Meet Chris, the goat farmer, who has reinvented the family business into a gourmet success. Darrylin, an Indigenous cattle farmer and WA’s Rural Woman of the Year, determined to create a better future for her community. Nicole, who steers the family’s grain business with high-tech precision. Ketut, a young mother from Bali who became the farmer by default, now loving every minute of it. Joanne, a true-blue bushy with ‘red dirt in her blood’, who never gave a damn about convention. Or Annabelle, a fifth generation pastoralist, who didn't let her passion for a career on her family farm be squashed by the old stereotypes of what a woman should do.
From remote outback stations to urban market gardens - it’s a journey that will change your perception of who a farmer is.
Debbie Dowden, cattle producer, WA’s Mid-West
After 21 years of teaching her children via School of the Air, Debbie finally grabbed her chance to be a hands-on-farmer – and never let go again. She grew up in the city and always dreamt of being a farmer. She got her pilot’s licence and met the man-and-farmer of her dreams. They married and moved to his remote 5th generation pastoral property. But it was a hard landing. Back then, women were expected to look after the homestead and children. Today that view is finally changing.
Nicole May, dairy farmer, Margaret River WA
Back home in Switzerland it was spending time on her godmother’s dairy farm that set Nicole’s heart on becoming a dairy farmer. She decided to join a rural exchange program and work on a farm in Australia. It took her straight to Margaret River. Here she met a dairy farmer and married him. She has never looked back. Fast forward 25 years and Nicole still loves improving everything the family does - from milking to breeding and artificial insemination to operating heavy machinery. It’s that variety that keeps her excited about getting up every day before sunrise.
Chris Higham, sheep & goat farmer, Gascoyne WA
Reinventing the family sheep station was an unexpected venture - but Chris loves a challenge. Thousands of feral goats were competing for limited feed on the property. The goats are drought resistant and prolific breeders. The challenge was to find a market for them. Chris discovered that consumers are hungry for new culinary experiences, and she cooked up the perfect recipe to turn their sheep business into a gourmet goat success.
Ketut Bassett, organic farmer, Carnarvon WA
Ketut stepped from a supporting role into the spotlight to manage a tropical fruit plantation on her own, almost overnight. What started out as a big life style change, to spend more family time with their young children, became a one-women-show when her husband decided to go back to his FIFO career. It was a steep and empowering learning curve. Ketut has grown into a passionate farmer, successfully applying her nurturing skills to kids and plants alike.
Nicole Batten, grain & livestock farmer, Mid-West WA
Farming is high-tech and Nicole’s family farm relies as much on data and connectivity as any business in the city. She is in the farming business. Managing their own grain marketing means Nicole must stay on top of fluctuating daily commodity markets and make instant decisions. If it’s not the market, it’s the weather, the overseas buyers or her own remote community she needs to stay connected with. For Nicole, farming is a challenge and a thrill – find that next opportunity and run with it.
Joanne Symonds, fruit grower, Carnarvon WA
Joanne knows what it takes to make a living off ‘the red dirt’ she has in her blood. She’s a 4th generation pastoralist come plantation grower who learned the ropes on her parents’ remote property. She also saw her aunt running her own station at a time when women couldn’t get a bank loan. For decades Joanne ran her own station and wouldn’t take no for an answer. And the blokes? Well, they could work with her or ‘stick their comments elsewhere.’
Darrylin Gordon, pastoralist, Carnarvon WA
Darrylin is a Jaru woman. She comes from a line of strong and proud Aboriginal women. Her family has been working with cattle all of her life. She remembers being with her grandfather in cattle yards from an early age and she knew that this was what she wanted to do. Today Darrylin is the only woman working on Lamboo Station, owned and run by the Ngunjiwirri Aboriginal Corporation. Her vision to offer training camps to empower local Aboriginal people, earned her the title of WA’s Rural Woman of the Year in 2018.
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