Michael Undery

Michael Undery’s eyes light up when he talks about sharing the corner of Kerry Valley paradise he and his family have nurtured over the decades.
Michael Undery’s eyes light up when he talks about sharing the corner of Kerry Valley paradise he and his family have nurtured over the decades.

Michael Undery’s deep appreciation for where he lives is rooted in a lifetime of connection to Beaudesert and surrounds.

It’s in childhood memories of riding bareback around his uncle and aunt’s place in the Kerry Valley and of fishing and swimming in local waterholes.

It’s in the history book written by his uncle Brian Ward about the lives his descendants (on his mum Ita Margaret Ward’s side) lived here well before his time.

It’s in the fact that he was born in Beaudesert Hospital in 1965, the youngest of four boys, and spent his early days here until his mum died of breast cancer 17 months after his birth.

And it’s in the life he’s built here with his wife Sally and their kids Francis and Alice, who are now carving their own way in the world as adults.

The year 2022 is filled with significant anniversaries for Michael.

He’s been married to Sally for 30 years, it’s 10 years since the Kerry Blockade, where they protested CSG exploration drilling locally, and it’s two years since they milked their dairy herd for the final time.

Sally and Michael met on the school bus after her family, the Overells, moved out here from Brisbane, and they were in the same agricultural classes at Beaudesert High.

On the family property where Michael’s descendants had been dairying since the late 1800s, Michael spent 38 years dairying until they stopped milking in January 2020.

On that same property, a decade ago, members of the Scenic Rim community met early one morning, loaded up their utes with chairs and drove down the road to blockade the Arrow Energy exploration rig.

Michael has known the Albert River to dry up at least seven times in his lifetime, but the 2019 drought was the worst.

“We ran out of grass, hay and water – generally you have one of those things,” he said.

“We survived but not unscathed mentally.”

The drought aided their decision to stop dairying, but that didn’t end their life on the land.

Their venture into bush camping, ‘Kerry Valley Secret’, is thriving, they’re enjoying more time bushwalking than ever before and they are applying their life’s work to helping other farmers through their service, Zero Till Planting.

Michael draws inspiration from his dad Jack, who worked hard on the railways to raise his four boys, and his uncle Brian Ward who taught him how to farm.

Now that life has taken on a different pace, he’s reading more than he used to (currently it’s a book about quolls) and his upbeat outlook on life remains strong.

“What fascinates me is we people worry about so much stuff, yet even though we don’t notice it the world is spinning at 1000 miles an hour or hurtling amongst the stars at 64,000 miles an hour. It doesn’t come undone, the atmosphere, the moon, everything keeps going.”

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