“Look out for the yellow house on top of the hill – you can’t miss it!”
For our most recent photoshoot, we headed north-west of Roma, to “Womblebank”. Just as it sounds, this historic cattle station is nestled among golden, undulating hills and winding creeks at the foot of the Great Dividing Range.
There we meet owners Sally and Angus McGilvray, (Angus being Heidi’s first cousin), who have lived and worked at “Womblebank” most of their lives, raising their three children, Molly, Lucy and Mac.
Sally and Angus generously let us take over “Womblebank” with handbags and armfuls of clothing and hats. We had such an amazing time being involved in station life and capturing gorgeous shots on the sunlit plains.
Built in the late 1890’s, “Womblebank” is a gorgeous sprawling homestead, that shines in all its buttery yellow glory. As with most historic homes, the walls always have a story to tell. Sally shares the romantic tale of the yellow paint, inspired by Angus’s parents’ trip to Andalucía and the golden yellow walls of the historic Spanish cities. Once you walk through the front gate, splashes of vibrant fuschia bougainvillea’s and shady palms transport you to a whole other world. It’s quite remarkable.
Getting to Know Sally
Throughout the trip we got to know Sally. Originally from a property in Guyra, then working as an accountant for Price Waterhouse & Lendlease in Sydney; station life wasn’t always on the cards. “I was about to travel overseas on a one-way ticket to Greece when I met Angus, and I thought this could be really good.” Fourteen months later and a few stops in between, Sally found herself back in Australia, moving to “Womblebank” and adjusting to her new life on a remote cattle station.
“Initially it was a big change; there was a dirt road to Womblebank back then and you couldn’t just meet your friends for cup of tea. But it was fun; I was still in travel and adventure mode, and I loved being here, but I knew I needed to get my own identity.”
It’s a pretty brave thing to take on as young woman; completely changing your trajectory and moving away from close friends and family, but as with all things in life, Sally took it all in her stride.
Since then, Sally has seen her fair share of challenges. Isolation, long droughts and learning to ride a horse are just a few; yet she has such a refreshingly positive outlook on the world. From home-schooling their three children through primary school to managing their business and accounts with limited internet, Sally does it all with a calm smile. Nothing is too difficult.
Sally’s way of life and that of many rural women throughout Australia, is one of resilience, quiet achievement and family focus. Simultaneously running a business and raising a family is no small feat, but Sally explains it was a really lovely way to bring up a family, “One of the great things about living and working on the farm is that our kids have been able to be involved from a young age. It’s predominately a family team, so we all get out there and have fun together. I made sure I learnt to ride and was involved in the mustering. Riding is where the fun is, so I didn’t want to miss out on that!”
With her experience as an accountant and penchant for numbers, it’s no wonder Womblebank Cattle Co is on the cutting edge when it comes to beef operations. Sally and Angus are an innovative couple, recently embarking on a beef benchmarking program has enabled them to identify key areas for growth and manage consistency through their breeding & fattening programs.
Womblebank Cattle Co also have the success to show for it, placing 3rd out of 30 entrants for the best aggregate weight gain in the prestigious RNA Beef Paddock to Palate Competition. Their Womblebank steers will go onto the next round of judging at the Brisbane Ekka and we will be watching on with anticipation!
Life on a Cattle Station
Life on a cattle station, every day is different. While we were there, Angus and the team mustered in a mob of heifers to be vaccinated and put onto fresh pasture. The cattle yards look out onto the Great Dividing Range – it’s a pretty magnificent view!
Neighbour Jimmy and her two little girls Darcy and Macca popped in for a visit and helped out with the photoshoot!
Esky packed and champagne glasses secured, we all pile into the ‘vintage’ silver Mitsubishi and bounce up the track to the turkey’s nest dam to catch the sunset. We watch from the back seat as Sal handles the swinging steering wheel with ease, while explaining the farms’ history, landscape and the everyday running of a station. Kangaroos bound off through the long, golden grass; stopping a careful distance and turning their heads to assess the situation. Tourists. And off they hop.
We end the first day of our photoshoot with a well-deserved bubbles & cheese and enjoy the time catching up with Heidi’s family. As we chat, we watch the grey sky turn from soft pink to golden flame. Handbags bouncing, we race over to snap the perfect postcard picture to remember our trip.
It still brings such a smile to our faces how quickly Sal, Lucy and Jimmy were to treat us like old friends. The two little girls, Darcy and Macca were quick to make friends, begging Brodie for happy snaps and Bec for piggy-back rides. There aren’t many places you arrive as a stranger and leave as a friend. Sal has such warmth and a beautiful sense of inclusivity; you can’t help but feel like family.
For Sally & Angus, seeing their children come home and play an active part in the family business is both exciting and rewarding. During 2020, both Lucy and Mac chose to return to “Womblebank” amid COVID outbreaks, and to Sally, this is the best decision they ever made. “It’s been really lovely having the kids home, we have always encouraged them to spread their wings, by going to boarding school and university. It’s important they go out and experience work and the world so that they can come home and be better farmers.”
Finding time between university, work and sport, Lucy and Mac play a crucial role in the everyday running of the station: from mustering and drafting to fencing and farm management. We missed meeting Molly, Sally’s eldest daughter who is a nurse in Orange, but Sally tells us she is their most fearless rider. As we wind up our stay at “Womblebank” we can’t help but think what a special part of the world we’ve been lucky enough to visit. While many of us wish we could travel internationally, it’s trips like these that make you appreciate the gorgeous landscape we have right on our doorstep.
For Sally, improving and preserving their slice of paradise is their mark of success, “We want to leave the property in a better state then when we started.” The future is bright for Womblebank station, with the next generation on the golden horizon.
Our gorgeous new Golden Horizons Collection is available online now, we hope you love the new range!