2021 Speakers

Alice Mabin

Alice Mabin

Ten times best-selling author and BEFA Asia Pacific Female Entrepreneur of the Year, Al Mabin spent many years working the land before picking up a camera to share the spirit of our rural communities with the world.

Driven by a burning desire to pay tribute to the incredible people who provide for our country and empower people, Al’s no-holds-barred approach, and strong resolve to follow her intuition, saw her circumnavigate our great island nation seven times to produce four record-breaking publications.

The Drover, The Driver and The Grower Series are iconic.

More than just stunning books, her masterworks reconnect people to the outback way of life, celebrate the essence of the Aussie bush and stir solidarity.

In 2019 Alice released her memoir detailing the winding road that brought her from traumatic brain injury survivor to award-winning author. The Winding Road: Secrets of an Outback Entrepreneur goes behind the scenes of the renowned rural photographers’ life to remind us that our potential is limitless. Now well-known for her motivational speaking, Alice harnesses the power of storytelling to inspire change, challenge mindsets and create brilliance. “Like you”, says Alice, “I want people in our cities to understand and appreciate how the essence of the bush impacts us all.”


Robyn Beeston

All our lives are ordinary and extraordinary. Mine is just the same, in its own way. We have all stood strong, fallen down, and stood up again. My story is unique, but only in the fact that it is mine. 

In 1990 as a new bride, I became a member of a special rural community, I loved this land of contrasts and had two sons in crushing drought and a daughter in flooding rain. I have always been creative and I practiced everything – drawing, painting, designing anything. DIY enthusiast, upholstery, embroidery, knitting, crochet, mosaic, silversmithing – you name it I tried it. In 2014 I moved to Brisbane and, as many of us need to do when our children grow up, began the reinvention of Robyn.  For the first time in decades, I commuted to the city. Loath to waste time I started to write. At first, I wrote about the day, the people on the bus, my amazement when I sat in the same seat every day, and my horror, when another passenger had the nerve to sit in my seat! 

Sometimes I wrote in rhyme, sometimes not. Sometimes it was funny, sometimes not. At the beginning of 2015 my 88-year-old father, told me he had an idea for a book. I was 52 and I thought, I can write this story. So, I did. Together we are the #140yearoldauthor. The first book ‘Injustice’ is a story of a father and a daughter. Next is a young adult series about a quirky young woman called Alice. What I learnt about getting started writing a book is almost as interesting as the books themselves! In 2019 I realised I needed another challenge (slightly smaller than the book writing thing), I started an online auction of paintings, one a day for 100 days. I sold 72 of the first 100 and was hooked. In 2020 I did another 100 days and this time wrote the story of each painting, connecting the image with a story, making it come to life. 2021 is about to start, another 100 days, the books. Another page on which to write.

Kim Coskun

Is the Owner & Founder of Down Under Cotton- Australia’s First tampon made with Australian cotton fibres.

Kim Coskun

A Brisbane-based startup creating tampons using Australian cotton has provided a potential new market for a Goondiwindi-based farming family. 

Down Under Cotton, the brainchild of Kim Coskun, has sourced cotton from the Newell family’s Korolea Farming as part of the journey to bring the product to the market. The Newell family have been farming on their Macintyre Valley country for more than 40 years and have donated the first bale of cotton for the trial stage of the brand.

Ms Coskun said the idea was sparked when she saw a tampon commercial in 2015 and felt a disconnect between the imagery in the advertising and women’s actual experiences. 

She began to research and discovered that most tampons are made of synthetic fibre rayon and wanted to find a more sustainable solution.”We’re talking about something we are putting in our bodies, and a lot of people would prefer to use a natural fibre,” she said. While cotton products do exist in the Australian feminine hygiene market, the cotton is usually sourced from overseas, Ms Coskun said. “We always want to support Aussie farmers where we can, but this was an area where there wasn’t really an option for women to do that in their product choices,” she said. 

From there the next step in the journey was finding out more about how cotton was grown, which is how the Newell family became involved. “I drove four hours out to the Newell’s cotton and learnt so much, I even drove a cotton picker,” Ms Coskun said.”I’ve visited cotton farms many times since, I’ve gone to CSIRO for their input, I went to the Australian Cotton Conference and spoken to so many people in the industry, even the CEO of Cotton Australia. “Rob Newell is also my mentor, he’s taught me so much.” 

Korolea Farming is operated by Rob and Jan Newell and their son Andrew, with the business including two properties, Korolea and Royston, which cover 2500 hectares and include 1750ha of irrigated land.Traditionally the family supply their cotton to Auscott. Andrew Newell said they first became involved in Ms Coskun’s enterprise in 2015 when he received an out of the blue Facebook message from her, wanting advice on producing cotton products in Australia. 

“I gave her some advice about where to find out more and she told me she was looking into feminine hygiene products,” he said. “We were planting and she came out for a visit and met Dad, Mum and me and it sort of went from there. “She hit it off with Dad and he thought it was a great idea.”Mr Newell said they were happy to donated the first bale of cotton and had some more to supply if the demand was there. 

“It’s an exciting story that there’s the traceability side of it,” he said. “Kim has been here, seen it growing, knows all about where it’s come from and how we work “Hopefully it grows from here.” Ms Coskun said it had been a long process to create the product, but she has had a great deal of interest from consumers since revealing the product details. “We will be selling online first with our stock arriving in March and also looking to supply to local pharmacies around Goondiwindi,” Ms Coskun said. “From there it will be about working with supermarkets to get the product on shelves.”
Credit Queensland Country Life


Instagram- https://www.instagram.com/downundercotton/
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/Down-Under-Cotton-618645851895416

Lisa Garcha (Local Heartmum)

Lisa Garcha and her husband Bailey knew very little about Congenital Heart Disease when their 8 day old baby was evacuated by Care Flight to Brisbane in 2015. Now this teacher and mother of three has first hand experience and appreciation of the complexities of medical science, the contributions of charity organisations, the wonder of miracles, the significance of community support and an adoration for children who overcome the daily challenges of living with CHD.

Lisa & Hannah