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Salmon farming family the first in aquaculture to land top Australian farming award

For the first time in the award’s history, a salmon farmer has taken out the Australian Farmer of the Year award.

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Peter and Frances Bender from Huon Aquaculture in Hobart, Tasmania, were selected by an independent judging panel for the ABC Rural and Kondinin Group award which recognises rural champions both on and off-farm.

Kondinin Group’s Ben White said this years awards challenged the stereotypical view of ‘a farmer’, acknowledging fish farmers, a mushroom farmer, innovators and inventors.

Some of this year’s winners include:

Australian Farmer of the Year: Peter and Frances Bender (Tas) Young Farmer of the Year: Christopher McLoghlin (Vic) Farming Legend of the Year: Raymond Harrington (WA) Rural Community Leader of the Year: Lorraine Gordon (NSW) Rural Consultant of the Year: Tim Neale (Qld) Australian Farmer of the Year: Peter and Frances Bender

Huon founder Peter Bender and Elisha Lovell hold a market-weight kingfish.

Huon founder Peter Bender and Elisha Lovell hold a market-weight kingfish.

Mrs Bender said it was a moment of national recognition for the often controversial industry.

“For us it means we’re recognised finally, publicly, as farmers, not fishers,” she said.

“We share all the same issues that farmers have.


Deluge continues across south-east Queensland as drought-stricken farmers hope for more

Updated October 15, 2018 21:13:54

Related Story: Mum who shielded baby from hail stones in line for bravery award Related Story: Boy remains in critical condition after ‘head to toe’ injuries from falling tree in storm clean-up

The sodden weekend across south-east Queensland has delivered some remarkable rainfall totals, with Noosa Heads on the state’s Sunshine Coast recording almost half a metre of rain.

Key points: Seven-day rainfall totals for parts of south-east Queensland “starting to resemble cricket scores”, BOM says Primary producers warn there will be price rises as the extent of crop losses becomes clear In drought-declared central Queensland, weekend storms deliver the first decent rain since February

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) joked on Twitter that the seven-day rainfall totals for parts of the state’s south-east were “starting to resemble cricket scores”.

External Link:

Tweet: BOM Seven day rainfall totals for parts of #SEQld starting to resemble cricket scores

BOM senior forecaster Gabriel Branescu said while the rain was widespread, Noosa Heads was the champion — recording 498 millimetres in the past week.


Hunter gored, pinned and trampled by 800kg buffalo near Darwin

Posted October 15, 2018 15:50:03

Photo: Danny Vanbrugh was gored and pinned by a wild buffalo in a hunting mishap near Darwin. (Supplied: Danny Vanbrugh)

A professional hunter from Queensland has described his extreme encounter with an 800-kilogram buffalo in which he was gored and sustained injuries requiring more than 10 rounds of surgery.

Danny Vanbrugh, who has been leading hunting tours for more than five years, was hunting in a secret location south of Darwin when the incident occurred.

Mr Vanbrugh had shot the beast and believed it to be dead as he tracked it into heavy grassland.

“He went into thick scrub and he sort of came down from the side,” he told ABC Radio Darwin‘s Adam Steer, describing the moment the buffalo caught him unaware.

“One horn went up the right bicep, tore the right bicep out.

“[Then] he just came back up to me and drove me into the ground and bruised my back and kidneys.”


‘It would have meant no prawns for Christmas’

Posted October 15, 2018 15:50:03

The trawl fishing industry is relieved the national offshore regulator has rejected plans for a massive seismic survey off the Victorian coast.

French company CGG Services planned to map 16,850km square of the seabed, east of Melbourne, for oil and gas reserves.

CGG Services applied to the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) for a permit to survey off the coast of Ninety Mile beach over a seven-month period.

The Gippsland Basin has been producing oil and gas for close to 50 years, but it is also home to one of Australia’s richest fishing grounds.

Seismic testing involves firing soundwaves into the ocean floor to detect the presence of oil or gas reserves.

Survey would have ‘shut down fisheries’: Industry head

South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association chief executive Simon Boag said the survey, as it was planned, would have shut down the fishing industry for months, crippling businesses and leading to a seafood shortage.

“The magnitude of the survey would have impacted fish supply and prices in Melbourne and Sydney,” Mr Boag said.


Hundreds of jobs to go at central Queensland coal mine

Updated October 16, 2018 00:47:08

Photo: Glencore has announced one in three jobs will go at Hail Creek mine. (ABC News: Louisa Rebgetz)

More than 400 workers at Glencore’s Hail Creek coal mine in the Bowen Basin south-west of Mackay will lose their jobs under a restructure.

The global resources giant held meetings with workers at the Mackay showgrounds on Monday and made the announcement soon afterwards.

In a statement, the company said under its “reconfiguration” of the mine, the two-dragline operation would become a truck-and-shovel mine with a seven-day-on, seven-day-off roster.

The changes are expected to cut about 30 per cent of the mine’s current workforce of 1,360, reducing it to about 930 workers.

“We acknowledge the significant impact this will have on our workforce and their families, and we will have in place support services to assist and advise them,” a Glencore spokesperson said.

