Destination: Bourke - for St Paul’s students

STUDENTS from St Paul’s College Kempsey made the epic 900km trek to Bourke for a farm study tour.

The agriculture and primary industries year 11 students, together with teachers Graham Bramley and Belinda Mainey, boarded a mini bus on Wednesday, July 25 and started their adventure out west.

Belinda’s husband Jamie and Neil Lawrence also went on the excursion.

They returned to the Macleay on Sunday, July 29 with a fresh outlook on one of the biggest industries in the country.

“Agriculture is a serious business out there and is a huge employer for the town,” head ag teacher Mr Bramley said.

“The industry is worth $8.5 billion for the State.

“We have a fairly large shortage of people going into the industry. It is important to establish an interest.”

The students were very impressed with what they saw, and some said they would be interested in moving west and starting a career in the industry.

One of the biggest eye openers for the students was the scale of things. They visited places such as Kia Ora Feedlot which has 77,000 acres and 4500 head of cattle.

“For me there were a couple of reasons for the excursions,” Mr Bramley said.

“We covered a lot of what is in the syllabus including the technology aspect, which gave them concrete examples. For instance there was a tractor which used GPS guidance.”

On the first night of the excursion the students set up camp at the Burren Junction Hot Bore Baths and slept in swags under the stars.

Unfortunately they were given a cold awakening during the night when it rained for a short period.

Needless to say the students thought their cabins at the Kidman’s Camp at Bourke where they stayed for the remainder of the time were sheer luxury.

The farm study tour also included visits to the Merah North Cotton Gin and Wee Waa Cotton Classing Room, Worrenbri Pastoral Co, Clyde Agriculture's cropping operation and Brewarrina fish traps.

They also toured Toorale Station, which used to be one of the largest floodplain grazing properties in eastern Australia, with a NPWS ranger.

It was bought by the Commonwealth and NSW governments for $23.75 million in 2008.

Mr Bramley said everywhere they went the people were very hospitable, which made the experience even more special.

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