Don’t show Jodie Muntelwit it can’t be done — she’s going to inevitably advise you wrong.
When Jodie Muntelwit broke up with her partner and the father of her three teenagers, she knew she had to start again.
There were a lot of uncertainties but there was one thing she knew for positive — wherever she moved to had to be in the country.
“That was the selection I made. I wanted to reach back out to the bush,” she says.
“I’ve never wanted to are dwelling anywhere else. And that is what I know and what I love.”
Nonetheless she did what many ladies folk would never dream of — she supplied a 15,000-acre cattle station 30 minutes’ drive south of Barcaldine in Queensland’s central west.
The homestead, sheds and cattle yards stand out in a sea of purple grime, sandalwood and gidgee trees that stretch on for miles.
Apt 1 kilometre down the road is a diversified world again — lush tranquil wetlands, fed by a century-frail artesian bore.
Dead ghost gums stand at some stage in the water, attracting bird lifestyles, gray nomads and campers from around the country, and before the pandemic — the realm.
It was a daring prance.
Especially as the area had experienced a decade of drought.
Nonetheless Jodie says she wasn’t insecure.
“I really wanted this way of life,” she says.
“I wasn’t apprehensive in the starting, but once reality status in after we moved here, it is been really hard, really, really hard on my own.”
Almost one year on, she acknowledges an amazing purple meat up community of staff and family but “at the conclude of the day, the buck stops with me and there is no-one else to share that with”.
Doing it by herself was no longer necessarily how Jodie wanted it.
“In my thoughts, there’s no other option. I don’t want to be doing this on my own, at all. Nonetheless that is how the cards are being dealt, with the intention to speak,” she says.
“And I am a bit stubborn. I don’t want to provide in, I don’t want to compromise the way of dwelling and I want my kids to develop up in the bush and have the things that I had.”
Early starts and long days
Her day starts early.
She’s up at 5: 00am usually doing workplace work while it is “good and aloof”, interrupted only by the squawks of cockatoos and singing honeyeaters waking for the day.
A cramped later, she ventures out of doors, feeds her horses, then jumps in her buggy to take her working canines for a prance.
She returns home to accept her three teenagers – Lucy 10, Ben, 8 and Meg, 5 — up for breakfast and ready for varsity.
They have their jobs too – feeding their animals – which they stop with all the self-assurance of country kids, sooner than settling down to school-of-the-air classes.
Then Jodie’s day really starts. It can be mustering cattle or working down at the wetlands.
“The juggle suitable never ends. And I aloof feel care for I don’t accept things done,” she says.
On this sunny wintry weather’s day, a large truck carrying 150 head of cattle pulls up to the cattle ramp and starts unloading.
It be gradual going, with the beasts reluctant to take those first steps off the truck to their new home.
Jodie is patient, speaking quietly, gently persuading them to prance forward.
Then she jumps on her horse, pushing them out to an adjoining paddock and extra water.
This is what she is aware of and loves.
Nonetheless she admits the purchasing for and selling of cattle has been another learning curve.
Another gamble is the weather after a really grand decade of drought.
Although there has been some aid this year, the leap back is nothing care for it was.
She says her ex-partner, with whom she’s aloof pleasant, is a fourth generation grazier near Winton and even his father says he hasn’t considered dry care for this.
“There’s so many places where it is aloof suitable so dry. It be becoming the new normal,” Jodie says.
“I consider folks must suitable be dealing with it because they’ve been doing it for 10 years now.”
It be constructed a resilience.
Nonetheless Jodie, one of five daughters, shrugs off any suggestion what she’s doing is unusual.
“There are so many ladies folk care for me and although they may be married or have a partner or whatever, the partners may be away working all the time and they’re maintaining the dwelling fires burning, which can be a large cattle property or station,” she says.
“I consider you can web most ladies folk stop what I stop anyway.”
From one woman to another
Jo Jarden is aware of exactly what Jodie is talking about.
She’s the earlier owner of Lara Station and initially ran it with her husband Michael – a contract musterer.
It was her idea to start the wetlands bush camp and she remembers the day her very first tourist arrived in 2014 from Sweden.
She took him down to the wetlands, settled him in and couldn’t wait to share the information with her husband, who was away mustering at the time.
Nonetheless she never purchased the chance.
Michael died in a helicopter crash that afternoon.
