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In 2011 state ball I was lucky enough to win a study tour to Western Australia (WA). My exchange started at Saturday 18th at 3.15pm WA time, I had Gerren waiting for me at the airport with a sign, he is to old for rural youth but is a mentor for there Council over there. I stayed in Perth for the night and Sunday morning got picked up by Claire, who drove me 3.5hrs south of Perth to Katanning. I was dropped of at Kristy's house and who was watching 'Farmer wants a wife' so that was a nice ice breaker as it had some nice scenes of Tassie on. That evening we went to the pub for tea (the first of many pub meals) where I meet Wayne and Em, they took me back to Wayne's and his brother Scott's farm in Broome Hill 20 mins from Katanning.

Monday morning I meet Scott and we started out the week by giving me a tour of the farm. Scott and Wayne Newbey are third generation farmers and own a 5000 acre sheep and cropping farm that has been in the family for over 150 years. They each have their own houses which are separated by the work sheds. We had to get in some sheep, while out getting them we came across one lamb that had been attacked by a fox so we had to put him down. We put the sheep into two paddocks that had a high fence between them so that the lambs could go underneath; they had two lots of sheep together and had to separate them so they knew how many lambs the two different rams had. They took me into town to a café for lunch! Got a quick go at shooting cans off the fence posts before the rain came and we went in and fixed the 4-wheeler and light on top car before heading for great dinner that Em cooked for us!

Tuesday I went out early with Scott to do plant testing in three different paddocks around the farm. They pulled out a hand full of crops; wheat or barley, chopped off the roots and placed them in a box and send them to Perth. The test will tell the boys what the crop is lacking or had too much of so they can fix it by adding what is needed. They only do this if the crop isn't doing to well because for a few small boxes it's expensive to test! We went into town to Landmark where Scott works casually, had lunch at the pub, then home to put up portable sheep yards. Scott showed me how to reload bullets as he does rifle shooting, he placed 8th at the rifle championships last year.

Wednesday we had to ear tag 89 lambs, so they were classed as sheep! I got to use the oxy torch to put holes in the fence to put the wire thought in the rain! WA did turn on great weather for me; I was about 2 weeks to early!

Thursday was fun they let me lose on the 4-wheeler after learning how to use it! Was great with the two dogs aboard not much room with all 3 of us on there! We finished the fence from yesterday and put new gates on the shed. That night we went to the pub for tea and to meet some more club members, and they gave me a Katanning shirt.

Friday we had to do tree planting, not the most exciting job in the world but the hours passed quite quickly. That afternoon I went with the boys to a course they attend for a period of six weeks, every Friday afternoon starting on different property each week. The group go between the different properties and discuss grass, crop and stock management along with trail plots and getting advice from the other famers. That evening their cousins came down from Perth and went to the pub for tea...

Saturday we got a few mobs of sheep in ready for shearing and mulesing, and got everything ready, tested equipment was working ready for the next day. We then headed out to the rifle range where Scott had a few shots; he does 900 yards without a scope! Back to the farm and getting more sheep in, these ones were not easy as they were young sheep with lambs at foot and like humans get baby brains! That evening we went shooting and got two foxes which are a big problem over there.

Sunday was an early start and the busiest day of the week, the shearers came in and sheared 800 head sheep and we mulesed 960 lambs. They had few sheep that got sick, would not stand or move, it was from a calcium deficiency and we had to give them a drip and most of them where fine again by the afternoon. I got to ear tag, put lambs in cradle, and back lining. After they dropped from cradle they went into a shoot, I sprayed down there backs and let them go to find their mums.

On Monday I got driven back up to Perth because I was going to go further south to Esperance but they couldn't host me. I caught a train to Merredin, 3.5hrs east of Perth on the way to Kalgoorlie. Vikki Dixon met me at the train station and had to drive anther hour to her and husbands property which was a 10, 000 acre crop farm. They had a lot of canola right near the house which the smell was interesting, I coped but some wouldn't. We spent Tuesday spraying weeds, moving headers, fixing the swather, welding and fixing the Ute tail lights.

On Wednesday we packed up the camper and drove 2.5hrs west to Dorwin where they have there annual field days. It was like agfest but not quite as big. I found that it was more to do with agricultural than ours, one small shed of craft and no clothing stores! I meet Jess Dixon there eldest daughter who was working at the field day, that evening was big at the pub with a band, skimpy bar staff, and lots ag students.

The Thursday day I meet Brook and her friend Susie they where my next hosts, from Bruce Rock Rural Youth. Finally I got some nice weather! It was a lovely day to sit in the sun! We looked around field day again then headed off home. Friday I got a tour of Bruce Rock, and went to were they have there annual B & NS ball which is coming up in October to do few jobs. That night they had a meeting at the pub and Saturday morning I was on the train again heading back to Perth. Gerern picked me up at station and we did a drive around of Perth, and Fremantle and then I was on plane early Sunday morning!

I had a great trip! It doesn't quite come across in words how much I learnt and the fun I had! I got to do new things and meet lovely people. If people are thinking about going I would HIGHLY recommend going on and exchange, you have nothing to loss and some much to gain!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Rural Youth Organisation of Tasmania for giving me this opportunity.

Nicole Elliott