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Ruralweekly

JUNE 2018 EDITION NO. 12

Carrot gold in our soil

Victorians spot the growing potential way out west: STORY, P4-5 PERFECTION: John Lamattina with some of the first carrots planted at Rocky Lammatina & Sons farm near St George.

PHOTO: JACINTA CUMMINS


2 GRAZIER & FARMER

westernstarnews.com.au Tuesday, June 26, 2018

welcome

contact us EDITOR Jacinta Cummins Phone: 07 4672 9927 Email: editorial@westernstarnews.com ADVERTISING Greg Latta, Western Star Phone 07 4672 9927 Email greg.latta@westernstarnews.com GENERAL MANAGER Erika Brayshaw erika.brayshaw@chinchillanews.com.au All material published in Grazier and Farmer is subject to copyright provisions. No part of this publication may be reproduced without prior written permission for the publisher. DISCLAIMER: The information contained within Grazier and Farmer is given in good faith and obtained from sources believed to be accurate. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher. The Western Star will not be liable for any opinion or advice contained herein.

ON THE FRONT FOOT: Live sheep waiting to be loaded onto an export ship.

PHOTO: MEAD LEON

‘They will suffer’

Littleproud’s comments set to further divide producers Jacinta Cummins FEDERAL Agriculture Minister and Member for Maranoa David Littleproud urged live sheep trade opponents to “check their moral compass” because if Australia stopped exporting its sheep, they would simply be sourced from other countries with fewer safeguards in place for the beasts’ well-being. He was quoted by The Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy in early June as saying “If it’s not our sheep and our cattle going to the Middle East, it will be another nation’s sheep and cattle, that doesn’t have the standards we do”. “And you know what, if we think we can bury our head in the pillow and close our eyes and think it’s all over – well I ask about the moral compass of those people because there will be animals that suffer.” The minister expressed shock in early April when he saw the footage from the voyage where some 2400 sheep out of nearly 64,000 had died on a shipment from Western Australia to the Middle East in August 2017. “This is total bullshit – you can’t put it any other way – this is disgusting.”

I ask about the moral compass of those people because there will be animals that suffer.

— David Littleproud

Mr Littleproud immediately launched a review of the trade but the government dropped its intended response legislation in May amid concerns some Coalition members would cross the floor and vote against it. The legislation would have decreased sheep stocking density on the ships by 39 per cent and required better ventilation for the animals as well as increasing penalties for company directors who broke the laws. This falls short of Labor’s calls to abandon the trade altogether or halting it from May to October during the northern summer as recommended by the Australian Veterinary Association. The Australian Live Exporters’ Council estimates the live sheep trade is worth

$250 million. Liberal MP Sussan Ley has put up a private member’s bill calling for live sheep exports to be stopped during the northern summer with a five year plan to totally ban the transport of sheep and lambs on any routes through the Persian Gulf and Red Sea. Several Liberal MPs are expected to back Ms Ley’s bill. But Mr Littleproud, fresh from his country listening tour with the Prime Minister to outback NSW and western Queensland, remains steadfast that the trade should not be banned, but can be more humanely managed with better regulations in place and punishments enforced on exporters who fail to comply with them. In Ms Murphy’s article, Mr Littleproud also accused city folk of not understanding the production systems of farming. Combined with his directive to live export opponents to check “their moral compass”, the minister’s sentiments will likely only deepen the divide between opponents of the trade and producers rather than help achieve any resolution to the problem when Parliament resumes in August.

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IT AMAZES me how even in the middle of a drought, there are good yarns to be found. For this edition I hit the road to Charleville, Cunnamulla and St George to find what is keeping farmers hanging in there despite the excruciating dry and dust. And some entirely unexpected stories, like 150 acres of carrots now growing in the red soils near St George. They could go as much as 5000 tonnes. One of Australia’s biggest carrot farmers has expanded its Victorian based operations and planted its first crop in St George thanks to water security and a winter growing window. Western Meat Exporters’ has notched up over a year of sheep processing after expanding its operations to include sheep as well as goats, giving Queensland growers a cheaper option to process older beasts. The next generation of young farmers is coming home to work alongside their parents on family farms at Cunnamulla and we caught up with a few of them to hear what is bringing them back. Tegan Walker gives us insights into life as a female roustabout in the shearing sheds and the opening for good young people to get a start in the wool industry. Enjoy this edition of Maranoa Grazier & Farmer and let’s hope the season is better by the time the next one rolls around. — Jacinta Cummins


GRAZIER & FARMER 3

Tuesday, June 26, 2018 westernstarnews.com.au

Choosing living room flooring THE living room is arguably the most used room in your home. As the communal hub for most families, flooring that’s comfortable, aesthetically pleasing and durable is key. When deciding on your living room flooring, make sure you consider a few of the following things: Do you have pets? If you have pets, timber flooring and carpet risk scratching and pulling. Consider opting for tiles to ensure the longevity of your living room flooring. You can always soften up the room with a rug and add splashes of warmth and colour with throws, cushions or artwork. Messiness If your family is likely to make a mess, you need to consider flooring that’s easy to clean and maintain. Families with young kids, or who love to entertain, could benefit from choices such as vinyl or engineered timber. Vinyl is becoming an increasingly popular option for living room flooring. Not only does it look good, but it’s almost impossible to stain and is extremely low-maintenance. Comfort If you want a living room that is all about comfort and cosiness, with space for kids to sit on the floor, then consider carpeting to soften

OPTIONS GALORE: When flooring your home, make sure you do your homework. up the area. Carpeting adds that ‘welcome home’ feel and there is a huge range of carpet types and styles to suit any living room floor.

Carpeting can be harder to clean, so pick colours carefully. Something lightly patterned or textured will help to hide dirt or wear and tear.

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Traffic If you love to entertain or relax together as a family, there’s bound to be plenty of foot traffic through the living room.

In this case, avoid carpet flooring, or opt for low pile carpeting with small textures or patterns to reduce visibility of worn, heavily-trafficked areas.

Allergies Allergies run rife in many families and since the living room is your family’s main communal space, it’s important to consider allergy-friendly options. Vinyl, wood and synthetic carpets emit volatile organic compounds which can trigger asthma and irritate the respiratory system. If anyone suffers from allergies, then opt for wooden or tiled floors. If carpeting is a must, low pile carpet is the best choice as it traps less dust. Subfloor heating Not all flooring materials are suitable for subfloor heating. Carpet acts as an insulator, preventing you from feeling the heat from your subfloor heating. Vinyl can fade over time and the heat can result in the vinyl releasing chemicals into the air. Hardwood will buckle and crack over time as the material shrinks and expands alongside changes in your heating. Instead, consider engineered woods, stone, slate, or ceramic tiling. Consult a specialist to be advised on what materials work best in these situations. ■ For more tips on choosing the right floor for your home, visit the Andersens website.

