The making of Huntly.
Huntly is a beautiful, abundant organic cattle property in the Arcadia Valley, in the central Highlands of Queensland.
In 1987 it was Lot 13, the last Brigalow Ballot block to be drawn in the successful 25 year scheme. I was that 'bloody girl' who won it and I have now been here for half of my life!
I grew up on the land in FNQ & had always dreamed of owning my own property, creating it my way!! Bright Green was my rating on the environmental scale and now was my chance, my opportunity, to create a property that was a healthy mix of native vegetation, cattle, forestry, horticulture, food, bees, art, spirit & community. Land is so precious and so versatile!
It was an adventure that I was determined to succeed at and I have proven to myself that I CAN do anything I will to do. My family came to help me get established, but I was remote, 80km from the closest small town of Rolleston, and if I wanted something done, I had to do it myself! I can remember that liberating feeling when I first learnt to mend a tyre, wow no more fear of flats and I stopped getting them!!
From Droughtmasters to Brangus
For the first 20 years, Huntly worked in with my family partnership, fattening the Droughtmaster cattle that were bred on our family home north of Cloncurry. When Dad retired we split the family partnership and I was on my own! I bought my first herd of brangus cows and a bull, I certified organic and I have never looked back!
For Organics to work, you have to have the passion in your heart, only then can you find alternate ways to deal with pests and problems. I enjoyed learning about biodynamic, biofarming and permaculture, all have contributed to the management and benefited the land and cattle.
Growing fresh organic food
Food has always been a passion. My first job at 15 was cooking on the large cattle property next door, in my school holidays. I love cooking and I fed a lot of people.
Growing my own food became very important in my remote home. It is a common dream that's not always so easy to master!!! However, over time one learns when and what can grow and there is nothing better than picking fresh, seasonal herbs and veggies out of the garden when you need them.
We have an ever growing Food Forest and enjoy the flavour of their fruits in the spring.
Growing a forest
I joined the growing Landcare movement in the 1990s and learnt a lot about land management. After two weeks with Bill Mollison I knew I had to leave more brigalow. Brigalow is an acacia and all acacias (wattles) are leguminous. Leaving strips of brigalow on the contours kept a continuous supply of nitrogen in the soil. Diversity was another factor in the health of the environment.
When the Government started meddling with the Vegetation Act and I was told I could not protect my strips and corridors of trees so I looked for ways and means to do so. It was Greening Australia who eventually found me a Vegetation Offset with Rio Tinto and they paid me a handsome amount to grow 1000ha of brigalow forest! What a win win!!!!
I got a propagators licence, started collecting local seeds and started a nursery. To date we have enhance planted about 20,000 extra trees into the brigalow regrowth.
The forest gets monitored annually for both flora and fauna by professional ecologists. They are so passionate and love their time in our forest. They have discovered many creatures but the abundance of the Golden Tailed Gecko, an endanged brigalow species, is our most precious. This little critter is so cute, he features on the cover of 'A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia' (3rd Ed)
The Golden Tail Gecko can flick that golden goo into the eyes of predators and temporarily blind them!!
Over the years I have had many wonderful visitors and helpers who have all contributed to the making of Huntly. Thank you all.
They have also contributed to the huge collection of photos you will find on this site. Thank you again to the shutterbugs. Please enjoy meandering through my website and if you like what you see, please come and visit.