If you head up to Bullo River Station in the remote Top End, there’s a fair chance that Grace Mitchelson will be your guide. This 500,000 acre working cattle station provides guests with a unique tourism experience, combining authentic outback adventures with life on the farm. Grace is one of those beautiful women that is both down to earth and supremely capable and when she effortlessly showcased Bullo River Station to us we were all in awe. We asked her to tell us a little bit about herself.
Please explain a little bit about who you are and what you do at Bullo River Station.
I’m a guide at Bullo River Station, which means showing guests what it is like to live on a working cattle station, and what remote outback life is like. This involves showing the cattle activities but also activities like fishing and horse riding, things the team love doing on their days off, as well as just exploring this amazing property.
I was born on a farm in Tasmania, where my parents still are, so I have known farming all my life. I left Tassie in 2012 for my first job as a jillaroo in Queensland, and then I was able to transfer within the company to two other stations, one in the NT and another on the NT/WA border. After several seasons, I wanted to get into tourism so I got a job at Horizontal Falls for 2 years, and then working on the Great Escape expedition vessel, based out of Broome. So I had a lot of varied experience when I started working at Bullo for the 2018 season.
What got you started with remote outback guiding and what do you find most interesting about it?
I have a love of the land which got me started here. The country is continuously changing, from red rocks, blue skies, green bush after the wet, billabongs, it’s all so picturesque. This country is why I do what I do and I love sharing it with people. I’m also learning every day from the guests who visit. A recent guest had such a great knowledge of native plants that he encouraged me to start collecting and pressing plants, to start a visual diary. I would never have thought of that but it’s something I now do and it’s helping me learn more about the bush here.
How do you bring Bullo River Station to life on your tours?
I get people involved by them participating, not just observing. It is so exciting to see people participate in a new experience, to see their excitement and enjoyment.
Why do you think it’s important that people learn about life on an outback cattle station?
Live cattle export has had some bad press so it’s important to show people how we manage our cattle, and the care and passion we have for healthy animals that are treated humanely. Guests can visit our yards and paddocks, there’s nothing hidden. It’s important that guests understand how cattle stations operate and see where their food comes from – in our instance, beef, fish and even bush tucker, plants that can allow people to live off the land.
If people wanted to find out more about life on Bullo River Station or the Top End are there any particular books, documentaries or websites you would recommend?
As the original owner, Sara Henderson’s biographies give a good history of Bullo River Station and her experiences in establishing the Station and Homestead.
I love wildlife books, and plant books, particularly that cover the Top End. Many have been to me recommended by guests – I find two really useful; Native Plants of Northern Australia by John Brock and A Guide to Wildlife and Protected Areas of the Top End by Linley McKay.
Is there anything else you’d like to add that hasn’t been covered by the questions already posed?
I guess just the multi-faceted aspect of my job. Every day is varied – I could be down at the cattle yards in the morning and on a boat on the Bullo River in the afternoon and finish the day on a rock ledge overlooking the Victoria River at sunset. I’m also continuously learning, especially now that Bullo has a partnership with Australian Wildlife Conservancy, which is running several conservation and science projects on the property.
What’s your favourite Australian animal and why?
I have too many. Maybe Brolgas because I love how they dance, and they are so pretty when they fly.
What place is Australia’s best-kept secret?
Tasmania – home is where the heart is and the Tasman Peninsula in the south of Tasmania is just stunning scenery, with the rugged terrain and cliffs.
What haven’t you seen / done in Australia that you’d like to and why?
Diving at Lizard Island
Finally, how can people follow you on social media?