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4 GRAZIER & FARMER

westernstarnews.com.au Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Consistency is key

Top growing

St George is the place for Victoria’s Jacinta Cummins

FERTILE GROUND: Triticale is used as a nurse crop to protect the carrots until they are established. PHOTO: JACINTA CUMMINS

ONE of Australia’s biggest carrot growers, Rocky Lamattina & Sons, has expanded their Victorianbased operations with the purchase of a farm on the northern edge of St George. The farm, which previously grew cereal crops, was bought mid last year and 150 acres of carrots were planted in March. Rocky Lamattina & Sons Company Director Angelo Lamattina said the move had been in the works for some time with the third generation growers looking to Queensland to produce a consistent product when the growing conditions were not ideal at their Wemen and Kaniva farms in Victoria. “The unique thing about our carrots is they are beautiful, they are not watery or too bitter, we put a lot of effort into making sure that our carrots taste the best,” Angelo said. “The main philosophy of our business is reliability, if you can’t be reliable, forget about it, you haven’t got a business. “We’ve got to be right on, we can’t afford a mistake and

our customers rely on us not to make a mistake. “We are fortunate in that we own all the land we grow carrots on, which allows us to fully invest in getting the perfect conditions to grow the ultimate carrot. “This allows us to fully control the soil’s organic matter and look after weed control to get the best soil suited for carrots.” When Angelo, his father Rocky and Angelo’s brothers Phillip and John started their business in 1991, they were able to grow carrots at Wemen all year round but water insecurity and ongoing drought affected this so they bought a property in Kaniva to grow the carrots during the summer. “Wemen was suitable for growing during the spring but mid-winter we had about eight weeks when the carrots were growing a little bit too slow,” Angelo said. Land at St George was chosen to grow in the winter as this area was more economically priced than other Queensland locations such as the Lockyer Valley. The area also offered

secure water access and red, sandy soil with good drainage which is well suited to carrot growing. “Really the thing we were looking for was water,” Angelo said. “Water is number one, if you haven’t got water, it doesn’t matter what type of soil you’ve got you won’t grow good carrots.” Having a Queensland farm gives Lamattina another growing window and also increases their access to the local market which wants a Queensland grown carrot. “There’s no such thing as a good season or bad season with carrots, you’re either in or you’re out,” Angelo said. “If you’re growing in the right region at the right time, then you minimise your risk of failure.” The 800 acre farm will eventually have 12 centre pivots of 40, 60 and 80 acres with 200-250 acres of carrots planted each season. The carrots will be in a three year rotation with wheat in the second year and brassica in the third year which is then disced back into the ground before being planted with

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GRAZIER & FARMER 5

Tuesday, June 26, 2018 westernstarnews.com.au

in Qld

carrot growing industry sorghum which is also disced back in. The carrots are protected from the elements by a nurse crop, whereby the seeds are planted between rows of triticale which grows higher than the carrots, creating a barrier to protect them. By the time the triticale dies off, the carrots are sufficiently established to survive things like strong winds. The carrot harvest will start in late August or September and the carrots will be trucked to Lamattina’s processing and packaging plant at Wemen. The journey will take about 15 hours. Angelo predicts the crop will yield 5000-6000 tonnes. “We generally try and do around about 1000 tonnes on a weekly basis,” he said. The carrots are sold through vegetable markets in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane as well as supermarkets. Lamattina also sells directly to some other retailers. Carrots which don’t make the grade are sent to Lamattina’s juicing plant where they are turned into carrot juice concentrate which

The main philosophy of our business is reliability, if you can’t be reliable, forget about it...

— Angelo Lamattina

is exported to Asia. The company also donates three to six tonnes of fresh carrots to Foodbank in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales weekly. Angelo’s brother John manages the farm at Wemen, but was at the St George property when Maranoa Grazier & Farmer visited. He explained that for its first year of operation, the farm will be run the same way their other farms are unless they see a need to modify procedures to accommodate variations. “The system is in place and it works,” John said. “We’ve set the bar high by producing good quality carrots and now we have to maintain it.

The red sandy soil of St George provides optimal growing conditions for these carrots which were planted in March. PHOTO: JACINTA CUMMINS “Everyone in our operation knows that no matter what part they play in our operations whether they are on a tractor, in a truck or packing the carrots that their job is crucial to our business. “Everyone has a vision and is moving forward.” The company utilises

rotational cropping and natural soil fumigation practices to reduce the amount of chemical which is used in the crop. The tractor and sprayer used to spread the chemicals are focused to spray the ground between the carrot rows rather than the actual

carrots themselves. “We are still using some chemicals, but we do whatever we can to reduce the amount that goes onto the carrots,” John said. “We’ve never used methane gases and we work with our soils to reduce weeds so we’ve got less chemicals

which gives the carrot that sweeter taste. “Everything we do revolves around our carrots.” Lamattina employs more than 90 people at its Victorian farms and processing plant and hopes to employ five to six people seasonally for the carrot harvest at St George.

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6 GRAZIER & FARMER

westernstarnews.com.au Tuesday, June 26, 2018

New school

A Nan’s ultimatum draws Tegan to Jacinta Cummins

Tegan Walker ticked off one of her bucket list items when she got her first wild dog in January. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

“IF YOU don’t have a job by Monday, I’m taking you out to the meatworks.” Tegan Walker had come home from school one day in Year 10 and announced she was never going back. After two weeks of sitting around, her Nan had enough and gave her an ultimatum. “She told me I needed to earn or learn and that she would take me to the meatworks if I didn’t get a job, so I went and saw a woolclasser down the street and had a job that Monday!” Tegan says with a laugh. Her first job was as a roustabout in a shearing shed near Wyandra. “My head just spun for the first two weeks. I went home that first weekend and my hands were trashed with burrs and it hurt to walk from the muscle soreness and Nan asked if I was going back to school, but there was no way that was happening so I was back in the shed on the Monday.” That was nine years ago. While the work was tough, Tegan thrived on the adrenaline rush and the shed atmosphere. She was also keen on proving the doubters

Tegan Walker holds a ram’s legs while her partner Bill Crook-King shears it at ‘Warrego Park’, Wyandra.

12 hours a day, 7 days a week, with fully trained, experienced staff

wrong. “I remember one bloke telling me I’d only last two weeks and a year later I spun around to him in the shed and said ‘You thought I wouldn’t last and here I am 12 months later, so what do you think?’ He didn’t answer me. “I questioned whether or not I would last myself a lot of times, but the calls (for jobs working in sheds) kept on coming and I really love it so I kept on going back.” Charleville born and bred, Tegan never cared much for school but her grandparents Jeanette and Jock Walker brought her up to always work. “Nan and Pop instilled in me that if there’s a job going, you take it and you do it.” When she wasn’t in the sheds, Tegan’s done most things from being a checkout chick at IGA to cluster fencing to working at her cousin’s hair dressing salon in Charleville. “When some of the growers’ wives would come in, they’d comment that it was a pretty different environment for me going from sweeping wool to sweeping hair,” she said. But the lure of the sheds was strong and Tegan grabbed every chance of getting back to them.

