Joy radiates from Bill O’Sullivan’s entire being when he talks about people learning to grow their own fruit and vegetables.
Just past the second cattle grid on Duck Creek Road in the Kerry Valley, Bill and Carol, his wife of 37 years, are working on their own kind of paradise – Tullamore Farm.
About 10 acres of their 306 acres is fenced and the rest is for wildlife.
The O’Sullivans grow 30-odd kinds of vegetables and 56 varieties of fruit, including an abundance of bananas, and focus on regenerative, syntropic, closed loop farming practices.
They are also growing a movement of people who love visiting their patch of paradise to learn how to grow their own food, feeding Bill’s drive to share his knowledge with others.
Bill was born on the first of February 1960 to Brian and Chetti (Concetta), who came to Australia from Malta when she was 15.
“I’m the oldest of five, and my dad had to go on an invalid pension because he broke his back when I was a baby. Dad always grew our vegetables,” he said.
“One of my earliest memories was our pocket money always being linked to watering and weeding the vegetable gardens. That was probably my earliest indoctrination to growing things.”
Many years later, Bill had his own revelation about the power of healthy eating.
“Dad gave me a book about 25 years ago called Fit for Life by Harvey Diamond. When I retired, we had a skiing holiday in Japan and I took that one to read – I thought it would be nonsense, but it was one of those life-changing books, all about eating fruit and vegetables,” he said.
Any chance he gets, Bill will tell you how great Carol is.
When Bill was 24, Carol popped up in the church pew ahead of him. They were engaged within three months of their first date and at the altar three months later, in March 1985.
“When you’ve got a really good fish on the line and you’re out of your league, you get the fish in the boat as soon as you can,” he said.
A few months after they were married Bill and Carol, both born and raised in Ipswich, spontaneously took a three-month holiday in Cairns to escape the Ipswich winter and they ended up staying for 28 years.
They raised their sons Mace and Isaac, now 34 and 31, up there and Bill developed North Queensland’s largest financial planning firm before they followed their sons and now daughter-in-law Manda back to south-east Queensland.
“The most important thing to me is definitely family, but more importantly ensuring your loved ones are equipped to cope with life – the world can be a hard, ugly place,” he said.
“And our real passion is we just want to see people grow more of their own super healthy food – that’s the key.”