Nadia Gillies is just as comfortable in evening wear at the Gin Gin Show Ball as she is modelling clothing for Silver by Diamond or mustering cattle in boots, jeans and a well-worn hat.
Growing up on Pineapple Hill on the Bruce Highway, just south of Maryborough, Nadia learnt how to drive a tractor when she was just five-years-old.
“We were taught how to work hard,” she said. “Many people thought ‘she’s a girl, she can’t do that’, but it’s nothing for me to sit in a tractor for ten hours ploughing a paddock. Through our cattle stud, Gillmara Grazing, I sell Droughtmaster and Red Brahman bulls. When our buyers see me in my element, they realise I know what I’m doing. I’m anything but the little lady who hides in someone else’s shadow.”
After finishing school, Nadia moved to Brisbane to study business. “My dad became very ill, so I went back home to the farm after finishing my degree.” She was interested in cross breeding cattle so she convinced her dad to let her “give it a go”.
Nadia and her husband, Allan, met at Gympie Saleyards where he was working at the time. The pair bought Granite Springs, a 2000 acre cattle property near Gin Gin.
Just 20 months later, Nadia went into pre-term labour at 24 weeks with twins, Harrison and Charlotte. “I went to the hospital in Brisbane each day and sat there looking at these two lifeless babies. Being a mum of premature twins and being away from the farm for about 150 days in total; I would say it broke me.”
Returning to the farm was isolating. “People from a farming background are brought up that you just keep going in the hard times, and we’re not good at asking for help,” Nadia said. “That’s the thing in a small town; when you find a circle of people who support you, that’s your drive, and I’m so thankful for that circle.”
Nadia wanted to give back to all the people and organisations that had supported her. Over the past eight years, she’s helped raise tens-of-thousands of dollars for Mater Little Miracles, drought relief appeals, the Royal Flying Doctors Service, mental health organisations and the Gin Gin Show Society. As well as running the Gin Gin Ball, Nadia has organised charity auctions of bull semen at the annual bull sales in Rockhampton. “These are the little things that helped me through,” Nadia said. “It’s a nice feeling when you can help someone else.”