How did you come to be involved with the Outback Helpers Scheme?
Ted and I had been travelling in Western Qld and had seen the result of ongoing drought. We were invited into have a cuppa at the Station house near where we were camped and could see immediately that they needed all sorts of chores attended too.. however not wanting to offend we let it be. We arrived home in the spring to get my edition of RM’s OUTBACK MAGAZINE.. and in it we saw an advertisement from Jenny in WA for people to join as helpers with the Scheme…. We have been doing it ever since.
What are your previous backgrounds?
I grew up on a Dairy farm near Mt Gambier and my husband Ted was from a mixed farm and then worked as a Station hand on a sheep and cattle property before having 37 years with Forestry SA I cleaned houses for many years. Ted is now retired [ doesn’t know how to do that] and I do volunteer work at the Salvo Store locally. We live in the city of Mt Gambier… townies!!! But with red dust in our veins!! Ha
What do you like about being an ‘Outback Helper’?
Experiences and Lending a hand and being able to let Property owners get on with bigger and more important jobs… making friends with them as well and getting to experience another life style and see how things happen in the bush. Getting off the beaten track and seeing the real Australia and being able to see things you would otherwise never know existed. There are so many characters out there as well.. its all good.
What are some of the tasks you have done?
Tasks include; gardening, cleaning, painting, camp hosts, tour guides, Property sitting and all that entails, doing “ration” runs to town from the Property which sometimes has meant 140kms to the nearest shops.. building outdoor bbq fire pits, loading sheep, helping in the cattle yards, fixing sprinkler systems and checking bores and troughs.
Where have some of the properties been located?
The properties we have been to have been in WA, NSW, QLD and the NT.
Which area of Australia do you look after?
I take care of the eastern parts of Australia.. QLD, NSW, VIC and Tas [although we haven’t got any Properties in Tasmania at the moment] Jenny Watters looks after WA, SA and the NT
Do people get paid for their work?
Not always but some do. It is something that is negotiated between the Owners and the Helper prior to their visit. Some properties are not in the position to pay but will trade skills for payment with meat, fuel, accommodation or a few dollars maybe. We always go in as volunteers so anything we get over and above that is a bonus.
Could anyone be involved in being an Outback Helper?
Yes pretty much anyone can become a Helper.. so long as they are reasonably fit and able.. are not afraid to have a go at doing things .. but of course they will not be expected to do things they are not familiar with. It would be wise to find out what is expected prior to the visit just in case the tasks do not suit peoples fitness levels.
How long do people usually work on Outback properties?
That can differ.. sometimes a few days or a week or two and in our case once – we intended to stay two weeks but 5 weeks later we left. We never say how long we will stay just in case things do not suit one of us. It is up to the Helper to decide how long they would like to stay really.
What are some of the good things you like about working on a property?
The friendships and being able to experience another way of life and getting to see more of the country than we otherwise would. Just being able to help out and know that the people appreciate the smallest things being done or enabling them to have some free time.. for us it is a holiday and not really work at all.
Are there any not so good parts about the work?
I wouldn’t say there was anything negative about being a Helper… just so long as one doesn’t mind the dust and the flies. Ha!! We don’t mind that at all.
One thing to remember perhaps is NOT TO BE USED UP… Helpers are just that and not employees so keep time to have some R&R as well.