“You always go back to what you know and love,” she said. “I love the music and the atmosphere of a working shed, it’s fantastic. “You have a lot of people to look up to; you make lifelong friends doing this and you see the country side while you make money. “It’s like a family reunion when you go to some sheds.” Nowadays, Tegan is based at Tyrconnel Downs, Mungallala where she’s worked for Ian “Eno” and Kym Handley since the start of the year, taking time off to go and work in different sheds alongside her shearer boyfriend, Bill Crook-King. Her official role is station hand, but her day-to-day jobs vary depending on what needs to be done. When I met her, she’d just spent three days working in the shed and the yards crutching sheep. “I love agriculture and the freedom of it, you’re always trying new things and you’re not stuck in an office all day,” she said. “When I was in the hair salon I was like a caged animal.” Luckily for her employers, Tegan’s bucket list, which might seem a little strange to

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GRAZIER & FARMER 7

Tuesday, June 26, 2018 westernstarnews.com.au

or old?

a fresh life on the land other 25-year-old women, included tackling one of the biggest threats to their Merino flock: wild dogs. “Trapping and shooting my own dog was on my bucket list. I got my first one at the end of January and I’ve got five this year,” she said as she proudly shows me a photo of her with the dog hanging off the back of a 4WD. Tegan said despite the long hard days, woolsheds are a great place for a young person to get a start in agriculture because they’re crying out for good roustabouts and woolhandlers as well as shearers. “That’s one of agriculture’s biggest challenges at the minute, getting good people out here on the land, especially to work in the wool sheds,” she said. “Once upon a time you could shake a tree in Charleville and shearers and classers and roustabouts would fall out, but really there’s not many people who work in the sheds, there’s just not the people for the industry now. “None of my mates from school work in the sheds. “The dogs and the ongoing drought are huge problems for the industry, but as a

roustabout, not having good experienced people in the shed is one of the hardest things to deal with.” Tegan believes the State Government’s controversial new vegetation management legislation could devastate graziers and their stock. “Take the tree laws away. Lots of people just won’t be able to keep going if they don’t let us take the mulga down,” she said. “From a personal point of view, it’ll really affect my partner’s family on their property, but it’ll affect everyone in some way. “There also needs to be more funding for cluster fencing.” Despite the challenges facing ag, Tegan said there’s no industry she’d rather be in whether that’s as a roustabout working the sheds or being a station hand at Tyrconnel Downs. “When I was young, work was a party in the shed,” she said. And her tip for anyone looking for a job in the shearing shed? “Tape your fingers,” she said. “I do it and people tell me I’m soft, but you’re not paid to be a hero!”

RURAL LIVING: Tegan Walker with her dog Molly at ‘Tyrconnel Downs’, Mungalla.

PHOTO: JACINTA CUMMINS

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8 GRAZIER & FARMER

westernstarnews.com.au Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Cunnamulla a real drawcard

Back to the

The lure of home draws the

Jacinta Cummins

NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Stuart Schmidt moved back to his parents’ property despite the drought, because nowhere else could be quite like Cunnamulla is. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

ONE of the biggest challenges facing Australian agriculture is its rapidly aging workforce. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) found the average Australian farmer was 56 years old in 2016. That figure, which comes from the ABS’s Agricultural Census for 2015-16, shows the average farmer is 17 years older than the average Australian worker, who is only 39 years old. Add drought, wild dogs, the new vegetation management legislation together with often inadequate communication connectivity and it’s easy to understand why young people might opt for another occupation instead of life on the land. However, it’s not all gloom and doom. Strong commodity prices and communities pulling together in the face of drought are two of the bright spots on the landscape. Cunnamulla is one area bucking the trend with four farmers in their late 20s and early 30s choosing to come back home and work on their family’s property all with the aim of taking it over down the track. Maranoa Grazier & Farmer caught up with Nick Dunsdon and Stuart Schmidt to find out what drew them back to the land. Family farm offers the chance to own and operate own business NICK Dunsdon’s plan wasn’t always to come home to the farm. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” Nick said. “I think probably deep down I was interested, but I was also open to other things. “I had a year at home after school working for the family business and this got me more interested in it before I went away and studied agribusiness at Brisbane and Gatton.”

After a year working as a meat trader in Brisbane, Nick decided to come home for good. He and his father Geoff are establishing a new farming operation following the dissolution of the three generation family partnership. They are running 2000 dorper ewes and hope to rebuild the flock to 6000 in a better season. “The opportunity to own my own business and run it and take it where I wanted it to go and being able to work with dad and my brother were really what brought me home,” Nick said.

though you have to work hard for it.” Home is where the heart is For Stuart Schmidt, it wasn’t a question of if he would come home, but when. “Home’s always home for me, I liked Brisbane but I wanted to help dad,” Stuart said. “He’s had a few accidents over the last few years and he’s getting on and he’s not what he used to be. “My parents never pushed me to come home, they were good like that. “They were really happy when we did decide to come back but they didn’t really

Coming from Brisbane people might expect me to be isolated, but I really haven’t found that at all, I feel like there’s a real sense of friendship. You help each other out because it’s what we do out here...

— Kelly Churchill

“It doesn’t matter what you’re growing, commodity prices are good and when it does rain, we should be able to make a pretty good return. “If I didn’t think being on the farm was viable down the track, then I wouldn’t have come back, but the only thing we really need on our side is a decent bit of rain.” For Nick, it’s not just family and a solid business opportunity which drew him home, but also the lifestyle. “In terms of community, we have a footy team the Cunnamulla Dingos which has a few games a year,” he said. “It’s a good excuse to drag everyone together to make sure we do get away from work occasionally. “At the core of it, farming is what I enjoy doing and I’m lucky that my family has a business here where I can do that. “I like the lifestyle even

pressure us to come home.” Stuart’s parents, Adrian and Sally Schmidt, run 2000 merinos and 400 brahman shorthorn cross cows on 100,000 acres 25 kilometres northwest of Cunnamulla. They also have younger cattle on agistment at Toobea, west of Goondiwindi. They are in the process of cluster fencing and hope to have 60 kilometres fenced over the next four years. Stuart said the fencing is critical not only for their stock, but their whole business. After finishing school on the Gold Coast, Stuart did a diesel fitting apprenticeship in Brisbane. He and partner Kelly Churchill moved back to the property Baroona in January. Kelly works as the Economic Development Officer for Paroo Shire Council. Growing up in Logan and

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GRAZIER & FARMER 9

Tuesday, June 26, 2018 westernstarnews.com.au

farms

young people back working in marketing in Brisbane, Kelly admits she had no idea about the bigger consequences of the weather before she met Stuart. “I just thought that it was either sunny or raining, I didn’t think about it anymore than that,” she said. It was a shock when she did get to Cunnamulla. “Kelly still hasn’t seen Cunnamulla green in four-and-a-half-years, but I keep telling her it is beautiful when it does rain,” Stuart said. For Stuart, his return home was earlier than planned but he and Kelly agree it was the right choice for them. “I think for Stuart and his mates, they really do love the land, what they do and the lifestyle out here,” Kelly said. “You just can’t replicate it in Brisbane. “Being a farmer or a grazier is hard work, even in a good season, so you have to really love it to make it work. “You’ve got neighbours, but you’re still got space and you can have a yard and a dog which you often can’t in the city.”

Kelly said the sense of community and mateship is one of the biggest things drawing not only Stuart home, but a few of his friends as well “We have a pretty good group here, I think you have to make more of an effort to get out and catch up with each other whether that’s a tennis comp or dinner so you don’t just get caught up on the farm,” she said. “Coming from Brisbane people might expect me to be isolated, but I really haven’t found that at all, I feel like there’s a real sense of friendship. “You help each other out because it’s what we do out here, if you know someone needs a hand then you give them one.” For Stuart, it’s a bit harder to explain but boils down to something that nearly everyone can relate to, that love of home, and the eternal optimism that keeps most farmers going, no matter how tough the season is. “My dad hasn’t had many good seasons in 20 years, but when it’s green, it just keeps you going,” he said.

