TALK about taking the long road to Beef 2021.
Accomplished Cherie Gooding, a veterinarian by training and a cattle lover by choice and devotion, was touched to be called on to judge the Simmental and Simbrah competition.
She told the waiting crowd judging both cattle divisions would be a golden opportunity and a chance she appreciated being given.
It was a stage she shared with Libby Perkins, a young woman from the Burnett district who is still studying and quietly cutting her teeth as a judge.
As Ms Gooding cast a probing eye over assorted classes looking for appealing traits and anointing grand champions and reserves alike, she had only admiration for the vendors and organisers.
"I want to thank Simmental Australia for this wonderful opportunity," she said at the outset.
"I am truly honoured to be here and to be judging.
"I must congratulate the vendors who have done such a marvellous job to present cattle in such good condition considering how tough times have been lately and many have come some distance."
I must congratulate the vendors who have done such a marvellous job to present cattle in such good condition considering how tough times have been lately and many have come some distance
But so had she.
Raised on the family's Marlegoo Charbray Stud, Biloela, Ms Gooding went to study veterinary science at university and has worked here and also in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.
When she was in Zimbabwe she was engaged in projects to test African buffalo and village cattle for tuberculosis and foot and mouth disease.
"When I was judging the females in the ring people would have heard me speak at length about the importance of udders and structure and the ability of bulls to cover ground," she said.
"I guess that's the influence of my dad, who was a dairyman at one time, and my grandparents.
"Having the right productive and feeding traits is obvious and I would often hear my dad say these things.
"I also know the importance of cattle being able to cope in tough environments and that might come from my grandparents who had property in ZImbabwe and I was there as early as a 10-year-old.
"Being a vet I also look closely at structure and reproductive traits. Getting a calf on the ground every year is vitally important.
"Otherwise it's very expensive for the producer, who needs good, healthy and durable livestock."
It's understood Ms Gooding focuses on livestock production and bovine surgery rather than conventional clinical activities nowadays and also manages the Marlegoo enterprise with her parents.
It is a long way from her veterinary lessons and a longer way to Rockhampton and Beef 2021.