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Kylie's Story- Women Of the LMRIA

The Lower Murray Reclaimed Irrigation Area (LMRIA), spans along the river from Mannum to Wellington in South Australia. You'll find a whole mix of farming, including cropping, dairy, hay production, livestock and more. In 2022, the Murray River floods hit. Numerous farmers were confronted with difficult decisions: either selling off their livestock, relocating them to higher ground, or arranging for agistment elsewhere. They also had to watch their crops be destroyed by the rising water.They tried their absolute best to stop the flooding by sandbagging the river bank. The challenges these farmers endured and the ongoing process of recovery are often underestimated by many people. The women of the LMRIA came together and created a group to give each other support, all connected by their ties to farming along the Murray River. Within this community they share experiences, offer advice, and just be there for each other. I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity to connect with this group and capture their stories of resilience and challenges faced by these women and their families.

Here is Kylie's story. She and her husband Ian farm Wagyu cattle in Monteith, South Australia.

I captured Kylie and her family in the cow paddock on the flats.

I was born and bred in Murray Bridge  back in the early 70 ‘s . I went to a local primary school and then onto high school and completed year 11 at 16 years old . I  didn’t have an inside toilet until I pretty much had left school . Our laundry was also outside down another garden path and there was a lean to so the bathroom could be closed in near the house . So it was a very modest way i grew up .  

My family lived right next to the local swimming pool ( and still reside there until this day ) so most days  pretty much rain / hail or shine was spent being a water baby and I would meet up and hang with friends at the pool. My mum never drove a car and we didn’t have extra money for petrol so my brother and I never got driven anywhere so we would get on our BMX push bikes and ride around catching up with others and going down the river to cool off after we had been to the pool . Driving to Adelaide back in the day before the freeway was a slow , windy trip which we didn’t do very often . If I wanted to go somewhere I would have to find my own transportation . That’s where my love of bikes came from.  

I would stay at my friends house just outside of town on her parents farm and loved the lifestyle and animals as we really didn’t have any growing up. We would ride on the farm motorbike and I  got a glimpse of how hard farm life can be. I had a part time job at 13 and then when I left school at 16 I had a full time job in retail for about 14 years, serving all different people from all different walks of life . 

I think I learned a lot of resilience dealing with people and matters and kept a positive attitude to life . 

I met my husband through mutual friends , we dated for awhile  and made it official in April 2000 when we married . He was in partnership with his brother milking cows . When I was still working in retail I started doing more jobs on the farm and dairy and at that time we were getting our numbers up to around the 200 cow mark so we decided that I would give up my retail job and work on the dairy farm full time . 

Working 7 days a week and pretty much 24 / 7 was taking its toll and my husband experienced a heart attack . He was still recovering from that and his brother and business partner ended  up having a heart attack 7 weeks after my husband’s so it was decided that given the circumstances of a hereditary gene in the family and age they would no longer have dairy cows and concentrate on the wagyu herd that they had been developing over the last few years .

The farm / partnership /  cattle were split and we now could manage a bit better and make more of our own  decisions on how best we were going to manage our herd . We spent the next 2 years completely renovating our share of the farm with lots of infrastructure,  fencing and cattle yards. 

We then heard that the flood was eminent and we could potentially be in jeopardy of flooding . Our community has about 6 km of government levee bank with around 50 or so houses and businesses attached to them in great danger if we were to be flooded, cutting them off from their houses and businesses rendering them homeless and jobless which is something we could not sit back and let happen .

We contacted the authorities for them to prevent this from happening but we came under so many obstacles so it was decided that we would sandbag.

The community was wonderful with many pitching in . We also put sandbags and a big sand wall around our local hall as if the levee bank failed we still had protection around the hall.

To lose our meeting place would be so detrimental to the whole community something we could never afford getting back if we lost it. It was touch and go for a few months and many sleepless nights but the good thing was with this particular flood event is that we had time to prepare . It was tough feeling helpless and a sitting duck waiting for it to come - wondering if today was going to be the day . Even a sense of guilt as when one area would flood would that mean we have a chance that we wouldn’t ? It was a bittersweet feeling and we just had to get on with the job at hand.  

It has been wonderful to get to know the community and really feel part of it and contributed to the overall well being in a thriving community with like minded people . 

These stories are captured to showcase the resilience and determination of these women,their families and their farm. This project is being delivered in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries and Regions, with funding support from both the South Australian and Australian governments under the National Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.


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