Michael Riley grew up in a cane farm in Proserpine, a hop, skip and a jump from Airlie Beach, the hub of the beautiful Whitsunday Coast. Being a diesel fitter by trade, he found work in the coal mines, where he ‘met a lot of good people’. Nevertheless, work in the mines has its drawbacks; especially, being away from family and old friends can take its toll. Wanting to be home, plus a bit of a downturn in the mining industry, resulted in Michael coming back to the Proserpine area for the longer term.
Michael’s father Geoffrey grew up on a cane farm; his mother, Elaine, comes from a cattle station. As he says, sugar cane has always been ‘all around’ him and his family; it is what they have always known. With this life-long background in the industry, and a love for the region where he grew up and its people, it is only natural that Michael would want to work in the sugarcane business. At the end of the last crushing season his opportunity came and he was able to buy a cane harvesting business. Together with his brother Sam and the support of their family, this is the first year that Riley Brothers Harvesting are offering their services to the Proserpine region.
This is a young family business that currently employs three additional workers during the season. For increased reliability, Michael decided to purchase a new John Deere 3520T Sugarcane Harvester from Shane Madeley at Vanderfield Mackay. In addition, he has three other John Deere tractors to carry out his work. Asked about why he chose John Deere, Michael mentioned the high quality of their products. Besides, another feature he really appreciates in the harvester is the GreenStar GPS. As he puts it, having the advanced guidance technology with its assisted steering means ‘one less thing you’ve got to worry about’.
Riley Brothers Harvesting is set out to serve the Proserpine community for many seasons to come. Their goal is to grow their own business and be able to stay in the region and support its cane growers. But it is not all about work, either; when Michael has a break, you may be able to find him doing a bit of fishing on the Reef. And who could blame him.