BACK HOME: Nick Dundson is the third generation of his family on the land at Cunnamulla. He said the lifestyle is worth the hard work. PHOTO: JACINTA CUMMINS

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10 GRAZIER & FARMER

Angus Mitchell is rarely seen without that broad smile.

westernstarnews.com.au Tuesday, June 26, 2018

GREAT HELP: Izzy Schubert and Olivia Struber say Angus Mitchell pushes them to get the best out of them. PHOTOS: JACINTA CUMMINS

The Smiling Cowboy

Angus loves the Jacinta Cummins

Kit bags, chaps and girth straps line the back as the cowboys wait.

IT’S the day before the Charleville Rodeo. Outside Angus Mitchell’s house in Roma, a horsefloat is loaded up and dogs are in the back of the ute getting ready for the three hour journey. You can hear Angus’ laugh from outside before you come face to face with his broad, freely given smile and it’s easy to see how he earned the nickname ‘The Smiling Cowboy’. There’s extra gear, including a few spare sets of boots, to go round for competitors who don’t have their own. Angus tries to tell me that that is the way it is in rodeo “you all share your gear”, but sometimes you’re not really sure whether he’s telling you the truth or just pulling your leg.

“You know when we first started, there’d be about 10 of us going and between us we had three riding boots,” he tells me earnestly, before he leans back and laughs. He doesn’t back down when we query him about how much use an odd boot would be to a cowboy or anyone at all. Out the back of the house, Angus sits on a saw horse that he’s mocked up with a saddle and a hand rope to train people in “101 how to ride a steer”. “Posture is important, you’ve got to sit square so you don’t hurt yourself.” Although they’ve heard it all before, the three young people with him listen intently. Anita Struber, better known as “Skeet”, watches on with a smile. Skeet’s daughter Olivia has been coming to Angus to learn

to ride and handle horses for the last three years. Skeet explains that her sister was killed in a riding accident when she was young, so she didn’t have the knowledge to pass on to Olivia when she wanted to learn to ride. “Olivia just always loved horses, right from kinder, and I’ve known Angus ever since he came to work for us when he was only young, so I knew he’d be the best person to teach her,” Skeet said. “I have absolute faith in him and how he’s training her.” Olivia is one of many kids Angus has taught to ride a horse. He himself was just 14 when he learnt to ride. “I got caught pinching lollies from the shop in Mitchell and the shop owner, Harry Irvine, made me go and bag potatoes

to pay him back,” Angus said with a laugh. “But he taught me how to ride a horse and I’ve never looked back.” Angus’s first rodeo event was a juvenile draft where he placed third. But more importantly, he met a guy named Les Lemon who taught him how to bronc ride and got him into rodeo. “I was pretty lucky when I got started, I won my first three bronc rides: Bollon, Mitchell and Injune. I was 15 when I won my first one, that was 1982 and to win in my hometown of Mitchell was pretty special.” It was the start of a lifelong love of rodeo for Angus. He received his All Round Rough Stock Saddle title in 2015. “It’s just a passion, I just like travelling and going to

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Tuesday, June 26, 2018 westernstarnews.com.au

Toowoomba cowboy Travis Young helps steady a rider as he gets ready for his shot at eight seconds.

rodeo lifestyle

rodeos, it’s the adrenaline,” he said. “It’s (rodeo) just awesome, I was pretty lucky, everyone looked after me and gave me a good headstart, they helped me out and showed me little things like how to polish my spur up, how to spur a horse. “My family’s been all the cowboys and cowgirls I’ve met. “But without my wife Di, I wouldn’t have been able to do all these things, she’s given me a good backbone to be able to do rodeo.” It’s also a love he’s shared with numerous kids coming up along the rodeo ranks. He’s taught rodeo schools across the state and most afternoons, there’s a bunch of schoolkids in his yards with the horses or riding down the roads outside Roma. It’s this service which saw

him become only the third person to be awarded a life membership of the Queensland Rodeo Association in 2017. “I love teaching kids because I had a lot of people help me along the way,” Angus said. “So I’m just giving it back. “Teaching the kids is just breaking it down and having fun. “I’ve got to be able to win kids over but you still got to talk at their level but still push them so they try hard.” Angus describes rodeo as a way of life, of giving young people good habits for later on. “The good values out of this is sharing, caring, respecting and looking after gear,” he said. “And if you’ve got someone there to look after you and

teach you how to use gear and how to use it properly, that saves a lot of money. “We go to rodeos, a lot of people now in the bush don’t have saddles so they come and see me, we’ve had about five or six guys using my saddle at the rodeo, just changing the lengths. “The same thing, we go to rodeos and some person’s horse might be lame or they need another horse, they come and see me and the girls bail up on me and they just shake their heads. Happens every weekend!” Izzy Schubert was 2016 Queensland Rodeo Association Queen and started riding with Angus when she was 14. Izzy learnt most of what she knows from Angus. “He’s easy going, he’s kind and like a second dad,” she

said. “He pushes me to go harder, but I know he won’t put me in danger.” Angus echoes her. “My voice isn’t going to hurt them, coming off will hurt them though,” he said. “When they first turn up, I draw a square on the ground and I get them to stand in it and then get them to jump out of it. “It’s all about pushing them out of their comfort zone and getting them to go hard.” I catch up with Angus and his crew the next evening at the Charleville Rodeo. The stark floodlights light up the arena as people settle into camping chairs, beers in hand ready for the night’s action. Behind the chutes, there are cowboys stretching and warming up, kit bags sprawled

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“I’ve never walked on a ground where Angus Mitchell hasn’t come down and sat with us at the fire and had a yarn and a laugh,” he said. “He doesn’t change, it doesn’t make a difference what he does or where he is, he’s the same bloke.” He credits Angus with shaping the next generation of Queensland rodeo riders, in particular the Aboriginal ones. “He’s a non-political person who just goes about his business, he’s a really good mentor,” he said. “His contribution in the west has been huge as far as encouraging the sport and helping it poke along and like I say, helping the kids succeed in their goals. “I think so many times you see in Australia people going to do good things for Aboriginal kids and a lot of them do a lot of talking and not a lot of doing, I think if the government could get ever get hold of Angus Mitchell and put him in a position where he could be an advisor for Aboriginal kids, they wouldn’t get a better person to help them because it’s all from the heart. “Other people do it because of the prestige or the money, but he just does it because he’s a doer. “But more importantly you take all that stuff away from it and you just won’t find a better bloke. “He’s a rodeo hero in the west, he’s a gentleman.” Back out on the arena, a cowboy hits the dust and the bull keeps on going, the clowns ducking for cover and Angus is quick on his feet to get out of the way. He laughs as he gives me that trademark smile and gives the go ahead to the chute to send the next rider out.

