Apparently it’s been two years since I’ve posted on my blog. How horrifying. I thank my loyal followers for still hanging around, and I’m pleased that people still drop by daily to encourage me.
A lot has happened in these two years. I’ve driven tractors for harvest season on one of the southern-most towns of Western Australia, driven road trains and had a ball. I’ve loved and lost love, lived and witnessed too much loss of life.
While I’ve kept my Jillaroo Jess Facebook page going, I felt like a phony writing as ‘Jillaroo’ Jess yet driving trucks. Recently, however, the tables have turned.
I am excited to announce that I have landed a job overseeing a cattle station in the Pilbara region of Australia. Almost a quarter of a million acres of desert located on the beach. Does that sound like paradise to you? It is. If you count the 50 billion flies and 2 snakes who live in the cutlery drawer in our 120yr old stone house.
Stay tuned for grand tales of my truck driving and harvesting adventures, as well as my new adventures working in this incredibly unique and wild corner of the world.
It seems like the majority of my posts are apologising for not posting often. Once again – I’m sorry. I promise I’ll make it up to you though!
Life is crazy in the Pilbara. I’ve now been here for 4 months and am loving it. It’s certainly an adjustment, but I do not regret coming over one little bit. A lot of people who live here are from the city and just come for the work. I often hear complaints on how it is so remote and has little to offer in the way of shops. However, to me it’s the big smoke! The last place I lived in had one pub and a post office/general store. What could be better than swimming, snorkelling and fishing in crystal clear waters, adventuring by 4wd to remote gorges and exploring this rugged countryside? I am a lucky girl!
A couple of weeks ago there was a ‘rodeo’ themed night at one of the pubs around here. They had been advertising it for weeks, saying that everyone was going to dress up and that there was a mechanical bull going to be there. I thought “You beauty! I get to wear normal clothes again!”
How wrong I was.
I pulled on my favourite Ariat boots, my ‘good’ wrangler shirt, my silver buckled belt and donned my dirty old Akubra – which has oil stains on it from hitting my head in the cattle yards so many times. However, I figured this wasn’t exactly a country town, so I wore some shorts to jazz things up. I walked into the pub. A hundred faces turned to stare at me – the only one dressed up. Here was Jess in her boots and hat, sticking out like a sore thumb, among the other women with their coiffed hair and heels. Not even the bar staff were dressed up! Lesser cowgirls would’ve turned around and gone home, but I saw this as a challenge! The few country people that were there came up to me for a chat. The most notable was a bull rider (who commended me on my mechanical bull riding, I must add), and a man in an RM Williams shirt with a very impressive mullet!
All in all, it was a great night, and I didn’t have to buy a drink the whole time… Challenge completed.
I am sorry it has been so long since I have written. I have been given an opportunity to work in the mines in Western Australia – 6000km (or 3700miles) from home!
In such a resource rich country, mining is one of our biggest industries, and definitely pays the most! I plan to be driving trucks very soon.
I am currently in the Pilbara. A desert filled with red rocks and spinifex grass. There are very few trees here, but I think that the contrast between the desert colours is beautiful. This is the closest I have lived to the beach before, and once you get out onto the islands the water is crystal clear and the marine life is amazing. Once when I was snorkelling on one of the islands here, I came across a long pole or stick in the sand. I hovered over it, baffled, as there are no trees or development on the islands. My brother quickly tapped me on the shoulder and pointed a few metres to my right. I see two tennis ball sized eyes sticking up out of the sand. It was a massive stingray! It must’ve been 3m long (9ft10in). I was only in about 2-3m deep water, so I swam away as quickly and calmly as possible – heart racing! I’ve also swam with big sea turtles, and have seen sharks, dolphins and whales. This part of the world is very untouched, as the climate can be unbearable. In Summer, not far away from where I’m based can reach temperatures of over 50 degrees Celsius (122 Farenheit), compared to a balmy late 40’s here.
There are a lot of natural adventures to be had in this area, so for the time being I will be writing about them, unless Jackaroo sends me something interesting from the east coast of course!
I just read the most distressing news. Once again, a bureaucrat in an office somewhere has decided to make like even more difficult for farmers than it already is. It is concerning the keeping of working dogs in Victoria, Australia. I am not from Victoria, but all Australians deserve a fair go, and often other states follow suit with these sorts of things.
Basically, if you have 3 intact females on your property you are now a breeder and will have to follow strict regulations on the keeping of your dogs. Farmers generally do not neuter their animals as it can affect their working ability, and really, if you have a good dog – you’ll want another one day! I won’t babble on, but if you are interested in finding out more, check out the link below.
There’s not too many more Australian pastimes than exploring our beautiful country by 4wd. Every weekend, there is a trail fourbies (as we call them in Aus!) heading off into the parks and beaches in my region. This weekend it was Bean (of Adventures Of A Bean) and I, in ‘Heidi’, my blue Holden Rodeo – heading for Conondale National Park. Conondale National Park is 35,500 hectares, which is over 87,700 acres, and near Kenilworth Qld. I would definitely recommend you visit there if you are in the area!
