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Let's Park It Here

John & Jane of all trades

Two and a half hours drive outside of Melbourne sits the picturesque Murrindindi Valley, nestled between the hills, you’ll find a beef cattle farm known as Wonyip Park. The property is a tranquil oasis away from the bustle of the city – one of the reasons owners John and Jane Archibald decided to buy it back in 2014. As the farm has grown, so too has the Archibald family with Jane, John and their 17-year-old twins now calling Wonyip home. “It’s nice being able to look out and see the hills and greenery. There is so much wildlife just going about their business, making it a nice spot to be in,” Jane said.


Both originally from Melbourne, John and Jane are first-generation farmers who’d long dreamed about life on the land. In 2002, they made their fantasy a reality, swapping the big city lights for lush farmland and they’ve never looked back.
“I had couple of horses as a girl so that gave me a taste of what goes into caring for bigger animals and I always loved being in the country,” Jane said.


“We started off on a smaller property of 90 acres in the early 2000s. It was in the same area but was quite hilly and not as user friendly you might say. As our capabilities as farmers grew so did our farm. Neither of us were born into farming but over the years we’ve managed to build and advance our farming operation, building our herd and knowledge base along the way. We now have around 100 commercial breeding cows and a handful of stud animals,” John said. “I still work full time as a fire fighter in Melbourne so being able to commute back to the city is important, I would love to retire and focus on farming, but I don’t think we are quite there yet.”


The Archibald’s love of animals underpins everything they do at Wonyip Park. Today they breed premium grass-fed beef cattle across 370 acres of land. Although the bloodline isn’t quite what you’d expect. “We breed Speckle Park cattle, which has Canadian origins. It’s not common in Australia, but I pride myself on taking the unconventional approach,” John said. 


“I’d like to think that I do things differently. The Speckle Park crossbreed well with Angus, so we use Speckle Park bulls over Angus females – and if I use the buzzword correctly, it’s hybrid vigour.”

Hybrid vigour describes the outcome of crossbreeding between different breeds to achieve characteristics better suited to the beef cattle industry. And, according to John “you get good growth out of genetic diversity.”


For John and Jane, ensuring their farm has a focus on ethical, sustainable and environmentally conscious practices is a priority. “Right now, I’m learning more about regenerative agriculture and how to build carbon in the soil. We love to experiment with all sorts of natural processes and figure out what would help improve the grass, paddocks and soil,” John says.


“Everything has a flow on effect. In the end, it’s beneficial for the cattle and results in better beef on the plate.”

“Farming has been a long-time passion of mine. I did a trade apprenticeship in welding and steel fabrication before becoming a firefighter but farming, machinery and animals have always been an interest of mine,” John said.

If there’s one thing the Archibald’s have in spades, it’s a sense of determination. The couple pride themselves on using every opportunity to try something new.


“From fencing off dams and protecting waterways, planting native trees and renovating pastures, we do it all ourselves. As first-generation farmers why wouldn’t you want to give it a go,” John says.


With so much to learn and manage, it’s essential the pair have the best tools on the job. That’s why they turned to Kubota. “We currently have an M7 tractor, a M9540 and an L5740 tractor which helps us maintain the farm and caters to both of our driving techniques. When I’m not here, Jane manages everything on her own, so it was important to have equipment that Jane is also comfortable using,” John said.


“A couple of years back we purchased the L5740 (57 horsepower) tractor which is hydrostatic. Being able to speed up or slow down smoothly without switching gears makes the work easy and having an air-conditioned cab makes the chores much more enjoyable,” Jane said.


“The tractor has a mulching mower attachment on the back, so I use it for mowing the grass but it also works for feeding the cattle which is a whole different process. It’s so handy that I can use the same tractor for both. Especially, during hay season it runs a small square baler making around 1000 bales each year.” Kubota’s reliability has kept the Archibald’s coming back. “Nothing’s ever gone wrong with them, we haven’t had any issues. They just seem stronger than all the rest on the market,” Jane said.


To compliment farm operations, the pair’s most recent purchase was a couple of Kubota RTV’s. “We initially purchased an X1140 RTV.  Being a four-seater was attractive as it makes it easy to show our clients, family and friends around the farm. We loved it so much we purchased another X1120 soon after.


The RTV’s were a recommendation from Yea Machinery, a family-run business operated by Joshua Kelly. “They’re always so helpful and friendly. Always happy to explain a product or recommend a new one. We get along so well my son actually works their part time,” John said. As first-time farmers having support from nearby dealers is invaluable. “Kubota and the team at Yea Machinery makes it possible for us to do everything ourselves, especially as newcomers to farming,” Jane said.


While the team at Yea Machinery have been the couple’s go to for their smaller machines, the staff at Bertoli Farm Machinery in nearby Shepparton have been their close confidants with the bigger machines.


According to the Archibald’s, both dealers have been easy to deal with and always approachable, making life on the land a little less daunting. “Farming is both challenging and rewarding. I’ll never get bored because the learning is limitless,” said John. “If it was easy, we wouldn’t be drawn to it.”


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