Agriculture

30 Years of Country Style

“In my old country, we never had a dream – and even if you had them, you couldn’t go for them. Here, we can have a dream for our future and while it may take us longer than others, we are willing to try. It’s up to us – that’s what I feel.” – Lal Lian

Kalangadoo Organic’s Chris and Michelle McColl loaned Lal, a refugee from western Myanmar, almost a hectare of highly prized organic soil so that he could produce his own crops to sell at local farmers’ markets. My November 2013 story of their inspirational friendship appears in Country Style magazine’s hardcover 30th anniversary compendium.

I have written many articles for Country Style over the years, and have made some wonderful friendships. I’m so thrilled that this gorgeous magazine endures.

20 Years of Outback Magazine

It’s been 20 years of telling stories of the bush for Outback Magazine. How lucky am I to have been on board for the past six! #dreamjob. It was such a privilege to be invited to share what it means to be a contributor:

“Absolutely nothing beats an email from the Outback editorial team asking me if I’m up for a road trip. Any time! I’ve been to so many places I may not otherwise have ventured, sharing stories, tears, celebrations, secrets, campfires and meals with the most genuine people. Good people. And oh the laughs! (Especially when photographer Robert Lang is within cooee.)

Interviews turn into unbreakable bonds, with promises of return visits. On Wilpoorinna Station, in outback South Australia, Lyn Litchfield’s baked chops are well worth the 13-hour drive from my farm on the Limestone Coast. And I’m still in awe of the Anzac Day dawn service on the Birdsville Track’s Cowarie Station. I’ll be back, Oldfields!

I’ve slept in dongas, shearers’ quarters and swags under the stars, and will be forever grateful to the shift manager of the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna who took one look at me after a dusty assignment and offered me substantial room upgrade – add it to your bucket list! The one constant that I’ve encountered in my extraordinary role as an Outback contributor is the universal high regard for the magazine. It’s trusted, honest and frank – far from pretentious – but it’s also filled with optimism and friendship. Such wonderful qualities in anyone’s book.”

Flinders Merino – Outback Magazine

There are few similarities between outback South Australia and Hong Kong, but a group of wool growers have found a common thread by sharing the journey from the sheep’s back…

Source: Flinders Merino

Source: Flinders Merino

To the clothes rack.

Source: AWI Ltd

Source: AWI Ltd

During a field trip to Hong Kong, the Flinders Merino group was astounded to discover that the final year fashion design students at the Polytechnic University’s Institute of Textiles and Clothing didn’t use wool in any of their garments, so they offered to sponsor one of their annual fashion shows in the hope of encouraging such an influential market to take on their product. The ‘Flinders Merino Australian Tour Scholarship Award’ gives winning design students an opportunity to travel from Hong Kong to the Flinders Ranges to experience the life of a wool grower in a journey beyond the bale.

Source: Flinders Merino

Source: Flinders Merino

“When we were over there, we recognised that one way we could make wool very desirable to use in fashion design was to tell the story of where it’s from, and by bringing them here, we can give them the whole story – the family, the sheep, big skies, big pastures – it’s a good story to tell.”  – Julia Clarke, Pamatta Station.

It’s a Crocodile Dundee-type tale triggered by drought; transport a group of city slickers to the bush, and watch them fall in love with the landscape by spinning the ultimate yarn.

Source: Flinders Merino

Source: Flinders Merino

My story on this unique ‘student exchange’ appears in the June/July 2015 issue of Outback magazine.

Source: Flinders Merino

Source: Flinders Merino

“And what always amazes me is that they are so overawed by it all; they all love a lamb, but it’s also the first time many of them have been in a rural area and we will often find them sitting close together – they’re so used to being in a city environment, and it takes a long time for them to understand that sense of space that Australia offers.”  – Julia Clarke

James Nagorcka profile in Outback Magazine

Outback Magazine is celebrating its 100th issue!

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Long-time contributor John Dunn sums up the essence of this hugely popular publication in UP CLOSE:

“It’s been the aim of its writers to answer the call by noted historian C.E.W. Bean, who long ago lamented: ‘The truth is that there exists inside coastal Australia a second Australia of which most people know very little’. If Bean were alive today and able to read the 100 issues of Outback, we hope he’d think we were filling that gap.” – John Dunn

I am so privileged to also write for this magazine. It has given me an opportunity to meet and be inspired by some truly amazing people, like James Nagorcka (also profiled in this edition). After building his own tractor on his property just outside of Hamilton, Victoria, this unassuming Aussie farmer won contracts with US giant John Deere. “We’re as far removed from over there as you can imagine, but it certainly got them a machine much quicker than if they were developing it and building it themselves,” he said. Well worth a read!

James and June Nagorcka

James and June Nagorcka

Lucindale – The little town that could…and did.

I am forever intrigued by country towns – how they came to be, and how they manage to survive. Lucindale, in South Australia’s Limestone Coast, is the ultimate rural role model of sustainability. I shared the story of this little town that could (and did) in the February/March 2015 edition of Outback Magazine.

Luc

“Small town, big vision” is its motto, and you would expect nothing less of a place which welcomes 22,000 visitors to its annual South East Field Days (the usual population is 400).

Field-Day-pic_1--A

The town also has a host of sporting clubs – including a triathlon club and a karting club – a country club, caravan rallies, camp drafts, music festivals and the unique exhibition Art in the Sticks, hosted by local farmer-artist Hamish Macdonald. He sums up Lucindale well: “Most little towns are dying, but our town has stayed alive because the town has decided it wants to exist.”

Luc2

South Australian Food Producers

It has been a busy few months uncovering the stories of some of South Australia’s most passionate producers.

Rob

The work is part of a major national project designed to increase education about primary industries in our schools…teaching kids where our food and fibre comes from.

Rob2The passion, vision and lifestyles of the producers interviewed has been incredibly heartwarming and inspiring. They have built a strong foundation for the next generation of farmers and growers.

 

What lies beneath – Kilsby’s Hole, SA

I recently discovered the secret to the success of a South Australian sheep property, and it was locked in a vast underground chamber…

sinkhole3

sinkhole

Kilsby’s Hole lies beneath the pastures of Bringewood in SA’s Limestone Coast, and in addition to being a priceless water source for owner Graham Kilsby’s successful prime-lamb operation, it’s rated among the world’s best cave diving sites due to its exceptional water clarity.

sinkhole-2

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Image supplied by SA Tourism Commission. (No – I’m not the diver!)

My article on Kilsby’s Hole appeared in the Aug / Sep 2014 issue of Outback magazine, and I’ve added a link to my Portfolio.

A day in the life…of a rock lobster fisherman

We had some fabulous audio and footage left over from a recent commission from the South Australian Rock Lobster Advisory Council, and I was able to script it into a promotional piece for industry. Fishermen from Port MacDonnell through to Coffin Bay tell the story of their day at sea…filmed and edited by Robert Tremelling.

Welcome!

I’m Gretel Sneath, accomplished freelance writer & storyteller. When I'm not on the road, you'll find me on South Australia's Limestone Coast.

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