Six Steps to finding Cattle Station Work in the Australian Outback
This is a quick guide to getting yourself into an amazing and dangerously adventurous position where you can make money and have a wild time. The Australian Outback is big and scary so I really only recommend this path to really hardy people. You need to have a lot of common sense and guts to make it as a jackaroo (or inexperienced Australian station hand).
- Get yourself a passport.
- Get a working holiday visa in Australia by filling out the online application. It costs about $200 USD. Mine took 3 working days to have it issued. The Australian Immigration office will send you a e-mail with a visa number on it. Then you have the green light to go work in Australia. It’s really easy for American citizens.
- Fly to Australia. Use kayak.com or studenttraveluniverse.com (I got a cheap student ticket after already having graduated 2 years ago.)
- Travel to a very isolated area in the outback. Mt. Isa, Queensland will be your quintessential wild Australian outback mining/cattle town. I recommend the Mt. Isa area if you really want an adventure.
- Go to the information center and ask for a list of cattle stations in the area.
- Cold call all of them. Either chat with the station manager or leave a message with your phone number and your name. If you don’t have the guts to do this, then I really don’t advise going on this mad adventure.
- Get a job and stick to it. Last at least 2 months, otherwise your a sissy.
What to expect:
- The Pay: I earned $550 a week as a level one station hand (jackaroo.) I saved 95% of it because there was nowhere to spend money in that super isolated place.
- The Time: 5-6 days a week. Expect to start as the sun goes up and finish about an hour before it goes down.
- The Work: Sometimes the day goes so fast you don’t even know what happened. For example: mustering days are adrenaline pumping days on horse back or motorbikes in the mad dust and heat. The work is wild and fun. Sometimes te days are slow and monotonous. You can end up mixing concrete and cleaning out water troughs all day.
- The Good Times:
- Rodeo: small scale rodeos in little towns. This is where you can get into some awesome stuff; bronc/bull riding, calf wrestling, tug-a-war, or just beer drinking
- Race days: great events where you can gamble on the horse races and check out all the pretty girls (or cowboys if your into that sort of thing) in their facy dresses and unique hats. Great times at the pubs after a day at the races.
- Keep a positive attitude. Being sociable is really important out there.
- Always do your best. Australia is a huge country but a small community. Being an honest memorable bloke/shelia (Australian for guy/chick) will pay out in the long run.
- Be proactive: no one wants to have to tell you everything to do and when to do it. Find problems and fix them before you need to be asked.
- Work for a reputable person. In the outback there are some scumbags so don’t even start with them. I heard about a Spanish guy who worked 4 months at a station in Western Australia. The station owner then bought him a ticket to Brisbane. The spaniard never got paid. Don’t fall into a trap. If you find yourself in a trap, leave right away.
- Have fun. It’s one hell of a time in the outback. Enjoy it.