Proserpine cane grower Lindsay Altmann.
Proserpine cane grower Lindsay Altmann. Peter Carruthers

‘You have to be stubborn’ to be a farmer

THIS year is the first year Lindsay Altmann has not competed in the Australian Hand Cane-Cutting Championships since 1991.

He said he had finished in the top three but had never won the championship. To Lindsay, winning was secondary to his romantic attachment to a bygone era.

When his "old man" was alive, a seven-year-old Lindsay went to cut cane by hand before the mechanisation of the harvesting industry.

"I used to cut plants when I was still at school on the weekends and after school. The old man used to cut contract plants and I would contract for myself," he said.

Lindsay was brought up on a small cane farm north of Proserpine and when he left school he didn't intend on following in his father's footsteps.

He got a trade as a fitter and then spent 10 years underground in the mines.

"Twenty-five years ago me old man died. So me and my brother made a decision to come home and start farming," he said.

"I have been farming since '94. That is what we do."

When asked what attributes a farmer needed to be successful on the land, Lindsay didn't hesitate when answering.

"You have to be too stubborn to give in and you have to be prepared for good and bad years," he said.

"I came home from mining to farm but our farm wasn't big enough so I ended up contracting as well."

Lindsay's eldest son has taken a leaf out of his own book and is a diesel fitter and also works for the Altmann Brothers contract harvesting.

Lindsay said it was satisfying to grow a good crop of cane because there were so many things beyond your control that affected the outcome of the yield.

"You can't control the weather and you can't control the pests but you still try your best," he said.