Aside from a pair of tight jeans, big boots and a 10-gallon-hat, have you ever wondered what it takes to work on a cattle station in northern Australia?
From the camp cook to the wild young ringer chasing scrub bulls, a wide variety of people keep the northern cattle industry ticking.
Whether it is to build a career, a relationship, or to have a good time, here are some people who have decided to work on the land.
The endless gap year
For a year’s break between high school and further study, Annie Henwood moved to Cubbaroo Station near Cloncurry to experience life as a ringer.
Moving from a farm near Toobeah in southern Queensland, Ms Henwood said the idea to move up north had come from a family friend.
However, the decision was not easy.
“My brother went overseas and did a gap year and I thought, yeah that’s great, that would be awesome,” Ms Henwood said.
Although gap years are becoming a popular venture in the north, many, like Jacqueline Clark, have decided to stay longer.
Ms Clark started working in the Northern Territory before she found a job in north-west Queensland on Facebook, where she has spent the past two years.
“I saw the job going and I applied for that and ended up getting it, which I’m glad because it was the best experience,” she said.
“I’m actually heading to university next year. I would love to stay but I think it’s about time I go to uni and give that a crack.
“I definitely can’t move to town though.”
‘It’s in the blood on Lamboo’
As the granddaughter of a famed East Kimberley drover, the cattle business runs in Darrylin Gordon’s blood.
Growing up on Lamboo Station, about 40 kilometres from Halls Creek, the 26-year-old assists her uncle Robin Yeeda to run more than 2,500 head of shorthorn brahman-cross cattle.
“I love the cattle life. It’s something I was brought up into which I’m very passionate about,” Ms Gordon said.
The young cattlewoman juggles station life with motherhood and her other passion — working as an Indigenous alcohol and drug worker for Kimberley Mental Health.
Ms Gordon said she wanted Lamboo to become a place of hope for young people in Halls Creek, a place where they could connect to country, learn invaluable life skills and gain financial independence.
“I implement a lot of my training at Lamboo. We talk about social and emotional wellbeing issues,” she said.
“That’s something we’re working on as a family, not just with the management and staff, but also having something secure here for others who want to come and work on Lamboo.”
Mustering a career
From central Queensland to the Kimberley and Gulf of Carpentaria, Rick Stormon has worked on a wide variety of cattle stations.
Mr Stormon started his career as a ringer working in the Emerald area, before moving north and eventually becoming a helicopter pilot.
Based in Cloncurry, north-west Queensland, he owns three light helicopters and runs a contract mustering business.
He said he had always wanted to stay in the cattle industry, but his goals had changed over the years.
“Prior to doing my [helicopter] licence I aspired to becoming a station manager, but I guess circumstances change and different opportunities come,” he said.
Mr Stormon said there was one skill people needed to have to sustain themselves in the cattle industry.
“I don’t think it matters what background they come from, as long as they’ve got a good attitude and they’re willing to learn,” he said.
Girl power on Anna Plains
At a remote cattle station in the west Kimberley, one station cook has found the recipe for success to move up the ranks in the northern cattle industry.
Queenslander Hannah Reid has been a cook at Anna Plains Station, about 250km south of Broome, for the past year.
But a longing to one day manage a cattle station with her partner, Adam, has seen her make a step out of the homestead and into the stock camp to start as a jillaroo next year.
“For half a season last year I worked as a cook in the NT as well. I was a bit too scared to apply on the stock crew back then,” Ms Reid said.
“I’ve loved cooking and I still love cooking but I think this is it. It feels right.
“It’s definitely going to be a big shock to the system, but this is a fantastic place for newbies to learn.”
Ms Reid said there were more women heading to the north-west to pursue opportunities in the cattle industry.
“I think it’s still is a male-dominated industry, but I do think girls are coming forward and putting themselves out there and saying they can do it just as good as any man can,” she said.
Tree change with a difference
Before heading to Cloncurry to work on Granada Station, Harry Donpon had been a mechanic in Rockhampton for six years.
He followed his sister Renee, who has been working on Granada for the past two years.
“I got talking to Saus, who’s the boss out here, and he was looking for someone who was mechanically minded,” Mr Donpon said.
The move to Granada has inspired the siblings to look for careers in the cattle industry.
While Mr Donpon is keen to keep working on the land putting his practical skills to use, Ms Donpon has plans to head to agricultural college in Victoria.
“I’ve applied to Marcus Oldham in 2019 to do an agribusiness degree there,” she said.
“That’s the big picture for me, managing a place or perhaps even owning my own place one day.”