The expert in anything – was once a beginner ….
Preparing people who want to come and work on the land ~ as EVERY station is different. and New beginnings, can be overwhelming with the new characters you meet that make up your team, to the living and eating arrangement to the routine.
The following list of jobs is a general description of most jobs present on a station.
The station hand is the backbone of any cattle station. Truly a jack of all trades! You will need to be willing to give anything a go. Every day will be different and there won’t be one where you don’t learn something. If you like the cattle, to work constantly outside and being part of a crew, then this is a very exciting job that is waiting for you. You might go fencing, mustering on motor bikes or horses, working cattle in yards, but also do some lick runs, water runs, building anything and fixing everything and nothing! As a station hand, you will depend on your head stockman or manager and you will be able to adapt any situation as some days nothing goes to plan… and it is the next beginning of an adventure!
Be aware that every station might have a slightly different description of it and that most of the time, jobs overlap constantly from day to day: for example, a station hand might need to truck cattle one day and the next day, need to help in the kitchen and then, build a new yard the next month!
Head stockman/Leading Hand/ Overseer
Like any team work, there is always a need for a leader or a manager ready to motivate his/her troops ! If you have any leadership skills and love to work with a crew, ready to accompany people to the best of their abilities, then this position will suit you!
As an overseer, you will take responsibilities and supervise all the workers on the station. The overseer has a global view of the station management and for this reason, you will work directly with the main boss. A good overseer often comes from a station hand background and is able to do any job outside as well as doing office work.
As a head stockman, you will be the direct link between the management and the station hand crew. You know what’s going on the station and you will be able to delegate daily jobs to the station hands and supervise them. Compared to an overseer who can also do office work, the head stockman is expected to always work with his station hand crew out in the paddocks!
As a leading hand, you probably will be associated with the head stockman and you have to able to delegate jobs to the station hand crew when the head stockman or other management crew is not available.
Depending on the station, family business or company, do not forget it could have different level of management and organization.
The bore man (or bore runner), is the person who take responsibility of the water management of the station. Water being the most important aspect of the station, the bore man needs to know how to circulate on the station to check dams, troughs, tanks, turkey nests…, and know how to work with engine, solar panel or wind mill systems. Depending on the station a bore man might drive away from the homestead for one or several days. It is a very autonomous job that will fit a person who can handle his/her own thinking, who likes to be independent, who gives attention to details and like to take responsibilities and challenges.
Again though like we say depending on the station you get an opportunity at this job can overlap, because on some stations (you never drive past a water trough, tank even a feed trough with out checking it’s level, making sure it’s pumping, and cleaning the water trough if there is enough water in the tank. and checking the feed tubs, (if they have any left and nothing fell in them….. or need your willing help. )
As a mechanic on a station you get the chance to play with as well good old-fashioned gear, as the newest top of the range. Your devotion, accuracy and love for this job will be noticed. Expect to service farm bikes, tractors, fork lifts, utes of various makes and much more. An oil change, tyre repair, hydrolic or electrical malfunction.. a day for the mechanic is as diverse as he/she is willing to go for.
Most stations need to truck cattle time to time inside the station itself. To this aim, a truck driver is always a necessary. Do you have your HR or MC license? you might be a big plus for your station as it might sometimes save the use of a private truck company. However, truck driver on a station is rarely a full time job, meaning you could use any other skills to do other job (machine operator, mechanic, station hand…)!
A machine operator is someone who is able to drive and operate any kind of machine, from graders to loader, from tractors to specific farm machinery, from old fashioned to newest models with air con or open cabs! Depending on your station, specific machine operator must be needed, but most of the time as a machine operator, you will be able to operate different machine on different projects!
Often seen as a specific job, a grader driver is someone who is able to operate a grader and work independently. Roads, firebreaks, are important parameters of the station and that is why most of the time, a grader driver will always be in need. Check with your station if your position will be in need during the entire year or just for a certain period as a good wet season can put you on forced holidays.
Road & paddock manager
From the big digger to the chainsaw, all toys allowed to clear the way! Some trees may have fallen over, a washout could have turned our dirt road into a tiny ravine, some nasty weeds could be preventing grass growth..
Track maintenance is of mayor importance but check with your preferred station to find out when, and for how long you can work for them.
There no station that does not have the odd building that needs renovating or a new yard to be build! Ranging from living quarters, basic storage sheds to steel-framed yards; be prepared to get your hands dirty and see the result of your efforts stand proudly in plain sight.
LIGHTER DUTIE JOBS
Now don’t be mislead, there are plenty of slower paced or lighter duties jobs on a station!! Although i would NEVER over look how important these jobs can be!
