“No one can stop me doing what I love.”
Darrylin Gordon was born to work in this rugged Kimberley landscape. Even as a nipper, she remembers watching her grandfather mustering cattle, and longing to join in. Both Darrylin’s grandfathers worked on Lamboo Station for white, male owners. Today, this 30-year-old cattlewoman manages all 361,000 hectares of the property, plus its 2500 head of cattle and 10 staff, for the Ngunjiwirri community of the Jaru nation, who secured native title here back in 1997.
“For generations,” she says, “it’s been a man’s job to run a farm, but I chose to put myself out there because it was something I loved doing and I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me from doing what I loved. Women have to push the boundaries. There’s not a job that a woman can’t do on a station.”
Her greatest inspiration has been her grandfather: “My mum’s dad – we call him Japi,” she says. “He was the most influential person in my life. He was taken from his mum at the age of six and placed on a mission. His upbringing was rough, but he learnt how to run cattle, and from the old people he learnt about his language and culture. He was a big advocate for equal opportunities and fairness, and he lived by very strict principles. I spent a lot of time around him, listening to his stories, learning from him. As I got a little older, there was hands-on learning with cattle and horses. Then when I got to around 16, he began to teach me about government and politics and how we could help our community.”
The death of her grandparents, she says, was the toughest time in her life: “The only time when I felt truly alone.”
In recent years, Darrylin has needed to call on every bit of her grandfather’s courage to face the challenge of steering Lamboo through difficult times. But her commitment to community motivates her to make Lamboo as successful as it can be, providing income, employment and training in this remote part of WA where opportunities for young people are scarce. Her work has earned her a WA Rural Woman of the Year and a WA AgriFutures award.
Darrylin is also the mother of a smart-as-a-whip 12-year-old boy who loves the station as much as she does, though he hopes to grow up to be an engineer.
“Becoming his mum,” she says, “and getting to be his mentor – that’s the most rewarding role I’ve had in life.”
“Our motto is kindness.”
It’s spring on Lauren Brisbane’s QCamel dairy farm and shaggy, long-limbed calves are gambolling about paddocks with their mums. There are close to 100 camels on the property, east of the Glasshouse Mountains in southern Queensland, and Lauren and her staff know every one by appearance and name.
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