From Belgium to Monto fun
Cattle and gardening are Rachel’s passions
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.
WANDERLUST FARMER: Rachel van Clooster has experienced the world, but no other place feels home like Monto.