From London to Ecklin and a life in dairy
There aren’t many dairy cows on the streets of London but former Londoner Lillie Smith has found her calling in life on a dairy farm at Ecklin South in south-west Victoria.
Lillie, 26, arrived in Australia on a backpacking holiday five years ago with partner Ethan Brown.
Working on a banana farm at Cairns was their first taste of the country’s farming system, but Lillie wanted to give dairy farming a go.
“The banana farm was very different and we came to love the farming lifestyle,” she said.
But she wanted more. “I don’t know what it was, but something in me wanted to try dairy farming. We eventually ended up on a dairy farm and fell in love with it and haven’t changed since.”
Neither Lillie nor Ethan had any connection to dairy farming back in London, where Lillie worked as a swimming teacher, but they are making up for lost time.
Lillie is now progressing in the industry with a Diploma of Agronomy and Advanced Diploma of Agribusiness Management from Longerenong Agricultural College, supported by a DemoDAIRY Foundation scholarship. She completed the courses alongside Ethan.
She and Ethan are also making a move in their careers, progressing to a management role on a farm at Nullawarre as they continue their campaign to become permanent residents.
With moos in the background as Lillie goes about her daily calf-raising duties, she says the dairy industry is full of opportunity.
“It’s hard work but the rewards you get from it are worth it. You know you’re working towards something and you’re helping to feed the world.
“It’s hard to explain but when you’ve pulled a calf out of a cow and two years later you see her in the dairy, it makes it all worthwhile.
“The winter is the only negative but I really love the south-west. It reminds me of England a little bit and we want this to be our home.”
Her parents were initially a bit unsure about their daughter relocating to Australia, but they visited early on and share Lillie’s enthusiasm. “Now they both want to move here,” she said.
Lillie said their diploma courses had added to their on-farm experiences.
“Although it wasn’t dairy focused, it was a good all-round course with valuable information about use of chemicals, weed control, animal health and soil health. There was a lot of information that I didn’t know if I would need, but I actually did.”
The DemoDAIRY Foundation scholarship made it possible. “Every weekend we would drive two and a half hours to and from college to work at the dairy,” Lillie said. “The scholarship really helped out with fuel costs and we also put it towards the course costs because it’s more expensive for international students.”
Information about DemoDAIRY Foundation scholarships can be found at www.demodairy.com.au.