Life on the Land
“It looked pretty good last time I was home. They’d had about three inches of rain which is pretty good.”
Emma Hagan is destined for a life on the land. It’s where her heart is.
“I know that Fairholme is the best place for me for an education, for making life long friends, but I love being at home.”
Home is a two million acre property known as Headingly Station. It’s one of the biggest stations in Australia.
During the July school holidays Emma spent every day mustering cattle, branding them and preg testing them.
“We had a vet come out and we tested around 1,000 cattle. Less than a hundred weren’t pregnant.”
On the same day they tested, three delivered healthy calves.
“We weren’t expecting them that soon! Next time I go home there’ll be so many baby calves.” The excitement in her voice and on her face is worth bottling.
Emma spends her days at home riding bikes, rounding up cattle. This time, though, she had surprise bird’s eye view.
“Our head stockman heard I’d never been in a helicopter before. So he put me up in one. It was smaller than I thought but you could see so much more. It’s so hard to find all the cattle and you can’t waste all that time and fuel riding around on bikes trying to find them, so we use the helicopters.”
They use the helicopters to push them into the bores or into yards where they’re branded.
Emma’s parents manage the huge property, and she spends her holidays working in the Stock Camp, getting her hours up for her Cert III, in Vet Nursing.
Breakfast is at 5am, followed by a full day of chasing cattle.
“Even though we work all day and I don’t get that much time with my family, I love at night time we all come together and talk about the day. Sometimes we watch X Factor and shows like that.”
It’s hard to readjust when she’s back in the Boarding House.
“I usually wake up at the usual 4am – and realise I’m back in the Boarding House and I just go back to sleep.”
In September she’ll take a friend from the Boarding House home on the long journey to Headingly Station. Emma catches the Airport Flier to Brisbane, where she gets on a plane and twelve hours later she’s home.
There’s rarely a beach holiday, but she doesn’t mind at all. Emma says she and her sister, a former Fairholme student, are girls on the land.
Sometimes she visits her Grandparents in the Northern Territory or her other Grandparents, from Victoria, make the trek to the Headingly.
And while she’s home, she gets on a horse and competes in Campdrafting competitions.
“I like campdrafting. It’s just fun to get on the horse. Mum and Dad watch when they can and give me tips on what I can do to improve. I like that.”
The move to Boarding School, after years in School of the Air, and two million acres of free range, was a rude shock to the country loving girl.
“At first I hated classrooms – when you’re trying to concentrate there’s all these girls in there making so much noise. But now those girls are the people that I turn to.”
Emma calls her Mum and Dad most afternoons, planning the next trip home and her moment of being back out on the land, with her pet goats, Linda and Gerard.
In the meantime though, Emma says Fairholme is better preparing her for a real career on the Land.