Constantly on the move

Constantly on the move

Rory (left) with Mia (5), Joey (7), Tom (1), Darcie (9) and Kristie de Pledge take a break from work at Koordarrie station.

Rory (left) with Mia (5), Joey (7), Tom (1), Darcie (9) and Kristie de Pledge take a break from work at Koordarrie station.


BUILT from the ground up, Koordarrie station, Onslow, is where Rory and Kristie de Pledge and their four children call home.


BUILT from the ground up, Koordarrie station, Onslow, is where Rory and Kristie de Pledge and their four children call home.

The original homestead was abandoned in the late 1970s and was unliveable for 30 years until the de Pledges set their eyes on it.

After first meeting at the neighbouring cattle station, Yanrey, in 2006, Rory and Kristie made it their dream to put life back into the cattle station and make it their own.

For 30 years the station was run alongside Yanrey as one business.

Rory said for years he would do mill runs out at Koordarrie and would always be on the lookout for the right spot.

After years he and Kristie picked the perfect location for a new homestead.

In 2010, the couple cleared a patch of ground and with help from the de Pledge family, they got to work.

They built new sheds, water tanks and infrastructure for the new homestead.

“It was a big job,” Rory said.

“Looking back, it was hard, but it was fun too.

“We were able to set up the homestead from scratch, make a plan and do it how we wanted to, instead of taking on hundreds of years worth of problems,” he said.

At the time Rory and Kristie had their first two children, Darcie and Joey.

Rory said they were spending time between the two stations.

While the homestead was being built, the family of four, lived in a caravan at Koordarrie.

The original abandoned homestead was to the east of the property and was not in a great location,” he said.

“Where the homestead is now is more central.

“We picked it (the location) because it was closer to the yards and to the water pipes.

“It looks very different now than what it did when we first it moved across – we have trees and grass now.”

Rory said when people first visited, they would be greeted with disbelief and surprise.

He said people couldn’t believe they lived, literally in the middle of nowhere.

All that has changed now – the homestead has green grass, trees and everything a family of six needs.

Yanrey and Koordarie officially became two separately-run station enterprises in 2013 – a dream come true for Rory and Kristie, who wanted to own and run their own station.

They have strong pastoral roots in WA, with more than four generations of pastoralists on both sides.

Before meeting Rory, Kristie worked at a number of well-known stations across Australia, in Kununurra, New South Wales and then to Victoria to work on a Quarter horse stud.

Kristie grew up on a sheep and cattle station, at Mt Phillip in the Gascoyne.

Rory grew up on Mandora station, 80 Mile Beach, south of Broome and later worked as a mechanic in Port Hedland, before moving back to station life at Yanrey.

In the rich history of Koordarrie, Kristie had family ties to the station.

Her grandmother was the caretaker of the old station homestead in the 70s and was one of the last people to live in there, before it became abandoned.

When they first came to the station, it ran about 2500 cattle.

Over the years they have increased that to more than 4000 Droughtmaster cattle, for domestic and international markets.

Three years ago, Rory said he had heard about Ultrablack and became interested in the breed.

He had been watching other pastoralists in the north move into Ultrablacks during that time and witnessed their success.

Recently he decided to try out the breed and purchased six Ultrablack bulls to put over the Droughtmaster line.

“We will always be Droughtmasters based,” he said.

“But we purchased these Ultrablacks from the Wheatbelt to give them a go here and see how they perform.”

Keeping up a good line of genetics, Rory purchased another six Droughtmaster bulls at Muchea this month.

“We have had a good season.”

“So we want to build up and maintain our herd.”

On average the rainfall at Koordarrie is about 270 millimetres, but already this season has seen about 320mm.

“We have been very lucky over the years,” he said.

“Last summer was dry but the winter rains really saved us.

“We have had a pretty good run out here.

“We are lucky the timing of us moving and setting our own station up has been good with beef prices and rain.”

Rory said the station would always be a work in progress.

With a strong emphasis on low-stress cattle handling he said building more laneways, cattle yards and fencing would be the next step for the station.

“You can never not keep improving,” he said.

“We want to keep developing our yards and add more fences and water points.”

Rory said genetics and developing the herd would continue to be the station’s focus.

A muster will be held in May with the main muster round in September.

Now living the dream, Rory and Kristie said stepping up as the next generation wasn’t always easy, but it was rewarding.

“We couldn’t have done it without the family support,” Rory said.

“We are all in it together, even though we have separate businesses we are still all there for each other.”

Rory said it was about taking every opportunity and working for it.

“We have worked hard for what we have,” he said.

“My mum and dad gave us all an opportunity and Polly (sister), Peter (brother-in-law) and Kim “Cob” (brother) and I have all grabbed the ball and run with it.

“We have all had to work hard to make it happen.”


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