No looking back for Tziouztias family

Paul Tziouztias on the importance of a positive mindset

100 Stories of Hope
A positive Paul Tziouztias cannot understand why people are pessimistic about the beef industry. His daughter Alex holds the same opinion and is rapidly developing a keenness for the cattle business.

A positive Paul Tziouztias cannot understand why people are pessimistic about the beef industry. His daughter Alex holds the same opinion and is rapidly developing a keenness for the cattle business.

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After nearly 60 years on the land, the Tziouztias family of Central Queensland knows the only way forward during tough times is with a positive attitude, writes Alan Welburn.

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PAUL Tziouztias takes anything but a cycloptic view of the world.

Granted he has a close focus on matters of family, home and business.

But there are no blinkers, no closed prism through which he sees only some specifically targeted issues.

Instead, Mr Tziouztias takes a broader view of matters beyond his front fence, which some might consider quietly optimistic but that he insists are realistic and strategic.

"I could not emphasise with any more impact than to say this is the perfect industry to be in," Mr Tziouztias offered.

"The world will demand protein and as the world's population keeps growing the demand for that vital protein will increase and producers who have put themselves in a strategic position will be placed to take advantage.

"We have a wonderful disease free status in this country and if we promote that and keep working at solving issues such as feral pigs, then we will be going ahead in leaps and bounds."

For those thinking Mr Tziouztias is good at talking the talk but wondering whether he is equally adept at walking the walk, he has been on an acquisitive program over the past few years and it's unlikely to abate anytime soon.

In mid-October he took possession of the 400 hectare Pittmoss, a heavily grassed slice of undulating country at Morinish just beyond the western fringes of Ridgelands, about an hour out from Rockhampton.

Pittmoss is his fourth property, fitting snugly into a portfolio also incorporating Glenisla at Baralaba, Gineva at Banana and the self-titled Stanwell at Stanwell.

It features good perimeter fencing, useable yards with a vet crush, two bores, two dams and a mixed covering of grass, including buffel and creeping bluegrass.

Cattle on one of the Tziouztias family's four Central Queensland properties.

Cattle on one of the Tziouztias family's four Central Queensland properties.

He will be an absentee owner but with an eye fixed permanently on the property as happens with the family's other sites. It's likely to house up to 150 head of red Brahman or red Brahman-cross cattle.

"The reason behind buying at Morinish was to acquire land with grass where I could place more stock," he said.

"The land has good cover and I do not want to put it under too much pressure so we will limit the numbers and the cattle will be happier because they can stay in their paddocks and not need to go roaming.

"I will keep an eye on the place.

"I visit Stanley twice a week and its only 40 minutes away, so I will be dropping by very regularly.

"I have the utmost faith in our systems to make this a successful project, even if we live away on the property at Baralaba.

"But I keep my hand in the game. Dad would expect nothing less."

For a moment, the conversation wanes, his head lifts to the stage where the broad brim of his hat is less of a shade as eyes sweep the horizon.

"I could keep looking up for rain clouds and walking about with my fingers crossed," he said.

"But will that make it rain. No, not a chance.

"It might, however, get you down worrying about things beyond your control.

"So I don't.

"We get on doing what we can to put something under our feet for the better times. That's what Pittmoss is all about.

"For sure this Morinish property is about future-proofing our business but it's also about showing our faith in the industry.

"This is a long term strategy.

"The family has been on the land since 1960 when dad got his first block. But I have two brothers and three sisters and they're not really interested, well at least not to the same extent as I am.

"One of my daughters is ready-made and I would like to think I am setting up some sort of succession plan for her.

"She is only 15 but super keen on the industry and has a great eye for cattle. She can identify which calf belongs to which cow even if they have been shifted around the various properties.

"I don't know how she does it but it is a wonderful skill and Alexis shares the same confidence in the industry as me.

"We are proud beef producers. We're confident in the things we do and even more importantly we're confident about this industry we're in and we're not going anywhere."

Alex Tziouztias with some of the herd housed at the family's Gineva, Banana, property.

Alex Tziouztias with some of the herd housed at the family's Gineva, Banana, property.

If you're hunting for the well from which Mr Tziouztias draws his confidence, look to his mum and his dad Nicholas, a migrant who ventured halfway across the globe from his European roots to forge a better life armed with little more than a never-say-die attitude and a vocabulary from which "can't, cannot, no and too hard" were erased.

Both parents, it can be rightly argued, could be excused for having optimism as a middle name.

The former tried his hand at growing cotton in 1960, unsuccessfully we might add, but undaunted he switched to beef and never glimpsed into a rearview mirror.

"Dad had only been in Australia for seven years and couldn't speak English but he took the citizenship tests and other things and ended up buying his first block," Mr Tziouztias said.

"He went onto the land in the Baralaba area and ended up owning four properties. He is still on the original property and he is my sounding board.

"Dad is 84, yet as sharp as a tack.

"Every decision I make is discussed with him beforehand because he has been through so much but is always upbeat. He has seen droughts and floods and they come and go and he often says to me 'Boy, just go forward, don't look back'.

"He has preached positivity and says if you focus on the negatives you get nowhere because you do nothing so we do the opposite and getting Pittmoss is a reflection of that thinking."

Immediate business plans for the Tziouztias enterprise remain dynamic. They buy cattle out of paddocks, growing them out to bullocks or to serve the live trade market which has been a relatively new endeavour.

There will be work undertaken at Pittmoss between now and the end of summer to control some lantana and rubber vine and thereafter attention will shift to removing some undergrowth.

"It won't be easy but nothing is," Mr Tziouztias said.

"The important thing is it will be worthwhile. I know this drought is a shocker but as every day passes we are a day closer to the break in the weather and people will be more positive once there is rain.

"Everyone will get that spring back in their step and it will be a great day.

"In the meantime we will keep chipping away with a smile on our face, thankful we're in this business.

"I really do believe the industry has a bright future and when it rains it will go bang. People think cattle might be dear now, just wait til it rains and then you will know about dear cattle.

"I truly believe cattle will become very difficult to source and that's why we are being as a proactive as we are and I hope others do likewise."

"The beef industry is full of good people doing their best to feed the country."

Now there's an optimistic view...

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