While the outback holds a special place in many Australian hearts, there would be few city dwellers keen to trade urban comforts for life on a remote outback property.
It wasn’t something Amy O’Shea had expected to do either. After spending a gap year working in retail in her hometown of Toowoomba, and feeling uninspired, her mum suggested she head to a remote country area to work as a governess.
“My original reaction was ‘what even is a governess?'” O’Shea says.
A career teaching and caring for outback kids isn’t something urban women are lining up to do, but O’Shea’s interest was piqued. She found a “govie” position on Hewart Downs Station, a few hundred kilometres north of Broken Hill, and was soon heading out to far-west NSW.
The new home required O’Shea to adjust to some difficult realities, like “iffy” phone reception and sharing a bathroom with workers on the property. But she was soon won over by the beauty of the landscape.
“The country can go from deep red sand hills to stony open flats every few hundred metres,” she says. “It can be quite harsh sometimes, but I love that you can come out here and see for miles, breathe fresh air and see the whole sky at night. Plus the sunsets are pretty amazing.”
O’Shea says the most unexpected thing was the friendliness of the local community.
“Everyone just seemed to love everyone, and they were so welcoming to me as well. Coming from a city where you pass people you don’t know every day???it was really awesome to have someone smile and have a conversation with you.” Related: The professional couple living on a busRelated: How Ashlee is flipping Hawaiian apartmentsRelated: The downside of rural life no one talks about
With neighbours living kilometres from one another, getting together to socialise is a priority, and there are no prizes for guessing where it’s done: “Out here we go to the pub,” O’Shea says. “That’s where the whole town gets to catch up on weekends. Other than that, we go to rodeos, gymkhanas, and occasionally get to dress up for the races.”
It was at a local gymkhana that she met Jake, the manager of the station next door, who would later become her husband. She laughs at the suggestion that it was love at first sight. “No, I don’t think so. We took it slow for the first couple of months, although we did get engaged pretty quickly.”
She credits her husband for introducing her to a new favourite hobby – sheep mustering. “My husband is a bit motorbike mad, so he got me on one and out there mustering with him as soon as he could, and I had a ball. I don’t think I could ever get tired of doing that every day.”
If her new hobby is a world away from Toowoomba, so is her latest governess job, which has her travelling all over the corner country of far-west NSW with the family she works for. Their accommodation is towed along with them – two dongas (transportable buildings) on semi-trailers that provide necessary living areas, as well as the schoolroom O’Shea teaches in.
That job will be wrapping up soon, however, as O’Shea prepares for the next stage of her ever-evolving life – she’s due to have her first baby in March. Being pregnant is another reminder of how isolated she is.
“I’m 22 weeks pregnant at the moment and have had a few issues along the way, and while the RFDS (Royal Flying Doctor Service) is amazing, it’s difficult knowing that if something happens you’re so far away from anything.”
She’s grateful to be better connected than some. The home she shares with her husband at Yandama Station has decent phone service, and is relatively close to an RFDS-approved landing strip in case of emergency.
O’Shea plans to go back to Toowoomba for the birth, but only temporarily. She misses her parents, but knows she’ll be keen to return to the wide open spaces of Yandama Station.
“Whenever I go back to Toowoomba, the one thing I miss is the open sky,” she says. “I love that I can look out my bedroom window and see the sheep going down to water. No cars, no noise. I love being out on the bike and just seeing open land for as far as the eye can see.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.