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Backpackers help fill rural job gaps -

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CHRIS UHLMANN, PRESENTER: As the grain harvest comes to an end across Australia, backpackers are
helping to fill big gaps in the workforce.

Young international travellers have become an essential part of the seasonal workforce in rural
Australia. It's still tough filling all the harvest jobs and even harder trying to attract workers
to more remote areas. Paul Lockyer reports from Central Australia.

PAUL LOCKYER, REPORTER: On a remote South Australian cattle station, Anne Marie Flattery prepares
to boil the billy for morning smoko. For an Irish Coleen with no rural background, it's been quite
an adjustment to the ways of the Outback.

ANNE MARIE FLATTERY, STATION HAND: After the flies and the mozzies you kinda get used to it pretty
quick. But yeah, it's definitely something you have to get used to, the heat and everything, but
it's good.

Did you fall off, did you?

PAUL LOCKYER: Her partner Kenny Dowling has enthusiastically embraced the station work, but is
still staggered by the dimensions of the Outback. He's come from a 20 acre farm to a property
measuring stretching over 2 million acres.

KENNY DOWLING, STATION HAND: It's unbelievable compared to what I'm used to, it's acres upon acres
of sand and grass compared to small fields at home. You know, it's just bare compared to what we'd
be used to.

PAUL LOCKYER: Backpackers on an Outback adventure, and it's had its moments, especially the first
night they spent in a mustering camp.

ANNE MARIE FLATTERY: You know, there was a couple of cattle coming in, took our water that night
where we were and I nearly had a heart attack. I was waking Kenny. But you know, you get used to
everything, it's just something I would never have been around when I was at home.

PAUL LOCKYER: And what inspired you to come out here, Kenny?

KENNY DOWLING: The beauty, isn't it lovely? It's relaxing compared to the hustle and bustle in the
city. You know, you come out here, everything is just... it's a lovely way of life.

PAUL LOCKYER: They've taken job as ringers on Cordillo Downs, a cattle station that occupies the
north-east corner of South Australia. It covers close to 8,000 square kilometres of plains and red
sand hills.

JANET BROOK, CORDILLO DOWNS: Our nearest town is 180 kilometres away but it is 2.5 hours drive. So
that's where the nearest pub is.

PAUL LOCKYER: Janet and Anthony Brook and their four children have learned to live with the
isolation, and an education provided by the School of the Air for 7-year-old Harry.

JANET BROOK: It's different and you get used to it so it becomes second nature. The education side
of things is a lot more hard work. You've got to be really involved with your child's education.

PAUL LOCKYER: The isolation doesn't help with staff recruitment.

ANTHONY BROOKS, CORDILLO DOWNS: I think they're too used to creature comforts in and around the
cities - the cinemas, and the cafes, and things like that.

JANET BROOK: We've put ads in papers and we've left them in there for a month and got two people
apply. So generally we'll take anyone. Anyone who answers the ad.

PAUL LOCKYER: But it was through the job ads that they found on Irish couple who enjoyed the
experience so much that they encouraged Anne Marie Flattery and Kenny Dowling to follow them to
Cordillo Downs.

JANET BROOK: We've just been very lucky over the last couple of years to have this Irish crew come
through.

PAUL LOCKYER: Tiny Outback communities like William Creek in South Australia have become just as
reliant on backpackers to fill jobs.

NEVILLE JACOB, PUBLICAN: We advertise all the time. Constantly.

PAUL LOCKYER: Neville and Adriana Jacob can't find Australians to work in their hotel.

NEVILLE JACOB: You get Australian people that have rung and applied for the job, and then when you
tell them that it's here, they don't come.

PAUL LOCKYER: Without the backpackers, it would be difficult to keep the pub running.

It's a long way to come to work.

BACKPACKER: Yeah, but we need the money, and you save money here. So it's good.

PAUL LOCKYER: Once they're cashed up they quickly move on. But fortunately for William Creek,
there's always other adventurist travellers willing to give it a go in the Outback.

What do you think you've got from the experience?

BACKPACKER 2: A lot of skills, yeah. I can cook burgers and chips now. And it's just interesting
being in the middle of nowhere.

KENNY DOWLING: Even breaking horses is different here.

PAUL LOCKYER: On Cordillo Downs strong bonds have been forged with the Irish workers.

JANET BROOK: We eat together, we work together and we have fun together. We go to the gymkhanas,
and the races and have our own barbecues. So you do actually form these good ties with the people
who are working with you at the time, yeah.

KENNY DOWLING: When you get on well with them, it's taking it to the next level. They become,
instead of a boss, they're friends, you know?

PAUL LOCKYER: And as captured on his boss's home video, Kenny Dowling has demonstrated that he's
not one to shirk an Outback challenge.

KENNY DOWLING: Buck jumping was something I have always wanted to do, and you only ever see it on
TV. And to get the opportunity to do go out on a Rodeo was absolutely great and something I would
definitely try and do again.

PAUL LOCKYER: And you duly fell off at Anne Marie feet

KENNY DOWLING: Yeah.

ANNE MARIE FLATTERY: Well... wouldn't be the first time.

FRED BROPHY, BOXING ANNOUNCER: Doesn't matter if you win or lose, this is where you earn a
reputation. This is where when you get up that ladder you're a fair dinkum Australian.

PAUL LOCKYER: When Fred Brophy's Boxing Troupe visited Birdsville challenging all comers, Kenny
Dowling couldn't resist.

FRED BROPHY: Kenny Dowling, have you done any boxing before? You haven't. You haven't. You know
where you are? Good luck to you. Walk the plank. Welcome to Australia.

PAUL LOCKYER: Kenny Dowling had the crowd on his side, he definitely had Cordillo Downs behind him
and he enjoyed a size advantage, but perhaps lacked the stamina and the ring craft to match his
elusive opponent. The Irish ringer was clearly outpointed, but as Fred Brophy had promised he had
enhanced his reputation.

ANTHONY BROOKS: They come with a good attitude. And as they say, they just want to have a crack,
and that's what they do. I think if you do that, you can't really go wrong.

PAUL LOCKYER: Although bruised by the experience, Kenny Dowling will be spreading the word when he
gets back to Ireland, lining up the next recruits for Cordillo Downs.

KENNY DOWLING: To come out and see what Central Australia and the Outback really is is just
unbelievable. No matter how much you see on TV or how much you read about it, when you come and
experience it, it's unbelievable.

CHRIS UHLMANN: A land rich with experiences. Paul Lockyer reporting from Central Australia.