Running households, living on cattle stations and operating the country’s first national advertising website solely for cattle, Annabelle Woods and Elisha Parker are taking multi-tasking to a new level. Meet the women who just single-handedly redefined what is possible in rural business.
In a homestead on the red semi-arid plains of Dajarra, amid the ghost gums on the banks of the Wills river, a phone is ringing out through the silence. It’s an important call. This remote 660 000 acre cattle station, owned by McDonald Holdings, doubles as the North West QLD headquarters for a national online cattle advertising hub. But there are no corporate suits here, no secretaries or personal assistants to take the call. Cattlesales Co-Director, grazier and mother of three, Annabelle Woods, has just finished cooking up a storm for the mustering crew. Before that she was in the office managing cattle numbers. She brings new meaning to the term ‘career woman’, legging it across the yard and into the homestead, just in time for the daily teleconference with business partner Elisha Parker.
Follow the phone line 1000 kilometres to a cattle station west of the Central Queensland town of Clermont. It’s a different view for Elisha, looking out onto 120,000 acres on the opposite side of the state, but the challenge is the same. She has somehow managed to find the time to launch the revolutionary site while also working externally for a Brisbane law firm, raising a family and helping run a cattle station. Both based on remote cattle stations, conducting almost all their business by phone and email, Elisha and Annabelle built cattlesales.com.au from scratch. “Being in the industry ourselves we knew that it was going to be something that would work because it was something that we both wanted to use straight away,” Elisha explains. “We couldn’t believe that it actually didn’t exist. We were mustering in late 2015 and had sale cattle in the yards here at the time – over lunch with an agent we discussed our idea that he could further his market reach, even to other states, if there was a national platform to do it on. It was just so apparent that the website was needed. I also had a neighbour trying to buy cows at that time and every night she’d come in from the paddock and be online with 20 different windows open looking at every agency to see what was for sale.”
In a bid to help graziers have their cattle seen by more prospective buyers, or source particular cattle, the pair began researching how to build the first Australian site developed specifically for sourcing and advertising sale cattle. “We interviewed friends, agents, industry stakeholders and every single one of them just couldn’t believe this website didn’t already exist,” Elisha says. “We thought wouldn’t it be amazing if we were trying to buy cattle and we didn’t have to come in every night and check every agency website? And also when selling if we could reach a bigger pool of buyers and potentially get a better price, turn the cattle over quicker. From there it just escalated and next thing we knew we were talking code with web developers in Brisbane and had a tech team on board to custom build the site.”
Eighteen months later and Cattlesales is a high traffic online advertising hub changing the game for cattle producers and agents nation wide.