(the last of the back ordered blog posts).
The first thing that is hilarious about the title of this post is that although the station is technically in 'Katherine' NT, it is actually 380kms away from Katherine. That's just how BIG and REMOTE the Northern Territory of Australia is. The second hilarious thing about is that I am now working on such a farm, some 380kms away from 'civilisation'. By civilisation I mean Katherine, which is a town of 9000.
Even through the remoteness means I can't just go somewhere and be back in an hour (or in a day), the cattle station is like a whole little world. Not the mention the fact that its like a million hectors so there's plenty of places to wonder about (including a lake with fresh water crocs in it!). I went to check it out the first day we were here but didn't see any. This may have been because I was exercising an extreme degree of caution as I don't want and still want to avoid all 'dumb canadianism' that seems to occur to travels whilst travelling. Plus the closest hospital is well.....it would require airlifting.....which sounds expensive. Near the front entrance is where all the cattle pens are (which is for loading cattle to be sold, or moved, and unloading cattle newly arrived, etc). There are also some horse stables, then further along is the staff accommodations, the kitchen, outdoor dining area, the 'social club' (which is every day from 6 until 7), a couple of offices, guest houses (for truck drivers, pilots, etc).
When we arrived we met Marty. He saw us and came over to say hello when we first arrived. He gave us a little tour, and took us over to our house (that we are sharing with two young jackaroos), and then introduced me to the kiwi cook on her way home for Christmas. The cook then gave me a quick once around the kitchen, gave me a binder, told me everyone eats four meals a day and that I should try and not waste any food (move it along is the game here too!). The room we are living in is nice, is the oldest and probably most run down on the property. The toilets and showers are disgusting, but luckily the cook showed me her 'secret shed' which had a clean shower, toilet, washing machine and bathmat (I keep it my little secret). As casual 'backpackers' I don't even think we make any sort of 'pecking order' in terms of where we get to stay, although I am the cook and I can make their culinary lives as I wish so they have to be nice to me. In actuality, the people here are great, really nice, friendly and well, cowboys who like to talk about cattle, horses, beef and cars. There is one other female on the farm, who is the managers wife (but her, the manger, and their 8 month old kid live in the house on the top of the hill looking over the property and so there isn't much informal chatty-ness between the two of us). Other than her, I am surrounded by cowboys ranging from 18 to 65. As they get older they get harder to understand though (I think it's the combination of Aussie accent and mumbling). Most call me Jessie, which I find amusing as well.
My job at the cattle station is the cook. I work when the boys work. This means I have to have breakfast, smoko (morning snack/tea), lunch and dinner made for them. This also means that I have to get up 45 minutes before them to make breakfast.....which has to be ready by 5 30....AM. Smoko is at 9 30, lunch at 12 30 and dinner at 7, then i clean up my dishes (the boys clean their own), then I am off for the night. I can take a break in the afternoon. Because we are in remote country, the stock room is stocked with the basics in terms of canned goods, meat, cheese, flour, etc. Not much is ready made (except for bread).....which is why they employ a cook full time. Up until this morning, I can safely say that I have never baked anything at 6 30 am before....nor have I ever baked Muffins, Scones, Potatoes (for lunch) and a Chocolate cake before 8 30. By 9 30 I had smoko of the table, and lunch half made. (for those interested, smoko was banana muffins, brownies (that I found in the freezer from the previous cook), scones with left over breakfast sausages and cheese melted on top, and some oranges, lunch was potatoes skins with left over corned beef (that I boiled myself!), veggies and cheese, and coleslaw, and dinner was bolognaise). I have eaten more beef in the last few days than i have my whole life. But luckily because I am the cook, I can make my own meals (so I do), i can't handle the beef!!!
Things a city girl finds amusing about living on a remote farm.
1) Mail arrives by plane once a week.
2) Food arrives by transport truck one a fortnight (bi-weekly) for fresh stuff and monthly for dry goods
3) The closest gas station charges over 2 dollars a litre for diesel.
4) There are frogs in the toilet.
5) A Frogs poo is half the size of my pinky finger (a fact I found out a couple of days after I got here...until then I thought we had rats....)
Things a city girl has learnt about people who live on remote cattle farms.
1) They are very resourceful.
2) They never stop working, and there's no end to the work that has to be done (including my job(s)).
3) They like beef. And lots of it.
4) Dirt is a way of life.
5) People must plan. Especially when the closest thing resembling a town is 300kms away.
6) "just around the corner" could mean 600 kms away, but, you will make three turns in that 600km, so I guess 'around the corner' is correct.
7) any farm smaller than 2000 Hectars is considered a "hobbie farm"