Being born in the week of Queensland’s biggest farming event was a sign of what life had in store for Sophie Laycock.
Cattle have played a big part in her life, from being propped up on the back of a stud bull at a show ground as a baby, to showing animals.
Now the 23-year-old has taken the reins of one of the biggest jobs in the rural show circuit – cattle stud steward.
“I’ve thought about it a lot and living in the Southeast I’ve been asked a number of times if I want to do it,” she said.
“But I always turned it down because I was in 12th grade and I didn’t want to push myself too hard.”
After years of showing cattle from her grandparents’ Simmental stud farm in the Brisbane Valley, Ms Laycock moved to Clermont in 2018 to run a station.
In the former gold mining town, she met Rosie Robertson, the longtime stewardess, who was looking for a change.
“When she told me she was looking for someone to take her on, I thought why not?” She said.
“It’s an industry I’m so passionate about, and I thought I might as well get in.”
changing of the guard
Rosie Robertson has been involved with cattle shows in Queensland for more than four decades and is a familiar face at the Clermont Show.
After being involved with the first Ridgelands show in 1977, sewing and making all the ribbons and showing cattle, Mrs Robertson decided it was time to retire.
“I wanted to be able to show my own cattle and I knew Sophie and have worked with her quite a bit and she is also passionate about breeding and showing,” she said.
“And I said, ‘I’ll be right behind you to help guide you and then it’s yours. Do it.'”
Ms Laycock said knowing she had the support of Ms Robertson and her daughters made it an easy decision.
“There’s definitely a lot of younger people moving up, which is great because we’re the future of the industry,” she said.
“If we don’t start improving now, we never will. Especially when other people help us and are there to support us.”
A passion for rural communities and youth
Though decades apart, Rosie and Sophie both share a love of the country and of initiating young people into the cattle industry.
Mrs. Robertson used to run camps at Charters Towers every year to introduce children to cattle shows.
“We would camp out the weekend and start with a green animal and actually take it a few steps forward the first weekend,” Ms Robertson said.
“They came back and then did the show and did it very well. It’s something we were very passionate about.”
It’s something Ms Laycock hopes can be launched in Clermont.
“I’ve often thought about doing a weekend where we get the kids who don’t have a lot of experience and the aloof kids who are on properties. You could come in and try,” she said.
Ms Laycock said she would also like to see more young people on the committees.
“Without the younger generation, we won’t have a future, so it would be really good if we could teach them something new.”