LIFE ON A STATION
Photographer and Country Style’s new columnist, Emma Moss, talks about falling in love with the Kimberley, and how her move there led to a whole new life direction.
“Driving past the boab tree that day, I felt my eyes fill with tears and my heart feel full again.”
I GREW UP ON A SMALL FARM in Southbrook, Queensland, and finished school in Toowoomba in 2015. Then I followed the ‘up north’ gap year trend like many older brothers and sisters of my friends had done. The 5000-kilometre journey to Nerrima Station in the West Kimberley was an apprehensive one, and at the time I certainly didn’t know how life-changing it would be.
I had no idea what the Kimberley would be like. I knew it was north, in WA, spacious and had wild Brahman cattle. My dad was worried about the wild boys and my mum about the wild cows and horses.
The night before we got to Nerrima, we met with the crew in Derby who had their first night away from the station in a few months – it had been too wet to leave. I was only 17, so was sipping on lemonade looking around at my new life. Big hats, cheeky smiles, Cinch jeans, red dirt and fun.
It took no more than two weeks for me to fall in love with the Kimberley. That was further strengthened when our cook was selling his camera and I bought it. The photos I took and posted on Facebook amazed my friends and family who had never been up here. In the second round of mustering, in September 2016, I started my Instagram account Life On A Station. I now have more than 21,000 followers, many of whom have never seen the Kimberley and are in awe of its beauty – or they have left it, and love reconnecting with it through photos.
When I came up here, many people warned me it would get under my skin. And that it did, under my skin and now running thick in my blood.
My second year on a station was also an incredible one, this time down at Pardoo Station in the Pilbara. It was amazing to see different country, but it certainly wasn’t the Kimberley. While big boabs were calling me back, so were my parents and university.
I was only allowed to defer my place at uni for two years, so in 2018, I started my Bachelor of Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Queensland. I had a ball living in college, but there were also a lot of tears, as
I was missing the north.
The end of April 2018 was a monumental time for me.
I was asked to return to Broome to speak at a conference sponsored by Monsanto. It happened to be the same weekend that the Kimberley Rural Women’s Lunch was on.
I hesitate to tell this story, because it’s a little soppy, but I will never forget this moment or feeling. I was driving with a couple of ladies to the luncheon when we passed a massive boab tree on the side of the road. It was the same tree I got pictures in front of with my family when I first started working up here, and the one I loved looking at because it signified a town trip. It’s more than 1000 years old. Driving past the tree that day, I felt my eyes fill with tears and my heart feel full again. It was then that I realised I had left >
“It took no more than two weeks for me to fall in love with the Kimberley.”
a part of my heart behind. I don’t think anyone else in the car noticed my sudden mood change, but for me, it was a feeling of fulfilment that I never wanted to lose.
How lucky am I, to have a region that feels like home? I know how corny it sounds, but being up here is the same feeling as pulling into your driveway at home after a week away.
I cried on the plane back to Queensland for at least half an hour. I felt the same bit of my heart left behind. I guess it was just being kept safe for my return.
I went back to the north as many times as I could during uni breaks and holidays. I visited my sister working in the NT and friends working on a station out of Katherine. My mum moved to Broome in 2019 and when I was there for the Christmas holidays, having a cocktail with my sister and watching the sun set over Cable Beach, I decided that the next time I came back up, it would be for good.
So in February 2020, I moved back to the Kimberley, and I now live on a cattle station halfway between Derby and Fitzroy Crossing, looking after the kids there while I study. I finished my Bachelor of Sustainable Agriculture last year and will complete my Bachelor of Agricultural Science (majoring in agronomy) this year.
I’m taking a year off from studying next year and investigating other pasturing methods, then I want to start an agronomy business for centre pivots and a grazing consulting business for stations. I also hope to start a regenerative beef business, selling carbon-neutral beef.
I don’t plan on leaving any time soon. The north is in my blood now.
Follow Emma on Instagram @life_on_a_station for more.
“When I came up here, many people warned me it would get under my skin. And that it did…”