2009, People, Stories and Articles

Vicki Hemley

The Nary Cook

We’re proud to know Vicki, a former ‘Nary Cook’ (i.e. Naryilco Station Cook). She’s a terrific cook, whether in at the station or out bush in the stock camp. Vicki is probably one of the youngest ‘old time camp cooks’ we’ve met; able to produce delicious fresh bread, and meals – all out of camp ovens. We give top marks and admiration to this remarkable woman. She’s versatile (cook and ringer rolled into one), enthusiastic, friendly, hospitable, talented (you should see her scrapbooks), and loyal; with a zest for life that’s contagious. It was great to hear from her – all the way from Canada. Thanks Vicki.

“I first met the Kent Family while cooking for Ted and Dale Brown at Naryilco Station, in the 1990’s. Naryilco, in Qld’s Corner Country was a long way from any big towns so it was always exciting to have a “hawker” stop in. Lyle, Helen and a very young Jess would stop by each year on their circuit and spend a couple days doing repairs to saddles and gear as well as supplying the ringers with the essentials…socks and jeans, whips and knife belts, saddles and tack. The opportunity to go shopping was rare, so to bring the ‘shops’ to us was a great service. At times the stock camp would be away from the homestead; well that made no difference, Lyle and Helen would be there! We’d catch up with old friends around the campfire and their mobile ‘shop’ would be open, the lights burning from way past sundown till late. Lyle’s saddles and gear proved they could work as hard as the crew did!

At the age of 28 I decided to try my hand at jillarooing, so after a course through the Katherine Rural College I returned to Naryilco and began to ride. I tried out a few different saddles and then phoned Lyle. Within a few weeks I had my own Equaliser saddle – made specifically for me…I was so EXCITED! That excitement was quickly put to the test. The saying “All hands and the cook” took on a whole new meaning as the drought became a desperate battle … and barely a day went by that I wasn’t in that saddle. My Equaliser worked as hard as I did, yet it remained comfortable, it never rubbed a horse and I was thankful each day as I carried it to my horse that it didn’t weigh a ton. That was 2002 and it has continued to take the punishment. For the last few years I have been contracted to work for a hunting company in the Northern Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. The terrain there is vastly different, as are the western-style saddles which I have found quite heavy, and which position the rider differently. I missed my saddle so much that last year I took it with me. Regardless of whether I was moving horses down from the mountains or riding up and over the steep trails and through rivers, I felt safe and comfortable. Of course a lot of people made fun of my saddle with no horn, but more people asked if they could try it out and were pleased with its feel and impressed with the cable rigging. One leading Canadian Parelli instructor even said that it was one of the most horse friendly saddles he had seen, as it fitted the horse well without inhibiting the horse’s natural movement… I was very proud of my Aussie saddle! Thanks Lyle and Helen and all at Kent Saddlery. Best wishes, the Nary Cook.”

Image captions:

1) Vicki in the Northern Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, Canada

2) The Nary Cook – Vicki with the Naryilco Stock Camp

3) All packed and ready – Rocky Mountains, Canada