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. 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.

 

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!

Save the Working Dog

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.

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An Aussie Weekend

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!

Everything is bigger downunder!

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!

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Introducing – Kora!

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 🙂

Bridge Over Untroubled Waters

All is well on the stock route, Jackaroo sent me these photos last night. They’re currently stuck in a stock reserve for a couple of days while, one again, mobs ahead sort themselves up. Normally you have to move 10kms per day along the stock route, so a stock reserve is a designated area where you can rest your cattle for a day or two. It has water there, but no cattle yards there. This one that they are in at the moment, is fenced on two sides, with a road and the river as a natural boundary.

The cattle moved really well over the bridges apparently. As you can see in the first photo, when working cattle, you push smaller sections at a time rather than try to push the whole mob at once. If you are trying to guide more than a handful of cattle into yards or over a bridge, pushing the whole mob won’t work as you don’t have control over the front. The front could head off to one side or plant themselves in one spot, sending the middle of the mob back around you. It’s hard to explain, but there really is an art to working cattle – it can be tough!

I’ve also attached a photo of ‘Kitty’, the cat that thinks he’s a horse, walking along the old cattle yards at home last night – since I have nothing too interesting to say haha!

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A horseman pushes cattle across a bridge.
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Cattle take a drink before they move on.
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And this is the best photo I can offer from my time at home. Lol!

Latest pics from the stock route.

I have got a couple more pics to show you! Jackaroo sent these yesterday. Storm got himself lost the other day and spent the night at the yards, back up the trail a little bit. Luckily, Jackaroo found him the next day.

He had few stories to tell, it’s been pretty slow going so far. However, he did mention how stupid some people can be around mobs of cattle and horses on the road. Any horse rider will know, if you’ve ridden on the road, some people just don’t understand how dangerous it is when they screech past you, or slam on their brakes just before they get to you. Make sure you take it easy on the road with horses and cattle. For your safety, and for the riders.

On a positive note though, Jackaroo was telling me that some older man drove up to them when they were stopped onto the side of the road and offered him a Country Life newspaper. Unfortunately, Jackaroo was on a young horse and it mightn’t have ended well if he opened the newspaper up while riding him! Still, it’s nice to see that there’s good people out there.

Sunset on the stock route.
Sunset on the stock route.
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The collies settle in for the night. From the left, four are ours – Storm, Zyrtec, Edge and Gemma.

Jackaroos Only

Hi everyone. I received these photos from Jackaroo yesterday. They have been stuck in the same area for a few days now, and will be for a couple more while they wait for a big enough gap between them and the mob ahead. (You can read more about the history-making drove here). Having such large groups of cattle moving down the stock route, food is becoming scarce. So they are trying to create bigger gaps between the cattle. Not that it probably makes much difference since we’re currently in a bit of a drought! Then again, when isn’t Australia in a drought? It’s either flooding or dusty haha!

Anyway, there have been few hiccups along the way, apart from earlier this week when a few horses escaped. The horses are currently having to be hobbled during the night, as the other morning they were found 8kms from camp! Naughty nags. Apparently one of them was my beloved Perseverance. No… That can’t be right!

Enjoy the photos, I hope to have some more photos or stories soon 🙂

The cattle graze as they walk.
The cattle graze as they walk.
Feed time at the yards in Naribri.
Feed time at the yards in Naribri.
Believe it or not there is 2000 head there!
Believe it or not there is 2000 head there!
Morning on the stock route.
Morning on the stock route.
A storm rolls in to camp while the men prepare for the night.
A storm rolls in to camp while the men prepare for the night.
Storm, one of the working collies.
Storm, one of the working collies.
Camp. Definitely a lot more comfortable than back in the day!
Camp. Definitely a lot more comfortable than back in the day!
An electric tape holds the horses for the night.
An electric tape holds the horses for the night.
The horses on their days off travel with the cattle.
The horses on their days off travel with the cattle.
The horses and cattle are tucked in for the night.
The horses and cattle are tucked in for the night.
A drover on his horse.
A drover on his horse.
You have to be prepared for anything, if 2000 head of cattle had spooked at this plane coming in, there would've been some major dramas!
You have to be prepared for anything, if 2000 head of cattle had spooked at this plane coming in, there would’ve been some major dramas!

While the Jack’s Away, the Jill Will Play

Yesterday was a beautiful day, the weather was perfect. A friend and I, her name is Jess too, went for a swim with a couple of horses in the river. It was great fun swimming with the horses and jumping from their backs. I’m a lucky girl to live in an area with such a beautiful natural environment. After we went for a swim we prepared lunch. We had brought a small bbq down to the river with the intention of cooking up a nice bit of steak for lunch. However, since we forgot a lighter and cannot start a fire with sticks, that didn’t quite work out! We ended up just eating ‘rabbit food’ and a couple of neenish tarts yum yum! This is the perfect time of year!

I received some more photos from Jackaroo last night. Am hoping to have them up today or tomorrow – stay tuned!