Wednesday, 1 August 2012

July 31 Home

Arrived by air into Adelaide Monday morning and drove 3 hours back home to Gurra Downs. It seems I have been away a very long time, particularly when greeted by the weeds in the orchards and other work awaiting my attention - but it is fantastic to be back with my family in my favourite part of the world.

I owe a lot to my Nuffield Farming Scholarship. As I reflect on this amazing trip of a lifetime I realize how much I have grown and gained from the experience. Before departing on my scholarship, initially I struggled with the concept of being way from my family and farm for such a long time (over 4 months). I was concerned about who could do my work and cover for me when I was away.

Now I have returned with a clear direction on the best ways to proceed in terms of how to manage  opportunities for further growth and how to minimize labour/cost inputs in our date plantation. I have no doubt in crediting my time away as being a very good investment in the future of our industry.

I can also conclude that my being away has also empowered our business as my wife Anita and other family members were challenged to extend their usual duties to cover mine in my absence - which they did commendably. This is reassuring to me because if for any reason I am unable to contribute to running our Gurra Downs Date Company business then my fantastic family could manage without me.

Many thanks go to my family who by taking on extra, afforded me the opportunity to participate in my amazing Woolworths sponsored Nuffield Farming Scholarship. Special thanks to my wife Anita, sons Shaun and Jonte, daughters Jesse and Kelsey, parents Brian and Ruth, friend Oscar.

July 27 - 30 Darwin

Our eldest son Shaun has recently moved to Darwin to play out the cricket season so I had a good reason to stop by Darwin on my way home. Another reason was to meet with Dr Cameron McConchie head of Plant Industries, Northern Territory Department of Resources with whom I have had quite a bit of communication over the last 12 months. Cameron is helping to re-invigorate the date palm R&D project in Alice Springs at the Arid Zone Research Institute. This photo: Cameron McConchie, Mark Hoult and I
Cameron and I have been sharing information and this meeting was very productive in allowing us to discuss further, a cooperative way to help advance date production. We will be sharing some research projects including pollination trials and excanging date palm genetics to broaden the range of varieties both in the NT and Gurra Downs collections. I look forward to working with Cameron and staff into the future. This photo: Passionfruit selection trials
I also had the opportunity to tour through some of the projects the Plant Industries people are working on at their Berrimah facility - which includes selection work on passionfruit, mango and paw paw plus ornamental ginger for the flower industry - all very exciting projects. This photo:Ginger flower

July 21-26 Bali

From the UAE I decided to lob in Bali for a few days. When I return home I know I'll be greeted with a mountain of work both on the property and also admin stuff, follow-up phonecalls and property visits etc. I'm required to write a report on my Nuffield scholarship experience which will be listed on the Nuffield International website and therefore in the public domain. I'll also be reporting to Nuffield in October 2012 in Brisbane so decided to spend some time in Bali writing my report. Am pleased to say this worked well and much of the report is now completed.   Next stop: Darwin