Taking a job in the bush means you will be learning the lingo.  
What words or phrases have you heard that have confused you?
Updated: 25 November 2013

The local town which could have anywhere between 2 and 20,000 people. Usually it is the nearest shopping supermarket but is not always the closest point.

The Order
Groceries that are needed at the station.  Can involve several hours and several trollies.

Station or property
Refers to the place you live

Morning or afternoon break... in the bush it often involves yummy baked goods and tea or coffee. It rarely means smoking a cigarette.

Means lunch sometimes not tea but this is flexible and can change depending on area and state.

Next door or just down the road
Could be 10 metres or 100km away

Tank and Dam
In different areas of Australia these change meaning but from where I come from a large man made hole in the ground that holds water at a low point in the paddock is a DAM.  A TANK or a cement, poly or steel container that holds water.

Turkey's Nest 
A dirt tank used to hold water to run into a trough to water livestock

Poly is a plastic type of tubing that water runs through from one tank to another.

Huts or Quarters
Where workers stay when working on a property.

Livestock for the purpose of eating on the station.  Often held in a paddock with the best feed.
Someone who grows crops but different states have different rules for this word.

A canvas tarp with a mattress in the middle used as a bed when camping.  It is then rolled up to travel or store.

Sorting animals into different groups

Gathering livestock into the yards

Livestock between in their teenage years.  The are ready to be taken from their mothers.  Weaners need to be educated about becoming an adult.


Livestock which has been orphaned 

Marking the calves with identifying marks and castrating the male calves

What a group of cows, calves, steers, heifers and bulls are referred to as.

Baby cow

Male cattle that have 

Female cattle

Young female cows

Male sheep sheep

Female adult sheep

Baby sheep

Male adult sheep that have been castrated

Like branding but the sheep version... earmarking lambs with identifying marks and castrating male lambs

Take the wool off sheep 

Taking the wool around the backside off the sheep.  It happens between shearing from one year to the next.

Guest Blog 3: 'Chasing Cows' and 'Wrangling Kids' Part 2


A govie has many hats; teacher, friend, big sister, entertainer, distractor, mediator, conspirator, instigator, confidant, voice of reason, cook, cleaner, fixer, inventor, bulldust artist, spoilsport. Sometimes we wear more than one hat at a time.

For me I can divide moments roughly into 3 categories: 

                                                                1. Fun and rewarding 
                                                                2. Frustrating but funny 
                                                                3. Plain frustrating

Plain Frustrating

Plain frustrating is internet problems during air lessons. It is trying to explain to Master 5 why ‘unicorn’ starts with ‘u’ but ‘yawn’ doesn’t. It is trying to explain why ‘to’ is spelt 3 different ways. It is a battle of wills that results in one sentence written in 45 minutes for daily writing. It is when Miss 3 and Miss 2 destroy/scribble on Master 5’s work he just put a lot of effort into. It is when the kids bicker all day and tears are never very far from the surface.

Frustrating But Funny

Frustrating but funny is when at the start of the year Master 6 throws pencils at the wall rather than write. It is when you suggest we do something and Master 6 gives you a serious little face and comes out with “Let’s not and say we did” quick as a flash. It is when Dad tells your partner the schoolroom sounds a bit like Kevin Wilson’s ‘This kid he swears a bit’ song. It’s when paint ends up everywhere twice in a row or Miss 3 drops the whole container of beads on the floor not once but three times. It’s when Master 6 sings the days of the months and leaves out ‘October’ for 3 weeks straight. It’s when Miss 2 gets the full carton of eggs out of the fridge when you’re doing washing and runs through the house with them.

Fun And Rewarding

The fun and rewarding bit is the best and far outweighs the frustrating bits. It’s a little hand clasped in yours as you go for a walk. It’s a toddler hugging your hip with a hand firmly clutching the front of your shirt. It’s lots of paint, bubbles, glitter, playdough, water fights, eating cookie dough, and making mud pies. It’s when Master 6 trots off the lead on his pony for the first time. It’s the big smiles and hugs you get every morning when you walk inside. It’s when they baby cries whenever you walk out the door. It’s the letter or drawing or flower Miss 3 gives you on Monday morning. It’s when your cuddles have the power to dry tears over a grazed knee or squished fingers. It’s when Miss 2, who is just starting to talk says “Me want come you” when you say goodbye in the afternoon. It’s when Master 6 writes ‘a’ with the right letter formation or ‘was’ correctly not as ‘wos’. It’s when Master 5 writes ‘b’ or ‘2’ correctly with no letter reversal. It’s when the same little boy who used to throw pencils at the wall writes a cute Xmas story. ‘My name is Alfie the elf. I work for Mr and Mrs Santa Claus. Mr Santa is fat, funny and laughs a lot. Mrs Santa makes the best chocolate chip cookies ever. Sometimes the reindeer bite my fingers. The end.’



