From Bel­gium to Monto fun

Cat­tle and gar­den­ing are Rachel’s pas­sions

Central and North Burnett Times - - OVER 50S -

RACHEL van Clooster has jour­neyed across the globe but one thing has re­mained through­out – her love of farming and liv­ing on the land.

The now long-term Monto res­i­dent will turn 90 in De­cem­ber.

She was born in Bel­gium, the old­est sib­ling out of three. Due to the war sit­u­a­tion at the time, she wasn’t able to go to school past the age of 12.

“Be­cause the troop­ers were there, older groups of chil­dren didn’t go to school,” she said.

When Rachel was 26, she got mar­ried and soon af­ter, moved to her next ad­ven­ture – Africa.

“My hus­band was a cot­ton boy, and worked with cot­ton farms,” she said. “In Africa, I had my two kids and I spent most of my time look­ing af­ter them.”

Rachel’s hus­band had a Diploma of Agri­cul­ture, and Africa’s fer­tile land made it an ideal lo­ca­tion to pur­sue farming. When the pair, now with kids, moved back to Bel­gium, one thing was for sure.

“It was just so cold,” Rachel said.

And with that, Aus­tralia was to be the next des­ti­na­tion.

“When we got to Ka­paldo, we bought two run­down dairy farms,” Rachel said.

“We sold the most of the milk­ers and bought two calves and a mother, that’s how we started.”

The small be­gin­ning turned into a cat­tle prop­erty span­ning 9500 acres.

The first car they bought, an EK Holden Ute, is still in the fam­ily. They also went to buy two graz­ing prop­er­ties – one in Rock­hamp­ton, and the other in Lawgi Dawes. “Cat­tle be­come your mates and your life,” she said.

Among the ad­ven­tures Rachel had, one was sur­viv­ing a truck roll-over.

“I was only a learner driver,” she said. “In­stead of us­ing a clutch, I used break, and the trac­tor went straight over.”

Hav­ing gone back to Bel­gium mul­ti­ple times, it was a trip home that in­spired new cat­tle at their place. “My hus­band fell in love with Char­bray cat­tle in Bel­gium, so when we got home, we mixed a Charo­lais with a Brah­man,” she said.

Rachel was 34-years-old when she came to Aus­tralia, and did not speak much of the lo­cal lan­guage.

“I learned to speak English from my kids go­ing to school,” she said.

Rachel’s been part of com­mu­nity groups through­out the years in­clud­ing the CWA, Monto Garden Club and the Mon­to­ni­ans. Now, she lives in Monto and all the prop­er­ties they orig­i­nally bought are still in the fam­ily.

PHOTO: AN­NIE PERETS

WANDERLUST FARMER: Rachel van Clooster has ex­pe­ri­enced the world, but no other place feels home like Monto.

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