Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Wentworth Cattle Station (pt 1!)

I know it’s been too long, and because of that, I have so much to write about!  I’ve been itching to write a blog since I got here on the 21st of February, but have been busy busy since I started!  I get up at 6:30am daily, and am exhausted by the time I get home, have dinner, wind down, and am usually sleeping by 9:30!  I think I’m going to have to divide this bad boy into two, but we’ll see how it goes.

Where to start?! First of all – where am I?  I’m 45km outside of a little mining town called Moranbah, in the state of Queensland, on a cattle station called Wentworth.  Wentworth is a 93 000 acre property, holding roughly 10 000 cattle and about 40 horses – and there are heaps of kangaroos everywhere!  Can you believe that a 93 000 acre property is considered a small station?!  There are stations around here that are a million acres or more, which is so hard to wrap your mind around.   I am living in the staff quarters across the driveway from the owners’ house, with a fella from the Sunshine Coast named James, who is 20.  We were living with a backpacker from Holland named Brend, who left Sunday for a few weeks traveling with his parents in Western Australia.  I think he’ll be back in three weeks or so.

Wentworth Cattle Station is owned by Richard and Dyan Hughes, and Dyan is originally from Consort, Alberta!  So, leaving Toowoomba was difficult, and many sad tears were shed by all of us – but we all knew it was time for me to move elsewhere for work and try something new!  I left Big Head behind, since he had fallen in love with the Girdler kids, and he wanted to keep living with them.  So I wrote the kids each a letter, and had some extra Dr Peppers that I left for them so they had a surprise in the morning when they got into the kitchen.  Big Head guarded the letters and pop for the kids after I left in the morning!  So I was up at 3:30am, and caught a shuttle directly to the Brisbane airport for my 8:30am flight.  I flew into a small city called Mackay, and that’s where I met my new boss, Dyan.  She picked me up at the airport, and I immediately felt at ease.  She’s lovely, and keeps great company.  We went out for lunch with her Drucilla, her youngest daughter and middle child.  Richard and Dyan have three kids, Kelva (28), Drucilla (25) and Bristow (18).  After lunch, Dyan and I ran a few errands and picked up a few groceries before the nearly four hour drive inland to Moranbah.  We drove over the Great Dividing Range, the same strand of mountains that Toowoomba is situated on further south, and the sunset was incredible!  Like burning red and orange embers amongst the dark coal grey clouds.  Once at the station, I was greeted by Brend and James, who helped us unload the truck, and I made my way into my room to unpack before sitting down and hanging out with the boys for a bit before bed.  I was just knackered!  Early starts on the farm – up at 6:30 or so, and start at 7am. The boys work outside and with the cattle and around the house, and I’ll be working with Dyan mostly, with the opportunity to muster cattle and even take part in other farm chores and “outings” like castrating calves and even dipping the cows for ticks!  Dyan threw out her back severely, and I fill in as her extra set or hands and strength with lifting and doing housework.  We work 7am – 10:30am, then have what the Aussies call “smoko” for 15-20 minutes.  Then back to work until lunch time, where we have an hour, then work until 5pm or 6pm, sometimes later, just all depending on what the day has in store.
The property around the house is gorgeous.  It’s different than I was expecting, in the best way possible.  I wasn’t expecting the pits, but I certainly wasn’t expecting such a big, lovely home in the middle of nowhere.  The house is mainly one story, with an upstairs bedroom and office and hallway between the two with railings that look out over the kitchen and dining room.  There are five bedrooms and three bathrooms total, including the master wing of the house.  There’s a pool out back, and a large veranda with a big table that we often socialize at after work or for lunch.   The area we’re in is much greener than I expected, too, but apparently we’ve had a lot of rain, and it’s the wet season for this part of Queensland.  They call it the dry tropics, because although it’s tropical weather, it’s much drier than the coast is. 

During my first weekend here, Kelva and her family (her two kids Baylee (6) and Theo (4), and her husband Simon) came through Moranbah on their way to a wedding, and dropped the kids off for the weekend with their Grandma and Grandpa.  Bristow also came for the weekend, as did one of the boys’ friends from a few stations over, Dave. 

I got to muster a few times during my second week here, which was so amazing!  What an experience!  To gather the horses in, someone takes out one of the fourwheelers and finds them in the paddock that surrounds the house.  They use the bike to chase the horses in to the holding pens, where we each go find our horse and put their bridle on, then lead them back and saddle them up!  (I’m obviously in heaven!)  Then we load the horses into the horse truck (picture is there!) and take them to the paddock where we muster the cattle.  It’s hard to imagine nearly 10 000 cows.  Seriously.  Especially when we muster only a few hundred at a time!  It looks like heaps of cows, then you put it into perspective.  Same way when you’re out riding and mustering a paddock for five hours, you think you’ve gone so far… then you come back and look at a map of how far you went, and it’s a minor distance!!  I even got to drive the big truck!  It has eight gears, and I didn’t even stall it!  I even backed the sucker up to the loading ramp.  I have learned so much here already, and I’m loving every minute of it.  I’m exhausted by the time 5 o’clock rolls around, and am sleeping by about 9pm every night, but life on the station is good!!  

The atmosphere around here is so addicting.  Every morning, there is a slight mist lingering above the grass, and the sky is partially cloudy.  The night allows everything to cool down from the daily heat, and is so nice to wake up to.  The horses are free range around the paddock that the house is in, as are the milk cows – THAT I GET TO MILK!!  It’s such an exquisite view in the morning to watch the horses wander by as they graze happily before their work day starts.  The whinnies and snorts from the horses as they wander around the quarters in the morning is something I could wake up to every day.  By mid morning, the heat picks up a little, depending on the day, and by lunch time it’s waaarrrrrmmm.  Evenings cool down nicely at this time of year after the sun goes down.  Some days without a breeze, the sun is unbearable, but there is air conditioning to help us escape from it.
I am thoroughly enjoying my time here already, and it has flown by!  I need to split this blog up into two, because what I’m about to write about this weekend just gone, is a hoot!  So get ready… I’ll post it soon!  I was just happy to have an evening that allowed my brain the power to write a blog after so long!  I will elaborate more on things that come to mind as well!  Enjoy!


1 comment:

  1. Hi Amanda! I hears about Wentwoth Cattle farm from a friend, and basically googled it. And then I found your blog. I've been reading your stories and everything sounds amazing! Are you still in contact with the farm? Would be great to hear more from you and what you are doing now! My e-mail is