Wolvi farmers claw their way to national industry award
FIRST time was the charm for Wolvi crayfish farmers Bill and Rhonda Keast, who claimed a gold medal at the 2018 delicious. Produce Awards in Sydney.
Despite being industry veterans of 22 years, this year was the first time that the owners of Ironbark Redclaw Freshwater Crayfish had been nominated in the competition.
"It's nice after 22 years of working away to get a little bit of reward,” Mr Keast said.
"It acknowledges our product as up there with the best.”
The win is not the Keasts' only news, though.
With their claws now latched firmly onto success they are leaving the redclaw industry and going out on a high.
"A young couple with a young family has bought the place,” he said.
Much like their gold medal, this was another move which left them on a "high”.
"That's very satisfying for us because we brought up our daughter here and had a great time and to see someone going through potentially the same enjoyment and fulfilment is good,” Mr Keast said.
But while they have bought a new house at Monkland, it did not mean they were saying a final goodbye to the business.
Instead, they were eager to give a helping hand to the new owners over the next year.
"We're pretty keen that they make a success of our little baby,” he said.
While the award was for their efforts as crayfish farmers, Mr Keast said the commitment which got them to the top started in his previous career as an engineer.
"I absolutely loved engineering and the creativity and excellence you have to achieve and it's the same for redclaw farming,” he said.
"Striving for excellence and doing everything right.
"Near enough is never good enough.
And while he had several other hobbies to keep him busy - motorcycles, sports cars and wood furniture, for instance - he was not quite done with crayfish yet.
"It's going to be hard to drag myself away from the industry, but I've got a couple of projects within the industry still percolating away,” he said.