If you told me three years ago that I would be working as rural journalist in Emerald, I probably wouldn't have believe you.
Growing up on the Atherton Tablelands at Ravenshoe, Emerald was a 10 hour, 940 kilometre drive away and I had no idea how large the agricultural industry was from my secluded part of the world.
After spending more than a year and half in the beef capital of Rockhampton with QCL, I decided I could no longer handle the tight rental market any longer and decided to head west.
I made the move after the national bull sales concluded at Gracemere back in October.
This year would have to be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding years of my early career so far.
Having already been in the role for over a year, I felt more confident and able to hit the ground running.
Putting well over 45,000km on my odometer since the start of the year, I attended and reported on more than 30 bull sales across central Queensland and even up to Charters Towers.
Along the way, I also caught up with livestock agents and vendors at the local cattle store sales including Gracemere, Nebo, Sarina, Biloela, Clermont and Emerald.
I also helped our sister newspaper, North Queensland Register, and covered cattle markets at Malanda, Charters Towers, and Mareeba.
One of the best things about being a journalist is that you're able to cover soo many rural issues, commodities and agricultural industries - from the rich, fertile and red volcanic soils of the Atherton Tablelands, to the grey cracking clay soils of central Queensland.
I kicked off the year covering Tropical Cyclone Tiffany, which made land fall in Cape York, with severe rainfall drenching parts of north and central Queensland.
In better news, I also covered the ABC TV mini-series, Muster Dogs.
I was able to interview central Queensland grazier and renowned dog trainer Frank Finger, who was one of the inaugural contestants with his kelpie, Annie.
In February, I reported on a trial into the prospects of early winter sown cotton in Comet.
Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) funded a trial to explore the possibility of avoiding the constraints of extreme weather.
Still fairly new to the world of cotton, I found the experience eye opening, and I really learned a lot from talking to the Comet district grower and cotton researchers on the ground.
It was with great excitement that I headed out to cover Australia's richest campdrafting event at the Acton family's premier complex arena, Paradise Lagoons, near Gracemere in April.
This was my second time attending the event and I've always felt welcomed while reporting on it.
Coincidentally, as I was driving into the property on one of the days, I found myself at the lead of the Paradise Lagoons' mustering team, as they were bringing in the steers for the competition.
I parked my car about 100m in front of the moving herd, and with my camera, began photographing the muster, wary there was a line of freshly weaned steers trotting towards me.
Dust filled the air, so it was extremely difficult to balance quality and frame.
Once back in my car, I had just five seconds to call out to the cattleman, leading the muster on horse-back, to ask him for his name and the town that he was from.
His name was Ken Roche, a long term employee of Paradise Lagoons.
In total, the drafting team mustered around 4000 head of cattle, with a market value of nearly $10 million, into the competition.
The photo, led the online coverage, as well as the front page of the paper that week.
It was also what everyone at the event wanted to talk to me about.
We engage with our rural communities in so many ways, but photography is perhaps the most instant.
It evokes thought, emotion and in this case - a rich history.
Photographing moving livestock can truly test the person behind the lens of the camera.
But it only takes one frame to truly capture the essence of an event and so began my week in Paradise.
Another highlight from this year was covering the Royal Queensland Show (Ekka) stud cattle competition and the events in-between.
I'd reported on Beef 2021, which was similar in work load, but it was great to catch up with my editorial colleagues as well.
As rural journalists, we only often meet face-to-face a few days a year, depending on the events we attend or stories we cover.
I was also able to attend my first Rural Press Club breakfast, where I was able to meet other industry leaders.
The QCL team, along with the North Queensland Register team, produced more than 200 pages of great content and stories during the main week of the Ekka.
I was fortunate to complete all of my stories before I was struck done with COVID-19 when I arrived back home, which wasn't ideal.
Such a rewarding aspect of being a rural journalist in Queensland is the fact we get to meet so many inspiring and kind-hearted people living in the bush, right across the state.
As most of my interviews are made over the phone, it's certainly a treat to meet my interviewees in person.
When you think about it, our job is to get strangers to tell us their thoughts; that takes a lot of trust, which is hard to come by in this day and age.
Thank you to all the farmers, peak bodies, companies and government people for being so willing and patient this year.
The adage, 'Everyone has a story', is well and truly alive, especially here in rural Queensland.
I can't wait to continue to tell more of those stories in the new year.
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