An experience downunder: working on a cattle station

While many people come to Australia to find work fruit picking or in tourist resorts, a quintessential experience is to work on cattle station. While this requires more effort, experience and possibly commitment too, it will definitely be an experience that you’ll not get elsewhere given the size, type and lifestyle offered on these stations. And for a real experience of Australia and its beautiful, remote places it can’t be beat. You’ll never be bored, you’ll be challenged every day and you’ll meet some real salt of the earth locals!

Cattle stations are not just about mustering cattle either, they are often looking for cooks, governesses, childcare positions and gardening staff plus if you have a skill such as a motorbike license, mechanical skills or can drive a truck you may find yourself snapped up rather quickly.

Work on a station might involve mustering but it could also involve checking fences and water troughs, clearing paddocks of fallen trees, odd maintenance jobs or yard work such as tagging or branding. You’ll never lack work or a variety of things to do to keep you occupied.

The key to work on a station is to be able to adapt to a lifestyle that is often quite hard but fun. For example if fruit and vegetables are important to you, or you’re a vegetarian, you might find the meat diet out here a challenge. If you like sleeping in past dawn it may also be a challenge for you. If you need a mobile phone and regular Internet / social media access this may not also be the place for you. If creature comforts such as running water, toilets and a roof over your head are essential this kind of work might not be for you either – sometimes you have to camp out under the stars for days at a time if moving cattle around.

However for other people the lack of all those things for a few months may not only be welcome but invigorating. Working out on a cattle farm puts you back in touch with nature, the seasons, the land and animals.

And if you are friendly, outgoing, willing to tackle new tasks and committed to seeing work get done you’ll find you fit into the environment perfectly and love it as much as those that live out there permanently!

If you’re interested in seeking work on a cattle station here are some places to start looking:
Jobseeker – posts jobs they find on the Internet, including sites like Gumtree.
Gumtree – classifieds on all kinds of wanted and sold items including jobs on cattle stations
The Job Shop – A WA outfit that finds work and experiences for backpackers. In 2009, 2010 and 2011 they won the category award for best recruitment service in Australia.
VisitOz – Have work for all those on Visas which allow work and work experience for students and visitors. Some of this is hospitality and some is outback or rural. Those interested in the latter must attend the Arrange an Introduction to Agriculture Course.
Anna Brown Recruitment – a setup better designed for those with experience, however still worth a look.
Outback Magazine. A magazine that has classifieds with a job section
WWOOF Some cattle stations also take WWOOFers.
The following are a list of companies that employ station staff:
The Australian Agricultural Co
Consolidated Pastoral Co (CPC)
Heytesbury Beef Pty Ltd
Jumbuck Pastoral
S. Kidman & Co Ltd
NAPCO
There blogs will also fill you in on the rigors of station life and the challenges you might face:
Travel Armadillo
Fat Happy Cows
Grit and Giggles
Top50ranches
Emily Meets World

Add your own link in the comments below or suggest one!

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Hope you’re enjoying the VIP Backpacker’s Travel Blog. If there are any travel topics you want covered feel free to contact Jo at viplounge@vipbackpackers.com

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