Ashley and Debbie Dowden are the fifth generation of Dowdens at the helm of the Murchison’s Challa Station, traditionally a sheep property but currently running cattle.

Story Jill Griffiths   Photo Lara Jensen

Ashley Dowden is the fifth generation of Dowdens on Challa Station, which sits in the Murchison region of Western Australia, 60 kilometres east of Mount Magnet, 600km north-east of Perth. He never considered he’d do anything other than run Challa. He went to boarding school in Perth and then spent a few years travelling around Australia before returning.

“As a later-generation station owner, I consider myself lucky,” Ashley says. “We’ve relied on the luck of the choices of previous generations as well as good management decisions. They chose well and worked hard.”

Challa Station was one of the first sheep stations established in the Murchison. Ashley’s great, great-grandfather George Chandler Dowden headed out that way in 1880 and spent a few years shepherding sheep on the saltbush country before establishing Challa in 1888. There have been Dowdens there ever since.

This story excerpt is from Issue #118

Outback Magazine: April/May 2018