Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

The 2000-acre cattle property, Fernlee, on the banks of the Severn River in Ashford is home to Susannah Simpson and her young family. The mother of four, and property owner is one of the region’s great unsung heroes, working not only to support her own family, but also to help others in the region through her work with Aussie Hay Runners.

Ms Simpson was nominated by her colleagues at Aussie Hay Runners to feature as one of the inspirational women of the New England Region for International Women’s Day. Like so many of the women who work tirelessly in the area, her first response to the nomination was that she wasn’t worthy.

“I’m just doing the same thing that so many other women on the land do,” said Ms Simpson.

“I could easily name a dozen other women who are so much more inspiring than me.”

It is this inherently selfless nature that gained Ms Simpson her nomination, with her recommendation specifically mentioning, not only her devotion to her family, but also her extensive work in the community of Ashford.

Ms Simpson, who grew up on property in Augathella in western Queensland, said she has now lived in Ashford for around 30 years. Her decision to start working with the Aussie Hay Runners was an easy one.

“I had always watched the hay runs and admired their work, then I had the opportunity to meet the team and I fell in love with the people and their commitment to help people and I instantly knew I wanted to be a part of it,” said Ms Simpson.

She now works with Aussie Hay Runners as an on-ground coordinator for the area and has offered her property up as a depot for hay bales to be unloaded and distributed after the recent fires in the area.

“The way Aussie Hay Runners work is just fantastic, we’re not talking about a few bales of hay here and there, we’re talking about a system that works to actually save farmers in their time of need, I’m honestly honoured to work with them,” said Ms Simpson.

Outside of her work with Aussie Hay Runners, Ms Simpson is busily running their cattle property, which functions on an expertly planned regenerative agriculture system. They also offer camping on the property via the Hip Camp website, including free camping for veterans and first responders.

Ms Simpson has four children, and her partner Jeff, works away FIFO in the mines at Boggabri.

“We know firsthand how natural disasters like fires and drought can affect farmers, so we decided a few years ago that we just had to make the sacrifice and have Jeff work away in the mines to help support us financially through the tough times,” said Ms Simpson.

“Jeff and I work as such a great team though and he’s such a big support – and our kids are all involved in farm life. Farm life makes good young people who will be good capable adults.”

When asked how she balances it all her response is simple: “I’m just like all the other women out on the land, I plan, and I think smart and I never give up.”

Not one to take the credit for her nomination as an inspiring woman, she goes on to nominate someone else.

“I want to nominate Linda Widdup the founder of Aussie Hay Runners – She founded it in her father’s memory and the help and care she brings into the community especially in a disaster situation I am just in constant awe of her.”

She also goes on to say that she hopes that this kind of attention will bring greater focus to rural areas and the response that they get when disaster strikes.

“Really I just want to get out there and beat the drum for rural areas because no one else is, we do an amazing job of helping our own, but we need more support.”