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If he can’t be on a bronc, then the next best thing is to be one of the blokes judging those cowboys lucky enough to still be riding. PHOTOS: JACINTA CUMMINS

across the ground, stock are stirring in the back yards ready to unleash their fury on those who dare to try and ride them. Angus is getting ready to judge, he shows me his scoring sheet. Of nearly all the roles he’s performed in the rodeo ring, he tells me the only one he’s never done is being a rodeo clown. “I’m a pretty good clown in life, but I’ve never done that,” he tells me with a smile. Eddie Gill is also out the back, organising stock. As one of owners of Gill Brothers Rodeo, his job takes him all over New South Wales and Queensland providing stock for rodeos. Eddie first met Angus when Angus was a teenager. “I’ve known Angus right from when he was 15 or 16, we used to take our Wild West Show out through that western country and he came in and had a ride,” Eddie said. “He was a pretty consistent rider, he was never a world beater, but he could hold his head high anywhere. “He could compete with the best in Australia, but I think doubted his ability to move into other areas like where the other professional riders were competing.” Eddie believes Angus could have gone pro on the wider Australian circuit, but that he was never motivated by buckles and wins – he was driven purely for the love of rodeo so he rodeoed where he wanted and with the people he wanted to be with. “Angus was always in awe of those guys (professional riders), but he was one of those guys himself.” According to Eddie, the one thing that was as consistent as Angus’s riding is his personality.


12 GRAZIER & FARMER

westernstarnews.com.au Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Shows and special guests Kel Knight with his Rhode Island White at the Wallumbilla Show.

Roma Showgirls Kody Crawford and Emily Harris.

WAY OUT WEST: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks with Jacqui and Cameron Tickell during his visit to Charleville. PHOTOS: CONTRIBUTED

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Member for Maranoa David Littleproud with Doggie and Polly.

Bruce Albeck and Alexis Glasby at the petting zoo.

Jacqui Tickell with Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.

Showjumping star Clem Smith.


GRAZIER & FARMER 13

Tuesday, June 26, 2018 westernstarnews.com.au

Mia Schubert with her duck at the Roma Show.

SPECIAL VISIT: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets the locals.

PHOTOS: CONTRIBUTED

John, Angela, Harry and Charlie Frith at the Roma Show.

Russell Johnstone at the Roma Show.

Melinda Cann from Taroom on Tainted Love.

Malcolm Turnbull poses for a selfie with Anastasia O’Neil and Sophie Saffy.

Locals wear green to support graziers.

Lauren Harland from Yuleba on Majesty.


14 GRAZIER & FARMER

westernstarnews.com.au Tuesday, June 26, 2018

From strength to strength Awards help rural women achieve their potential Jacinta Cummins

TRUE LEADERS: Brigid Price of Hillyvale, Injune said being part of the Strong Women Leadership Awards program helped validate her volunteer work and encouraged her to step outside her comfort zone. PHOTOS: CONTRIBUTED a really lovely surprise to be nominated for the award last year. “Just the fact that someone else recognised what I was doing really validated my work and helped me realise that my skills are important and that I mustn’t undersell myself.” As someone more comfortable doing the work than accepting the plaudits, Brigid said the webinars increased her awareness of what she could achieve if she pushed herself even more. “I think for me, that was one of the biggest things – putting myself out there – and the awards are great for doing that because I’m not someone who would ever nominate myself, but the program really helped with this self-confidence and gave you your own little cheer squad to encourage you,” she

The winners of the 2017 Strong Women Leadership Awards with Rural Woman of the Year, Sarah Grayson, on the right. said. “The awards not only provide the potential to network, but you get to meet those down to earth, real grassroots women of the bush who are some of the most resourceful women in society

and they all support you. “I think one of the most valuable things about the awards is that they are bringing young women on board and equipping them to be better leaders while connecting them to wiser,

older women who can help with their development.” Davida Melksham is on the QRRRWN board and was the inaugural winner of the Strong Women Leadership Award for her efforts in the Charleville community. She believes the awards program is vital not just to recognise leadership, but to encourage women to stand up and continue developing their skills. “I’m someone who always works from the middle of a team, it’s really hard for me to be out the front of it unless I’m on the stage, so the awards program really helped me to realise the importance of developing strategies to cope with being in the spotlight,” Davida said. “We do a lot of work with young people and we are always telling them to ‘get out

there and have a go’. “But when you’re saying that, you have to put your money where your mouth is and lead by example so the program can help you become better at leading by example. “The awards really give you that network which means you can walk into a room and know someone or access them remotely, so even if you’re confined by distance you can still gain that support. “They are really about empowering women and helping ensure we have great leaders in the bush now and in the future.” Women living and working in Queensland aged 16 and over can enter, with categories covering leadership, business, volunteering, and storytelling using any medium. Nominations close on Sunday, July 8.

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“A LOT of times in the bush, women just get on and do the job without thinking about the bigger contribution we are making.” That’s Brigid Price, a mother-of-two and cattle producer at Hillyvale, Injune. She is also on the Community Advisory Network for Injune Health Services, is co-ordinator of Naturally Resourceful Women Group, an Injune women’s wellness group which is in its 10th year, and founder of Rural Resources, a website and online tool which connects people in agriculture to help their businesses grow. It was these volunteer efforts that saw her named Volunteer of the Year in the 2017 Queensland Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network Inc (QRRRWN) Strong Women Leadership Awards. Brigid was also honoured with a Member Contribution Award at the Injune Australia Day Awards The Strong Women Leaderships Awards program was founded in 2012 to recognise Queensland rural, regional and remote women who are working as leaders or volunteers in their communities at the local, regional and state levels. In the lead-up to the awards being announced, nominees are encouraged to participate in webinars to help connect with other people and be mentored by other leaders. Brigid doesn’t see her contribution to her community as any more special or outstanding than anyone else’s. “You don’t really think about how valuable your skills are,” she said. “You just see a need and do what you can to fix it, it’s just about bringing a different set of skills to the table, so it was

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GRAZIER & FARMER 15

Tuesday, June 26, 2018 westernstarnews.com.au

Money matters for Maranoa

A budget focused on the regions

BUSH communities are at the forefront in the Federal Coalition Government’s Budget, Maranoa MP David Littleproud said. “Maranoa is vital in this government’s plan to drive economic growth to secure more and better paying jobs,” Mr Littleproud said. “The $51.3 million for six more agricultural counsellors to grow our agriculture trade will help grow farm exports from Maranoa, which means more money for our farmers and in our communities. “Whether it’s Granite Belt horticulture and wine from the South Burnett; kangaroo meat harvested and processed in Western Queensland; beef processed in Warwick, grazed on the Channel Country, sold at Australia’s largest cattle-selling centre in Roma; or Darling Downs grain – trade deals are fantastic news for Maranoa. “Trade agreements can reduce tariffs, but we need market access agreements for each specific commodity before our producers can

export their produce there and these agricultural counsellors will work to remove barriers and create export protocol agreements for specific fruits, vegetables and other commodities so they can be exported. “The $121.6 million extra we’re investing in biosecurity will help keep our farmers safe from exotic pests and diseases and protect their top-quality produce and their livelihoods. “We’re also investing $51 million into controlling pests and weeds.” Mr Littleproud said the budget also meant good news for bush communities from supporting our seniors, to child care and health. “Seniors are very important members of our community and I think it’s an absolute tragedy when someone is forced to move from their rural community – away from family, friends and everything they’ve known – to a city or larger centre to receive care as their needs change,” he said. “This budget is about

PM VISIT: This month, Maranoa MP David Littleproud hosted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on a drought tour including Blackall and Charleville – visiting and listening Maranoa communities and to also announce an additional $20 million to extend all Rural Financial Counselling Services, bringing the total commitment to $70 million. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED supporting the 28,979 people aged over 65 and their families in Maranoa to live longer, happier and healthier lives. “We will provide capital grants funding of $40 million, over four years from 2019-20, for aged care facilities in regional, rural and remote communities and helping seniors to stay in their own home for longer through more high-level home care packages.

