Warialda local plays her part in drought affected community

Laura Lockhart plays her part in helping her community during drought

Life & Style
Inspired by her granddad, Laura Lockhart is telling people's stories through the lens. Photo: Shot by Laura Photography and Livestock Imagery

Inspired by her granddad, Laura Lockhart is telling people's stories through the lens. Photo: Shot by Laura Photography and Livestock Imagery

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Laura Lockhart's love of the land and her rural lifestyle and community has seen her create her own business and host women in ag events.

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Surrounded by the rural lifestyle from a young age, it was no surprise 20-year-old Laura Lockhart of Warialda chose to pursue her passion and create a business based around livestock and telling people's stories through the lens.

Growing up on a family farm, Laura was surrounded by commercial cattle and her dad's farm contracting business and stud Charolais, after in 2009 they moved into seed stock breeding which lead her to experience a number of successes.

However she wasn't always this interested spending a lot of her time dancing around in tutus in front of crushes during her younger years, but one thing Laura has always loved is taking photos.

At just 14 years of age, she created her own photography business called Shot By Laura Photography and Livestock Imagery, after a number of people expressed interest in her work.

"I put the two things I loved, photography and cattle, together," she said.

"I now travel around livestock shows, sales and farms to capture animals and special moments for people."

At 14 years of age, Laura Lockhart, Warialda, put the two things she loved (photography and cattle) together. Photo: supplied

At 14 years of age, Laura Lockhart, Warialda, put the two things she loved (photography and cattle) together. Photo: supplied

Celebrating a new year, she has recently announced the rebranding of her business to expand her areas of expertise into marketing, design and branding through Viable Ag Marketing.

"I've always had eye and interest in digital marketing. Working in real estate with my role being photography, videography and marketing for any sales they might have had, I wanted to give ag and beef breeders the availability of services to boost productivity to get their product out there," she said.

"I also have to credit my granddad, my business ethics come from him and he is the biggest inspiration for a lot of what I do."

Being passionate about the land and rural life, the ongoing drought has been hard on Laura and her family as well as many people in her community, which she has witnessed first-hand.

"The drought has personally affected me in the way that the feed bill is never ending," she said. "The cows are getting skinnier every day, our last dam dried up back in October in which one of our foundation cows got stuck, and I had to watch her be put down due to being too weak.

"The cows are getting skinnier every day, our last dam dried up back in October in which one of our foundation cows got stuck, and I had to watch her be put down due to being too weak," Laura said. Photo: supplied

"The cows are getting skinnier every day, our last dam dried up back in October in which one of our foundation cows got stuck, and I had to watch her be put down due to being too weak," Laura said. Photo: supplied

"There is minimal to no grass, only bare paddocks ... our last two drops of calves haven't seen green grass, so when we gave a calving heifer some watered green oats from a neighbour down the road, she didn't know what it was and left it."

Laura said her beautiful mum worked so many extra hours to allow the family to continue to feed the stock simply because they couldn't bare putting the last of them on the truck.

"Unfortunately last week we sold the majority of our last stud cows, we only have five left. We kept five to maybe do embryo work to rebuild when things get better."

The drought has caused many primary producers in her community to "not have an animal left on the place, feed bills have put people years away from making profit, some haven't had crops in two or more years and more and more farmers are moving selling up after generations on the land".

"Local businesses are closing down due to no traffic ... no one can afford luxuries at this point in time," she said. "This truly shows what the drought is doing."

Laura and her family unfortunately had to sell that last of her stud cows in recent weeks, keeping the five best to hopefully do embryo transfer work with when the drought breaks. Photo: supplied

Laura and her family unfortunately had to sell that last of her stud cows in recent weeks, keeping the five best to hopefully do embryo transfer work with when the drought breaks. Photo: supplied

Laura noticed the impact and happenings the drought was having within her community, so last year she hosted an event for women of the land to have a break.

"I originally had the idea for the Ladies of the Land Rural High Tea all the way back in January (2019), and with months passing and still no rain or looking like any in the near future I really wanted to make this event happen," she said.

"The event idea came from seeing first hand how women I hold close to me were feeling the effects of the drought and how much stress they were putting on themselves ... it was time for a relaxing afternoon where hopefully they could forget about what was happening in the background for even a couple of hours.

"The rural women are often the ones that go to get work off-farm to provide extra income or give up those small things that keep them feeling relaxed and on top of things.

"I knew if I could give at least one person a small release, I will have made a difference in such horrible circumstances. I wanted them to know that they are appreciated and deserve a little 'me time' and that that is okay."

Around 100 people attended Laura's Ladies of the Land Rural High Tea last November.

Around 100 people attended Laura's Ladies of the Land Rural High Tea last November.

With around 100 people in attendance, key speakers included Janine Kinhan of New England Chiropractic who got everyone up dancing and exercising to show them how to use things around them to get through tough times, Kelley Foran of Friendly Faces Helping Hands who a lot of people really connected with as she told her story, and Zoe Hayes of Dust of Depression based in Western Australia who sent in a video.

The Country Women's Association County of Burnett Branch supplied all the food.

After hosting the event Laura believed she could do more for her community, creating a GoFundMe page to raise money for a household drinking water run in the area.

Due to her selflessness, involvement and contribution to her community, Laura received the Junior Citizen of the Year Award for her region that was announced during the Australia Day Awards yesterday.

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