Go for it! Being a part of this amazing, hardworking, beautiful lifestyle and typically; tough, caring, funny, smart, resourceful kid’s lives is an amazing, rewarding experience I believe is unforgettable.

Before settling on a position learn about the kids likes, dislikes and personalities and get a feel for the parents values and philosophies on bringing up their kids. Make sure you discuss what your responsibilities are before taking the job. Discuss salary but remember extras like food, board and internet add up. If any of this doesn’t suit you keep looking. There are so many different job descriptions in the ‘Govie/Nanny’ category you will find something that does suit. Being upfront for a start is better for everyone; you, the kids and parents.

Be prepared to be flexible, to think on your feet, to think outside the square. Research the random questions you don’t know the answer too. Ask all the questions you think of no matter how silly you think they may be. Try everything that is thrown at you inside and outside the schoolroom. Don’t be afraid to get dirty. Wear boots and a hat and always take a big water bottle. Take lots of things to do when you have finished work and everyone else is still flat out, like movies/books/music.

Have fun and good luck!

Welcome to our guest blog series of insights from governesses and nannies on stations sharing some of their outback station world.  

This is PART 2 of Shorna's Story 'Chasing Cows' and 'Wrangling Kids'.

Guest Blog 2: 'Chasing Cows' and 'Wrangling Kids' Part 1



My name’s Shorna and I am 23 years old. I have worked on cattle stations since I finished school in 2007. Originally from Victoria, I am now based around Newman, Western Australia, with my partner. He flies helicopters for aerial mustering and I spend my time ‘chasing cows’ and ‘wrangling kids’ on stations.

How to explain my role as a governess/nanny is difficult. In my experience alone each family’s needs differ so each job to job is very different.

My first govie job was for a family with a 6 year old boy in Year 1 and a new baby born during the year I was working there.

My responsibilities were everything to do with the schoolroom which was separate to the house. This included anything from setting up the schoolroom and timetable, opening mail bags, ringing up when we had internet problems, cleaning the schoolroom, organising and sending back work. Master 6 came to school around 7.30 am, went home for smoko and lunch and finished school around 2.30pm. I did my prep and cleaning outside these hours.  I had every weekend and holidays off however a lot of these days I spent doing cattle work for the same station.

Very occasionally I might have Master 6 outside these hours if Mum was in town. Also occasionally I might entertain bub for a short period so Mum could get a few things done. Or do the dishes or hang out washing to help out. This wasn’t in the job description and I never felt as though I had to do it.

Outside school I taught Master 6 to ride on a pony that was floating round the station, sometimes I walked out with him, sometimes I led him off my own horses. By the end of the year he was riding out by himself.

In this job accommodation was a donga with its own bathroom which I shared with my partner; a washing machine shared with 3 other rooms and I ate in the kitchen where meals were provided by the station cook.


My next nanny job was informal. Staying with friends for 3 months over the wet on a station where they are the headstockman and cook I helped out with their girls who were aged 1 and 5. Town was 40 k’s away so Miss 5 was run in and picked up from school daily. Mum and I took turns to do the school run or to stay home with Miss 1 so she didn’t have to be woken up early for the morning run or sit in the car quite as frequently.

I also shared a lot of the housework; cleaning, washing and cooking.

In this instance I was living in their house, using the same bathroom, laundry and kitchen.

Although this was not a formal job for me I have included it as it is a real example of what a nanny job on a station could entitle.  


My current job is with a family who have a 5 year old boy who is in Pre-Primary, a 3 year old girl in Playgroup and a 2 year old girl.

The schoolroom is inside the house. My accommodation is a donga room, meals are provided in the kitchen cooked by the station cook except for occasionally smoko and lunch which I eat with the kids if their parents are not in. I have a shared bathroom and laundry with the rest of the station crew. My responsibilities differ from day to day. They can be school of the air, childcare, cooking for the kids or housework related. Sometimes I have 1 kid, sometimes 2 or sometimes all 3. Sometimes I just have Master 5 in the schoolroom by himself until around 10.30am to get his school work done then all 3 float in and out when they feel like it. Sometimes I have 3 all day while Mum goes mustering, or to town or locks herself in her office to do paperwork.

Whether I work weekends and my hours are very flexible. Mostly, but not always I start at 7am and finish anywhere between 3 and 6.30 pm, 5 to 6 days a week. I do all my prep and cleaning the schoolroom during this time. When Mum goes away for work or any other reason I am responsible for full care of the house and kids from when their Dad goes to work 1stthing until he gets home after dark.


Have fun and good luck!
READ MORE in part two of 'Chasing Cows' and 'Wrangling Kids'!

Welcome to our guest blog series of insights from governesses and nannies on stations sharing some of their outback station world.  

This is PART 1 of Shorna's Story 'Chasing Cows' and 'Wrangling Kids'.