The Murray's odyssey from isolation to integration in farming

The Murray's odyssey from isolation to integration in farming

Georgie Murray has farmed in one of the more isolated spots in New Zealand, all the way up Skippers Canyon where she and her husband managed the 33,000-hectare Branches Station 

The pair featured in a Country Calendar show about them a few years back, now they've got a family and they've moved a bit closer to town, farming at Castle Rock in South Canterbury.

Reflecting on their time at Skippers Canyon, Murray admires the vast landscape and isolation both of which she describes as a wonder and a challenge. 

"It's a fantastic spot... the iconic thing about the ranch is you don't actually see anything of the station until you come over that last saddle, Campbell's saddle, and then it just opens out in front of you." 

The conversation delves into the complexities of raising a family in such a remote location, relying on a radio system for safety and the unresolved mystery of a former station manager's disappearance, which adds to the lore of the place. 

"We went in there... to be honest, we'd only be together six months... But you know, we did, we put ourselves in the deep end completely." 

Moving to the present, Murray talks about her current life in South Canterbury, where her family has scaled down to a 500-hectare farm, focusing on Angus cows and Romney sheep. Despite the economic pressures of farming, such as land prices and interest rates, she remains optimistic. 

Murray highlights the power of community, especially in the aftermath of the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake, where she organised a relief effort.

"It just shows you had the means to a degree, but you still had to go and sort of organise this from a very remote spot." 

She emphasises the importance of community involvement and the support system it provides, such as the South Canterbury Hunt Club and the Totara Valley catchment group. The couple's transition from isolation to a more integrated community life showcases their adaptability and resilience. 

"I think you just got to take the positives with the negatives and, yeah, just try and stay positive and make sure you have, you know, some positive affirmations for your day."

Murray fondly remembers their life at Skippers Canyon, where simplicity and creativity were born out of necessity, concluding with the sentiment that despite the hardships, the experience was irreplaceable and deeply fulfilling. 

"I never thought in a million years I'd end up living up Skippers Canyon, but yeah, I wouldn't swap it for the world."

Listen to the full chat between Georgie Murray and Dominic George above.

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