Life on an outback station is a particular combination of sweat and smiles. 

Photo Nathan Dyer

When OUTBACK photojournalists visited pastoral stations across Australia for the 2021 edition of OUTBACK Stations magazine, they asked young ringers what attracted them to the work. Most cracked into a wide grin and talked about the horses, the people, the stock and the space. 

Horses are a major drawcard for many stock workers. Ringer Will Crosby sees Jumbuck Pastoral’s Killarney station, in the Territory’s Victoria River District, as an ideal place to utilise his horse skills and gain experience working with stock. “There’s always more to learn and I love all the horse work,” he says.

Ross Myhill runs the largest station in Queensland, Paraway Pastoral Company’s Davenport Downs in the Channel Country. Known for his mentoring skills, Ross has invested years in low-stress stock handling techniques and likes to spend his days on a horse. Head stockman Nick Kliese set his sights on working on Davenport “so I could learn as much as I could from Ross”. 

Steve Drury, manager on Alexandria, NAPCo’s flagship cattle station on the Barkly Tableland, NT, reckons you’ve got to keep staff motivated and inspired. “We’ve got a great crew,” he says. “A lot of these guys have been with us for three years.” 

With 50 staff members and 150 horses, Alexandria prides itself in catering to families. Station administration officer Kelly Locke is happy to see her two children enjoy the village atmosphere of the remote station. Her nine-year-old son William is into motorbikes, while daughter Tennalea, 8, is a horse-lover. “Because there are other families, the kids get experience with other kids,” she says. “They might have their little tiffs, but they all get along really well.” 

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This story excerpt is from Issue #138

Outback Magazine: August/September 2021