Marika Austin was looking for a cool sea change when she left Mildura, Vic, two years ago; what she found was a new career on a dairy farm.
Before moving to Nullawarre, Vic, Mrs Austin had never been on a dairy farm let alone milked a cow or raised a calf.
Now, with support from a DemoDAIRY Foundation scholarship, she is fully committed to the dairy industry and relishing her unexpected mid-life career move.
"I'm not a morning person but now I get up at 4.30 without a problem," she said.
"I've lived most of my life around Mildura and never really had a career as I was raising kids and never thought I'd find one at this age.
"It's a bit late: I wish I had found this 20 years ago."
Mrs Austin, 48, has worked for the past two years under two different owners on a dairy farm at Nirranda South, Vic.
"We were doing renovations and a burn-off and I spoke to the local CFA captain who mentioned there are milking jobs around if I was looking for work," she said.
"Then a full-time job came up only 10 minutes away and they gave me a trial, even though I had no experience. I absolutely love everything about it."
The current farm owners, Tim and Maree Humphris, have introduced Mrs Austin to all aspects of the farm business and her Certificate III in Agriculture through South West TAFE and supported by the DemoDAIRY scholarship is giving her a more rounded view of agriculture.
Mrs Austin said the course had given her extra insights into dairy and agriculture.
"It's all about calving this year; last year was mostly about pastures and fertilisers and feeding ratios and I sailed through it," she said.
Mrs Austin is now a confident farm worker and student and is raising her own bull calves for sale.
She also helped the herd of new calves to successfully fight off two diseases this year.
The scholarship helped Mrs Austin to buy books and clothes for her course and has inspired her to look at more educational opportunities, including going on to a Certificate IV in agriculture and to specialise in artificial insemination.
Mrs Austin moved south with her husband Ian and children Jy, 14, and Chelsea, 11, and she expects at least one other convert to dairying.
"My husband can't stand the smell, but my son is 14 and he's already looking forward to working on a farm," she said.
"I spent most of my life in Mildura and we certainly don't regret the change."
Information about DemoDAIRY Foundation scholarships can be found at www.demodairy.com.au.
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