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Travellers Tales

by Vici 

Posted: 06 April 2004
Word Count: 536

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Travellers Tales

Ever thought about working in the outback? Wrestling crocs and dodging wild
buffalo, not to mention the variety of snakes and spiders. Hmm... there is a
certain romance though, about tipping your cowboy hat and galloping into the
sunset, right?

Well, the reality is that the nearest Internet is 2 hours away and the phone
never works. Mobile coverage? Forget it! 'Town' is a half-hour drive over
a pothole sand track, if you can get a lift that is. The job is mustering
and farm work, the place is the Northern Territory. Remote, yes, like a
cross between 'Crocodile Dundee' swamps and jungle. It is also extremely

But there is nothing quite like riding out and watching the sun rise up over
the jewel green canopies of rainforest like scrub. The sweet smell of horse
and leather combined with the fresh smell of the bush.

The muster is the exciting part, hiding in the bush on horseback, while
choppers whirl overhead chasing the cattle past us. We follow them across
paddocks and creeks into the yards, which can be a days ride away. The fun
is in the chase, galloping at break-neck speed after the cow that inevitably
breaks away from the herd, seeing its frightened eyes and smelling its
sweat, as it ducks in and out of creeks and canyons with you in pursuit!

Then the yard work, where I was in charge of giving every cow an injection,
making me feel a bit like school matron, although I did manage to stab
myself in the leg once. Also chasing cattle into the 'dip' which rids them
of problems like ticks. This sounds like a simple job, but proved more
difficult while being butted from behind by a cow with an attitude.
Apparent hilarity, as I leapt up onto the fence! You gotta be quick!

We also got to help out with castration, (watch out blokes, now I know how
to do it!) and testing to see it heifers are pregnant, not a very dignified
job, as the vet nearly disappears up the backside of a cow. Not the best
job before dinner.

We get to do a bit of everything here, last week it was putting out bush
fires, which was scary stuff, as I was literally driven into a roaring fire
armed only with a hose pipe! I could easily have been mistaken for an
Aboriginal after that, as I was covered from head to foot in soot!

I have learnt so much in just a month here, more than I'd ever have dreamt.
Just the thought of fixing a fence would have had me reaching for the phone
book to get a 'proper bloke' out to do it. So if you're willing to give it a go,
Northern Territory style, you get a lot of respect.

My work was arranged through the 'Visit Oz' organisation, who are great at
getting you paid jobs and even put you through a 5 day course to prepare you
for life in the outback.

But a work for the wise girls, forget your nails, pull your sleeves up and
get stuck in, because this is nothing like 'McCleod's Daughters'.

Word Count = 548

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Comments by other Members

Account Closed at 20:54 on 06 April 2004  Report this post
Hi Vici,
This sounded like a tough trip and it must have been difficult to set foot in even a small town after experiencing such vast expanses.

You definately managed to describe your experiences well. I think you mean 'word' not 'work' in the final para and there is a repetition of the word job in another para - maybe you could change the second line?

Look forward to reading about other travel experiences


sue n at 22:39 on 21 April 2004  Report this post
Hi Vici
Enjoyed the piece. I liked it when you described the smell etc. It is a short piece and I would have enjoyed more - more detail, more description from the senses etc.
Where were you in the Northern territory?

old friend at 11:00 on 11 August 2005  Report this post
Hello Vici,

Sorry I missed this on its first round.

This is a nicely-written piece of non-fiction but it can be improved so much. You have a keen eye for observation and for the presentation of facts.

Try to bring in more emotion, more detail and even more people. It would be nice to 'hear' the voices of others. A snatch of conversation here and there would help.

'days' needs an apostrophe.

Best of Luck.


neilwills at 20:19 on 14 January 2006  Report this post
Very interesting account of your time in the outback. Nicely written and informative. Good stuff.

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