Emerald or Bust

Just like every other location change, our journey to Emerald began with lots of hectic travel. After Maggie dropped Matthew and I off at the airport in Darwin, we jumped on a plane and flew to Brisbane where we then spent the night in the airport.

Our sleeping quarters for the night included a metal bench in the middle of the airport.  Fortunately, there were a few other backpackers who were already fast asleep without any cares.  Matthew and I shrugged our shoulders and decided to join them.  I used my backpack full of books for a pillow and my beach towel as a blanket.  I fell asleep to the beeping of a machine that helda man who was cleaning the airport ceilings.  


 At four a.m we grabbed our large suitcases and walked back through security where we then caught the six a.m flight to Rockhampton. Then we spent another twelve hours sitting in that airport. We thought we could go check out the town but unfortunately there were no luggage lockers so instead we read books till our eyes bled. But still, this was all worth it because we saved hundreds of dollars by not taking the direct flight! And at this point in our travels, we needed to save money above all else.


By six that evening we were boarding a greyhound bus that drove us three and a half hours into Emerald. When we arrived I was so tired I wasn't sure where I was, but then I heard the familiar voice of David, “Team America! You made it!” And just like that we loaded our luggage and he drove us to the accommodation near his parent's house where we'd be staying for the next three weeks.

Historic Emerald Bus Station 

Historic Emerald Bus Station 


By the time I woke up at seven the next day the boys were long gone. David had a truck he needed to pick up in Rockhampton, where we just came from, so Matthew went with him. I yawned and stretched and looked out the window to get a better look at my surroundings. In front of our accommodation I could see the family vineyard, with grape vines stretching as far as I could see. On the other side of the house the view opened up to a small pond with cattle grazing nearby. These would be the famous Wagyu cattle that I was keen to learn more about. I was thinking seriously about taking a stroll outside when my phone rang. It was Chris, David's mom. She and Neville were inviting me to tea at their house. I agreed to tea and within minutes Neville was at the front door in his pickup truck (or Ute, as the aussies call it.)


During tea I had my first formal interview. Chris and Neville were extremely pleasant. They asked me how my travels had been and then quickly jumped into my skillset. How much farm experience did I have? What kind of meat did my dad raise? Did it marble? Why does he breed that particular type of cow? I felt a tizzy of so many questions being thrown at me. I was trying my best to answer but I also knew very little about this sort of thing. Still, I wanted to impress them.


In the hours to come Neville would leave for work at the office and Chris and I would get better acquainted. When Chris's phone rang I overheard her say that the neighbor had two bulls out and we were going to go look for them. Without a second thought she told me to jump on the back of a four wheeler.

We drove way out into several pastures where Chris showed me the cattle and explained different things like where their water was and how she had trained them to follow her on the quad bike. I almost burst out laughing when instead of honking a horn or rattling cake like my Dad does, she let out a long loud command towards the cattle, “Commmmoonnnn, commmooonnnn!” I was both impressed and humored. I had never seen such in my life, but I admired her for being out here on her own in charge of the cattle.


I learned that Chris and Neville had recently switched from merely raising cattle to breeding cattle. This is why they went with the pricy Japanese breed of Wagyu. It was a very nice meat that was known for having fat in between the muscles, making for a very tasty steak. 


That afternoon I got to match up hair samples with each cow's number so they could be sent in to a DNA testing lab. I felt like I was working for a cattle CIA company or something. I had to be very exact in how I positioned the hair on the cards and the numbers absolutely had to match. It was my first job and I wanted to be very thorough with my work.  When I finished it was five o'clock and I was allowed to go home.


That night I met one of the other housemates we would be sharing a space with. His name was Grant and he was a programer who helped code the robots that Neville was investing in.   Grant and I chatted for about an hour before David and Matthew showed up. They had an adventurous day too!