Noongal and Carlaminda Stations near Yalgoo WA
These days station owner Ellen Rowe only has cattle on her properties - a combination of the drought and wild dog numbers has made running sheep unviable.
Consequently the shearers quarters and woolshed, tucked a few kilometres back from the road between Yalgoo and Mullewa, now lie abandoned…for now at least. We followed Ellen in her troopie along the dusty tracks so we could explore what now looks more like a film set than a once busy environment.
I love shearing sheds. When I first came to Australia 30-something years ago, I got a job at a pub in a remote country town in WA. Having previously been working in the music industry in London, this was the first of many strange career moves! It soon got stranger when I ran away with some Kiwi shearers and spent the next few months in an around wool sheds on farms and stations across the State.
In an attempt to keep a long story short, the next chapter took place in the US where I explored the more remote areas through Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and California whilst working with shearers (including an all-Mexican shearing gang in California). In both Australia and America I loved that this brought me into another world and the lives of people I would never have otherwise met…the shearers themselves of course, but also the South American shepherds, the farmers and their families who we shared many meals with, and the cowboys, young and old, in the bars after work.
Soon after that experience and reunited with the Kiwis I’d originally run away with, I found myself living and working on a sheep station in New Zealand. I planned to stay for three months but that turned in to four years. It’s a time of happy memories which come flooding back when I step into a shearing shed with its familiar smells.