Meet Our Farmers


Grant & Gina Rieck from Bollards Lagoon

Where do you live?

We live at “Bollards Lagoon”, a one million acre property at Cameron Corner – the place where the South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales borders meet. We are in South Australia, about 16km from Cameron Corner.

“Bollards Lagoon” is in the Strzelecki Desert.  It’s classic desert country with red sandhills everywhere, but in between the sandhills is swampy ground that grows plenty of clover in winter and grass in summer.  It’s naturally organic and our 4,000 head of Herefords have no trouble getting fat.

My parents came here in 1959 when it was one of the last virgin blocks in South Australia.  There was absolutely nothing here when they arrived.  They lived in a tent, then a tin shed, and then a house while they also built fences and dams for cattle.

Of course there’s still not much around here.  We often go to Cameron Corner for a meal at the pub, but after that it’s 500km to the closest shop.  The mail service brings fruit and vegetables once a week from Broken Hill, and about every six months we load up the truck with other groceries from town.

We work hard – from 6am to 6pm most days – but we love it out here.  The freedom of living in the open air, with no pollution and no traffic can’t be beaten.  I wouldn’t be anywhere else.

Why is producing organic food important to you?

I don’t like food with chemicals, or beef with Hormone Growth Promotants and antibiotics.  Plus around here, it’s really easy because we are naturally organic.  OBE was really ahead of their time deciding to form an organic beef company – I think it was a brilliant idea, probably the best idea that’s ever come from this part of the world.

David and Nell Brook from Brook Pastoral

Where do you live?

We live in the outback town of Birdsville (population 100).  David has lived in Birdsville all his life, and Nell was raised in South Africa.  We were married in 1974 and have six children.

David’s maternal great-grandparents were married in Birdsville in the late 1880s, just a few years after Birdsville was established. His father Bill worked at Cordillo Downs as a station hand before he purchased their first property, a small part of Adria Downs Station, in 1939. From these humble beginnings, we now own and operate five properties covering 30,000 square kilometres (3 million hectares) of certified organic land in the pristine Channel Country grasslands region of central Australia, including Cordillo Downs and the rest of Adria Downs. We also have a sixth farm in south east Queensland.

Living here has real challenges.  We are very remote – 1,600 kilometres from the state capital – there are lots of unsealed roads and extreme weather.  All of this means we have to be adaptable and work with the environment – you really have to be in tune with nature and not fight against it.

One of the great things about living here is that Birdsville is a hub for visitors to outback Australia. Many of these visitors drive right through our properties on their trips through the Simpson Desert, or they come for events like the annual Birdsville Races or Big Red Bash, which is held on Adria Downs.  It’s unusual for visitors to have such open access to farms, but we welcome anyone to come here to appreciate the work we do to produce organic cattle and to see what makes the Channel Country tick.

We live in one of the world’s largest inland river basins, which means all the nutrients deposited by floods over millions of years are still here – they haven’t been washed out to sea. The result is the fertility of this land and variety of pasture is astonishing – it’s desert, but cattle fatten here faster than almost anywhere in Australia in the right conditions.  And we really do think the varied diet including saltbush makes the flavour of our beef unique – good beef should be an expression of the land it comes from, like fine wine. 

Why is producing organic food important to you?

We think it’s the right thing for animals and the environment and the families we sell to – especially children who are exposed to lots of chemicals and additives in their food.

 

Anthony & Janet Brook from Cordillo Downs

Where do you live?

We run Cordillo Downs, a 780,000 hectare property in the north east corner of South Australia in the middle of the Sturt Stony Desert.  The predominant land here is rolling red gibber rock plains, but there are small waterways running all over the property, and that is where you will find our 7,000 head of Hereford cattle.  The entire property is pretty much one paddock; the cattle stay in the waterways where the native pasture is, and we muster each waterway about once per year.  So the cattle here are as free-ranging as it’s possible to be.

The history of this place is amazing.  The first white explorers – Burke and Wills – died to the south of here in 1861.  By the early 1880s Cordillo had been settled as a sheep station.  At its peak about 200 people worked here, it had Australia’s largest stone shearing shed, a police station, post office, school, and two full time timber cutters for steam engines.

Today we have about five employees, including a governess who teaches our kids with the School of Distance Education.  We get our fresh food by ordering it from Adelaide, and it’s trucked to Birdsville every fortnight where we do a 500km round trip to collect it.  Once a year we put in a big order of dry groceries that are kept in a pantry the size of a small supermarket.  Food like icecream is a real luxury for us!

Why is producing organic food important to you?

Organic food production is not just about no pesticides or chemicals.  It is about sustainable food production – sustainable use of our natural pastures and genuine care of our animals.  We have four children who have an interest in the agriculture sector and we would like to offer them the same opportunities we have had to be involved in the family beef business.



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