Working two million acres of land with 10-12,000 cattle near Moomba, Graham and Sharon Betts know a thing or two about the land. They also know about sharing it, as a large proportion of their property is home to Santos’ Cooper Basin operations. By Stephen Batten
Looking after thousands of organicallycertified cattle, multiple dogs, cats, horses and even a camel on an enormous pastoral property is the daily routine of Graham and Sharon Betts. It’s a big job, but they wouldn’t have it any other way. “We really love it out there on the land. Every time we come to the city it doesn’t take long and we want to go back home,” says Graham. ‘Home’ is split between Mungerannie Station, in South Australia far north-east, which covers more than 1.5 million acres and Epsilon station in Queensland’s south-west, set over half a million acres. Compare the Adelaide council area – including parklands and North Adelaide – at a meagre 3700 acres and you can begin to appreciate the Betts’ backyard. Both stations have been in the Betts family for generations and have played home to an extended family for more than 50
ISSUE 02 RESOURCING SA Autumn 2016
years. The iconic Cooper Basin, one of the world’s largest energy resources, is also the heartland of Santos’ oil & gas operations. “Our relationship started early on, with Dad owning a transport business that carted pipes for Santos when they pegged and drilled Innamincka 1 back in 1959. When he bought Mungerannie in 1958 we basically grew up with Delhi and Santos,” Graham says. He recalls his earliest memory of sitting with drillers out on a rig watching movies and eating icecream when he was a young boy. Graham says the relationship with Santos was easy from day one and it was all about taking the time to understand each other. Nowadays, the Betts family wouldn’t work a day without coming across a rig or survey activity on their property, but Graham says communication has always been very open and nothing goes ahead without consultation. “That’s the kind of relationship we have.”
Working side by side for more than five decades also opened up opportunities to invest in sealed roads and surrounding infrastructure, including fencing and gates, which have been critical in such a remote part of the country. Like many rural families, the Betts’ have run the pipeline of highs and lows. However, hard work together with a good understanding of the land and their industry has brought them great success, particularly in running their premium organic product alongside oil & gas activities. Obtaining and retaining organic certification for their cattle is a major accomplishment and something the family is justifiably proud. With both US and Australian accreditations (NASAA and OFC) they are able to command higher prices for their clean, South Australian product. Australian certification was gained in 1996 and US in 1998. It involves special branding for the organic cattle to make sure there are no chemicals present. The process requires being
This is the second issue of Resourcing SA, distributed to 11,000 people across South Australia in hard copy.