“Childcare is important to help families balance work and caring responsibilities. The Coalition is making child care more accessible and affordable – providing the greatest level of assistance for those who need it most. “On July 2, our new child care system will come into place, with 3820 local families in Maranoa standing to benefit from our reforms. “Also $53.9 million will be used to help more students

from regional and remote communities to qualify for Youth Allowance, or receive a higher rate of payment. This will go towards increasing the Youth Allowance parental income cut-off for the regional workforce self-supporting independence criteria from $150,000 to $160,000. “There’s also the $550 million plan for rural health which includes 3000 doctors and 3000 nurses for the bush.”

“Our 17 Local Government Areas in Maranoa will share in the $482.8 million Queensland will receive under the Financial Assistance Grant program in 2018-19. “Individual council allocations will be finalised early in the 2018-19 financial year. “Funding to mental health will increase to $4.3 billion. Counselling is now available through Medicare-funded telehealth appointments.”

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16 GRAZIER & FARMER

westernstarnews.com.au Tuesday, June 26, 2018

True tales of the land

The stories behind the men and women of Cunnamulla Jacinta Cummins

DOWN TO BUSINESS: Cunnamulla publican Peieta Mills will share the true tales of Cunnamulla characters with visitors and locals alike at Whiskey, Wine, Beer and Rum O’Clock. PHOTO: JACINTA CUMMINS made it home, most suffering from dengue fever and many from battle fatigue (now known as PTSD). Cocky was widely credited with the safe return of the regiment. He was known as a wheeler and dealer while in the prison, often haggling for vital medicines and food, and the Japanese were perturbed by his cross eye which they saw as bad luck. Despite the offer of land at Thargomindah and Cunnamulla when he got back, Cocky went back to racehorses with many of the returned soldiers’ families sending their horses to him for training. Another of the beers is named after Peieta’s maternal grandfather, Steven Oswald “Bub” Emery, who moved to Cunnamulla in 1943 and was the mail contractor for Eulo, Hungerford and Mombidary Station.

Great mates Frank Hollman, Steven Oswald “Bub” Emery and Billy Clayton. PHOTOS: CONTRIBUTED

Steven Oswald “Bub” Emery as a child.

Such was the importance of mail delivery for the stations back then that stockmen awaiting its arrival would often get freshly dressed and polish their boots. Peieta grew up listening to tales about Bub. While Cunnamulla may be best known for the iconic song The Cunnamulla Fella, which celebrates the hardened and charismatic if

“Tourists are our mainstay and I wanted to give them an opportunity to hear about the people who made our town and learn a bit about them. “Some of the things they got up to are just things you wouldn’t dream about so we can’t risk their stories being lost.” Oral historian Margie Brown agrees with Peieta. She said baby boomers are

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roguish outback bloke, Peieta believes the true stories of locals are just as interesting to visitors who want to find out what makes the area really tick. “These people were legends, they really did some amazing things and were the backbone of the community,” she said. “Everyone knew them growing up.

becoming ever more interested in local heritage and local stories on their travels. “The ageing baby boomers wanted to be immersed in the experience of a place, rather than just driving through,” Margie said. “They want a more detailed level of information and they want to learn. “It’s similar to the old days when people used to travel to Europe to do their big tour. “For people on the road it’s a learning experience and there’s nothing better than a yarn at the bar.” But Margie said these stories and traditions also have a deeper significance to a community: the role they play in shaping its identity. “We are our history, we have to understand and celebrate our history to know where we came from and we learn from the past, or we hope that we will.”

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TOURISM has taken over from agriculture as the lifeblood for many a country town business. With farmers once again badly hit by the drought, town centres are increasingly reliant on the tourist season. All businesses, not just farming enterprises, need to think outside the square. Peieta Mills’ Club Boutique Hotel in Cunnamulla is one example. Twelve years ago, Peieta decided to diversify by running tours of the town and outback Queensland to help keep afloat. “There was nothing here and it was the height of the drought, but people wanted to know the history and the stories so I just thought we’d start offering tours,” Peieta said. Now she’s taken it one step further with her Whiskey, Wine, Beer and Rum O’Clock. Customers will hear the stories of some of the men and women who lived and worked in the western town while being served four beers brewed in their honour. One is named after local racehorse trainer CW “Cocky” Easton who still holds two records for winning all the races on a seven race card at Eulo and Cunnamulla. Born in Thargomindah, Cocky was in his late 20s when he signed up for World War II. He was posted to Malaya with the 210th Field Regiment of the Australian Imperial Force which was entirely made up of soldiers from west of Roma. The regiment ended up in the infamous Changi and later worked on the Burma Railway. Remarkably, all of them


GRAZIER & FARMER 17

Tuesday, June 26, 2018 westernstarnews.com.au

Number 500 for Finch

Big gain in field of grain

ALREADY having established itself as one of the most reputable providers in the industry, Finch Engineering has added further standing to their business after reaching an impressive milestone. The family owned and operated Kaimkillenbun business are at the forefront in all aspects of grain-handling equipment, and recently celebrated their 500th 30 tonne chaser bin. Finch Engineering’s product manager Leroy Finch said number 500 is of extreme importance. “It is significant because we believe we are the first chaser manufacturer to produce 500, 30 tonne machines,” Mr Finch said. “It’s not just that it’s 500 machines, it’s to a specific size.” Starting from humble beginnings, Finch Engineering have continued to evolve and

Our services go Australia-wide and our products are all over the world. In saying that, we really emphasise that our focus is on Australia.

500 AND COUNTING: Des and Leroy Finch from Finch Engineering.

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Australia-wide and our products are all over the world. “In saying that, we really emphasise that our focus is on Australia.” Their milestone was front and centre earlier this month as they participated in the annual FarmFest at Kingsthorpe Park, an event Mr

adapt to what the agricultural industry requires, a trait that has allowed them to stay in business for more than three decades. “We’ve been in operation since September 1983 and are continuing to grow,” he said. “Our services go

Finch said is beneficial for all involved. “Not only is it an opportunity to promote the business and see what others in your industry are doing, it’s also a great chance to catch-up with existing customers and potentially add to your current customer base,” he said.

PHOTO: NICOLE MCDOUGALL

Mr Finch said Finch Engineering prides itself on a number of things, but there are a couple of factors that make it unique and stand out. “We pride ourselves on quality as well as customer service and back-up support, we know our products and we carry a range of spare parts throughout Australia and

service it well,” he said. “We provide a range of products that include field bins, augers, cattle-feeding equipment, and we believe we are the grain-handling specialists.” So for all of your grainhandling needs with the hospitality to match, go to Finch Engineering.

