“When I came home to work on the family property, some people were confused and tried to offer ‘advice’. Most were people who were urban based, and didn’t understand the career opportunities linked to being involved in the primary industry. There were some that really weren’t impressed with my taking time off uni to go back and work at home – they thought that I would fail, or not survive, not thrive.”
Claire Dunne was just 18 when she made the decision to ditch university and brunch dates in the city. She thought she needed just six months off to get her head straight and figure out what she wanted to study. Instead, she found herself in a job she loved – working on family property, Wooroona – and decided to stay.
Her decision was one that surprised not only her friends, but also even her.
“I wasn’t overly interested in living a rural lifestyle when I was away at boarding school and college. I would work on the property in all my holidays, but dreamed of living in Melbourne, London and New York City.
“I was a bit lost living in Brisbane studying something I didn’t want a career in. I had no interest in being a practicing graphic designer. I didn’t love the work.”
In an ironic twist, five years later, Claire would delve back into the world of graphic design when she created and began publishing quarterly magazine, Graziher.
“Graziher magazine is simply a collection of women’s stories. Women of the land, women who love the land, women who know the land.”
The magazine has received great reviews since it hit newsstands last year.
“The biggest thing women have commented on is reading about women all over the country and identifying with common issues. It’s comforting for them to know they’re not the only ones in the boat.”
It was a risky move for Claire in the era of online everything, but she knew the pay-off of risky moves. The rest was just noise.
“If you didn’t understand what I was doing, then I didn’t waste any time lingering on those concerns. I put those comments down to people that weren’t my people."
“I would say niche print isn’t dead, but it’s still really hard to produce. Magazines are luxury items, and producing one certainly isn’t easy. I really hope Graziher will become a staple in rural households across the country.”
Between working on the family property and publishing Graziher, she’s also darting backwards and forwards between New Zealand where her partner lives. But, for family-oriented Claire, you do what makes things work.
“We are a fairly family orientated family – I’m one of six siblings and we’re all really close. We’ll go to race days and country balls together. We’ll travel overseas together. And we work well together in the yards."
“We do have the saying, ‘What happens in the yards, stays in the yards’. That’s in regards to any tempers that might flair and frustrations that might boil over. Generally, I blame the heat.”
Claire’s family members do have an influence on what she wears – interestingly, the men have a stronger influence in this regard.
“If I’m working in the yards, checking fences, or working on dozers, I find men’s jeans – preferably from secondhand shops – a lot more comfortable as in they’re worn in and soft.”
She also loves her grandfather’s collection of handkerchiefs, some of which she still wears.
“They’re the best accessory a Graziher can have.”
The men in Claire’s family have always regarded the women as equal, and Claire says she unwittingly grew up surrounded by strong women, encouraging her to “have a go”.
“My family taught me if you’re getting the job done right whatever or whoever you are shouldn’t come into it."
“It’s best to feel and be true to yourself – and then own it.”
If you would like to subscribe to Graziher magazine, go to www.graziher.com.au.
Story by : Megan Stafford