I don’t know if any of you remember what happened when we last applied for work on a cattle station,. What an experience that was. The agency we went through virtually told me the cooks job at Anna Creek was mine, and the manager would phone and confirm it within a few days. That was more than two years ago – and I’m still waiting. Then the mad dash from the NT to the Qld/NT border for similar station jobs, only to be told by email the day we arrived they’d employed someone else literally hours before we arrived. After which getting employment on a cattle station seemed like a bad idea.
BUT, about a month or more ago I put a short advert in the Grey Nomads on line magazine asking for work for Paul and I and briefly outlining our skills. I didn’t really expect to get anything worthwhile from it. Least of all did I expect a call from a cattle station. We’d no sooner arrived at Mataranka when we returned from a swim to find a message on the phone from a cattle station.
A few days later, and the necessary checks have been completed, and we’re packed up and ready to move off at first light tomorrow, heading back up the road a bit to Queensland and up to the Gulf of Carpentaria. It’s times like this the old Aussie Country Mile comes into play – the ‘just up the road a bit. It’s actually 1700 kms up the road – but that’s nothing in the scheme of things in this big, vast, wonderful country of ours. In fact we’ll leave Mataranka and turn onto the main highway after around three kms. Then we only turn two more corners I think before we turn into the station. I think we’ll hit a couple of sets of traffic lights in Mt Isa , but that’s about it for traffic lights. I guess that’s hard for my UK readers to comprehend. Its what gives Dorothea MacKellar’s poem about this big sun burnt country it’s meaning, all the wide open spaces. I love that poem. For those of you not familiar with the poem, please google it, I think it’s called, My Country. It sums up Australia perfectly.
Anyway, details of the jobs are still a bit sketchy. I know I’ll be cooking for around 15. I think Paul is going to be a station hand/handy man. The job will last for the season, and will finish up before the wet season sets in at the end of the year.
We’re both excited. Paul will be pleased to be using some of his life/work skills. I think he actually misses his trade, so I think he’s hoping they’ll be in need of some welding repairs around the property, but even just to be out and getting ‘work dirty’ will be good enough. For me, I’m really excited to be getting back into cooking. And I couldn’t think of anyone better to cook for than appreciative hungry men with good appetites. At least I hope they’ll be appreciative, but I’m sure I’ll win them around once they realise I’m not going to poisen them, and they’re going to bed with a full, contented belly.
If any of you remember a scene from Forest Gump – the one were Bubba is talking about all the different meals made with Shrimp…. That’ll be me in a few months, only it’ll be beef instead of shrimp.
We don’t know the details yet. The station manager will phone us tonight. I do know it’ll be full on, possibly hard, hot and dusty work for Paul, and possible long days for me. I’m sure my feet will feel it for the first week, but after that, I have no doubt I’ll settle into it well.
Despite having worked the past 10 – 15 years in the tax office and in office administration, I’ve never felt like an office worker. I’ve always referred to myself as a cook as far as work goes, and I’m really excited to be going back to it. Hopefully it’ll work out well for both us and the station, and as we’re planning to be up in the top end around this time for the next few years, maybe we’ll be invited back. But I’m getting ahead of myself, we’d better wait and see.
One thing I know is, Internet and mobile phone coverage is sketchy there. We’ll endeavour to check each at least weekly, and update the blog when time and technology allows. So, please watch this space…..