From Boarding School to Cattle Stations: Yvette Broun (1987)

Our former students pursue various career paths, and this month, we share Yvette Broun’s (Mailey, 1987) story. Yvette tells us about her journey, starting from Santa Maria to the challenging yet fulfilling life on a cattle station.

My life has been filled with diverse experiences, both good and bad, and each one has shaped me into the person I am today. From working in shearing sheds to driving logging road trains, I’ve discovered that embracing change and following my heart can lead to extraordinary opportunities.

From Farming Town to Shearing Sheds

Growing up in Watheroo, a small farming town in Western Australia, I was accustomed to the rustic charm of country life. After finishing school, I started my career as a roustabout in shearing sheds. For twelve years, I immersed myself in this challenging yet fulfilling work, meeting my first husband along the way. At a young age, I embarked on a journey of marriage and motherhood, cherishing the arrival of my son and daughter.

Finding New Paths

When my marriage ended, I sought a fresh start and found employment as a biosecurity officer at the Department of Agriculture in Coorow. But my thirst for adventure led me to Kununurra, where I embarked on a mission to discover my ultimate job and life. I remarried a farmer from Coorow and enrolled my children as boarders at Aquinas and Santa Maria. After spending a few years on the farm, I moved to Perth and ran my own saddlery business.

Overcoming Challenges and New Beginnings

Life took an unexpected turn when my second marriage ended due to illness. Despite the hardships, I persevered and worked as a security officer in Karratha. Following a life-changing operation, I became a vessel traffic services officer, handling the coordination of maritime traffic in the Dampier/Pilbara Port Authority. This role opened doors for me as I took on the responsibility of running and coordinating the Sino Irons Cape Preston Iron Ore port.

Entrepreneurship and Unconventional Roles

In my pursuit of diverse experiences, I ventured into entrepreneurship, starting a small business with my daughter. We cooked meal packs for farmers and families but faced economic challenges due to poor harvests and the arrival of Covid-19. Undeterred, I took on unexpected roles, such as driving logging road trains and operating heavy machinery at the Roy Hill mine site. These roles brought me respect from my colleagues in the logging industry and showcased the capabilities of women in non-traditional occupations.

Embracing Station Life

After COVID-19, I decided to pursue a long-held dream of working as a station hand. I advertised my skills on farming and station sites and soon found myself on a cattle station in Tambo, Queensland. I later met my partner and now find myself working with him on his 800,000 acre property.

Working on such an expansive station requires a unique resilience, particularly for a woman. Fortunately, my upbringing on a farm instilled in me the strength necessary to tackle the challenges that awaited me. Embracing the isolation, I understood the importance of self-reliance and adapting to the demands of a remote existence.

The Role of a Station Manager

In my current role as assistant manager, I oversee various responsibilities. From managing employees and maintaining the complex, to cooking for a large crew and handling livestock, my days are filled with diverse tasks. The nearest town, Cloncurry, is 250 km away, emphasising the importance of being self-sufficient and prepared for any situation. This demanding yet rewarding lifestyle has given me a deeper appreciation for the realities of the world and has helped shape my character.

Lessons Learned and Looking Ahead

At 53 years old, I’ve come to realise the significance of self-care and nurturing my body. Life’s challenges have included a spinal fusion resulting from a horseback riding accident at 15. Yet, my greatest achievements are undoubtedly my children, and now, being a grandparent brings immeasurable joy. Despite the obstacles I’ve faced, I’ve persisted, demonstrating to my children the value of resilience and the power of embracing change.

Throughout my life journey, I’ve learned that change is an opportunity for growth. From my boarding school days at Santa Maria to my current role on a cattle station, I’ve sought new paths, faced challenges head-on, and discovered the fulfilment that comes with doing what I’ve always dreamt of. Each experience, whether good or bad, has shaped me into a stronger, more resilient individual. As I continue to live each day to the fullest, I embrace the belief that the ultimate job and life are the ones we dare to pursue.

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