The majority of changes are expected to be in place at the open cut coal operation by mid next year.


What does working life look like outside a capital city?

Updated October 16, 2018 10:19:45

Photo: Olivia Nunn moved from a career in project management to the wine industry. (Supplied: Olivia Nunn)

A 200-kilometre daily commute is not enough to keep Olivia Nunn out of the workforce.

She moved to Padthaway, a wine and farming region 300km south-east of Adelaide, 18 months ago after falling in love with a farmer.

Her background is in project management, but when she moved to the Limestone Coast she knew she was going to need to change careers.

She is now working as the executive officer of the Coonawarra wine region’s grower body.

The job is based at Penola, a two-hour round trip from her home.

She said the move had been great, but not without its challenges.

“We still continue to have lots of blackspots en route to work, so those phone calls that you probably used to take advantage of and be able to do using car kits in a city environment, they don’t exist necessarily when you’re in a rural environment,” Ms Nunn said.


Where has drought aid been allocated and what difference is it making?

Posted October 16, 2018 06:18:09

Billions of dollars in government aid, across all tiers, has gone to farmers during the drought this year.

Tens of millions more has been raised by corporations and individuals.

But has the money been well spent? Or is it a case of spending good money after bad?

WATCH NOW: A live Q&A on ABC Rural Facebook with reporter Josh Becker and Queensland Rural Woman of the Year Krista Watkins, discussing the $50 million Australians have donated to drought relief and the billions more through government support.

ABC Rural has been tallying the figures and, while it is not at all a comprehensive list as the drought continues, it shines a light on who is putting in and where the funds are going.

Learning from history

During the millennium drought (from 1996 to the 2000s) the aid bill was a staggering $4 billion.

State and Federal Governments agreed it was a severe drain on the national economy and a new approach was needed that emphasised ‘drought preparedness’.

A great deal of on-farm work has been done since then, funded by government programs, but as the drought bit harder in Queensland and then spread to NSW, Victoria and South Australia, both tiers of government started providing emergency assistance again.


City dwellers catch a glimpse of ‘the nice’ with ‘the rough’ of cattle station life

From bird watching to managing feral animals, life on an outback cattle station often involves much more than producing beef.

In the Red Centre large properties are often run by families or small teams, and they are worlds away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

But thanks to social media, those in the city now get a glimpse of life in the bush with a number of popular pages from cattle stations gaining traction.

Snaps for social

Nikita Hayes, formerly of Undoolya Station and now at Mount Ebenezer Station, has racked up more than 15,000 followers on Instagram by sharing snaps of cattle from the property, the landscape, the people, and the wildlife.

With more than 15,000 followers on Instagram, Nikita Hayes says she tries to show all aspects of rural life.

With more than 15,000 followers on Instagram, Nikita Hayes says she tries to show all aspects of rural life.

Many of her posts go far and wide, and her recent photos of rainbow bee-eater birds sitting in a row were no exception.

“I was having breakfast, we’d just started to unpack the horse truck after coming from Tamworth, and I looked out the window and I saw them [the birds],” Ms Hayes said.


Population cap introduced at world’s largest bulk-handling port amid dust concerns

The population around one of the world’s largest bulk-handling ports will be capped amid concerns about the public health impact of dust it creates.

Western Australia’s Pilbara town of Port Hedland, with a population of nearly 14,000, exported 519 million tonnes of commodities in 2017, or up to two million tonnes every day.

There have long been concerns about the public health implications of high levels of dust in the neighbouring residential district known as the West End.

On Monday, the State Government announced its plan to tackle those concerns and conflict between the industrial and residential land uses in the port town.

Mark McGowan and Alannah MacTiernan have announced their plan to tackle Hedland’s dust issues.

Mark McGowan and Alannah MacTiernan have announced their plan to tackle Hedland’s dust issues.

The Government will block any further residential development and will look to cap, and possibly reduce, the number of permanent residents in dust-affected areas.

Premier Mark McGowan said the district would instead be redeveloped as “a buzzing commercial hub”.

“Five per cent of Australia’s wealth goes out through that harbour … and it’s very important we provide that important improvement to social opportunities for this community,” he said.


Stingray attack victim left in pain because of sea rescue rules

Posted October 16, 2018 10:16:30

Photo: Chris Black said he suffered excruciating pain when his foot was impaled by a stingray barb. (Supplied: Todd Pender) Related Story: Rate of stingray injuries prompts warning from paramedics

A stingray attack victim suffered hours of pain because a marine rescue service was not allowed to give him pain relief and volunteer paramedics were not allowed to board rescue boats.

Commercial fisherman Chris Black, 48, was working in waters off Esperance in Western Australia’s south, when he says a stingray barb impaled his foot, causing “excruciating” pain.

“My head was pounding and once I started feeling the poison go up in my lymph glands, I knew I was in trouble,” he said.

“It [endure the pain] was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.”

Photo: The stingray barb was removed from Chris Black’s foot at Esperance Hospital. (Supplied: Chris Black)

The Esperance Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMRS) had requested a paramedic to accompany them on the one-hour trip to Mr Black’s boat but was told the town’s only career paramedic was unavailable.