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Passionate volunteer reflects on 12 iterations of Beef Australia

Published 24 April 2024

Media release

It’s been 36 years since Jenny Grother first volunteered at the inaugural Beef 88 and the start of a longstanding tradition, she has volunteered at all 12 Beef Australia events held since.

This week she’s making preparations to drive the two-hour round trip each day from her home at Mount Larcom to Rockhampton, to volunteer again at Beef2024.

Volunteering at the event combines two of Jenny’s passions – the cattle industry and agricultural shows. She grew up in a time of carbide lights and kerosene fridges on the family cattle property near Ingham, and then on ‘Dundee’, south of Richmond, where her mother always did volunteer work for the CWA, Red Cross, and her church.

“Practical things, like mowing lawns or trimming trees for the church and catering for the CWA,” recalled Jenny.

“Then my Show career started when I competed in Best Girl Rider under seven years at Winton Show in 1962!”

Jenny’s father was Frank ‘Dick’ Fraser of Ingham, who was pivotal in changing legislation in the early 1950s to introduce the Brahman breed into Queensland herds, where it has become an integral part of the beef industry.

“Dad and his father had seen two Brahman cattle in the Melbourne Zoo, because in those days they were Zebu, considered exotic animals like zebras and were imported under special permits,” Jenny explained.

“They could see the potential to cross them with British breeds for their tick resistance. At the time another Ingham boy, Artie Fadden, was leader of the Country Party in Parliament House Canberra, so they petitioned him to help them change the laws to introduce Brahmans as a cattle breed.

“Our family is Stud No. 5 on the Australian Brahman Breeders register and my mother became a Brangus breeder and registered Stud No. 25 on the national Brangus register.”

Jenny became a teacher in country Queensland and in 1984, she and her husband made their home at ‘Connemara’ at Mount Larcom, where they run a commercial cattle herd and she still teaches primary school students at Ambrose State School.

Jenny has been Secretary of the Mount Larcom Show Society for ‘twenty or thirty years’, manager of the horse section for 30-plus years, and this year will be running the Show pavilions, which she says are ‘a real showcase but a lot of work’.

“When Beef 88 was announced as part of the Bicentennial celebrations, I applied as a volunteer just because of my interest in the beef industry and agricultural shows. It sounded interesting and fun,” Jenny remembered.

“In those early days as a volunteer it was really busy, you just grabbed whatever you could snack on from a vendor as you rushed from activity to activity. But boy, you got to see a lot of good stuff, and talk to all the different cattle breeders.

“My memory of individual expos is a bit blotchy but the thing that I see has changed the most is the level of professionalism. There is a lot more sponsorship and a lot more money involved, but at the same time, the care that the Beef committee takes of its volunteers is really lovely.”

Volunteer shifts are usually four hours and Jenny spends a lot of time rushing to and fro with cups of tea and plates of food, or clearing tables. Over the five days of Beef2024, she’ll work approximately 40 hours.

“I’ll drive up and down every day, leave about 5.30am and it’s about an hour to Rockhampton. At the end of the day it’s easier to come home and sleep in my own bed,” she said.

“Beef is so well run, it’s an absolute credit to the organisers. And good value – people say it costs money but you get great value for what you pay.”

Jenny said she’s looking forward to catching up with Beef2024 Volunteer Coordinator, Jo Phelan, who she studied with at teacher’s college and taught with in schools.

“Let’s just say we had a lot of fun,” she said

“And our school report most likely would have said ‘Should not sit together’!”

Beef Australia is proudly presented by the Australian Government and the Queensland Government.

ENDS

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