Today we’re headed inland to Glenburgh Station where our next Outback Wife lives. She offers a unique perspective having migrated to Australia from Germany.
When I arrived at Glenburgh I was greeted by hot coffee, homemade liquored-up mini cheesecakes, the most delicious traditional German tea cake, and on the fridge, a photo of Anna and her fella dressed in leiderhosen under a gumtree.
Anna is a great example of how sometimes the red dirt of the Australian outback can really take a hold of a person. She fell in love with an outback bloke and she fell in love with the land.
I’m so happy to introduce you to Anna.
“I was born in a small town in Bavaria, Germany. Growing up I always wanted to live in a big city. When I was nineteen I finally moved to Berlin. I loved the city. The music scene, the arts, I don’t know, I’ve always been interested in all that.
In Germany it’s a really important thing to learn English. To get a good job, its better to be able to speak English really well. So I decided to go travelling. Originally I planned to go to America. It sounds silly now, but I wanted to go to New York, the big city, and check out the music scene. But I couldn’t get a working holiday visa there, I’d been to Australia before and hadn’t liked it, but it was just so much easier to get a working holiday visa. When I arrived, I was in the city but the Australian cities just didn’t do it for me, except for Darwin.
I wanted to see the red dirt and the kangaroos.
So I got a job as a nanny/mustering cook up here on a station. I worked there for 4 months then I went travelling up in the Northern Territory, but I just loved being here in the bush. I really enjoyed the kids where I had been working, so I came back.
They mustered at the station where I was and someone didn’t show up so they asked him to come help. That’s when I first met him. We started off as friends, but realised after a time that life would be boring without one another. I found a very supportive, loving and strong person in him; he has a lot of knowledge about the land and to watch him being so passionate about cattle and the station life. It’s amazing how much I have learned from him!
My first muster, there were just three of us. I was so inexperienced and I’m really bad at directions. I got stuck in a creek for about two hours. I kinda got away with it because it was my first muster, but they don’t forget out here…they still bring it up.
You don’t wanna do anything silly out here, or funny, cos you never live it down.
You can’t hide anything out here. The guys that live out here and have grown up out here their whole lives, they’re good at tracking. They don’t miss anything. If you get slightly bogged or accidentally hit a bush…you’re gonna get found out. I once missed a track turn-off on the mill run. I should’ve known where I was going but missed the turn-off. I knew I would get teased a bit so I carefully backed up the ute, got out, found a branch and tried to sweep away my tracks from missing the turn-off. I thought I’d got away with it, but he waited a good week to ask me if I’d had a bit of trouble backing up near the windmill, and perhaps a run in with a branch.
One time I did a windmill run and didn’t take the sat phone. I got bogged in a creek and was there for five hours before he come to find me.
Now I host backpackers out here on the station. Always the first week they want to do skids in a car. The all do it. They think we don’t know…but we can see everything in the dirt here.
My parents came to visit me from Germany. They wanted to see were I live and meet my man. They flew into Carnarvon on a tiny plane, and after years of me telling them I haven’t seen rain out here and the river was always dry, when they arrived we had a cyclone, so they got stuck in Carnarvon. The river ran so all the creek crossings went under. In the end, to get them out here to the station, we had to ask another station owner to truck their car across the crossing.
I tried to make the traditional spiced wine we drink in Germany at Christmas time here one year…but noone drank it because it was 47C.
I could never live back in a city. Even the Junction with about 50 people in it…even that feels too busy sometimes. You seem to either love it or you hate it out here. There’s no inbetween. I’m happy to not have mobile phone reception. You sit outside and have a wine or beer and the sun goes down. It’s just a special feeling.
I had to go to Geraldton once for an appointment. It’s 5-hour drive away and I forgot a form I needed. So a week later I had to make the 10-hour round trip AGAIN. A lot of people in towns, they don’t understand how far it is.
Out here you have to work things out yourself. Sometimes you have a little breakdown but you manage to work it out different ways. Coming out here, just like a toddler learns to walk and talk, I learned the station life. I learnt how to ride a horse, and quad bikes. I drive the tractor. Learnt to drive on dirt roads and how to change a tyre. I’ve learnt how to make the best out of leftover food. Not to waste anything. I learnt how to grow a veggie garden and start the generator. (We’re on solar and generator power out here.) I used to be a bit funny about touching raw meat and cutting it up, but now I can just go in the chiller and cut off a piece of the kangaroo hanging to feed the dogs. You learn to do it all, even gut a roo for meat.
We have a lot of wild dogs up here; dingos. We have a full time dogger who covers about 8 stations to try and keep on top of them.
We’ve got a little secret spot out here. A waterhole sometimes. We go out there and have a BBQ. You can jump off the cliffs into the water.
I took it for granted in Germany, the rain. Here, I really appreciate the water. The rain. Everyone always talks about water.
What I love the most is the pressure you get at muster time, the dusty faces and that first beer with the works crew after a long hot day. No matter what has happened on that day, everybody gets together, has a laugh and share of their stories I also love the silence out here, sitting on the veranda, watching the moon come up. I think the stars in the outback are breathtaking; it left me speechless the first time because I have never seen anything like it.
I love trying to make some time once a week to go for a swim in a waterhole or just simply go together on a windmill run and watch the sunset. I love the excitement that I grew my own veggies and I even love the annoying noise of frogs – knowing that the river that risen overnight. It is so amazing watching this country change after some rain.
It’s just the simple things a lot of people might take for granted. It feels like the time stays still here, in a good way. I’m so lucky to be part of this!
My friends in Germany, no matter how much I describe, they’ll never know or really understand. You have to come out here to really know. To feel the place.
I’m taking him to Germany soon. He hasn’t been travelling before. He’s lived his whole life here. I think he’s pretty nervous, but he’s very excited.”
ANNA ULLRICH, 26
‘Glenburgh Station’, Western Australia