“A Fortunate Life”
Clint and Heidi Smith have managed Iffley Station for eight years for MDH (the McDonald family). They have four children; Sam (ten), Hugh (nearly eight), Archie (five), and two and half years ago, they were delighted to welcome Bridget to the family. Clint and Heidi consider themselves very fortunate to be living at Iffley. “We love where we live, we love the North, and you would not get a better job than this. The McDonalds are really good people to work for.”
Clint describes Iffley as a “good property”…. half open downs/Mitchell grass country, and half sandy forest country. The Norman and Saxby Rivers cross the station, it’s all breeder country, and weaners are transferred to other grower stations.
In 2009, floods inundated the country, covering parts of Iffley for over two weeks. The Gulf area of Queensland looked like an extension of the sea, and the area suffered widespread damage and stock losses. People and places in the area are still recovering. The ground floor of the main homestead at Iffley was 18” deep in water for ten days. Clint remembers, “It was quite eerie, walking in the house with all the water,” and Heidi recalls Clint saying, “I think we have been really lucky Heidi; the water through the house is clean water out of the sandy forest; it’s not dirty water.”
“Smithy” grew up on a five acre property at Gumdale, Brisbane, Qld, and his main experiences of bush life were holidays at Injune and Clermont, Qld. After school, he attended Emerald Agricultural College, Qld, for two years, doing work experience at Alexandria Station, NT. Following College, he and a mate, Ben Seidel, went to the Kimberleys for about six weeks – it didn’t work out, so Clint phoned Ross Peatling, Manager at Alexandria Station, and he and Ben began work there in 1992.
Clint rose through the ranks, taking on the Head Stockman and Overseer positions, and achieving the Assistant Manager’s role in 1996, by which time Heidi was also employed at the Station.
Heidi came from her family’s sheep and cattle property at Coolah, near Scone in NSW. She completed a business course in Sydney, and then took a six month break to get out of Sydney. She accepted a jillarooing position with a girlfriend who was already working at Alroy Downs, NT.
Gavin Miller, the Manager of Alroy, “was lovely, and gave us all a go. In 1991, a job came up at Brunette Downs Station, NT and Heidi tarried for another enjoyable year on the Barkly. She then moved south to Armidale, NSW, and using the skills gained in the business course, worked for the Poll Hereford Society for a further twelve months.
Spoiled for station life, Heidi wasn’t happy, and in 1993 she returned to Brunette and later was promoted to the position of Overseer of the bull breeding program for three years. During this time she met Clinton Smith.
Heidi also wanted to travel, so she packed her bags once more, and was off to the US of A and Canada for five months, finding interesting work on cutting horse ranches. After travelling, Heidi moved to Alexandria as Stud Person with the Composite Cattle Stud. “It was a fairly intense program of record keeping and mothering up cows and calves… a great job.”
Clint and Heidi were married in January, 1999. In February 2000, they transferred to Connemara Station, SW Qld, Clint as Manager, and Heidi took on the cooking. Heidi also applied for and achieved the position of training Coordinator for NAPCO, operating from Connemara. They were at Connemara for three years. It’s a bullock depot, and was different in many ways from anything they’d experienced. It was a great place to gain experience in a variety of jobs.
In December, 2002 they moved to Iffley. Eight years later, and as well as the work, the Smiths love living on the Normanton/Julia Ck Road. Clint is enthusiastic. “I don’t think you’d get to live on a better road, for the kids, and the people. There are twelve kids an hour or so away from each other, so the kids have a wonderful network of friends. We are also very fortunate to have great staff, both in the stock camp, and the core staff. They make our job a lot easier, and are all greatly appreciated. People like Alf Frew, Corey Lankowski, Dave Makin, and Bob and Mary Vuilerman have all been at Iffley for a number of years.When she has time, Heidi enjoys getting into the garden, where evidence of her “green thumbs” ability is everywhere. (The Iffley garden is colourful, cool and inviting, with combinations of flowers, shrubs, green grass and some magnificent trees, including a one hundred and eight year old Mango tree.)
It’s always a privilege to visit station families, and share some of the joy and satisfaction of children’s growth, and the arrival of babies. In a torrent of excuses Heidi attempted to convince us that “we don’t have a very exciting story… if it’s too boring, feel free if you don’t want to write it, we don’t mind.” It’s never boring to visit the Smiths at Iffley, and the following anecdote supports our opinion.
All the Smith boys helped us unpack and set up when we arrived at Iffley. Archie was very interested in checking out the living quarters inside the Supa-Float. He examined our bed and informed us, “We haven’t got a bed in our horse float, we’ve just got swags.” Helen responded that it must be fun for him and Sam and Hugh to sleep in swags. He paused briefly then suggested, “When you get kids, you might get swags too!”
Heidi hesitates a little when she describes Archie… “he’s funny, but doesn’t need much encouragement and he can become quite cheeky. We sometimes sit here and think, “What’s he going to come out with next?””
Clint and Heidi’s dynamic commitment to, and love for all aspects of life at Iffley are very evident. They repeatedly mention “how fortunate we are to be here”. Our long association with them began at “Alex” in 1995/’96 and they were an impressive couple ‘way back then’. Consequently, we consider their presence at Iffley not only fortunate, but well deserved.