Sheryl Lowe, Naracoorte Community News
International Rural Woman’s Day was celebrated on October 15th by women around the Limestone Coast. Rural and regional women and men from a variety of business backgrounds gathered in the Barrel Room of Hollick Estate to connect, share stories and collaborate in their businesses.
The first International Day of Rural Women was held in 2008 to recognize the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agriculture and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty. This year’s event was the second held in the Limestone Coast.
Approximately 50 guests enjoyed Coonawarra Wine and a gourmet two-course alternate drop lunch of 36’ South eye-fillet, potato gratin, mushroom, broccolini, caramelised onion puree and Hollick Cabernet Jus or Lowan Park Produce Chicken Roulade wrapped in prosciutto, stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and brie, served with sweet potato and sage cream. Shared herb potatoes and beetroot salad completed the main course followed by a white chocolate cheesecake with raspberry coulis or a nectar poached pear, honey ice-cream and macadamia crumble.
The three guest speakers rural life experiences were as diverse as the women they shared their stories with. A world traveller, journalist, publisher, farmer and sheep grower, a chicken producer and a winemaker. They had a combined love of the Coonawarra, their chosen career paths and being a rural woman.
Dee Nolan grew up at Gum Park, a property near Naracoorte originally settled by her grandparents and later worked by her parents. At 18 years of age, she headed for Melbourne to follow her journalism dream. Success led her overseas, making London her home for 25 years and naming Prince Charles as one of her ‘working’ friends.
Dee said she never forgot Gum Park. Her parents eventually retired and sold the property, but Dee and her English born husband had an agreement to buy it back if it ever came on the market. It did, and they did.
She now calls Gum Park home again, managing the working farm with husband John and breeding Babydoll sheep when she isn’t just standing looking at the big sky and the brilliance of the sunshine.
Lucy Dodd, breeds organic Cob Hybrid chickens at Lowan Park. After launching her business breeding chickens especially for meat, she said she realised not long into her journey, no one else in the region was doing it.
“I did think at times, now I know why,” she said with a laugh.
Guests enjoyed Lucy’s success with Lowan Park Produce Chicken main course.
Her greatest challenge in expanding her business is finding a refrigerated freight service to transport her produce to eager buyers.
Emma Raidis is a winemaker on the border of Penola and Coonawarra and shared the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality industry saying even if you have no customers and cannot open for business to the public, the expenses are still there each day and that can be difficult.
The Raidis Estate is a family owned and run business beginning over 60 years ago when Chris and Fran left Greece and began working the Terra Rossa Soil growing tomatoes, lettuces and strawberries.
Their son Steven joined his parents, planting vines in 1990. Using sustainable vineyard practices on the boutique estate in Coonawarra they say it is a lifestyle and the continuation of a legacy.
The past 18 months have been hard but Emma says they persevered and the love of the land and what they do sustains them. Believing good wine is produced in the paddock, Emma and Steven call themselves ‘the new kids on the block.’
ABC Breakfast Presenter Selena Green MC’d the event, entertainment was provided by Brenton Williams, the event was sponsored by Ray White Mt Gambier and $10 from each ticket sale was donated to a charity.
This article appeared in Naracoorte Community News, 3 November 2021.