Australian Farmer of the Year: Matt Dunbabin

The Australian farming industry is toasting Tasmanian farmer Matt Dunbabin, after he was crowned the 2015 Kondinin Group-ABC Rural Australian Farmer of the Year at a gala awards dinner at InterContinental Sydney on Wednesday, September 9.
Australian Farmer of the Year: Matt Dunbabin Australian Farmer of the Year: Matt Dunbabin Australian Farmer of the Year: Matt Dunbabin Australian Farmer of the Year: Matt Dunbabin Australian Farmer of the Year: Matt Dunbabin

Matt Dunbabin (left) with ABC Rural Content Director Matt O'Sullivan.

Alex Paull

The award capped off an incredible night for recognising excellence in agriculture, with prominent industry figures, sponsors and politicians joining regular farmers in praising the wonderful contributions made to agriculture in the past year. ABC Rural’s Leigh Radford and Pip Courtney also did an outstanding job hosting the event. Tasmania dominated the night with three awards, but it was Dunbabin who took home the most coveted prize of all. Dunbabin was also named the ABC Rural Diversification Farmer of the Year, which reflected his ability to transform his Bangor property into premium business specialising in cropping, beef, sheep, viticulture and tourism. Lead judge and ABC Rural Content Director Matt O’Sullivan said Dunbabin was a worthy winner. “Matt Dunbabin clearly demonstrates what modern farming is all about – overcoming challenges, diversifying the business and looking for new opportunities,” O’Sullivan said. “’Bangor’ is historically and environmentally important, and the Dunbabins have found a way to balance those pressures with running a successful farm operation. “Matt is a strong contributor to the Tasmanian farm sector and beyond, and has a very clear vision of what he’s trying to achieve. “Throw into the mix the successful recovery and rebuilding that has happened since the farm was damaged in the 2013 Dunalley bushfires, and Matt was a clear winner.” Since taking over the management of the diverse Bangor property in south east Tasmania in 1999, Dunbabin’s first step towards diversification came in 2007 when he developed a business plan to build a 1500ML dam to support a range of initiatives on the farm, including horticulture and cropping. Superfine wool production is one of the main enterprises on the farm, but it also runs a small 100 head prime beef cattle herd, and 1300 head prime lamb flock. Through development over the last decade, the farm now includes an irrigated cropping program, a 4ha vineyard for producing cool-climate wine, and the Bangor Wine and Oyster Shed, which is a food and wine retail business. Two and a half years since the Dunalley bushfire, an enormous amount of work was required to recover, rebuild and reposition the business to be viable into the future. This award recognises Dunbabin’s determination and hard work, and it reflects the nature of farmers as hard-working, stoic people. Bangor’s diverse landscape called for a diverse approach, one that Dunbabin delivered in spades.

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