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.

 

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!

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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Nail Polish Hinders Performance?

I wasn’t born into a farming family. Rather in Brisbane – to a bank teller and a boilermaker. I’ve always loved horses though. In fact, I got banned from using the ‘H’ word from a young age. It’s only been the past 6 or so years that I’ve immersed myself into everything country. When I’m interested in something, it consumes every thought. I often plan what I will do when I get a property, what cattle and horses I’d stock, the dogs I’d use and how I’d manage the paddocks.

I know that I can’t do some things, that some farm tasks are beyond my experience or ability (since I have a dicky knee!). However, when it comes to effort and enthusiasm – there’s not too many who would surpass me. Making mistakes is not an option when I start out – however I often end up with a dirty backside! I am usually pretty capable though, and keen to prove myself. If that charging beast is to be blocked, send old Jess. She’s got cajones (apparently it’s Mexican for balls).

A few months ago I visited my parents in the Pilbara, Western Australia. To get home, I had to take 3 flights. The first from Karratha to Perth, the next from Perth to Melbourne, then from Melbourne to Brisbane. Because of problems with the plane, about 25 of us missed our connecting flight from Melbourne to Brisbane. We were put up at a hotel in Melbourne for the night. We were also given free meals at the hotel restaurant for our stay. During dinner I heard a couple of the ladies talking about this girl named Jess, from the same town I was from, and that she had been working on a station. I had been speaking to an Aboriginal ringer on the last flight and wondered if they had overheard. I thought they were talking about me! Turns out they weren’t… I was curious who they were talking about though, and decided to find out.

The next day, we all made our way for our rescheduled flight. I sat down, stuck my nose in a book and waited for the flight to be called. I could just about smell her before I saw her. A girl about the same age came and sat next to me. It was obvious she was the Jess they had been talking about the night before. I introduced myself and we got chatting. Turns out she was working on a sheep station out woop woop. We got talking about working dogs and the likes, until she asked what I do. At that stage, I was hoping my knee would hold up enough to go mustering full time. Her eyes widened when I told her what my plans were. She looked me up and down. From my painted toes, to my plucked eyebrows. Conversation died after that. Apparently the way I looked affected my working ability. Painting my nails made me too prissy, a wannabe, or a rooey bastard if you will (read older posts for definition). Maybe I should’ve walked outside, rolled in some dirt and then sat back down next to her. May have earned some respect then!

Really, the nail polish doesn’t stop me from working… It just hides the red dirt beneath them.

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Dirt and blood from cutting calves on a station in Central Queensland. I wear gloves most of the time, but not while cutting!