Well we wanted to change our backyard
Bore running. It’s one of the regular jobs in outback Australia and we recently had our first experience. The stations are large (thousands to millions of acres/hectares). There’s a lot of cattle around in good times, fewer in bad, but however many there are, they need water. Given that 90% of the water supply in the Northern Territory comes from groundwater it’s not surprising that there are around 35,000 water bores in the NT.
Stock water comes from these bores and needs to be pumped up into tanks and then into troughs for the cattle to drink from. So the engines or solar panels that run the pumps need to be checked, fuelled and maintained. This has to happen regularly as a reliable water supply is obviously crucial. So a bore runner is the person who constantly checks each bore, tank and trough and travels hundreds to thousands of kilometres along the way depending on the size of the station.
To be a bore runner it helps if you like driving and are comfortable navigating without road signs. You need to be a good driver. Bulldust, bogs, breakdowns, termite mounds, kangaroos and wild cattle running about are a few of the challenges. Oh and it’s hot. On the plus side it’s a peaceful drive in natural surroundings, there’s a definite lack of traffic and the customers don’t complain.
The mid-Northern Territory landscape features red dust (or mud in the wet season), grey-green grasses and short trees, magnificent sunrises and sunsets and endless stars at night. Then there’s the termite mounds, not the huge monoliths of further North, but the landscape is peppered with termite construction, albeit of a smaller scale.
They do remind you of the fact that there are more insects than people in the world.
And unlike humans, the termites don’t care if they build next to (or on) a highway. A barbed wire fence is considered to be merely a useful piece of framework.
There’s lots of interesting facts about the termites but the local lore says:
Don’t run into them with a vehicle or a horse – they are as solid as concrete
They won’t melt in the rain
Not all termite mounds are occupied, some are holiday houses!
There are plenty of other jobs on stations such as caretaking, cooking, gardening, childcare, building and machine maintenance, fencing, stock work and animal care. It’s an awesome experience. See our earlier post on finding farm work in Australia for suggestions on sites should you fancy a job in rural and remote areas.