Lorraine Station, Gulf Country North Qld

“You can’t put a price on water”

Michael and Hannah Crisp came to Lorraine Station in December of 2003, and Hannah describes life at Lorraine as “hectic, challenging and very rewarding. There are things happening all the time.”

Lorraine is situated between the Burke and Wills Road House and Burketown in Queensland’s Gulf country and is regarded as one of the best properties in the Gulf.

Lorraine Pastoral Co was formed in 1915 and is owned by family of the original shareholders.

Lorraine is quite unique in the area, with a feedlot and 900 Ha of irrigated cropping. The Station feedlot holds a licence for 7500 standard cattle units, providing access to fat, store and export markets. Cattle on feed can gain as much as 1.8 kg day when fattening and weaners can be unit fed to give them a constant 0.75 kg day weight gain. Second round weaners are fed to gaincondition, and when the first storms start, are put out onto green grass. They do much better with the head start in the feedlot. The combination of cattle production and the cropping means there are lots of people around; different people from different backgrounds, and Michael and Hannah regard the diversity of activity as one of the best aspects of life at Lorraine. Young people have exposure to many aspects of farming, and the cattle business while working here.

The couple have had plenty of cattle station experience. Michael grew up at Greenvale Station near Charters Towers, Qld, and Hannah spent her childhood on a tobacco and Brahman stud property near Mareeba.

When they were first married, they moved south for a year, but were soon back up north managing Lochlea in conjunction with Wyandatte and Craigs Pocket for a period of eight years. Before coming to Lorraine, they’d managed Beams Brook, and Cowan Downs for the Nelson family, then spent a year at ort Constantine as Overseer and Bookkeeper for Stanbroke.

Michael and Hannah have three boys. Luke, no longer a boy, works in Mt Isa as an apprentice diesel fitter, Mark is at boarding school in year 11, and Michael is at home in year 4. With the exception of two years, Hannah has been the primary school teacher for their boys “It’s an individual thing (teaching you own kids), I enjoy it, having your kids one on one all that time. Once they’re gone, they’re gone! I know exactly where they’re up to … I’m teacher at school, and after school I’m Mum again. I began at Lochlea all those years ago, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” Hannah also keeps the Station compound humming, organising station staff, and ‘filling in the gaps’ when necessary. It’s a diplomat’s job… “You learn to keep confidences and do a lot of smiling!” (We note that ‘smiling’ could be Hannah’s second name.)

Together Michael and Hannah contribute positively to the success of Lorraine. With focused energy at a place they’ve come to love and appreciate, they’ve willingly put in extra effort. They’d recently taken a bit of time out and camped out for a night near the river … “It’s just beautiful you know, and we thought, we should b***** go and do this more often”. Hope they do.

Michael and Hannah have kindly offered these comments about Kent Saddlery, “Lyle and Helen Kent have a long association with Lorraine and have been visiting each year to provide their products to the station and staff. We have three Kent stock saddles in use and have found their service and product support to be exemplary and we hope to see them regularly in the future.”

Lorraine is a lot different from any of the other places Michael and Hannah have managed, “we breed, grow, fatten, sell, farm and feedlot all on the same property”. The owners have a desire to continually improve the property. “They’re exceptionally good people to work for.”

The Crisps love the country, and the river … “You can’t put a price on water. The river allows us to irrigate and it also provides a recreation area for our children and staff. In 2006 we had a record flood come through and damage improvements and drown stock. Now 2008 has been a cracker of a drought.”