When Tina Kenyon and her husband, Clinton, lost their wagyu beef farm outside of Kingaroy through no fault of their own, their successful meat production business and butcher shop went with it. Devastated, the couple and their two children left the farm with nothing but their truck and gooseneck trailer, a few horses and a couple of dogs, not knowing where they were going to live or how they would make money. Today, seven years on, through sheer grit, resilience and determination, Tina and Clinton have rebuilt their lives and now run Hidden Gold Homestead in Moffatdale.
Tina Kenyon was born and bred in the Darling Downs, growing up on a grain farm near Pittsworth. Tina loved the land and always knew she would end up back there, and was fuelled by her desire to be her own boss, make her own decisions and work for something that was her own.
After completing boarding school in Toowoomba, Tina moved to Brisbane where she was dazzled by the bright lights of the city and spent 10 years living the urban lifestyle and travelling abroad. In her late 20s, the pull of the country lured her back to Toowoomba where she met her now-husband, Clinton. He had a property at Kingaroy and Tina eventually moved to the farm and started on her path of self-employment, doing admin and bookkeeping for farmers and local businesses.
Over time, Tina became more involved in the farm and soon the couple discovered that there was a huge opportunity for them to market their own beef. An opportunity arose to lease the local butcher shop at Wooroolin, which allowed them to further market and sell their beef, as well as other meats and produce from around the region.
They started attending farmers markets on the Sunshine Coast, where they interacted with customers and learnt a great deal about what they wanted in terms of their food. Not only did they want good quality, locally produced food, which Tina and Clinton provided through their wagyu beef cuts, but they wanted to know how they were raised, and whether the meat was ethically produced with low environmental impact in a nurturing way.
“We had made a big shift in our own healthy living journey and saw this as an opportunity to go down the same path with our beef – which resulted in producing a higher nutritional value product – something that was not as common or popular 10 years ago as it is today!” Tina said.
“We were one of the first farms to go through the process, so we just assumed it would all be sorted out. We had never missed a payment and our business was growing. Then one day we were given 60 days notice to leave the property. With two children, nowhere to go and our income stream destroyed, we were pretty stressed.”
After everything they had been through, it would be easy for Tina and Clinton to walk away from the business world altogether, however, working at the backpacker farm only fuelled their fire to work for themselves again. They now had a good income coming in and started saving for a new business venture in the future. The opportunity arose after five years, when they bought an old winery at Moffatdale and created Hidden Gold Homestead.
Hidden Gold Homestead is an agritourism business and provides Tina and Clint with a means to connect city people with the country, educating them on the paddock to plate process, healthy living, sustainable farming, and helping to forge better relationships between farmers and consumers.
Visitors can come for a day or stay for longer at the onsite B&B cottage or lakeside camping sites that back onto Bjelke-Petersen Dam. The couple run paddock to plate workshops and kids clinics that explore what it means to grow food the way nature intended. They also run themed cooking classes and lunches. Visitors can interact the animals, use the lake for water sports and swimming, or dine in the onsite restaurant.
“We opened the doors to Hidden Gold Homestead in March 2018, and our first year has been wonderful, and of course a big learning curve,” Tina said. “The accommodation has been hugely successful, with the B&B cottage booked out nearly every weekend of the year. We also get a lot of campers, and on holidays and long weekends we often book out. We make sure there is plenty of space between campers so people can enjoy the peace and quiet that they come here for.”