The town of Proserpine lies 90 kilometres north of Mackay and 260 klm south of Townsville. Its origins date back to the 1890s, following the construction of the first sugar mill, but there had been large cattle runs in the area since the very early 1860s. One of the first settlers in Bowen was Daniel Emmerson, who took up a lease in 1861, and in 1882 his son Joe, with his wife Amelia, moved to the Proserpine area. They took up the Amelia Vale Station, and later also the Proserpine Station, where they ran cattle and horses.
A few generations later, much change has affected the area. The return trip to Bowen, which is about 68 kilometres away, does not take three days any more, and sugar has replaced cattle at the heart of Proser- pine’s primary production. The Emmersons, however, are still there, and cousins Craig and David Emmerson own the Proserpine Harvesting Company. They started their business five years ago, originally harvesting 95,000 tonnes which has recently increased by 85,000 to a total of around 180,000 tonnes.
Craig started off on his own as a young fifteen year old, when he inherited a farm from one of his great-uncles, and he and his father currently run a sugar property as well. He has always loved farming, and does not mind the long hours that he puts in and the tough times that may come, especially with a crop that is weather-driv- en. When doing the hard yards, he just keeps working harder and his secret is ‘don’t give in!’
Proserpine Harvesting Company relies on John Deere equipment to carry out their operations with minimal issues. Their two new 6150M haul out tractors come with a five year / 5,000 hours warranty , which gives Craig and David peace of mind, and the team and Vanderfield Mackay are always there for them if the need arises.
Craig and David rely on the John Deere Greenstar Guidance System to meet their planting and harvesting needs and those of their clients, including Faust Farming (who have their whole farm set up to benefit from the VNET Precision Farming RTK Network). Using the John Deere Guidance System, Craig has found that efficiency increases, as there are less overlaps, with time being saved and the operator being freer to keep an eye on other key machine functions.
The area has also seen a downturn in mining in the last couple of years, with many people losing their jobs. Proserpine Harvesting, however, have been able to employ around twenty people. These are good, reliable employees, and, in spite of the seasonal components of what they do, about 75% of Proserpine Harvesting workers have a secure job all year round, as the planting and harvesting seasons alternate with day-to-day maintenance of machinery and other tasks. With the most recent harvests having been good, these seem to be good times for this family business. May there be many more good seasons ahead of them and the sugar cane industry, and may future generations of Emmersons continue to work the land and love what they do in the Proserpine area.