Battling The Barkly Breeze
‘When I left Fairholme I was a scrawny 17 year old weighing 47kg. I left everything and everyone behind to go to Northern Territory.’
Emm Bambling was after a life on the land, even if it meant starting off as a Governess.
‘That didn’t last long given my heart was set on being in a stock camp. So I got to work in the stock camp between the main and outstation for a year and a half.’
So began the journey of ‘having a go’ at anything and everything. Emm undertook study in Business Administration, and transferred to a gardening role which allowed her to still get out and muster.
‘At the end of 2016, my Managers, who I had a great relationship with, decided to move on to another place, and so I thought I needed to try something different as well.’
So, at the start of 2017 Emm began studying at CQU in Rockhampton, but was distracted by an advertisement for a station administration role for Alexandria NAPCO. She ‘had a go’, and what do you know? She was successful.
Her love for the land strengthens with every change, but she admits it is a love hate relationship.
‘I can’t really describe what the best part has been because there’s quite a few awful days but for some strange reason I keep coming back so generally you either love it or you hate it. The good days are always ten times better than the bad. It must be the Barkly breeze that keeps blowing me back!’
Emm admits the path hasn’t been what she’d pictured.
‘I guess when I was at school I had this romantic vision of riding along mustering cattle and meeting a handsome stockman.’
That vision came to a grinding halt when the ambitious fresh faced Emm hit the muster for the first time.
‘I’ll never forget the first time we went out to camp and had a 4.30am breakfast – so we had to be up at 3.45am to be at breakfast at 4am to cut our lunch for the day. Then we had to try to catch our horses in the dark, mine conveniently black, made it even harder to find, while someone was yelling at me to “HURRY UP and get your horse on the truck so we can go!” Then having a long day in the saddle of either being hungry or thirsty - or both. I was often told at the end of the day “you’re the most useless person, get out of my sight” – and as for the handsome stockman – it’s more like a scrawny jackaroo!’ Emm is laughing, but when she considers her first year in the Northern Territory she admits it was tough. Really tough. She wanted to go home every day.
‘But I never wanted that awful stockman to know he had broken me, to see me go home with my head down. So I hung in there. A year later he was gone and I was the last one standing. I was proud of my persistence and I went on to work two more years at Helen Springs.’
Emm says her years boarding at Fairholme College helped instill in her a strong work ethic and determination.
‘Fairholme taught me the lesson of grace. Although at the time, I was completely unaware of it. It’s funny how you look back after school and realise how much everyone did for us, the lengths our parents went to, to send us to a great place like Fairholme.’
Emm now lives on a station called Alexandria, which employs around 30 people. It has its own medical clinic, a butcher shop and Emm is employed as the Administration Officer.
‘No matter what position people are working on everyone has an early start and long hours; but at the end of the day it’s generally the lifestyle that people stay out here for, if you happen to have a good job that makes things even better.’
Her journey is far from over, with plans to study Agribusiness at Marcus Oldham in Victoria.
Emm sent us poem about her days on the land, encouraging Fairholme girls to never give up.
Oh the Barkly what an unforgiving place,
What draws me back, is it the open space?
You kill us in summer with the harsh heat,
and then again in winter you have us beat,
That unrelenting breeze – which you certainly won’t forget,
and no-one else believes it will steady you from a sweat.
When you get put up the rails by that mad cow,
or when your horse plays the right cards and you wonder how;
for when you’re laying in your swag so cold you’re dressed for the next day,
and then you’re woken up early because it’s your turn to go feed out hay;
With the people in your camp you all become so close,
but trust me by the end you will have had your fair dose.
The hardest thing you will ever do is have to walk away,
because forever the memories of those days will play;
There’ll be times you laugh there’ll be times you cry,
but for some strange reason I just can’t say goodbye!
To the girls in year 12 I’ll leave you with that,
I wish you all the best and give yourself a pat on the back;
You’ve made it this far, and with a new journey ahead,
I hope when you look back you’re happy with the life you’ve lead;
Be bold, be out-there and give life a good whirl,
but never forget, you’re always a Fairholme girl.