How a UK fashionista survived (then loved) the outback...

STARTING OUT: Before I knew what correct yard clothes were and that poddies are evil.
STARTING OUT: Before I knew what correct yard clothes were and that poddies are evil. Contributed

In this edition, "The Out-back-packer" shares her engaging experiences of working in the Australian bush.

WELL, I've swapped my Comme des Garcons shirts for R.M. Williams ones, despite mocking the self-proclaimed "bush outfitter" attire as an outback newbie.

After completing an arts degree and working in an office-based graduate role for a luxury fashion retailer, I came to Australia hoping for a glamorous career at, like, a glossy magazine or some totally hot marketing company.

Needless to say, I didn't expect to be writing this from the outback, let alone 3142km from the nearest Topshop.

I arrived in Sydney in mid-Aussie winter and, after deciding I did not spend £1000 on a flight to be cold, I headed to Darwin.

On my first day I made a couple of major errors...the first one was using the c-word..

My funds quickly ran dry and it became obvious the only way I was going to make money up there was to don a fluoro shirt and steelies.

Unfortunately, a fancy London degree doesn't get you a job in the construction industry.

So I'd settled on venturing to Melbourne in search of sushi, members-only nightclubs and a job "in fashion".

Around the same time, I received a life-changing call from Dave, the manager of a cattle station. Having only heard the term "station" in reference to somewhere you get on trains, I had no idea what he was talking about or why the recruitment agency I was signed to had sent him my number.

But, with a "might as well" attitude, I soon found myself on an 11-hour Greyhound heading south.

I signed up to be camp cook for the stock camp team and on my first day I made a couple of major errors.

The first one was using the C word - not the one you're probably thinking of, but "cow".

To me, all the cattle were cows.

"That's a heifer," I was briskly informed, alongside a background of laughter. My second mistake was to agree to go "turkey shooting" at the turkey's nest with the head stockman.

Naively I thought a lovely roast turkey would be a welcome alternative to beef on my menu.

I had no idea that it was ... well, let's not go there. Thankfully one of the female camp members intervened, with my fellow backpacker, Rosie, who I have to credit most for helping me settle in to station life.

The colleagues I met at the station have changed my life: they showed me that a country life is the best life by involving me in all aspects of the station.

The opportunities I have been given and experiences I have had, have consequently resulted in me nattering to all my city-loving friends to find a station job.

For instance, I rode a motorbike for the first time. Sure, I burnt my leg on the exhaust, but I was not going to miss an opportunity to tan by wearing jeans, was I?

I've now been on a horse, loaded cattle onto road trains, driven trucks and utes, been on bore-runs with the hilarious pilot, cooked upwards of a million steaks, cared for poddies (ugh), and done yard work in thigh-deep mud.

I saw how the drought was affecting Queensland farmers, even early on in the so-called "wet season".

This, more than anything, showed me first-hand that Australia is not a place to come and get brown and drunk. It's a beautiful nation with an ever-changing landscape, full of hard-working, passionate individuals.

Other outback discoveries are that roos are not a novelty - they're just ute-wreckers - country music is pretty catchy, Vegemite and cheese toasties cure any hangover and boot-cut jeans are more flattering than skinny ones (don't tell my hipster friends I think that).

I also learnt that the best sandwich in the world comes from Longreach.

As I bit into that divine chicken caesar roll, in the town that most backpackers won't have heard of, I felt like one lucky pommy.

Topics:  central station