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18 GRAZIER & FARMER

westernstarnews.com.au Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Move into sheep pays off

Processor is pleased with plan Jacinta Cummins WESTERN Meat Exporters forecast that Queensland’s sheep flock was headed for a rebound, and wanted to be able to expand its services and lines alongside this potential growth. So 12 months ago the company started processing sheep as well as goats at its Charleville plant, and managing director Campbell McPhee couldn’t be happier with the results. “The sheep move has been a huge success,” Mr McPhee said. “The response from growers has been positive and we’ve got repeat customers. “We started off slowly and learnt which markets were going to suit the Queensland product we had available to process and it’s been a full 12 months now, we’ve definitely got our feet grounded in what we’re doing. “We’ve just started lambs in mid-May and we will spend

the next 12 months getting them right. “The availability of lamb numbers is a lot greater than sheep because we’re only processing the cull sheep whereas you’ve got four or five different age groups having lambs.” The decision to diversify into sheep was driven by the Queensland Government’s funding for cluster fencing and individual properties also putting up exclusion fences to keep the wild dogs at bay. “We saw a lot of investment into fencing and evidence of people restocking so if there was going to be a resurgence we wanted to be able to provide a service,” Mr McPhee said. “Before we came online to do sheep there was no one else offering export sheep in Queensland meaning growers had to send sheep to New South Wales or Victoria for processing. “This mean that neither the government or the grower was

MEATWORKS UPDATE: Western Meat Exporters Managing Director Campbell McPhee describes the plant’s move into processing sheep as a great move for the business and sheep producers. PHOTO: JACINTA CUMMINS seeing the full return on their investment and it wasn’t creating any extra jobs here.” Sheep have meant the plant has a more consistent throughput through winter which is traditionally the plant’s quieter season as less goats are usually caught in winter. In mid-May, the plant had 150 employees for the week compared to 125 workers this time two years ago. Currently the plant is processing a lot of aged

wethers as well as Dorpers and Merino cull ewes with an even split between the breeds. Lambs are processed first then sheep and then goats. The plant is currently processing 400 lambs, 800 sheep and 1500 goats a day. This translates to 26 tonnes of sheep meat and 34 tonnes of goat meat daily. The sheep products are exported into America, Canada, Mexico, China and Singapore.

Being the only export sheep facility in Queensland gives growers options to send in older ewes and culls which they may not have processed interstate because of the high transport cost. Sheep are coming from as far away as Richmond, Hughenden and Julia Creek as well as Ningan and south of Bourke in NSW. Marie and Peter Crook-King of Glenorie, 85 kilometres from Morven, used to send their sheep to Fletchers in

Dubbo and had also sold into Victoria before. In April they sold nearly 400 aged Merino ewes to Western Meat Exporters. The oldest of the March-shorn ewes were eight and nine-years-old. “With the wool and the value of the sheep, we made about $90 a head which is very good for aged ewes,” Marie said. “It’s great to have Charleville doing sheep, we are very happy with the prices and want to see it continue.”

LNP to drive down regional electricity costs Ann Leahy

Member for Warrego

NO PRICE GOUGING: Ann Leahy said an LNP Government will reduce power prices. PHOTO: ADEN STOKES

FROM our elderly and most disadvantaged to young people just trying to get ahead, Labor’s secret tax and record high power bills hurt Queenslanders. A staggering 47 per cent of network charges paid by Queenslanders goes straight to the government. That’s about $470 a year taken from the typical family. This price gouging must stop and under an LNP Government, it will stop. The first part of our plan for cheaper electricity would see the LNP restructure our government-owned power generators from two to three

entities. The State Government’s own modelling shows that creating three state-owned generation companies will reduce wholesale prices by more than eight per cent. This is a long-term structural reform that is backed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, as well as small business and consumer advocates. The LNP believes free competition in the marketplace is the best way to drive down prices. Competition drives efficiencies and it cuts bills. That’s why market reform and increasing competition is part

of the LNP’s DNA. A future LNP Government will extend retail competition to the whole of Queensland. Regional Queenslanders are being squeezed by an energy market that’s stacked against them. For too long the State Government has allowed Ergon to enjoy a monopoly in regional areas – despite the Queensland Productivity Commission calling for greater competition outside the southeast a year ago. If elected, the LNP will implement the recommendations of Labor’s own Productivity Commission report into electricity pricing. The LNP will end the

electricity divide between the southeast and the rest of Queensland. Queenslanders west of Toowoomba shouldn’t be treated like second-class consumers. Allowing retail competition everywhere will ensure all Queenslanders can look for better deals. We will do this by providing a community service obligation to Ergon Energy’s distribution business to reduce the cost of energy distribution across regional Queensland. This will make it more attractive for retail operators to freely compete in the regions.

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GRAZIER & FARMER 19

Tuesday, June 26, 2018 westernstarnews.com.au

Water exports to Taiwan delayed

THE launch of Charleville’s own Raw Artesian Water (RAW) into the Taiwan market has been delayed. The water from one of the five town bores was due to be bottled and exported from May or June but this is now more likely to happen closer to the end of the year, according to Murweh Shire Council CEO Neil Polglase. The delay is due to a number of issues including sourcing an appropriate bottling facility for the site and truck access to the bore site on Parry Street. World Health Organisation standards stipulate that water which is exported must be in

The delay is due to a number of issues including sourcing an appropriate bottling facility for the site...

glass bottles instead of plastic ones. The Taiwanese businessmen behind the plan, Andrew Kong and Gerry Mo, are liaising with council for a redrawing of the property’s boundary lines so that the bottling facility complies with site requirements. Mr Polglase said street access to the bore and the

proposed bottling facility is currently from Parry Street, but long term council would prefer that it be accessed via Eyre or King Streets to minimise traffic next to the school. Mr Kong did not respond to questions about when he expected the operation would be bottling and exporting by the time of going to press.

EXPORTS DELAYED: The Parry Street site where the RAW water will be sourced from and bottled at. PHOTOS: MOLLY HANCOCK

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20 GRAZIER & FARMER

westernstarnews.com.au Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Drones save time, money

Eye on the sky helps farmers with efficiency, reduces risk WITH most farmers often toiling away on their property from dawn to dusk, and sometimes longer, many would jump at a product designed to cut down time spent in the paddock. Universal Drones was founded last year and their products have had an immediate impact for farmers across Queensland according to general manager Gary King. “One guy who runs a sheep farm said he was saving three hours a day because of his drone,” Mr King said. “It’s very new technology for the farmers, so a lot of the guys aren’t aware of what it’s capable of. “But once they use it... they see the efficiency of it and it also reduces the risk and man power required.” Mr King said Universal Drones produce in excess of 80 drones that specialise in everything from water boring speciality drones, mustering, stocktake, feral management and biosecurity. This means farmers can put safety first by using efficient equipment specifically built for the land.

“You don’t have to worry about chemicals getting on you and you don’t have to get in with livestock and risk getting hurt by cows and bulls,” Mr King said. “If a cow takes off you can send the drone off and it will send it back into the herd. “When a cow is giving birth you can send photos to your vet from the drone to make sure they are happy with it and it gives them a picture of what could go wrong. “Drones can do things that tractors just can’t get into... they’re small, compact and you can keep them in a backpack.” Surprisingly, Mr King said it’s the older generation of farmers who have recognised the benefits of drones and embraced them on the land quicker than the younger ones. “Older farmers who have retired on the land have gone and got themselves a drone because the mind is still active but their bodies cannot keep up with the impact of riding motorbikes anymore.” ■ For more information on Universal Drones, visit www. universaldrones.com.au.

COMES IN HANDY: A Universal Drones product ready for take-off.

PHOTOS: CONTRIBUTED

A Universal Drone can help keep an eye on crops and properties.

