WHAT IS THE STAFF ACCOMMODATION LIKE?
Some things to think about before you leave:
If you are flying to the station be aware that you may be subject to excess baggage charges for carrying your swag. For example, Qantas allow seven kilogram carry-on luggage and 23 kilogram checked in luggage which must conform to size restraints. Check with your airline carrier before you fly and organise to purchase excess baggage before you arrive at the airport as it will be a lot cheaper.
If you have lived in a rental house, you would know that your possessions are not covered for loss or damage under the landlord’s insurance policy. It is the same on the stations. If you have valuable items with you, or cannot afford to lose your belongings, then you are strongly encouraged to arrange personal insurance on your possessions.
Most stations have a basic store where essential items can be purchased, i.e. washing powder, soap, shampoo, toothpaste etc. It is best to bring a small supply until you find out what is available. Cigarettes and beer are items that may not be available, even if there is a store on the station. When in doubt, ring up the station before going to find out what is stocked and what you need to take up.
Fuel – Having your own vehicle is useful but not essential. It offers a degree of independence, especially on weekends. Most stations sell unleaded and diesel fuel.
Most stations do not have mobile coverage – some have only partial coverage in certain spots. Check your phone agreement and contact your provider if you are unable to get service as you should be able to end your current contract at no cost due to living outside their service area. Let your friends and family know that they might not be able to contact you via mobile phone.
Most stations have Wi-Fi, particularly if there is no mobile phone service or some you may be able to get Telstra Next G with a prepaid USB stick – check before you leave as you may need to make other arrangements to pay bills etc.
Money & Cash
Wages are paid by direct credit at the end of the month. Bring all your banking details, your superannuation fund details and your tax file number when you come to sign up for a job. Goods bought at the station store will be debited to your wage account monthly so you don’t need cash to purchase stores items.
Your Room & Personal Items
All stations have single accommodation so you might like to bring personal items such as photos, books, IPad / Computer, football, guitar or anything to remind you of home and make your room and down time more comfortable.
What will I need to bring to live on a station?
Below is a list of the essential equipment needed. You may find other things useful when you have been there a while that you can bring back after holidays or order through the post or store.
- Bedding (a single bed is provided but you will need bedding): a sleeping bag/doona, blankets & pillow
- Most stations you will need a swag for stock camps
- Mosquito dome for your swag if it doesn’t come with one
- Two or three litre Camel pack to carry water when mustering
- Five litre water bottle
- Motorbike helmet, goggles and gloves – for sheep stations
- Riding boots, saddle bag & hobble belt – for cattle stations
You will need cool clothes for summer and warm clothes for winter
- Three to four pairs of jeans or work pants
- Three to four work shirts, preferably cotton with long sleeves and pockets
- Two or three pairs work shorts and short sleeved shirts if desired
- Work boots – elastic sided, comfortable, secure fit (not steel capped)
- Work socks – bamboo seem expensive but you’ll get your money’s worth
- Jumpers – work and casual
- Hat with full brim (Akubra) & beanies/balaclavas
- A Drizabone or waterproof jacket
- Casual clothing and shoes to wear to BBQ and night meals
- Safety sunglasses for work and sunscreen
- Torch and spare batteries
- Battery operated alarm clock and spare batteries
- Pocket knife
- Insect repellent
- Small first aid kit including painkillers/Band-Aids/antiseptic cream etc.
- Pegs & washing powder
- Pocket notebook and pens
- Sewing kit with needles, buttons and cotton
- Personal hygiene items such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, comb, moisturiser etc.
Bring at least three blankets or a warm doona or sleeping bag. Your swag will be used regularly on some stations where there will be a lot of camping out to prepare you for an early start or to be closer to the yards or outstation where you are working.
Your work clothes are going to get dirty! From sweat, grease, mud, oil, rain etc.…op shops are a great place to find cheap work clothes. It is helpful to have long sleeved shirts with pockets that have button down flaps. This will keep a pocket notebook and biro secure so they won’t fall into the first trough that you clean and also keep the sun off your arms and neck.
A well-fitting, good quality pair of elastic sided work-boots is essential and it is probably worth spending a bit more and buying the 'airsole' versions. You will be on your feet all day everyday so try and wear them in a bit before you leave if they are new. This way you can be sure they are the right fit as boots that are too big will rub, and blisters and sore feet will make you miserable. Likewise with pants, make sure they fit well as loose clothing can rub on your skin and chafe and be a danger around machinery.
A reliable battery or windup clock can be bought for a few dollars. Most stations turn the generator off at night.
A torch is essential. On short winter days it is often dark at breakfast and after tea at night. Some stations run the lights off batteries when the generator is off. These run down quickly so it is important to turn lights off when you leave a room and having a torch makes it easier to find your way back to your room in the dark.
A cheap orienteering compass helps you establish your sense of direction when you are learning to read maps and to find your way around the station.
Helmets are compulsory and must be done up securely at all times on motor bikes. Whilst the company does have spare helmets for short term workers such as backpackers, if you are permanent you will need to purchase your own. This way you can ensure a comfortable fit, but more importantly maximise safety whilst getting a style and type of helmet that suits you. White helmets are the preferred colour as they are cooler and are the most visible whilst aerial mustering. We recommend white open-face helmets with a small brim. The company will rebate some of the cost of purchasing your own motor bike helmet. It is recommended you also bring gloves and goggles.
Due to the lack of mobile coverage most stations have a staff phone and you can purchase Telstra phone-cards (which are sold at the station store) for personal calls.
Stations have television reception, mostly two channels, the ABC and Imparja.
The ranches understand the importance of a balanced life. Barbeques and other social events such as a game of cricket or footy are regularly organised on the station. Other recreational activities to enjoy in your spare time include rodeos and camp drafts, picnic races and agricultural shows, horse races and country dances, fishing and swimming.
While every station and every person is different, this list should help you prepare for your time on a ranch station. Go to work with an open mind, ready for an experience of a lifetime and you will be rewarded with a challenging and rare career opportunity that will help you gain invaluable skills to use later in life.