Business beefing up with tourism

Gilberton Outback Retreat welcoming guests again

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GATHERING MOMENTUM: Rob French with calves at Gilberton Station.

GATHERING MOMENTUM: Rob French with calves at Gilberton Station.

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Toughing out rough times runs in the blood for the French family, who have run cattle at Gilberton Station in the Etheridge Shire since 1869.

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TOUGHING out rough times runs in the blood for the French family, who have run cattle at Gilberton Station in the Etheridge Shire since 1869.

While beef cattle remains the lifeblood for Lyn and Rob French, they branched into agritourism opening the Gilberton Outback Retreat in 2014, which offers a luxury getaway for one couple at any given time.

Like so many tourism venues, the family was forced to close their retreat for several months during the height of coronavirus restrictions, but they are now back up and running thanks to support from the Queensland Agriculture Workforce Network.

Mrs French said while beef cattle was the main source of income for the station, the retreat helped to boost things.

She said guest numbers were slowly building up, and they normally have around two bookings a month.

"We enjoy sharing our knowledge of the land and its capabilities if you look after it, and we are firm believers in the paddock to plate concept," Mrs French said.

"We run 2500 breeders of good quality Brahman genetics and we maintain good pasture and low stocking rates.

"If we don't look after our country, it won't look after us, so you have to plan for bad years and keep your country in the best condition you can.

"We first started thinking and planning about diversifying our cattle business about 20 years ago, but it wasn't until 2014 that we had Gilberton Outback Retreat ready for guests.

"Although this is a family-run business, we occasionally employ backpackers, so it was vital we kept abreast of all the regulations relating to seasonal workers."

Leanne Kruss from QAWN helped the business get a workplace health management plan in place, ensuring they were well-prepared to protect staff and guests when restrictions lifted.

Mrs Kruss said QAWN aimed to align agricultural industry needs with appropriate services and programs to optimise the sector's capacity to attract, retain and up-skill its workforce.

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