Kerry Anne Thomas exudes discipline and sweetness in equal measure.
She was raised by her dad in Australia’s outback, went through boarding school with the Dominican nuns and worked for years in the Royal Australian Air Force.
Her softly spoken yet firm nature tells the story of a woman who continues to delight in life through twists and turns as intricate as the embroidery her grandmother taught her to do.
Beaudesert just feels like home to Kerry Anne.
The mother and grandmother moved here nearly three years ago to be closer to family after selling the family Hereford breeding cattle farm near Port Macquarie.
She didn’t know anyone here but immediately found her people at Beaudesert CWA, where she is now a proud member. She also sings with A Choired Taste and volunteers at Beaudesert Community Arts and Information Centre.
Building on a career from the Airforce to computers, farming to cruise ships, Kerry Anne has now embarked on business venture with a friend, selling quilting fabrics.
“You can’t sit around and do nothing. I’m very grateful to have my health, and I have never been in such a busy CWA group in all my years,” she said.
Kerry Anne was three weeks old when she moved to the Northern Territory.
She was born in Sydney in 1947 and raised by her dad Frederick Gordon, who managed outback stations.
“I was the first baby he’d ever held in his arms. He was a wonderful dad, and I was very fortunate to have him,” she said.
As governesses came and went, she went to stay with her aunt uncle in Toowoomba but would climb the preschool fence and walk home. So, at the age of five, she went to Santa Sabina boarding school in Sydney.
“Occasionally, if dad had a bad year and I couldn’t sit for a bursary, I’d have the year off. I didn’t realise he was home-schooling me the whole time, because I’d slot right back in at school. Dad loved language and literature, and my grandfather taught me to read,” she said.
There were 3500 men and 30 girls at RAAF Base Richmond in Kerry Anne’s day.
It was there she met partner, Brett, who was a security guard training German Shepherds.
Kerry Anne was 19 when he asked her out. These days, they live life together in Beaudesert where they have five toy poodles, who are Brett’s show dogs.
Inspired by her father, who in the 1950s insisted on equally paying the Aboriginal and white stockmen he employed, Kerry Anne said kindness was the most important thing in life.
Kerry Anne, who has taken an interest in fostering children since she was 22 years old, said becoming a mother was the most defining time in her life.
“I just continue to love family – my grandmother would so often have extra children around, and it was just a natural thing to do,” she said.