Why Working in the Australian Outback is One of the Best Things You’ll Do

Why Working in the Australian Outback is One of the Best Things You’ll Do

In 2014, my New Year resolution was ‘to no longer be living in the place I am now by the end of the year’. I had originally intended to just move to a different city. Instead I decided that Australia, on the other side of the world, sounded like a much better idea. So in December that year I boxed up all my belongings, cancelled my gym membership, quit my job and put my boyfriend and myself on a flight to Australia, cue the best year of my life so far.

Outback Sunet
A beautiful Outback sunset

Australia really is one of the greatest countries in the world if you do more than just party in Cairns and visit the big cities. We spent months travelling around seeing everything we could possibly fit into each road trip and had the best time of our lives in the process. In fact, we decided a year wasn’t long enough. The original idea had been to work and save to travel the world—instead we’d spent all our money exploring the incredible country we’d moved to.

Australian outback
Australia is beautiful.

To enable you to stay in Australia and work for a second year, you have to complete three months of regional work. Most people pick fruit in the north. I hadn’t heard any good stories from anyone about, which was worrying to say the least.

When we searched on Gumtree, we applied for any kind of regional work in Queensland that we could find (without really thinking about the different job roles). All we were focused on was getting that visa. But the great thing about applying for anything is that you can end up getting a job on a cattle station in South West Queensland, where I can guarantee if you go in with an open mind and a good attitude, you will have the time of your life.

I used different power tools, learnt how to weld, and even learnt how to shoot—a one-off experience that I’m happy not to repeat!

Working in the Paddock
Working in the Paddock

The only thing I knew about the cattle station we were going to spend the next three months of our lives was its name and that I had to bring a good pair of work boots. The manic organiser and planner inside me was so nervous. After a 12-hour bus ride and a 4-hour drive in a ute towing a horse trailer and hearing the story of the kangaroo our boss had hit in his other car last week which had come through the windscreen, I was REALLY starting to feel nervous.

Things started looking up when we arrived at the homestead. We had our own cottage, which was actually pretty sweet, and the couple we were working for seemed nice too. But then I went to the toilet and there was a giant green frog in it. Oh my god, I freaked out so hard! Strike one, outback.

Australian Outback
Working with animals!

Our first week was spent doing relatively boring jobs like clearing the house yard, feeding the horses and things like that. But after surviving our first week and only threatening to go home a couple of times a day, plus a visit to the local pub a whole hour away, things started to look up. The work is hard and the days are long: getting up and having breakfast at sunrise, then working until sunset. I used to think I was relatively strong and a total outdoor girl, but after a couple weeks of work I soon learnt the difference between “hanging out outside a lot” to “grafting full time”!

Mustering
Mustering cattle

Over our three months there we cleared miles and miles of old fence lines, built an offloading ramp out of old tin and steel poles and dirt, drove a tractor that was about 60 years old (requiring legs of steel to operate the levers), painted an entire cottage, and fixed broken bore heads. In fact, we fixed a lot of broken things! One of the most fun jobs we had was mustering cattle and drafting sheep.

Riding through the paddocks on motorbikes and quad bikes has got to be one of the best ways to spend your day. We even got to brand and tag the calves at the end of the day. How many people go travelling for a year and manage to do that? I used different power tools, learnt how to weld, and even learnt how to shoot—a one-off experience that I’m happy not to repeat!

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Cattle Muster
I’m cattle mustering!

The whole atmosphere out in the bush is completely different to anything I’ve ever experienced. Everything is relaxed, most talk surrounds work or rain, everybody knows everybody (and probably knows half your life story) when you’ve only been in the area a week. The kids grow up savvy and confident, spending most of their time in the fresh air. What a great way to live. When you work in the outback, you may also get to raise a pet goat.

From just a week old, we fed and looked after our tiny little goat Billy. Very original name, I know. Billy was our little companion to share our amazing journey with. There are downsides of course, like when your ute breaks down miles from the homestead, the radio won’t work and you then have to walk home. What a day that was! But it’s such an incredible learning curve and gave me experience I just don’t think I could get anywhere else.

Truck Outback
A truck in the outback

There are downsides of course, like when your ute breaks down miles from the homestead, the radio won’t work and you then have to walk home. What a day that was!

It’s for all these incredible things that I’ve learnt, wonderful people I’ve met, great nights I’ve had, skills I’ve picked up and experiences I’ve been a part of that I encourage everyone, whether it’s to get yourself a visa or just for fun, to make the hundreds of kilometres journey and get to know what the Australian outback is really like.

 

Why Working in the Australian Outback is One of the Best Things You’ll Do

About Holli McCarthy

Holli McCarthyA twenty-something Yorkshire girl, with a passion for traveling and writing. I love to share my stories, photos and travel tips with the world. From vacations, city breaks and long term travel, if it involves seeing new sights and learning about new cultures, you can count me in!

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