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Story John Dunn

Megan McNicholl
Megan McNicholl at home on "Arklow"
Dulacca, Qld

Megan McNicholl is relaxing - for her a rare indulgence. She is lunching with friends in the garden of Arklow, the 7400-acre family cattle property 20 kilometres south of Dulacca in south-west Queensland which runs, with another 8800-acre holding, about 1800 Shorthorn-Brahman cattle. At one end of the table husband Lee, 57, is pondering some of the problems currently confronting much of rural Australia - lack of water, increased salinity, the need for adequate remnant vegetation corridors - and anticipating the future by extolling the virtues of marketing his herd via the internet. His audience is significant: two French students on an agricultural exchange. Education plays a major part in the lives of the McNicholls as is also demonstrated by their three children - Kate 23, Rebecca 21 and Douglas 19 - who are all at university in Brisbane. At the other end of the table Megan is reminiscing with colleague Meg Nichols, a fellow member of the federal council of the Isolated Children's & Parents Association, who is standing down after eight years of tireless service to help husband Philip tend his finewool Merinos on their farm near Bothwell, Tasmania. Together they have shared in the recent achievements of an organisation that has done so much for the education of children who, because of distance, can't participate in activities enjoyed by those in less remote areas.

Megan, 53, is in her fourth year and - because the constitution decrees a change after this period - her last as ICPA president. Her involvement dates back to 1988 when the family moved to Arklow from Mt Isa where Lee, as veterinary officer for the North Australian Pastoral Company, spent 16 years supervising the eradication of tuberculosis and brucellosis Story end

Full story: OUTBACK, October/November 2002

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