“Make your life a masterpiece; imagine no limitations on what you can be, have and do.” ~ Brian Tracy
Welcome to my series, Bush Lanterns, highlighting women in the rural and agriculture sector! There are so many amazing and wonderful women who don’t always get recognised for what they do and I feel it’s my job to be able to bring them to you.
Every Tuesday I’ll introduce you to a Bush Lantern – if you like this series, please share the blogs and let’s get some serious momentum behind them so more and more people can read about these inspiring and motivated women.
If you have a woman you think is perfect for this series, then please get in contact: email@example.com. I’d love to showcase them!
Today, Annika Anderson shares her story.
- Tell us a little about yourself, family and work?
My name is Annika, (Nik to those who know me best!) and I am a 5th generation
grazier in the locality of Barmoya nestled halfway between Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast. My hubby Ryan and I, (and our two little helpers Alyssa 4 ½ and Asher 20mths old) run “Henderson Park”, a commercial grass-fed beef cattle enterprise on just under 5000ac, in beautiful undulating red volcanic scrub soil hills and extensive flood plains. We have a mixture of native and improved pastures and are currently converting some of the property to leuceana to increase productivity.
We also run a “small tourism operation” that my parents Marie and David Barrett started during the ‘90’s as a diversification to help drought proof the property. We now accommodate 35+ guests in retreat style accommodation and are a popular Central Queensland Wedding and Function venue as well as offering an Australian experience to our international guests and our capacity is booked approx. 80% of the year.
- What is your greatest achievement?
Its hard to say one thing – can anyone?
I was raised to believe you worked and cared for your land for longevity, to have something to pass on to the next generation. I didn’t realise this had become a long held dream until after 8 long years we finally had our first child and the dream started to become a reality. I think doing something you love well – or trying to do it well – on a daily basis is a challenge, and fronting up to that challenge can be an achievement in itself. Well, I try and tell myself!
- How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you?
I’m the youngest of 3, the eldest my brother, middle my sister, and I always had a natural inclination to the animals and land (despite being a terrible horse rider, I’ll blame my natural lack of balance for this!). My sister and I were never raised to be any different to my brother, and my father never blinked an eye at me working with him, or taking me along to places where I would be one of the few, if not the only female. A natural left hander like myself, but raised in a different generation, he taught me to shovel, crowbar, chainsaw, preg-test etc left and right handed and this skill proved to be handy at times when others were inclined to see a woman knock up first. He was a smaller man, and also taught me the merits of working smarter, not harder.
My mother was also independent and a hard worker from a young age and always was through our childhood and led us to be our own people. Nothing made me prouder to have her by my side, as well as my father, to walk me down the aisle to Ryan. We sometimes never were ones for tradition!
I wonder if I would be where I am today though without Ryan taking on my dream and choosing to walk this path with me. An Environmental Consultant that works in Project Management in the open cut coal mines at times to support our dream, this place, myself and the girls, we are his heart and his home. And while working side by side with a spouse can have its own challenges at times…really, who else would you want to be doing it with?
We are blessed to have our families’ as such great support and also have a wonderful team that work with us, and take as much pride in the place as we do.
- You are an effective female leader. What drives you?
I don’t know about being an effective female leader – one could hope!
We have a majority female staff, with up to 7 staff at any given time not including myself and Ryan. This past year has been the first for me in close to 20 years to have a young male trainee. I enjoy supporting local, capable women and offering the flexibility to accommodate their roles as care givers to their own children and families, as well as being able to fulfil their desire to work for themselves. As a mother myself now, I realise the importance of not losing your “self” or your “skills”, purely because you have become a mum. We are a small community, and I enjoy supporting it.
- Name one thing about yourself that most people don’t know
I play the piano but my fear of making a fool of myself inhibits my ability to play in front of people. My husband, and strangely enough my mother in law, are my biggest fans, but I do it for myself, and would love to continue my studies in this. Just to finish it. Just for myself.
- What would be your advice to younger women who are trying to achieve great things in rural areas?
The first thing that comes to mind ….If a man can do it, why can’t you?
But really, I think we are in an era where that is much less of an issue (But, still an issue).
Let your passion drive you, whatever industry you are in. Take pride in your work, identify your mistakes, learn and do it better next time.
Don’t look to outsiders for recognition; I think to accept recognition it has to come from within anyway.
Thank you, Fleur, for including Annika’s story and her amazing property (which, along with her family, inspired my 5th novel – out March next year (shamless plug!). PS: I did not know you played the piano, Nik. You know what will happen now, don’t you? And I am in town as we ‘speak’! LOL See you soon!