Richard Kinnon (right) with his two sons
IT’S three years since Longreach saw decent rain-bearing clouds but for one drought-affected family, there are positive signs.
The Kinnon family, which runs a tourism business in Longreach, has been encouraged by the number of city Australians who are coming out to support them during what has been acknowledged as ‘the worst drought in white man’s history’.
“It’s so inspiring for us that Mums and Dads are bringing the kids here and connecting with the land and history of the bush,” said Richard Kinnon, who founded the award-winning Kinnon & Co with his wife Marisse as a way to supplement their grazing business.
“We’re not asking people to feed our cows for us but it’s a real boost to our morale when we can share our passion for the bush with people – and when the kids take a genuine interest in our way of life on the land,” he said.
Amongst the Kinnon’s tours is a trip out to their Nogo station where people can get a real taste of pioneering life in outback Queensland.
“People needn’t worry that it will be a confronting trip seeing starving animals,” Richard said.
“We want to show people the positive side of life in the outback – and give them an opportunity to experience our history in an entertaining way.”
“We don’t deny the harsher realities to our lives here but we want to share the good things and show the resilient, pioneering family spirit that is part of Australia’s character.”
Richard also believes that it can have an important long-term effect for young people to experience what life is like far from the cities and what an agricultural lifestyle is all about.
“We’ve even had young people saying to their parents ‘let’s move here’ or ‘let’s have a sheep station’.
“If Australia wants an agricultural industry for the future, we need to inspire this interest in our younger generations.” Richard said.
Even if there were decent rains tomorrow, the Longreach region faces a long haul to rebuild. It would be at least three years before stations could produce income again as most have been destocked.
Tourist visitors are their lifeline – and a lifeline for all the local businesses that are visited along the way.
“We used to hear that people had come out to Longreach to see the Stockman’s Hall of Fame but now we’re hearing that they’ve come out to show solidarity and help us through the drought challenge!” Richard said.
“That is a huge encouragement for us to know that people in the cities are thinking of us and that we are not facing our challenges alone.”
Those who want to visit Longreach can find out more about the Kinnon & Co tours at Outback Pioneers.