Neil and Bernice Mitchell
Guys Forrest, Burrowye, Walwa, Victoria
The Mitchell family have been farming in this upper Murray area for over three generations. The property where they now live at Guys Forrest has a family history of over 80 years.
They originally owned where the Mitta and the Murray joined but lost that country when the Hume weir was built in 1926.
Bernice and Neil are keen to pass the land on to their children. They have approximately 4000 acres in various sized pockets, some with Murray River frontage and some inherited from Bernice's side of the family.
The price of land in this area is inflated above the land's farm income capacity. In further developing the family farms, they have to borrow from the banks to buy land, which puts the family under huge financial pressure.
The wild dog population has always been a big problem in this area of country and Neil is one of the few farmers still running sheep. Foxes and especially wild dogs that have harbour in some of the large local pine plantations often cause maiming and havoc within sheep flocks if their numbers are not controlled. Shooting, trapping and fencing are all methods being used to control wild dogs from impacting dangerously on stocking numbers.
Primarily farming pure Merino wethers and pure Hereford cows and calves the Mitchell's are fiercely independent of any government involvement in their work, supporting each other through catastrophes and windfalls that are a day-to-day occurrence in their farming year.
Audio and transcript
Listen to Neil's story (MP3 file 591kb)
Duration: 1 minute, 15 seconds
My grandfather took a mortgage on the place, my father went there and lived there when he was 19 and we've had it, ah well I don't know how many years, but probably be 80 odd I suppose.
You've got your freedom, like when your cows are calving you've got to check them. In my case I'm only a grazier, so it's like I've just had two days at tennis. But at the present moment the only thing I'm really doing, is doing the weeds.
A lot of people want this alternative lifestyle and there's hundreds of thousands of people that seem to have a hundred grand or find a hundred grand and they come out and buy 50-100 acres or whatever and build a house and have a weekender, and that's just kicking the land prices up all around us and now we've got a government that's backing the bloody pine trees.
Pine trees are a weed as far as farming goes.
So get out into the bush or country and instead of making the rules from the city, get out and let some of the country people help make the rules.
Gallery slideshowBelow you can view a slideshow of the Mitchell family and their property.
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Photo: Stephen Routledge
Photo: Stephen Routledge