Experiencing farm life in the Australian outback
Spending time on a farm in the Australian outback is a fantastic and very different experience for adventurous types. Cecci Robertson tells you why.
The idyllic scenery of the outback is vast, arid and extremely beautiful. On occasion, you can drive for hours and not pass another person or vehicle, which is surreal. Farm life in Australia is something we would encourage everyone to experience, as it is so far removed from our typical day-to-day existence. Spending time on an operating farm or pastoral property offers you something totally unfamiliar and the opportunity to connect with those who enjoy this way of life. It gives you the chance to look at the land through the eyes of someone who knows it intimately, hear stories of Australia‘s past and discuss the challenges of the future.
For those who want to be totally immersed into the outdoor, cattle-station life filled with dust and livestock, we recommend going to the picturesque Bullo River Station. Days here are spent exploring stunning landscapes, waterfalls, swimming in remote waterholes, barramundi fishing and discovering Aboriginal rock art and wildlife.
I worked on a similar farm in South West Australia for three months, and it was one of the most challenging and tantalising life experiences I have had thus far. Having never worked a day on a farm before, I was excited about what was in store and also pretty oblivious – as it turns out, this was the best way to be. I was given an old-school ‘ute’ vehicle to roam around and kitted out in my ‘lumberjack’ attire and sturdy boots, I soon felt right at home.
On my first day, the farmer passed me a needle connected to a drip, which they used to ‘drench’ the sheep. I was slightly baffled that I had been given this responsibility, having arrived straight from the city. However, once I got into the swing of it, it was surprisingly rewarding. I vaccinated a thousand sheep that day! Herding sheep has to be one of the most time-consuming and frustrating activities I have ever experienced. It requires a lot of patience, as they are not the easiest animals to manoeuvre and they certainly don’t take commands! I was tasked to take 300 sheep and their lambs, from one field to another without any sheepdogs to assist. It took much longer than it would have taken the farmer, who had a good laugh when I appeared at the workshop three hours later looking totally dishevelled and exhausted.
I found watching the ranch’s sheepdogs in action fascinating. There were 10 kelpies, which were used on rotation. They had an incredibly calm nature and once they were put to work, they were complete rockets. I quickly learnt that farm work is a lot more efficient when sheep dogs are involved. However, sadly, I wasn’t able to use the farmer’s dogs, as they were all trained to his commands.
Although we wouldn’t necessarily suggest our clients work on a sheep or cattle farm for three months, as I did, for those interested in farming, adventure and the outdoors, we can arrange some truly authentic and exhilarating experiences in the Australian outback.
Angorichina Station is a homestead in the awe-inspiring Flinders Ranges – an area encompassing 500sq km of mountains, creeks, gorges and hills. Here, guests are welcome to join in with activities such as sheep mustering and shearing, and checking the bores and troughs. In addition, a visit to the woolshed here is a must; it is possibly the only native pine one still in use in Australia today.