Specifically, we were heading for Booloumba Falls, which is an amazing set of waterfalls and gorgeous gorges winding their way through the park. Despite the drought, the falls were still flowing well and the water was clear and cold. I have tried several times to get to the falls, but the track can be cut when it rains due to landslides. The track is for 4wd’s only as it steep and very rough in spots. Driving through the park is great fun though, and you can see and hear the wildlife as we go. The place was filled with the songs of Bell Birds, and you’d often see a Goanna or Lace Monitor scuttle through the leaf litter.
Bean and I spent hours out there, exploring and swimming in the different falls. We took lots of photos – enjoy!
Conondale National Park.
Our new home.
The ‘Bread Knife’ rock formation, and the pool we climbed down to.
One of MANY waterfalls.
It was a careful climb down.
Bean peruses our swimming hole.
Although very clear, the pool was too deep to see the bottom.
After feeding all the animals on the farm one afternoon recently, Jackaroo called me over to the pigeon cage. I looked inside and saw a big python curled up, with a suspiciously fat stomach. I quickly ran inside to get an old pillow case which we could use to put the snake in. Jackaroo could tell that it was a boy by the pattern on his scales. Since he was such a beautiful snake, and not overly poisonous, we decided to relocate it. It took a long time to get him out of the cage as he had barricaded himself between the roof and the chicken wire. He snapped at us as we tried to pull him out from his hiding spot. Since he had eaten one of our pigeons, though, he found it quite hard to get away – his stomach was just too round. Unfortunately, when snakes are stressed, their bowels are too… and therefore our noses. Man, snakes are putrid! I have attached a photo of me releasing the snake about 10 minutes down the road. You can see I’m trying to hold it away from my body so I didn’t get covered in his poo, as he was trying to wrap around my arm. He was about 6ft long, which is a fair size, but this species can grow over 10ft long!
I was reading through a few of my old posts and remembered the promise of a photo of some of the ant hills down here. I am yet to organise the many photos from our recent Western Australia trip, but here is one of them. This is an anthill I walked past in Karijini National Park. I’m 5ft 10inches, so that is one big mound! It is interesting how the shapes and colours of the anthills change depending on where we are. We have some anthills on the farm, but they generally don’t get any higher than a metre – which makes them dangerous when the grass is long!
After months of much anticipation, I’ve finally met my new pup! Her name is Kora, and she is a beautiful Border Collie. She came from a Border Collie stud called Mukkerdowns, which is located near Orange in New South Wales. Kora has so much personality. The more time I spend with her, the more I love her. She is around 5months old, I think, I’m yet to find out her birth date. Over the weekend, I took her for a walk down to the creek, which winds itself through the property. On the way down, we came across a small mob of cattle. Kora looked at them and within seconds was trying to run around behind them, before I called her back. We will start her on sheep or calves, so that she doesn’t get hurt for her first time herding. It is amazing how much the instinct is in these dogs, despite the majority of her brothers and sisters being city dogs. When we got to the creek, to my delight, she dove straight into the water. It seems she loves the water as much as I do! She hooned through the water, and mud, taking in every new scent and sight as she could. She rolled in the dirt and leaves on the side of the creeks and dams, each time falling into the water. She makes me laugh!
Then yesterday I took her for a drive down to the river. She swam after me as I floated through the slow-running water. Every time a leaf or stick floated past she would be after it, snapping her jaws as she swam. The funniest bit was when the leaf went underwater – she stuck her head underwater too! I was amazed that she knew to breathe out while underwater. Such a strange dog! Love her to bits! Anyway, I didn’t have long to write much of a story for you, apologies, but enjoy the photos 🙂
Jillaroo Jess and Kora the Explorer.
Within 10 seconds of her first sighting, she went straight to go around the mob.
This year, we only have had 3 Australian Stock Horse foals born on the property. It’s definitely quality over quantity though, they are beautiful. First born was a flashy chestnut colt with a big baldy face (lots of white) and 3 white socks who we named Coolrdige Kidman – after a famous Australian cattle baron. Next, a lovely little bay filly with a bucket load of attitude named Coolridge Karijini – a beautiful desert in Western Australia. Finally, a leggy black filly called Coolridge Khaleesi – I’m a big fan of Game of Thrones!
In case anyone is interested in Australian Stock Horses, and follows their breeding, all three are by Kooloombah Confidence, a very handsome red dun stallion. Confidence, and all of the mares are bred to Campdraft, which is an Australian horse sport with cattle, where you must first cut out a beast in the ‘camp’, then take it out into the arena and bend it around two posts and through a gate. These foals all have great breeding and we are looking forward to seeing their natural ability under saddle. I’m currently in the process of building a website for our horses and will have it finished in the coming months. Once breeding season is over I’ll have more time to get things happening.
Have a look at the photos attached, aren’t they just beautiful? I love coming home and watching the foals playing in the cool twilight. Enjoy the photos – I’d be jealous if I were you…
Hi everyone! I am so sorry that it has been so long since I have last posted. Breeding season is always busy on the farm, before and after I go to my full time job, I’m breeding next year’s foals! Well, assisting – I don’t do much. Hah!
I will put up photos of our Western Australian adventures soon, but firstly I thought that I would show you photos that Jackaroo has sent me of some of his dogs in the high-vis jackets I made them. They look great, I am very proud of the effort. In one of my past posts, I wrote about how bad a lot of drivers are around working dogs and cattle. There’s no chance of not seeing these dogs now! I wonder what the cattle think? Enjoy 🙂