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OUTBACK family shares their story

LABOUR OF LOVE: For Jane and Haydn Sale and their children Tilly and Gus, going to the supermarket involves an eight-hour round trip on mostly dirt roads.
LABOUR OF LOVE: For Jane and Haydn Sale and their children Tilly and Gus, going to the supermarket involves an eight-hour round trip on mostly dirt roads. Contributed

HAVE you ever wondered what it's like living five hours from the nearest supermarket?

Or having a million acres as your backyard, with neighbours a two-hour drive away? How about going to primary school on the internet and having your mail delivered by plane, while you spend your days mustering cattle using horses, motorbikes and helicopters?

The Central Station journal has been created by a group of women, who love their way of life in the northern cattle industry. Each week, the journal is hosted by a different cattle station or people involved in agriculture - they are all passionate about animal welfare, the environment and their role as food producers.

 

You wouldn't move to the middle of nowhere, pregnant and with an 18-month-old without housing, electricity, internet or permanent phone lines, unless you were very passionate, very adventurous and probably a little crazy.

 

These are their stories...

MY NAME is Jane Sale and with my husband Haydn, we part own and manage Yougawalla Pastoral Company in the Kimberleys.

Station life with our two children, Gus and Tilly, is very busy, to say the least. We have three other families living between our two properties, Yougawalla and Bulka Station, as well as seasonal staff. We started at Yougawalla almost six years ago and apart from a few dams for the existing cattle to drink at and a third of the boundary fenced, it was a bare block of about 344,000 hectares.

The development of Yougawalla has been a huge labour of love, which it had to be - you wouldn't move to the middle of nowhere, pregnant and with an 18-month-old without housing, electricity, internet or permanent phone lines, unless you were very passionate, very adventurous and probably a little bit crazy!

What we did have were two families as business partners investing with us, offering us moral, as well as financial, support to build Yougawalla from scratch.

They have a huge amount of faith in us, not only making a further investment into Bulka Station in 2011, but also standing by us through the hard times we have faced since the live export ban the same year.

Originally, I was a city girl and grew up in Melbourne. Before I met Haydn I had been living in an apartment and working in the city for six years, so "station life" was quite a change. Haydn grew up in Melbourne also, but spent most of his childhood on a family farm in Victoria and has been on the land since he left school and went to New England University to study Agricultural Economics.

A few years after we met, we bought a small block near Katherine in the Northern Territory. We went north for the land and water opportunities. The small block on the Katherine River came with an established mango orchard but after being wiped out by the 1998 floods, the rest of the property needed a lot of work.

Within a few years, with my family as partners, we bought our own cattle and agisted them south of Katherine.

The opportunity to buy Yougawalla arose early in 2007, and with our partners on board and some wonderful staff, we have developed it.

We now have two houses, workers' quarters, sheds and infrastructure.

Every service has been its own victory - including the mail plane arriving once a week delivering the children's school work for their School of the Air lessons, and fresh groceries and saving an eight-hour round trip to the supermarket, mostly on a dirt road.

We have a solar-powered electricity system that runs the homestead area, with minimal use of the diesel generator. We now have 50 watering sites for our cattle, as well as 300km of fencing.

So, between the two stations, as well as country we lease on bordering properties, we now run about 20,000 cattle on this beautiful Kimberley country.

 For more Central Station stories make sure you get next week's Rural Weekly. or go to ruralweekly.com.au.

Topics:  beef industry central station kimberleys northern australia outback