to help out behind the food counter. Making and selling fish or steak sandwiches, sausages on bread, bacon and egg sandwiches and tons of hot dogs and meat pies. Aussies love their meat pies. After the peak of selling food, I sneaked out for a break and to enjoy the rodeo itself. I never experienced such a thing in my life! Men risking their legs, arms or even their lives to complete 8 seconds on a wild bull or a bucking horse. Or to be the quickest in roping and wrestling calfs. Impressive I must say, but a bit dubious as well. Poor animals. But well, that is me saying that while working at a cattle station and eating fresh meat every day… 🙂
The weekends after Quamby we went to 2 other rodeos; one in Cloncurry and the biggest of all in Mount Isa. Every time I felt like I stepped into a movie scene of a Wild Western movie: everyone was wearing jeans, a colorful blouse, boots and of course a cowboy hat. And the girls – even women – wear glitters everywhere: on their shirts, their belts and the back pockets of their jeans. Shiny cowgirls 😉
Crocodile hunting in Tawn Hill National Park
Sunday the 21th of August – Friday at 5.30 pm Romain came in and said we were going away for the weekend, up to Tawn Hill National Park. Only 6 hours up north 😉 So we packed all our stuff in the van again and there we go. Around 11.00 we stopped alongside the road to sleep and the next morning we arrived at the camping area of the national park. After our lunch we hired a kayak and enjoyed the beautiful views of the gorge. We swam near the little waterfalls and took the kayak even further to see the end of the gorge. On our way back we saw a crocodile on the side of the water. 2m long, but actually it looked a lot smaller because it was so thin. Nothing in comparison to the crocodiles my mum and I saw in the Pantanal in Brazil! Still pretty impressive though. The rest of the day we enjoyed camping and the next day we left after breaky to head back to Cloncurry. A memorable weekend!!
It’s a wrap!
Friday the 9th of September – our last working day is finished! The night before we had a big barbecue with the McMillan family and today we packed a van to head the road again. That was it, 3 months of farm work on a cattle station. It wasn’t always easy for me. Not the cleaning, any fool can do that. More about my hands. Since the 2nd week they decided to quit on me and I must confess that there hasn’t gone by a week that I didn’t think about quitting. Health first. But well, since I needed the money, I could get a 2nd year visa, the family was really understanding about it and I had some good mental support next to me, I made it. And looking back, it was quite the experience! Besides all things described above, I drove a quad chasing cows, helped out in the yard and saw balls and horns cut off, I ate the freshest meat you’ll ever eat and I felt like a real ‘outbacker’ driving the old Toyota to other properties. With cows on the road and kangaroos hopping around. The nature is truly beautiful!!