Our Walcha Showgirl for 2018/19 is Sophie Uren and its safe to say she was in good hands when she was preparing for the competition.
“My mum was Longreach Showgirl,” Miss Uren said.
“She then represented Central West Queensland at the Brisbane Ekka where she placed runner-up. My aunty was also Warren Showgirl.”
Ms Uren said she had not considered entering the The Land Showgirl competition until a friend suggested it.
“After I thought about it I decided to give it a crack,” she said.
“I love living in the community and have such a great passion for agriculture, so really showgirl is right up my ally.”
Ms Uren was born and raised on the land in Walcha, and she says her earliest memories are sheep and more sheep.
“I have a strong passion for ag,” she said.
“I really enjoy talking to dad, asking questions and learning about new and evolving issues and technologies in the industry. I believe I am very open-faced and approachable and I love our community.”
Ms Uren says the community spirit is what she likes best about living in rural Australia.
“Walcha is so supportive from every aspect in the community,” she said.
“The community spirit that Walcha has is such an inspiration and honour to be involved in – from wearing our famous red and white to a rugby grand final to the community singing ‘We are from Walcha’ to save our council.”
However, she concedes there are also challenges living in the bush.
“I believe the biggest challenges facing youth in rural Australia is the distance to travel to study, mental illness and access to services,” she said.
“We live in an age where business and personal lives are so heavily reliant on communication. A massive hurdle we face in rural Australia is high-speed WiFi and phone connectivity, which are essential in today’s day and age. Mental illness is also a massive challenge for youth in Australia with suicide rates being 1.8 times higher in rural areas.”
The successful junior Walcha Showgirl, Amy Kermode, says she entered to gain experience in public speaking and to promote New England agriculture. She agrees there are challenges growing up in the bush.
“There is a lack of opportunities for rural youth to go back to the land after they have completed their studies,” she said.
“While this is due to many factors such as drought, inheritance issues, and the difficulty of raising capital, I think that there are also ways that communities and the government can encourage and support rural youth to return to the land.”
Hear the girls speak at the Walcha Show here