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On our travels, we have driven through a lot of rural areas, where there is a whole heap of… not much as far as the eye can see. I have always thought to myself, I wonder what it’s like to live on these large properties. Last week we had the opportunity to experience life on a station and it was a real eye opener. I now have a different view of all this land and it excites me, because it may not look like much from the road, but there is so much to see and do.

We contacted a working station in a very remote part of the Northern Territory and asked if we could come out and stay for a few nights to see how the station runs. We were excited when they replied to our email welcoming us to visit but a little nervous to go out and stay at the station as it’a something we have never done before and had no idea what to expect.

To get to the station we had to drive over 70kms of corrugated dirt road, the landscape was extremely dry as we are currently at the end of the dry season. Luckily it was nothing unusual for us as our van is very capable! When we got to the station we were welcomed by Dave, the Station Manager, and his partner Clarissa. They gave as many options of places to camp and we chose a little spot by a shallow running creek, perfect for the kids.

This remote station is almost 140,000 hectares in size, situated approx. 200 kilometres from Katherine and 600 kilometres from Darwin. The property borders Arnhem land and Kakadu National Park and is well established for cattle with around 5000 head on hand.

 

The first afternoon we were invited for drinks with all the workers, a great way to meet everyone and we instantly felt at home. This is where we met an inspiring young station hand, Phoebe. Phoebe is the kind of girl who just gets in and gives anything a go, from door hanging to catching buffalo. I automatically assumed Phoebe had grown up on a station, oh how I was wrong. Phoebe grew up in Christchurch New Zealand! She met a girl that boarded at her school whose family ran a station, Phoebe visited one day and fell in love with the lifestyle and I can see why.

On our second night, everyone from the station including us were invited to the neighbour’s place (about an hours drive) for a BBQ. When got to the neighbour’s station the owner, Danny, was trying to get in contact with the young station hands that had left earlier with fishing rods and rifles, set for a fun afternoon of fishing and hunting. Danny tried to contact them on the 2-way to get them to come back for the BBQ but failed to contact them. So he just got in his helicopter, flew over the area they were, managed to get their attention and they were back in no time.

Danny then invited us to go for a walk behind the homestead and right there we found an amazing bit of paradise, two heavily flowing waterfalls, Pandanis trees and greenery overhanging a beautiful creek. Just remember we are in the dry season so to see greenery and water like this was amazing. Not only was the scenery great but the people were too, we met people from surrounding stations and everyone had a different story to tell, such a fun filled night.

 

Dave and Clarissa went above and beyond to show us the station and the hidden secrets of it, even picking us up in a safari looking vehicle for a drive to look at Aboriginal rock art on the station. I felt like a little kid exploring the cliff faces looking at the paintings and thinking how the Aboriginal people had lived in this diverse landscape during the different seasons.

Dave gave us a map of the property and allowed us to explore as much as we liked. So over the next few days we explored the other side of the station where there were many beautiful sand bottom flowing creeks we enjoyed as a family. The number of animals we spotted while exploring were incredible. We saw Kangaroo’s, Cattle with their Calf’s, bulls, donkeys, wild buffalo and wild bulls.

 

The last Sunday we were at the station, Phoebe and a couple of the station hands asked us if we wanted to go to their swimming hole with them. This was a great way to spend a lazy Sunday, we took some beers down and relaxed by the creek and jumped off the rocks. The kids had a ball getting the waterlilies out of the creek and creating crowns and bracelets with them.

Everyone on the station made us feel so welcome and made time for our girls with pats of the four day old puppies as well as horse and quadbike rides. The station workers loved spending time with our kids because they reminded them of the children, nieces and nephews they have back at home. Our stay didn’t just  benefit us it benefited the station, being so remote they don’t get many visitors. So, if you have been thinking about doing something similar, I say give it a go, you will be surprised with what you see and the people you meet. Next time we are driving in these rural areas I will be thinking about the good times we had at the station, we will be back!

 

Bonnie Garrard

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