House wins in energy efficiency

PROBLEM SOLVED: The Pump House at Chinchilla has all your rural supply needs. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

previously would have had few uses being successfully used to grow crops. The new system, built at Injune, was designed to process up to 10 megalitres per day from the gas extraction process to bring it to irrigation quality. That wasn’t the only way The Pump House found to help irrigation farmers. One of the biggest issues facing irrigation farmers right now is the skyrocketing cost of electricity, so it made sense that solar pump systems were one of the fastest-growing facets of the burgeoning business. Cutting the growing costs of electricity and diesel to run

pumps each day offered the potential to save huge overheads for irrigation farmers. Despite being a pump business, irrigation farmers weren’t the only ones to benefit. Technology built at The Pump House has made its way onto feedlots, dairy farms, commercial businesses and more. The business has helped with the design and construction of all kinds of pumps as well as water supply to troughs, effluent dispersal, irrigation design, pumping equipment and mill equipment for feedlots use, water pumps for firefighting, effluent

dispersal for mining camps and plenty more. But it wasn’t all about elaborate designs and problem solving, despite this being an important part of the business. In just three years of being based in Chinchilla, The Pump House has become a go-to for farmers, home gardeners and businesses alike looking for a wide range of ready-made pumping systems for bores, water tanks, firefighting and just about any other application you could think of. ■ For all your pumping needs, phone (07) 4662 7949 or go to www.thepump house.com.au.

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WHEN The Pump House first started on the Sunshine Coast, its main business was supplying pumps and irrigation systems to home gardeners and hobby farmers. That all changed when the need for large-scale irrigation systems and big ideas for the coal seam gas industry came up in Chinchilla. The Pump House Chinchilla was born three years ago and it was the beginning of some amazing projects in the region. Turning CSG waste water into irrigation water was one incredible project undertaken by The Pump House. The project took 14 months, but led to water that


GRAZIER & FARMER 21

Tuesday, June 26, 2018 westernstarnews.com.au

Music in the Mulga

Tourism direction pays off Jacinta Cummins

NEARLY 20 years ago, Carmel Meurant sat in the schoolroom on Nardoo Station watching all the caravans go past on the Matilda Highway, thinking about how they were missing out on a lot of what the outback had to offer. Her solution? She moved her schoolroom up to the shearing shed on the highway and opened the doors to the travellers for two days. “No schoolwork was done then as there was a constant flow of travellers calling in for a chat and a coffee and we got great feedback about hosting station stays,” Carmel said. While husband David managed Nardoo, 40 kilometres north of Cunnamulla, Carmel got to work developing a tourism project on the property. Nardoo Station Stay eventually offered accommodation and meals,

camp sites, hot artesian spas and station tours for 30 tour groups a season as well as caravanners and campers. They also started Music in the Mulga in 2007. It’s a four-day country music festival which now attracts up to 1500 people each year in May. In 2011, the Meurants moved to Wandilla Station outside of Eulo, and Carmel started working for the Paroo Shire Council in Cunnamulla. No one had lived at Wandilla Station for several years so they decided not to open the property to tourists until further down the track. But only a month later, four caravans who used to stay at Nardoo turned up and announced they were going to keep coming. The property was opened to campers and the infrastructure to continue to hold Music in the Mulga was developed, but the tourism side was largely undeveloped

GOOD MOVE: Carmel and David Meurant at Music in the Mulga, the four-day country music festival held on Wandilla Station every May. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED until Carmel quit her job in 2017 to focus on it. “Our main clientele are the grey nomads, as much as we would like our business to be a destination in itself, in this part of the outback it is the journey which becomes the destination so we have to be unique and stand out from other tourism businesses,” she said. “We are starting to see a lot more families travelling and bringing their children out to experience life on the land. “Years ago children could

go and stay with their cousins in the country for school holidays but with the changing demographics now many never have this opportunity.” Insurance constraints means the campers can’t help muster but they can go on water runs, and help check blocks and fencelines. The Meurants’ diversification into tourism hasn’t been a get rich quick scheme with them actually losing money on the Music in the Mulga festival in the early years.

But Carmel said it’s starting to pay off not only financially but also in creating awareness in the wider community of the challenges faced by those who live on the land. “While we have retired farmers and graziers who come out to see how things are done in a different part of the country to their own, we also get a lot of people who come out and don’t know about the issues out here or have only heard a very one sided story,” she said. “Many come thinking

graziers rape and pillage the country, but after spending time on the place their views are changed and they want to help rectify things. “Music in the Mulga attracts visitors from all over Australia so there is a huge economic impact on the Paroo Shire and surrounding regions in the lead up to and after the event is held. “Quite a number of the visitors also say they would not usually travel into the outback so it attracts a new market into the area as well.”

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22 GRAZIER & FARMER

westernstarnews.com.au Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Not bad, but not all good Merino prices a step in the right direction Megan Masters

FUTURE OUTLOOK: Errol Brumpton leads the merino industry into the future.

When I went to agricultural college I never dreamed in a million years my biggest problem would be labour.

— Errol Brumpton

He said one of the biggest problems in the industry was finding good labour that was actually worth the award wage. There was nothing more frustrating than paying an unskilled backpacker who didn’t understand the difference between diesel and petrol or how to use a broom, the same as he would have to pay a career farmhand with

years of experience. He said it wasn’t unusual to work his guts out training a new worker, and having to pay them the whole time, only to find out they just didn’t have the skills or didn’t want the work bad enough to stick around. “I’m nearly 63. I’ve been doing this since I could crawl and love every bit of it,” Mr Brumpton said.

“But when I went to agricultural college I never dreamed in a million years my biggest problem would be labour.” He said $243 was a very tidy price for the wool and meat of a six-month wether, but the industry couldn’t rest on its laurels and needed to fight hard for the quality and market share that would keep it at the top end of the fibre market. Part of that would lie in optimising breeding programs to enjoy the peaks of meat prices as much as the fibre prices, but he could see few solutions on the horizon for labour issues as his generation slowly retired and gave the game away.

PHOTO: JACINTA CUMMINS

High prices are one thing, but costs also need to be reviewed carefully, according to Mr Brumpton. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

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IT CAN be pretty easy to get swept up in the excitement of “all-time high prices” in agriculture, but there is more than meets the eye according to Mitchell merino producer Errol Brumpton. Mr Brumpton owns Well Gully Poll Merino Stud and has been in the game “since he could crawl”, so despite making better money than usual lately, he was pretty sceptical about all the excitement surrounding current wool prices. “It’s a positive step,” he conceded. “We sold wool two weeks ago and broke through the 2000 cent barrier. “It was 17.1 micron wool for 2135c greasy. “That was off wethers that were six months grown.” He said it was $92 gross for the wool and they returned $151 for sale to slaughter, which sounded like an amazing price compared to averages over the past few decades, but some of the shine certainly came off if you did some serious comparison. “To put it in perspective, in September 1988 the market indicator was 1566c. That equates to 27.61c in buying power if you want an idea of what it is today,” he said. “In 1988 you could buy a man for $30 a day, where today that will cost you between $220 and $300. “You could buy a new Landcruiser in 1988 for $18,000. “Today you’re looking at $90,000, so whilst all these figures we have are exciting, we still have a little way to go.” Over decades he has watched farms slowly slide into disrepair as income was slowly outstripped by expenses and said there were few, if any, enterprises spending the money they should on farm improvements and capital works.


Tuesday, June 26, 2018 westernstarnews.com.au

SOLAR PUMPING

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Grazier & Farmer  
Grazier & Farmer