She says she knew Jodie was the accurate person when she came to search the property and wanted to place a contract on it straight away.
“You may search for she was a strong woman and a country woman and I purchased a legal feel from her,” Jo says.
“To take it on although they’ve never done it (tourism) sooner than … and being a single woman with three teenagers, , I am pondering this goes to be really legal for her and bringing the kids up around one thing care for this as well.”
‘She’s grabbed the bit and had a prance’
Jodie and her five sisters grew up on the land, shifting across cattle properties as their father, a musterer and stockman, constructed up his industry.
Phil Muntelwit, 71, says dwelling on the land is in Jodie’s blood.
“She’s suitable grabbed the bit and had a prance,” he says.
He says his daughters all had a cattle portfolio by the level they were 10 or 12.
They supplied, supplied and kept account of all the things they spent and had adequate money to purchase a car by the level they were teenagers.
“They’ve always been care for that, these ladies, . Been taught accurate from the observe prance now to now not be insecure and have a prance.
“I am real happy with her, I show her that too.”
Jodie’s younger sister Cailyn says Lara Station was a natural prance for Jodie, who started out working in an accountancy firm in Dalby.
“She was brave to prevent that (bewitch Lara Station) on the other hand it may presumably have been absolutely unpleasant if she was to prance to the metropolis and stop her level, accept a job in a bank or one thing care for that,” Cailyn says.
“We were raised to be able to head and fix what wanted fixing.
“You don’t bitch about it or whatever, , care for if it desires to be done, you suitable hook in and stop it and you accept it done. And then it is done.”
Drawn to the wetlands
For Jodie it is all about the way of dwelling.
That determination has considered her venture into tourism with the established bush camp at Lara Wetlands.
On a Saturday evening as a light purple nightfall spreads out over the wetlands and fires start to flicker around campsites, holidaymakers and gray nomads gather at the communal camp kitchen.
Some have been coming back for years and now assist establish on the Saturday evening dinners.
Entertainers Viv and Karen Jenkinson pull out the guitar and play country tune, taking requests as camp stew and damper with jam and cream is served up.
There’s a combination of individuals at the Lara Wetlands campsite. A community of young couples, who had planned a holiday in the Mediterranean, are now passing by way of on their way to the Cape instead.
There’s a strong community of retirees having fun with a drink and hinting at the carousing they may have done in decades past.
Gail Reimers travelled by way of the wetlands with her sister in June 2020 and stayed on as a volunteer. Now she’s back working at the bush camp and describes Jodie as “very brave”.
“You have suitable purchased to be strong (and) you have purchased to be very wise. You realize, it is no longer suitable going out having a search for after cattle … it is a industry,” she says.
“She’s such a beautiful person and she’s so calm and light and she suitable has so grand patience.”
No longer a man’s domain
In generations past, operating a cattle property was the domain of males, but Jodie says she’s hasn’t reach up against archaic attitudes from other graziers and agents – in fact they’ve been nothing but supportive.
“The worst person I’ve reach up against is myself,” she says.
“That negative self-talk. I have no longer had a challenge with agents or no longer generally. I maintain very revered by most males in the rural industry that I’ve reach across.
“There are so many ladies folk in the rural industry really in those male-dominated roles now. And it is becoming a thing of the past.”
She can fix a unfastened shoe on her horse and admits she would now not really care for welding, but will stop whatever desires to be done.
Attempting to work out learn how to prevent all the things has been essentially the most important challenge. Nonetheless she’s sophisticated her priorities to “what’s important” and “the non-negotiables”.
“It may presumably have been in April … when one of my kids said to me: ‘Mum, are you ever going to be no longer busy again?’ And yeah, things care for that are levellers, .”
One of those non-negotiables is taking her kids to sport in Barcaldine at some stage in the week.
“I may presumably ask someone else to prevent it. Nonetheless I don’t want that. I want to be a mum and that is a priority for me.
“So if anything else gets in the way of that, well, it has to be managed in some way.”
This may be one year in October since Jodie took over the property.
Her advice to others contemplating a similar prance: “You don’t have to prevent it how all people else is doing it. It would now not have to search for care for anybody else’s lifestyles with the exception of your own.
“I love it, yeah, I love my lifestyles and that is what I wanted.”
Photography: Stephen Cavenagh and Leonie Mellor
Reporter: Leonie Mellor
Digital production: Heidi Davoren
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