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Sunday, 3 August 2014
So since April I’ve been working off farm as a relief utility for ESS, the company that provides catering and cleaning to a lot of the mines. Up until today I’m on my fourth site. I’ve been to Karratha, near Onslow at Wheatstone, way out whoop-whoop at Telfer playing with dingos (that’s a WHOLE new post in itself) and now I’m at Mooka, near Port Hedland.
Being relief means you get dropped in to help out the permanents at each site, either covering someone who’s sick, on holidays, or providing a temporary boost in numbers during busy times like shutdowns. As a result you meet so many people, all from different backgrounds, cultures, ages and religions. It’s great. And being new, the general first conversations go something like this.
Them: ‘So, where you from?’
Them ‘What goo?’
Me: ‘Yalgoo. Couple hundred clicks in from Geraldton. Out in the scrub, in sheep station country.’
Them: ‘Oh. You live out there?’
Me: ‘Yeah, on our sheep station, Gabyon with my wife Gemma and her parents.’
Them: ‘You own a sheep station? How big? How many sheep do you have?’
Me: ‘Well, the bank owns it at the moment, but it’s 670 000 acres. It’s a big place. And about eight to ten thousand sheep.’
It’s at this point they usually take a minute to recover, especially the people of Asian background. To many of them, any one who owns land is extremely wealthy, so to own that much means I’m obviously a squillionare who is slumming it, bank mortgage or not. Then the inevitable question follows.
‘What are you doing here?’
Saturday, 2 August 2014
Goats are bastards. Mad as cut snakes, they can make the most experienced mustering team look like a mob of amatuers. One minute they'll be trotting along happily, then the next second it's like someone's lobbed a hand grenade at them and fifty race off in fifty different directions, leaving the five motorbike and two dogs to try and halt the flood.
On Gabyon sits Courin Hill, a large granite outcrop that a mob of around two hundred call home. Each morning driving past we see them trotting down for a drink and a feed, and each evening driving back we see them again, trotting up once more for the night.
They are cunning sods. As soons as they hear the bikes or plane they refuse to come down of the hill. The following is based on a few attempts to muster them, with mixed results.
Apologies to Slim.
Rounding up goats is much harder than sheep.
But the feral little buggers need to pay for their keep,
Cos the bank’s back on the phone and a callin’ me.
A few new hands are astride the two wheels.
Racing through the sand as the plane above peels.
But the goats on top o’ the hill are avoiding me.