TOP PUPILS: Governess Ellie Morton with her two bright students Topsy and Phoebe Webb, from Weewondilla.
TOP PUPILS: Governess Ellie Morton with her two bright students Topsy and Phoebe Webb, from Weewondilla. Contributed

No regrets in choice to be a govie

ELLIE Morton never regrets the moment when she "bit the bullet” and became a governess.

The young woman has just started her third full-time year as a govie on Weewondilla Station, which is about 100km outside of Longreach.

She has the utmost passion for her work and describes her job as extremely rewarding, yet always challenging.

"I absolutely love my job,” she said.

"It's the mix of education and agriculture. Growing up on a property, I never wanted to leave and have to get a desk job. I just wanted to stay on the land.

"At the same time, educating children and setting them up for life is a massive passion of mine. And what a perfect way to get the best of both worlds?

"I live on a remote station and educate two wonderful girls.”

Last year Ellie worked on Yathonga Station, near Louth in New South Wales, teaching twin boys. This year sisters Phoebe and Topsy Webb are her new pupils.

While kids across the country might have been dragging their heels heading back to school for the first time last week, that wasn't the case for Ellie's students.

"They were very excited to get back into the school room; I think the excitement of having a new governess played a big part in that,” she said.

However, switching from the New South Wales distance education system to Queensland's, as well as moving into a new school room, meant there were a few hiccups.

"Our first day didn't go very smoothly,” she said.

"I was constantly asking Phoebe where I find this and that. I didn't know how long the girls would take to do tasks so it was very much a trial and error day - but that's what first days are for.”

Given Ellie has always had an isolated workplace, she has become a whiz at problem solving.

"It may take me a couple of weeks to master the art of time. So working out the girls' individual program so one can work independently while I work with the other - of course it's hard to start with, but life would be boring without challenges,” she said.

While Ellie has embraced living remotely, she understands why some govies find this part of the job too difficult.

Ellie was the third governess to be hired by her first host family in 2015.

"The first went away for a weekend and never returned, the other (said) she couldn't afford to work there anymore,” she said.

"Some govies just don't understand how isolated some of the families through distance education are.

"With stations struggling with the drought, and not enough work for jackaroos and jillaroos, you may go weeks, if not months, without seeing anyone but the family you're working for.

"I personally don't struggle with the isolation, because I think it's what you make of the experience.”

Ellie said staying connected to her family throughout the year helped her beat any feelings of loneliness - her home is about 1900km away.

"I call friends throughout the week when I have a spare few minutes and I call my parents every day, even if it's a quick question about the weather,” she said.

She describes Facetime as "a blessing” as it means she can sing happy birthday to a family members, or stay in touch with her last host family, the Le Lievres, who she now considers as family.

Ellie's top tip for those considering a job as a governess was simple: ask questions.

"Talking to a current governess could be the first thing. If you don't know one, I would jump on Facebook and search a govie page and that will point you in the right direction.”

It is also important to step into the role with open eyes.

"Being a governess isn't just about school work and watching sunsets on your horse. Although they are amazing parts of the job,” she said.

"Sometimes there are days that nothing works and you think school is just not happening today. There may be tears and scratches. But the good far outweighs the bad.

"Frogs, spiders, snakes and bugs in general are very small issues... But if you have a total fear of them, maybe rethink your job path,” she joked.

Ellie is the third govie the Rural Weekly has profiled in our six-part series exploring their role in educating kids in the bush.



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