In the heart of one of Australia's biggest cattle properties a pregnant woman sits at her study desk while her toddler paces around the baby gates fencing him away from the computer cords.
The wet season has started early at Brunette Downs Station, Northern Territory and outside it's raining.
Inside, Ashley Sutton ponders an online debate question posed by a university colleague.
It's been 10 years since Ashley finished high school and went to work in livestock feedlot administration.
She never expected that she would one day be a university student.
"I never thought about it at all. I thought I'd just keep working my way up in office work," she said.
But with a new baby and relocation to a cattle property eight hours drive from the closest Woolworths, Ashley said she had a bit of time of her hands.
"There's only so much Netflix you can watch," she said.
"And because I was not really working up here I didn't want to fall behind.
"I thought that if I did a degree, when I do go back to work, I'll go back on the same level as I left."
Ashley is studying a Bachelor of Business and Commerce at University of Southern Queensland.
She's chosen subjects initially that will get her a Diploma and leave her the option to continue studying.
"I've signed up for the degree but I'm a bit worried about how long it's going to take me because I'm having another baby," she said.
But by focusing first on a shorter diploma, within the full degree, Ashley feels that university is more achievable.
Her leap into tertiary studies was helped along by a bit of inspiration from her sister who was also studying remotely.
"My sister started going to university in Toowoomba but then ended up finishing the last two years on out on our family cattle property in Glenmorgan, Queensland," Ashley said.
"I watched her do it and I thought, 'Oh well it's possible to do it in the middle of nowhere.'"
Brunette Downs is 600km from Mount Isa. There's no parent support group nearby and Ashley's little boy Paddy is the only child on the property.
"Today in Katherine we went to play at the park," she said.
"And there was also a little girl playing but Paddy had no idea what to do because he's never played with another child. He was a little bit standoffish and watching."
But despite the challenges of isolation on such a large property Ashley says she's never lonely.
With dozens of staff managing over 50,000 head of cattle "It's full on," she said.
With a full university program also on her plate Ashley has found way to integrate parenting, study and being a part of station-life where her partner, Billy Dakin, is head stockman. Planning her week seems to be part of the solution.
"It's good to have a plan written out," she advises.
"But make sure it's very flexible. Don't get upset if the plan doesn't work for the week," Ashley said adding that staying motivated was the hardest part.
"If you have a tough day with the little one, or everything's just not going to plan, it's hard to actually sit down that night and do the study. You might think 'Oh, I have another hour later on' and want to push it out but I have to make sure I do it as planned instead of putting it off."
Although online lectures are delivered live during the day Ashley chooses to look at the recordings later on when parenting duties ease up.
It's a study technique used by many students at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ).
Mrs Helen Nolan is the Executive Director of Strategic Liaison Education Community at USQ.
She said that over 75 per cent of USQ students studied online when and where it suited them.
"They can listen to recorded lectures when it suits them, connect with peers in live tutorials, and access our free online learning services," Mrs Nolan said.
"Online students like Ashley Sutton receive the same level of support as an on-campus student with tailored assistance available every step of the way."
Mrs Nolan said that the university also provides personalised support for online students to virtually speak face-to-face with a student support team or live chat via the USQ website.
"We also have the USQ Meet Up program which offers free, virtual study groups facilitated by student leaders," she said.
Before going 'back to school', Ashley did a free tertiary preparation course through the university which made her feel more capable starting the diploma.
"I felt confident with computer skills but writing assignments and academic referencing was daunting because I hadn't done it for a long time," she said.
With her second child due early 2022 Ashley is planning for a future where she contributes to running the property as well as parenting.
She said that Australian Agricultural Company, who own Brunette Downs, have been supportive of her university goals.
"They're really encouraging me to be involved with them. They really want families. And it's the lifestyle Billy and I have chosen."
And although she's absolutely loving motherhood, Ashley said her studies are creating an identity separate to domestic life.
"I feel like my success is not just watching Paddy walk. University is something I get to do. It's my achievement."
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