I love people and I love a good story. In fact I think I was put here to be a keeper of tales.
I was born in Melbourne, the daughter of a bush boy, who was raised in what is now a Victorian ghost town – Bulumwaal. Dad’s family had a history of prospecting for gold, and as an only child he was surrounded by a fascinating mix of old timers. Those were the days where people did sit around and tell tales, some fact, some fiction and some you could never tell! Dad always said, “The bigger the tobacco spit, the taller the tale!”. Needless to say, many of the stories were retold to me.
The other consistent loves in my life have been a fascination for agriculture and a passion for food, where it comes from and the cathartic experience of making it into something special.
I spent a lot of my childhood visiting and helping out on a sheep farm near Bairnsdale, owned by friends of dad. I would travel up by train, spend weeks there and bawl my eyes out when it was time to return to the city. Poor mum and dad!
The affinity for the land remained a constant with me. It was my plan to marry a farmer or perhaps head outback to a station as a governess. This dream was fuelled by many family trips into unusual spots a la “Jeff Carter”, dad’s hero of the time. With a tent and a four-wheel drive we travelled up the Birdsville and down the Strezlecki track, thumping along through the bulldust. I still can’t look at a short wheel base Toyota with side seats without feeling quite uncomfortable! The characters we met along the way are still imprinted strongly in my memory…
Life has its own twists and turns, and I ended up marrying a city boy, taking on teaching and later having two beautiful girls. We moved from Melbourne in the late 1990’s, ending up in a rural area of south-east Queensland. My marriage ended, but I knew I could not go back to the city. It felt foreign in so many ways. I spent considerable time getting involved in various agricultural pursuits, helping friends with cattle, working with pigs, and trying out whatever I could. I would describe myself as a “Jack of all things agricultural, master of none”! I also ran a catering business for a few years, and then finally returned to teaching. The dream combination of Agriculture, Home Economics/Hospitality presented themselves to me as a dream job. To me, the two fit together so well.
About three years ago, my life changed again. Jos or “big fella” rode in(literally), born and raised on a pastoral property in Augathella. The heart of a lion, the frame of a bear and the patience of Jobe were the gifts he brought and I am so grateful for his arrival. He challenges my mind, enriches our life with his country generosity and manners and answers incessant questions related to tractor implements, sheep farming and anything my incessantly curious brain comes up with.
I hope to relate some stories to you, of teaching, of food, of the story of agriculture and its people. It is a fitting time, The Australian Year of the Farmer, for us to reflect on the incredible contribution agriculture has made upon this country. It is time for their tales to be told…