‘City’ wo­man’s place is here

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS - Kather­ine Kokko­nen

THE ur­ban jun­gle of Sin­ga­pore sounds like an un­likely be­gin­ning for a Far North cat­tle pro­ducer.

It gets even stranger when you hear about her child­hood in Syd­ney.

“I had horses in Syd­ney be­cause I al­ways wanted to be a rider,” she said.

“I loved be­ing in the bush and slowly moved out and trav­elled over­seas.”

De­spite a metropoli­tan be­gin­ning, Ri­fle Creek Sta­tion owner Jenny Pet­rich wouldn’t swap the bush for any­thing.

“I love my ru­ral life­style,” she said from her prop­erty on the western side of Mt Mol­loy.

“You wouldn’t think from my back­ground that I would ac­tu­ally want to do that but I love it or I wouldn’t still be here oth­er­wise.”

Ms Pet­rich moved north when her par­ents re­tired. She had al­ways loved horses, cat­tle and fresh air and pur­sued her pas­sion, build­ing up ex­pe­ri­ence in mus­ter­ing out west.

She worked at Wetherby Sta­tion from 1989 to 2007 be­fore buy­ing a 2000-acre prop­erty and set­ting up on her own.

Ms Pet­rich’s Drought­mas­ter store steers have de­vel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion for their qual­ity.

Ear­lier this year, she re­ceived top price at the Ma­reeba Sa­le­yards with six of her Drought­mas­ter steers fetch­ing 290.2c/kg.

“It’s great to see the cat­tle reach such a high price, but what is so re­ally re­ward­ing is to know they are re­turn buy­ers who are pur­chas­ing them,” she said.

“If they’ve re­turned to buy that same brand again it’s be­cause they were suc­cess­ful with them.

“They took them home, they were quiet, they fat­tened and they were no trou­ble.”

Ms Pet­rich said liv­ing on the land could be a hard choice when it came to mak­ing prop­er­ties sus­tain­able.

While her main pas­sion is cat­tle, she also works as an agri­cul­ture trainer with the North­ern Skills Al­liance.

Ms Pet­rich has qual­i­fi­ca­tions in agri­cul­ture and con­ser­va­tion land man­age­ment and de­liv­ers train­ing for ranger pro­grams.

“They’re not Na­tional Park Rangers, they’re in­dige­nous rangers work­ing on their own coun­try,” she said.

“All the work we do is based on projects and work that they’re do­ing.

“We go and do beach cleanups, tur­tle mon­i­tor­ing, wet­land mon­i­tor­ing and also weed con­trol.

“So all the units that we build around the qual­i­fi­ca­tion mean some­thing to those groups.”

Ms Pet­rich said the train­ing keeps her on her toes and she gets great sat­is­fac­tion in see­ing peo­ple gain their qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

“I love the train­ing be­cause it keeps me cur­rent in terms of what’s best prac­tice and what’s the lat­est is­sues,” she said.

“I en­joy the out­door work, meet­ing peo­ple and the sat­is­fac­tion of see­ing peo­ple through a qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

“I par­tic­u­larly like un­der­stand­ing and be­ing in­volved in the projects that they’re do­ing and see­ing their com­mit­ment to coun­try.”

Her teach­ing takes her all over the coun­try from Rock­hamp­ton to the Tor­res Strait and Arn­hem Land.

When she does get home, there is no time to re­lax.

“Last week I mus­tered and this week I was spray­ing weeds and run­ning around and get­ting ready to go again,” she said.

Pic: KATHER­INE KOKKO­NEN

Mt Mol­loy cat­tle pro­ducer Jenny Pet­rich on her prop­erty, Ri­fle Creek Sta­tion

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