The Murphys treat their staff like sons and daughters on the vast Northern Territory station they call home.

Story By Kerry Sharp

Raymond Murphy doesn’t believe in wasting the pre-dawn hours sleeping. With a never-ending stream of maintenance demanding his attention, the ‘Big Fella’, as his family and station workers like to call him, is often out of bed by 2am – and always by 4am – and usually has finished the bore run on Kalala Station, south of Katherine in the Northern Territory, before sun-up.
Therefore, no one gets offended when he starts to fade soon after dinner – not even the 240 guests who turned up to Kalala to celebrate the marriage of his younger daughter Cecily and her long-time mate Stephen Bethel early this year. The revellers converged from all over the country, rolled out their swags on the homestead lawn and partied non-stop for a week. Big brother ‘Tossa’ (he was christened Bradley, but no one calls him that) built a homemade spit especially for the occasion and cooked up some pork to give the guests a change from beef.
The Murphy’s home-style wedding epitomised the genuine bush hospitality of Kalala. Since the family moved here from Woodstock in north-west Queensland in 2005, it has become a warm and friendly meeting place where newcomers are embraced like family – uncles, nieces, nephews, friends of friends, eager backpackers and the occasional grey nomad are all in the mix.
Kalala Station straddles 3700 square kilometres of monsoon-influenced Sturt Plateau cattle country, an hour or so south of Katherine on the corner of the Stuart and Carpentaria highways. The sprawling homestead complex is just nine kilometres from the Daly Waters Pub.
The station’s dominant business is producing cattle for live export, but Raymond, his wife Pam, Cecily and Stephen also do contract earthmoving, fencing and hay-baling for stations on the Barkly.
Kalala runs 20,000 head of cattle on natural and introduced pastures that blanket huge tracts of the pastoral lease. All the cows are Brahman and produced predominantly for live export out of Darwin to Indonesia. Kalala’s substantial inventory includes three road trains, which allow the Murphys to truck all of their own cattle.

This story excerpt is from Issue #74

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2011