Tasmania’s Rural Youth Organisation is best known for its highly successful Agfest but the network is also instrumental in keeping young people happy on the land.

Story By Tim Dub

Liam Cox revs the engine to break free from the 50-centimetre-deep mud that has bogged the bright orange digger beneath a Tasmanian sky of black and grey. His mates cheer as the little machine jolts forward with a lurching shudder. This is a working bee at Quercus Park, near Carrick, Tasmania – the site of Agfest, held over three days in May each year and the largest agricultural show in the southern hemisphere. Liam and his co-workers are members of Rural Youth, an organisation that runs Agfest as part of its dedication to improving the quality of life for country Tasmanians in a number of highly original and effective ways. For many Tasmanians aged between 15 and 30, Rural Youth plays a vital role in their lives. It provides a way for like-minded folk to get together, discovering what can be achieved for the benefit of all when people who share similar interests and values work together cooperatively. “What is unique about Rural Youth is that it draws people from all different backgrounds, yet everyone gets along so well,” 25-year-old Liam says. With many members living in remote areas, the organisation provides a chance for good old-fashioned fun with regular meetings, B&S balls and so on, which cement the mutual support that is especially vital in times of difficulty, such as during recent droughts. “When we hang out as a group there are never any arguments,” Liam says. “Everyone has come for the exact same reason – we all feel a sense of belonging and I think that helps us unite strongly, especially when we see people around us doing it tough.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #64

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2009