2011, People, Stories and Articles

Sam Fleming

Blina Station,
West Kimberley, WA

In 2004, Sam Fleming returned to her hometown of Quirindi, NSW and found that all her friends were having babies. She laughs, “I didn’t want to have babies, so I ran away, pretty much!”

She couldn’t believe it when she landed a jillaroo job at Meda Station, near Derby, WA, in 2005. “It was like, Righteo! I could barely ride a horse, and didn’t know much about cattle.”

The next two years were spent at Meda, and then she ventured south, working for six months in abattoirs near Perth. She then headed back to the Northern Territory to Avon Downs and Austral Downs, where she continued to learn more about riding horses. “I think I’m a little bit better rider than I used to be. I still don’t like frisky horses… I’m no hero!”

Sam enjoys working out in the stock camp. “If I can be out riding and stuff, I prefer it. She’d recently done three weeks of relief cooking. “That’ll be the go when I’m old and retired.”

Most women working in the cattle industry stay for a year or two at most, but with six years’ experience, Sam is an exception. When she first started at Meda, she “wanted to bail at first… it was so hot, and there I was, picking up cement in the house paddock.” She was indignant. “I was meant to be riding horses! I didn’t understand the whole mustering thing, and if Matt Wood (now Manager at Blina) and Rob (Pup) Olsen (now Head Stockman at Meda) hadn’t screamed at me for three months straight, I wouldn’t have come good. They actually made me work! After that, I loved it. You’ve got to be ready to give it a go.”

It’s obvious this young woman has embraced station life, making the most of all opportunities. She is enthusiastic about low stress stock handling, which Jumbuck station managers implement as part of their programs. She also loves getting into the local rodeos, and has recently completed a Cert 4 in Agriculture. “It helps you along, and it’s going to help me get into Uni to study nursing next year. The interviewer said it proves I can study, and work. I need to get a grown up job before I fall apart physically. I’m not ready to leave the Kimberley, so I’ll study in Broome. I’m not really ready to leave stations either, but I’ve gotta do it soon, or I’ll never get round to it.”

Meanwhile, Sam is, “happy to be a jillaroo, ’cos that’s what I am. I can’t justify being called a ringer. I’ve got none of the skills those ‘ol’ fellas had, twenty, thirty years ago. They worked hard with stuff-all food; they were skilled horseman, and worked out of bronco yards.” All we can say is, “Sam, you’ve got a ringer’s heart, and nursing profession, here she comes!”

Kent Saddlery appreciates long term customers like Sam, who support our business on a regular basis and give our hard working staff a boost. “Your office staff are just so nice. They’re just lovely girls. You ring them up and they have a chat and ask you how you are.”

A word from Matt Wood:
“It has been a rewarding experience to see Samie come from the girl she was when she rocked up at Meda, to the one she is today. She stuck it out and made something of herself. She is such a character, and not too many people don’t remember Sam. I’d bet money she will be back in the bush before long, either rattling head stockmen, or rattling pans in the kitchen.”