Tonight I’m really happy to be heading down under to outback south Australia to talk to Gillian Fennell on her family’s one million acre cattle station.
We talk about the part of Australia where they live, and some of the challenges they face with the climate and remote location, before moving on to talk about her background growing up in a small Queensland town and her time misbehaving at boarding school!
We discuss how she met her husband Mark, and how after a whirlwind romance they headed off windmill contracting in the Northern Territory, camping in the bush and fixing broken windmills, before moving back to town for a couple of years and attempting to live a ‘normal life.’
We then hear about how her Father in Law sold up and moved to a one million acre cattle station in South Australia, and their decision to go along too. We talk about the initial challenges they faced with no air conditioning, no mobile phone, no internet, and the nearest town being 350km away, as well as the strains of living in such close quarters with in-laws.
Gillian talks candidly and openly about her history with depression, something that has plagued her since her teenage years, and how seeking treatment has helped her to control it, as well as the importance of social media in helping to overcome isolation problems.
We talk about their three children and how they’re schooled at home via the Alice Springs School of the Air, and how challenging this can be, as well as the difficulties in keeping young people in rural communities. We also discuss Gillian and her husband Mark’s roles as volunteer Ambulance Officers, and what this entails, dealing with incidents from road traffic accidents to bar brawl injuries.
We the discuss in depth the cattle on the farm – 5000 head of Charolais x Brahmans. We talk about their characteristics, and how they suit their system and management, as well as some of the practicalities and how they muster them 3 times a year using motor bikes and gyrocopters to wean and sell.
We also talk about the difficulties that particularly kangaroos, but also wild horses cause, and how they have to deal with these on a regular basis.
All this and lots, lots more. I started this podcast with the aim of helping to show off cool and interesting people involved in agriculture, and Gillian fits the mould for that perfectly! Check it out folks..