This article appeared in Brangus Brand magazine Spring 2015.
Wetherby Station, has just finished hosting a course "Youth in Sustainable Agriculture" and I would like now to thank Marge Graham for opening the doors for "Women in Agriculture" to voice their opinions and stories for the enjoyment and understanding of ladies who raise a family, assist in the cattle work and usually single-handedly run the books and finances of their cattle and agricultural enterprises. To me these stories and experiences are inspiring. Some of us have originated in the cities and adopted and adapted to life in remote and regional Australia with both arms outstretched. I am one such voice struggling to get my story down on paper...Thanks Marge!
Originally from Sydney, where I was educated and then worked in the ABC TV News Department as well as the Channel Ten News Department until leaving for two years overseas to broaden my horizons in UK and Europe. This was a wonderful time of learning, appreciating and relating to people of various backgrounds.It was the l960's and we girls were no longer expected to marry and have a family after leaving school. It was "cool" to spread our wings and see the world first. Such was my fortunate background and I believe it stood me in good stead to deal with my future decisions and lifestyle changes. I was an only child living with my mother's family of adult. Father had died of cancer when I was eleven years of age. My mother and myself probably had to become stronger and I had to grow up before it was necessary to do so. Therefore as an independent individual in my early 20's, I took off to find my place in the world. That place would turn out to be Far North Queensland, via a circuitous route, to my current very happy piece of Australia. On returning to Sydney after my "grand tour" no more city life for this little wood-duck. So convincing Mother to move to the bush with me, we headed to Tamworth NSW, bought a lovely old house "The Oaks" in town and I was fortunate enough to get a job with Delgety's Regional Manager and simply adored the introduction to farming and grazing in the New England area. It was here that I met my future husband, John, Agronomist for Delgety NZL as it was then known.
I was on my way to becoming more country than city. It did take a few years though to eventually purchase our own piece of Queensland to call home. Andrew, our son was born in Wagga Wagga NSW, our daughter Julia in Melbourne and it was here that we had a house in town and a little form north of Melbourne with a few head of cattle and a lot of energy to transform a run down 80 acres into a charming weekender with views to Melbourne in the distance. The two children had a taste of 'country life' but when we moved to Sydney for John's career, it seemed their destinations were going to be city based. And so it has turned out to be, so far anyway!
When Andrew and Julia were married with children of their own, John and I retired and moved to Queensland - you see there was still an adventurous spirit lurking somewhere beneath the surface. In 2006 we bought Wetherby Station, 40 minutes inland from Port Douglas on the northern end of the Atherton Tablelands. There is always a lot of repairs and maintenance to be carried out on a historical homestead (circa l878) and this kept us both very busy. The property provided the opportunity to diversify into an Agricultural Tourism enterprise and as a consequence there was some accelerated learning necessary for me to run that side of the business. John was busy enough with the grazing areas. So it fell to me to handle the American, European and Aussie tourists who visited in groups to experience a Far North Queensland cattle station. There is a mass of historical facts available for John to present to our guests during our entertainment program in the cattle arena, one being the development of the north through gold exploration and the other the cattle industry. Wetherby was No.2 Brahman Stud established by Maurice and Elizabeth de Tournour. We have been hosting agricultural workshops for several years now and this I really enjoy. In addition, we host Universities from USA, the Air Cadets, indiginous groups studying Ranger possibilites on country, and land managers wanting to hear how better to improve their properties. All of these facets of life in the bush are very appealing, if not challenging at times, (especially shopping for all the ingredients the wonderful cooks create), but totally satisfying.
When visiting Beef 2015 it was such a joy to meet many of the couples and families involved with the Brangus breed of cattle. We have now realigned our focus towards Brangus and are embracing the technologies available to accellerate our stud and commercial here, considering our age and the fact that we have entered the breed at a later stage of life. This is where a new and exciting direction takes us and my literary tastes don'[t stray far from the subject of Brangus cattle. I am now entering another steep learning curve situation with the establishment of a small Brangus :Stud and all the background bookwork this entails. However as with all else related to the land, it rewards us for our efforts.
I feel so privileged to be able to become involved in the embryo transfer and A.I. areas , as well as breeding programs in general and would like to pass on an observation. We ladies have wonderful choices on the land if we want to take up the challenge. Support for our friends in bad times and when the good times return, we can all show gratitude for living in such a wonderful country. By looking after our land and putting back into the soil that which we have removed, we can hope to apply "The triple bottom line"; People, profit and planet. It is wonderful to be able to share our little part of Queensland with travellers but even more satisfying to see at the course last month, the growth and enthusiasm of some young school leavers, learning about the promising future in Agriculture.