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I grew up in Ravensthorpe. It was – and still is – a small town, which is what I love most about it. Everyone has a sense of being in it together, and the community spirit is strong.
As a student, I attended Ravensthorpe District High School from Kindergarten until Year 10, then I boarded in Katanning for Year 11 and 12. Everyone in Ravensthorpe knew who you were, so although I was cheeky by nature, I couldn’t get away with too much. My Mum worked at the school, so I couldn’t hide when I was in trouble. I loved to play sport growing up, it was the main social activity. My Summer's were spent on the basketball court, and in the Winter, I was playing footy, netball or hockey. Everyone I knew seemed to participate in sports, and I really enjoyed playing through all my years in Ravy.
Although my parents didn’t farm, (we were “townies”), my Grandparent’s owned ‘Aintree’ in Jerdacuttup. We spent a lot of time helping out on the farm. Although Aintree was considered a small farm compared to today’s big land holders, my Grandparents were able to make ends meet. When they were ready to retire, my Grandparents sold their farm to the BHP mine which had started outside of Ravensthorpe and retired into Hopetoun where my Gran still lives. My passion for farming and agribusiness began all of those years ago, and I still look back fondly on my time spent at the family farm.
Helping out at the family farm 'Aintree' when I was 17 years old
Cereal crops and wool were my family’s focus. We headed out to the farm each weekend to help with the sheep work. The farm is where my sister and I learnt how to drive, and it was always exciting to be allowed to drive when we were rounding up the sheep or going out on a ‘crop check’. My Dad played a big role helping out during seeding and harvest. We were free labour, and we were almost as good as the sheep dogs, (although we probably ate more!).
I remember one weekend during harvest we arrived at the farm to find Gran concerned. Grandad was harvesting in one of the back paddocks and she had noticed some smoke and was heading out to check that everything was okay.
The header had caught fire, luckily it hadn’t spread and it was quickly put out, but not before Grandad had burnt his hands pulling the belts off the header – he had only just replaced them and they were pretty expensive. I remember being in awe that: one, the header had caught fire, and two: that Grandad had been so desperate to save the belts, he had suffered burns. Farming sure is a tough business.
My brother and I helping with the lamb marking, circa 1992
I have many great memories from my time in Ravensthorpe, and my parents and sister still live there so we are regular visitors.