09 Feb Territory Legends
By Charlotte Thomson
For the past two years I’ve been attending university in Sydney amongst the hustle and bustle of a few million people. For a country girl who has only known the sound of crickets at night and cockatoos in the evening, the constant noise of the city is something I can’t get used to. When it all becomes too much I love to head home. But not just to the farm I grew up on, but rather the raw, rugged escarpments of the Kimberley in the Northern Territory. I spent my gap year up here 3 years ago and since then haven’t been able to stop Kimberley dreaming.
Last year I postponed my career-making internship and took off for the Territory for 2 months. One day I was handing in my last assessment for the semester. The next, I was more than 4000 kilometres away, chasing cattle, checking fences and fighting fires on Auvergne Station: over a million acres of cattle country, 180 kilometres east of Kununurra.
There are plenty of ups and downs of living in such a remote place. The relaxed, open lifestyle and the diverse bunch of people brought together by the love of the Territory. It’s knowing you have 10 hours in the saddle yet you’re still looking forward to it because of the banter of the cheeky helicopter pilot, and the game of riddles that starts up over the radio. If you’re on the tail of a mob of tired weaners, you’ll be able to practice your cutting out skills on your horse. Or even the lure of the carton the Head Stockman would put on for the first person who can throw the rogue mickey bull that won’t yard up at the end of a long day – keeps you entrenched.
It’s not all ups though. The Northern Territory is crawling with crocodiles and Auvergne Station is renowned for the salties swimming in the East and West Baines Rivers running through the property. Sometimes, as we muster paddocks, we have to cross these rivers on horseback whilst tailing a mob. Knowing there’s only a tasty-looking horse beneath you and crushing jaws is one of the scariest, most thrilling things I’ve ever done.
Despite this, I’d do it all again just to get back up there because the red dust that settles on your skin goes deeper than that – it gets into your blood.