This lucky candidate has the ability to turn a moderate day into a fabulous day!! A good heaty meal, can really set a tone. This role can be very routine like and would need to be flexible on the odd occasion. Again – depending the the job you land, responsibilities would be the same, preparing breakfast lunch and dinner, but your routine could vary station to station.
One Example – You would be in charge of cooking breakfast, and having a spread available for the crew to prepare there lunches and take snacks (you baked the day before). A generally clean up of the kitchen, (the crew usually are responsible of there own individual mess) and taking out the scraps and the trash. Now everybody usually clears out for the day, which leaves you being able to prep dinner and tomorrow smokos, and then take a break before having dinner ready. The cook usually keeps a track of food inventory and helps plan and organizes the food deliveries!
For somebody who loves cooking, there own company, or loves having the TV, radio in the back ground and working at there own pace, great job! Some people make this job, look so effortlessly easy and have plenty of time to spare, and even tag along to watch the excitement of the out doors!
- There are usually loads of cook books and tips and tricks to make your job easier.
- Perfect job for someone who loves to create the own routine and organized.
Now i was thinking of making a PRO’s and Cons list for you, but that would be unfair! as what I might see as a con, you might see as a pro!
Now being a cleaner, gardener, this job usually coincides with someone being the cook. Depending on the size of crew, some chores just overlap. But it
Are you organized, clean, and tidy with good hygienic habits and you love food? Be ready to become the most important person on the station: the cook! Working on a station means working constantly outside, in might also have to learn to organize groceries and the food stock of the station. This job will suit you if you are an organized person who loves to work in the kitchen and use your creativity by using the products available on the station. The cook loves to work independently as sometimes you might be the only person at the homestead. The cook is also often a cleaner meaning you are associated with the cleaning or gardening of the homestead. Sometimes, you will also be expected to answer phone calls or take care of the pets and podies for instance. Depending on the station, you might be able to do very diverse jobs!
How much do you enjoy a nice green oasis with hundreds of birds in the middle of the Australian outback? If you do, the gardener position is for you! There is always a beautiful green lawn to look after and maybe some fruits trees and a vegie garden to take care of before to water the desert roses of the flower beds.
Do you love kids, playing in the outside, teaching the good habits and read wonderful stories? Then the Nanny or Governess or Teacher job is for you! Taking care of the country kids is full of daily adventure in wide open spaces. It might also be full of challenges between the school time and the different activities in the homestead (cooking, gardening, cleaning..) And as the parents might be very busy, they need some help during the day to fully enjoy their children after knock off time! Make sure to fully discuss the role of your job with your station as it can be slightly different from a nanny position to a governess or a teacher position (even though they often overlaps each other).
Life on the station is constantly changing, from project to project. That is why there is such a diversity of jobs and depending on what project there are, an accountant, an admin person, a personal assistant, a website designer, … could be needed!
Never hesitate to highlight your different skills and seek for the perfect job that suits you.
The environment you bring
Rule number 1: Do not forget, every station is different ! and so are the jobs and position available. Don’t get so caught up and angry if you don’t find your perfect job or your happy station straight away. What is amazing about working on a station is that every job is linked to each other and it is easy to develop or change careers along the way!
Rule number 2: You have to be able to jell or enter teams banter. 3 months can go really long or really short depending on you and the environment you work in, if you enjoy the crew or not. But if your bring anger and frustration every morning to your job, it’s not going to be fun for everyone, your supervisor and crew neither.
Rule number 3: Remember, every station is…. different ! Meaning the same job can differ from one station to another one. So if you are a newbie, as well as an “experienced” person, you must be ready to learn from your supervisor (head stockman) and crew. If your supervisor tries to teach you something and that he or she have to tell you the same thing 10 times, it gets frustrating by the 11th! But if you focus on how much time your boss and your crew spend with you and if you are grateful towards everything you can experience, you will learn so much quicker and so much more!
Rule number 4: if your unhappy with the station you find…. don’t throw daggers at them. Understand it just might not be your crew. It’s OKAY! Everything is a way. If your not enjoying it, then you are going to struggle to learn and it might become frustrating for you and your supervisor and crew. Which will lead to an unhealthy environment. Don’t get caught up. Be honest with yourself and with your supervisor. Working on a station might be or not be your thing or you might need to find another station or job to enjoy what could be, the time of your life!
Rule number 5: There is NO RULES about where to start and what to do first on a station ! Everybody starts somewhere, and everybody has experiences that is going to make them or break them, you just need to learn to bounce back!