Time flies when you’re having fun!

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 with my bloke Ben. 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.

 

Save a Horse, Ride a Mechanical Bull?

Howdy folks!

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.

Save a Horse, Ride a Mechanical Bull

Go West

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!

Crikey, that’s a big one!

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! mms_20140102

Foaly Moley!

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…

Working Dog Fashion

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 🙂

Edge

Edge

Gemma and Edge

Gemma and Edge

Gemma

Gemma

Jealous Jillaroo – Jackaroo Joins the Largest Drove In Aussie Memory

Something very exciting is happening in eastern Australia at the moment. Well, not for me, I’m stuck at home taking care of the farm. Jackaroo has been lucky enough to be involved in the biggest drove in Australian history. A ‘drove’, is moving cattle/sheep from one place to another, feeding them along the way. They can be very long and hard distances traveled. Often, drovers live on the road, going from one job to the next. Cattle baron Tom Brinkworth has taken advantage of the drought and bad cattle prices by buying 18,000 head of cattle from the ages of 8months to 2yrs old. These cattle are being taken down the TSR (Travelling Stock Route), or ‘The Long Paddock’ to their new properties, some 2500km away (over 1500miles). The herd has been split up into 9 mobs, and are travelling 10km a day. There is about 80km/8days between the different mobs of cattle. There are many stock routes in Australia, but some of these cattle are being taken from Queensland to as far as South Australia. It was estimated that it would cost Tom $1,000,000 to truck the cattle to his property, the same cost as taking them down the stock routes. However, considering it will have taken 6 months or so (and 70 drovers!) to do this, and the cattle are getting fed along the way, by the time the cattle get to their destination, many will be ready to be sold – very smart! Droving is a part of Australian life that has been forgotten by the majority of Australians in recent times. This is evident in many of the routes currently being closed, having cattle or sheep permanently on them, mainly due to drought.

Just the weekend past, Jackaroo and I were packing his stuff and getting the horses ready to go. He has taken 4 horses with him and 5 dogs to help them on their journey. The night before he and his fellow drovers were ready to leave, I was busy sewing reflective jackets for the dogs, so they don’t get hit by cars while the travel the roads. As soon as I get a pic of the dogs in their jackets I’ll share them with you! When I spoke to Jackaroo last, he had arrived in New South Wales, and they were taking care of 2000 cattle. He sent me the photo I have attached to this post. Jackaroo is a man of few words. When I get word of his adventures I will pass them on, since I’m not having any adventures at the moment!

However, on the 23rd of October we will both be heading for the Pilbara in Western Australia, where my family lives and works. I am very excited to show Jackaroo and you how beautiful it is over there in the desert. After we come back, Jackaroo will head back droving again.

2000 head of cattle, and working dog 'Storm' in the foreground.

2000 head of cattle, and working dog ‘Storm’ in the foreground.

Watering the mob.

Watering the mob.