In my new role as Boarding Ambassador at The Cathedral School, we realised that it’s essential for me to understand how our boarders live and also to support their local communities … so over the September holidays, I hit the road for a 3500km trip visiting local towns to speak with potential students and also spend time with two boarding families, the Kath family on Mt Leonard Station and the Whitehead family on Mentone Station.
The Kath family has managed Mt Leonard Station in Betoota for 19 years. Lorraine and Henning (aka “Chook”) Kath have three children – Cassandra and Leah who have graduated from The Cathedral School, and Jacob who is currently in Year 10. It was great to see Jacob, one of my boarders, hard at work mustering, motorbike riding, drafting cattle and enjoying the country life. Never would I have thought that Chook would take me flying but every Sunday he inspects the waters and dams on the station – so I was very privileged to join him in his four-seat Cessna as we checked the 2 million acre station.
He answered my many questions about this fantastic place. Chook got me into the yards with the cattle (but I wasn’t going to leave his side), and I found out how to jump up the rails to get out of the way of the cattle. He taught me about branding, drafting and preg testing cows. We even did a killer! Lorraine Kath gave me an understanding of what it takes to be a female on one of these stations and the work the manager’s wife has to do as well. She gets up and makes sure there is a hot breakfast by 6 am, a hot lunch by 1 pm and dinner ready at 7 pm. Then there’s smoko for the staff as well as keeping the kitchen, dining room and accommodation clean and the office work for the station. Being on the edge of the Simpson Desert, 200 km from Birdsville and 200km from Windorah, this is a remote station. The quiet hum of the generator runs all day and night, supplying power to the homestead and staff accommodation.
The next property I visited was Mentone Station, 100km north of Winton. It’s home to John and Philippa Whitehead and their children Nathan (Year 8) and Jess (Year 10) who board at The Cathedral School – and Ashley who is in Year 6 at Distance Education, and is ready to join Cathedral boarding in 2021. When I arrived at Mentone Station, we headed out for a lovely evening in the paddock with nibbles and a fire with some great footage taken by a drone. Over the next couple of days, we worked on putting a tyre on a loader, went out feeding lick to the cattle and I had a grand tour of Mentone Station. I had my first experience of clay target shooting, and wow it’s a great sport! It was wonderful spending time with the Whiteheads learning about their property, and Jessica Whitehead’s pumpkin scones were amazing.
I am so lucky to be given this opportunity, and it’s so essential in my job to understand where our boarders come from and what they do when they are home, working hard over the holidays. It’s very important that boarding staff can relate to boarders in their care. Once again, I am so thankful for the whole experience and so keen to get back out on the property and visit many more of my boarding families.
Boarding Ambassador and Boarding Activities Coordinator
The Cathedral School, Townsville