Sarah Dring of Warradarge  |  100x70cm Giclée Fine Photographic Print by Martine Perret (2022)

Sarah Dring

"My name is Sarah. My home is on our farm called Bibbakine in Warradarge. Mum and Dad have been farming here for over 35 years. I was raised and educated in the Mid West. After high school, I moved to Perth where I studied a Bachelor of Psychology, and a Master of Teaching at the University of WA. After graduation, I taught as an early childhood teacher in schools in Perth for four years. I decided that I wanted to be out of the city life and to get back to my country roots. I moved to Geraldton, where I taught full time for a year. 

Being closer to home and being able to come here on the long weekends made me realise that the farm is where I wanted to be longer term.  This year [2022], I did part-time teaching and part-time farming. Next year I'll be full-time farming with Mum and Dad. 

We run Merinos, for their wool and for their meat. We grow a variety of different crops like wheat, canola, oats, barley and lupins. I've always been involved in the farm with Mum and Dad. Even when I moved away, I'd be home every school holiday, every uni break. 

I always wanted to be on the farm. I think that's reflected in how I was always coming back. But when you're younger, and particularly being the youngest female, saying I'm going to take over the farming business is a really big deal.

It takes a lot of confidence, a lot of skills and a lot of knowledge. The skills, the knowledge and confidence that my teaching career has given me, has helped me to be able to come back and say: I can take over this business. I can do this. I knew that coming into this year, to step away from my successful teaching career with certainty, that I needed to be 100% sure about it. That's why I chose to have a transitional year of part- time teaching and part-time farming. 

Upon being awarded the 2022 Royal Agricultural Society Mid-West Rural Ambassador title, I was able to represent the North Midlands Agricultural Society at the WA state finals. The experience developed my knowledge, public speaking and confidence. It also allowed me to become involved with other agricultural societies and their local shows, particularly with the Chapman Valley and Northampton shows. I have also made some great connections and friendships. 

My parents have always encouraged my brothers and I to choose our own path. Education is highly valued in our family, and we were given every opportunity to obtain off farm qualifications and pursue our own interests. 

When I tell people that I'm taking over the family farming business, I'm met with a lot of surprise and then questions. Usually the first question is: but don't you have brothers? It is less common for the youngest female to take over the farm, and with that comes breaking down some of those traditional stereotypes. My Mother is also a qualified teacher who has always worked on our farm, she has been a wonderful role model and shows me how to manage these initial reactions and stereotyping. 

We've had a great season this year, but not all years are as generous. When it comes to the hardships of farming, such as drought events and the financial and business strain that comes with that, your mental health can become an area of concern. It’s important that you have other interests in your life to help you balance the mental demands of farming. 

I play touch rugby and I'm looking forward to when I'm living in just one place to get back into my painting and photography, which I haven't had the space for with my commuting lifestyle. 

I like the peace and calm and I have never been someone who enjoys seeing neighbours. Dad said to me that when he hits 65 - he wants to be retiring. That gives me about six years to get everything in order. 

Ever since I was very young, I’ve had my boots on, helping Dad and Mum open the gates or walking behind the sheep. I’m a 5th generation farmer on my Mum’s side and a 4th generation Mid-West farmer on my Dad’s side. It could be said that farming is in my DNA. Throughout my life I have lived and worked on this land. 

It was always a surprise to others when I tell them that I worked on the farm. I think a lot of people are just usually surprised by the fact that I did that. I think sometimes I get put into the box of being the woman who they couldn't see getting dirty or working hard.

Just follow your heart, regardless of whatever you're doing, is my biggest advice. Because if you do that, regardless of societal expectations and norms, or what you think you should be doing, then you'll end up where you're meant to be. 

The people who know me, who mean the most to me, know who I am. And that's all that matters. I've never thought I've had to prove anything at all. "


Click below to view the full portrait and read each story from the Act Belong Commit exhibition Women of the Hinterlands