I was thinking the other day what a very unique way of life we lead up here on an outback cattle station. You see, back in 2001, when I first came up to work in the NT I used to think everyone would love this sort of lifestyle. Why on earth wouldn’t you want to live up here on a station, in the middle of nowhere, 5 hours from anywhere? Why? But it turns out it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Who’d have thought huh?!
I listen to a lot of Podcasts. Whenever I listen to interviews with successful entrepreneurs they always talk about how they they don’t “socialise” with their employees. They aren’t friends as such. Which is all well and good in the 9-5 business world but it just doesn’t work like that up here.
On a cattle station you live, eat, work and play with your co-workers. You do EVERYTHING together. The boss sometimes has to be a friend, a nurse or even a counsellor. Sometimes we have to do the unimaginable and help a grieving family organise a memorial. It is called life, and we all live in each others pockets really.
So put all of that together and then add in maybe a period of 4 weeks (often longer, maybe more like months) when you don’t even leave the station and you have our life.
We eat every meal together. We work together. We go to camp drafts together, we have bbq’s together, we have Christmas together, we celebrate Birthday’s together, so I am sorry but that whole – don’t be friends with your employees business just doesn’t work up here. Everyone needs to get along.
Of course when you throw 15 people together
in the jungle on a station you are not going to be besties with every single one, but the important thing to remember is common courtesy.
Gosh it will get you a long way in life. You are definitely not going to like everyone, but it is so important to treat every single person with respect. Kindness is always the answer, you never know what is going on in someone else’s life or what road they have travelled. There is always a kind way to ask or tell someone what you expect.
The old “treat others as you wish to be treated” has a whole new meaning up here. Tensions can run high at times but we all have to live together so it is important we show each other respect.
So what have I come to realise after all these years? Perhaps this lifestyle isn’t for everyone. I was wrong, it turns out this isn’t the life for everyone and maybe we are made of something stronger – and maybe, just maybe I have a little more patience and tolerance than I give myself credit for. God knows you need it sometimes, if only for your children – who sometimes just need to get to town as much as the next person.
Do you live on a station? Have any little tricks that make outback living work for you? Or perhaps you have a 9-5 job where your personal life is completely separate from your work life, imagine that?!