The 2023 Farmer of the Year awards showcase the cream of the crop in our innovative agricultural industries.
Story Terri Cowley Photo Kondinin Group
Quiet conversation punctuated by occasional laughter lifts through the dappled midday light filtering through rustling coolibah leaves to paint shaded patterns on the pindan sand. Kelly Smith smiles as her young colleagues discuss the morning’s work and sort through the tasks left to complete as arms are twisted and caramel slice is handed around. Kelly has spent most of her life here on Jubilee Downs, 400km east of Broome in Western Australia’s Kimberley. She and her husband Adam now manage the property that was for more than 30 years the abiding passion of her parents Keith and Karen Anderson, and home to Kelly and her siblings Bonnie and Darcey. It is now part of the Harvest Road group of properties, and the regenerative agricultural practices and superior Droughtmaster herd established by her parents remain central to the operation today. “Dad always said that you’re not just looking after cattle,” Kelly says. “If you don’t look after the land, you don’t look after your livestock.”
The holding is made up of 2 leases – Jubilee Downs and Quanbun Downs. Together they comprise 221,408ha of Fitzroy River flood plain and pindan country and the blacksoil alluvial plain of Alexander Island. Jubilee Downs homestead sits on the northern bank of the Cunningham River, itself a branch of the Fitzroy. Between the 2 rivers is Alexander Island. These waterways contribute to the property’s 90km of river frontage.
As well as being home to Kelly, Adam, and their 3 children Jimmy, 12, Matilda ‘Tilda’, 8, and Billie, 6, Jubilee is running 9 staff this season, and currently carries some 10,500 head of cattle.
This story excerpt is from Issue #150
Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2023