Remote work helps Josie find her feet

Remote work helps Josie find her feet


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 For the past six years, Josie Lane, from the Perth Hills has gone bush, working on remote cattle and sheep stations in the Kimberley, Pilbara and along the Nullarbor Plain.

For the past six years, Josie Lane, from the Perth Hills has gone bush, working on remote cattle and sheep stations in the Kimberley, Pilbara and along the Nullarbor Plain.

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Growing up in the Perth Hills, Josie was missing a sense of direction when she finished high school.

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YOUR twenties are usually spent exploring.

Exploring the country or world and exploring your identity - to find what you are passionate about; what drives you; and what do you really want to do in life.

At 23 years old, Josie Lane has wasted no time in doing just that.

Growing up in the Perth Hills, Josie was missing a sense of direction when she finished high school.

She had no interest in studying anything in particular and was working full-time at a chemist.

Feeling bored and unstimulated in her current situation, her ears perked up when she learned of some work a friend had done on pastoral stations.

"I asked her what she actually did and after seeing some photos and having the concept of a roustabout explained to me, I started considering some options," Josie said.

She called a shearing contractor the next day and was quickly out the door of her family home to move to Esperance.

"That was six years ago now and I haven't been home to live since (other than for Christmas or short breaks)," she said.

The initial idea was to make her way around Australia while working as a roustabout from one shearing contract to the next.

"I got as far as South Australia on a little station circuit and met some amazing families who ran a few of the properties," she said.

"They took me out on the weekends and showed me what happened outside the shed.

"I was blown away by the massive amount of behind-the-scenes work there was that made the part that I saw happen, which was just about sheep in the shed."

With two weeks to spare until her next contract, Josie asked for some work experience.

"It was the most eye-opening few weeks and after completing my shearing contract there (Madura Plains station), I was hooked on the motorbikes and paddock side of the sheep industry.

"So I asked for a job with the company and they took me on and sent me down the road to the biggest sheep station in Australia (Rawlinna) and I went from there."

For the past six years Josie has seen a side of Western Australia and agriculture that even many people from farming families wouldn't see.

Her thirst to learn new skills and willingness to have a go has taken her from the South Coast's Rawlinna station along the Nullarbor Plain, to Blina station and Mt House station in the Kimberley and Mulga Downs in the Pilbara.

Through the various properties, Josie has worked with sheep and cattle, experienced how stations are run differently and learnt more skills to use in everyday life than she ever expected, such as changing tyres, preparing meat and horse riding.

Constantly working with different people from all walks of life has enabled Josie to also develop her people skills.

Mustering, in spite of its challenges, is the favourite part of her work.

"I really enjoy mustering, being out in the paddock and having the adrenaline that comes with responding to what the animals are doing and being outdoors, experiencing the amazing sites of the outback first hand," Josie said.

"Every day is different, just as every mob is different and you never know what you're going to get.

"I enjoy the challenge and being able to learn something new everyday."

For many people the isolation of station life is too difficult to live with.

Although she initially took time to adjust, Josie now cherishes the remote lifestyle.

"What I found challenging to adjust to at first are now some aspects of the lifestyle that I enjoy the most," she said.

"The disconnection from social media and basic living are now some of my favourite parts of returning to the bush.

"As hard as it was to get used to living with the bare essentials, especially when camped out, it's been wonderful to learn to appreciate the little things and comforts in life.

"This isn't a job but a whole lifestyle, and the animals and land is something I feel deeply passionate about, so it can be really distressing if the land is suffering from the elements and you have to watch the animals struggle.

"I also like the style of living with a small group that become family - I have met some very inspiring people and have good mates in the middle of nowhere."

Some highlights over the years included learning to ride a horse and "the feeling of achievement when you finish shearing just shy of 65,000 sheep and you move the last wool bale out of the shed, was pretty cool".

However there have been times when the communication difficulties of isolation have been a concern, including not being able to contact colleagues if she is out on her own and needs help.

"Being sent really far out to do jobs alone or with one other person can be daunting if you get faced with surprise weather changes or mechanical breakdowns, because the decisions you make then can be quite detrimental, so I don't enjoy the very realistic fear of not being able to call for help if I seriously need it."

Josie is a prime example of the adventures and personal growth people can experience when stepping out of their comfort zone.

Before station work Josie had very limited experience to agriculture throughout her life - her parents lived and worked on a station in the Pilbara when she was four years old and she had the occasional visit to relatives' farms - and she didn't have much of an interest in the industry.

"I was probably the last person one would have picked at age 17 to swap makeup, material possessions and comfortable living, which I took far too much for granted, for a simple, hard but wonderfully unique life in the outback," Josie said.

"I am still amazed that I stumbled into this line of work somehow, but am so pleased I did and managed to find a life that I made and love."

Having the flexibility to decide where to work and when has also given Josie the freedom to tick various items off her bucket list with overseas travel and volunteering with disaster recovery.

While the past six years has been a major adventure for Josie (which looks like it's not over yet), it has also been an experience of growth.

"The agricultural industry has been a major life changer and stepping stone for me to see what options are out there and helping me find the direction I want to take career wise," she said.

"It has allowed me to find what I am passionate about and capable of.

"It is a solid career option and would be very hard to move away from."

The diversity of agriculture has enabled Josie to gain an insight into other industries and job roles and has since discovered her ultimate dream is to be a paramedic.

She plans to combine her interest in healthcare with a love for the outback by moving to the Top End - either Katherine or Darwin - to study nursing, with the hope to travel while gaining experience, before undertaking paramedicine.

"Hopefully by then I can find a station property close enough to town to be able to continue my growth in agriculture and the cattle industry, while still being able to help people in a medical capacity," she said.

Deciding to move to the remote bush six years ago might have seemed like a hasty decision, but Josie hasn't looked back and it is something that she will never forget.

If one thing can be said, she is certainly not bored anymore working a 9am to 5pm job.

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