What is your job?
I am retired. I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but mostly nursing and breeding alpacas. Tell us about your background. I was born in the old Tallangatta hospital in 1941. My family owned a property called Noorongong in the Mitta Valley. I went to the Noorongong State School which no longer exists. I went to boarding school in Melbourne for five years, then I had a year at home milking cows before I started nursing training at the Alfred. That group of nurses is having its 60th anniversary next year. After training I worked at Hamilton Russell which was the private section of the Alfred. I’ve worked at the Avenue Hospital in Windsor and I managed Fleet, an independent living centre run by Yoralla. Later I moved to Cobram to work at a retirement hostel, then to Shepparton Base Hospital. During this time I got married and had two daughters. Then I went to Nathalia. I had got too old to run up and down stairs responding to emergencies, and Nathalia was all on one level. It was a very small hospital. I had had a couple of cancer episodes and I had the last one while I was at Nathalia. While I was living in Shepparton I had a partner, and we wanted something we could do together so we went to the Seymour Alternative Farming Expo and looked at alpacas. We visited a lot of alpaca farms and then we bought three pregnant females – two at $22,000 and one at $18,000.
What is it like breeding alpacas?
It is a slow business. They have a long gestation and multiple births are rare so it takes years to build up a herd. I worked very hard at it. I went to many shows a year looking for stud males. It was a new industry and Victoria and NSW were the main breeding states. We did well at the Nationals every year and built a very good reputation. At one stage I had 200 alpacas, all bred for temperament and halter trained. As I got older I sold the whole Suri herd and later on the Huacayas. We had the alpacas for 23 years all up. In the end it got to be too much and I sold everything, for very good prices. It was sad, but it was time and I was planning to move.
How do you come to be in the Valley?
I have come back almost to my beginning. I had friends in the valley and lots of relatives nearby, and I love the mountains. I have been here nearly three years.