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Caitlin McConnel: The place in the world that has my whole heart

Photo by Sarah Chandler Photography

Your name and where are you from?

Caitlin McConnel, “Cressbrook” Station, Toogoolawah, Queensland

Why do you live where you live?

“Cressbrook” has been in my family for six generations, and despite the challenges that come with living on an inter-generational farm, it is the place in the world that has my whole heart.

Where’s your nearest doctor and grocery store?

Toogoolawah, which is only 5 minutes from home.

How far are your nearest neighbours?

600m – my parents in the Main House.

What do you spend the majority of your time doing (your job / your industry etc)?

I wear many hats! I am a Senior Associate at Australian law firm, Clayton UTZ, but work remotely from my farm to assist my parents in the day-to-day management of our beef cattle operation, and undertake succession planning. I also Chair the Future Farmers Network, am a Board Member of RRR Women, and a passionate advocate for youth in agriculture, mental health & wellness, and agriculture as a fundamental basis for food security and climate change mitigation.

Why are you passionate about what you do?

Living on the land, and the sense of accomplishment and contribution I gain from working on the farm, and in the agriculture sector, brings me the most joy. Agriculture is the foundation upon which our very lives are based, in circumstances where food, water, and shelter are fundamental human rights. As a result, I’ve always wanted to ensure that my work, and my contributions to my community, uphold the fierce passion I have for my home, and our industry.

If you could have an infinite supply of anything, what would it be?

Helping hands! There is so much that I want to contribute and achieve, but struggle to actively ask for help when I need it for fear of putting people out.

What don’t people know about rural, regional, and remote Queensland women?

In my experience rural, regional, and remote women tend to ‘get on with the job’, and rarely have time – or feel the need – to reflect on the significance of their contributions to family, community, and the agricultural industry. As a result, many are reluctant to share their personal or professional stories, because they view what they do on a day-to-day basis as simply ‘what they do’, and therefore not worthy of sharing. As we know, life on the land is far from simple, and the contributions that rural, regional, and remote women make – no matter how small – are invaluable, and should be shared and celebrated openly, freely, and often.

What do you do on a day / afternoon / evening / weekend off?

In all honesty, it is rare for me to have time off – which is something I’m trying hard to rectify. Whilst I thrive on having a lot on my plate to keep my clinical depression at bay, I often walk a fine line between being effective, and having too much on to become overwhelmed by the Black Dog. This year I’ve endeavoured to overcome this by actively scheduling time to see my friends, read, go for a walk/run with my dog, or spend some time on my own away from the farm.

What motivates you as a member of the RRRW Board – why did you join?

I regularly acknowledge that my professional success is due to the incredible community of women in agriculture who have supported and championed me throughout my career. I have, therefore, always endeavoured in my extra-curricular pursuits or personal time, to ensure that I am providing similar opportunities for women in agriculture. Significantly, this is the very foundation upon which RRR Women was established, and its values of community, leadership, and connection, align so notably with my own personal values, which is why I decided to join the RRRW Board.

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