Are the risks worth it?


So let me be clear, my family are multi-generational farmers and perhaps that’s why I decided to include the beautiful thick fields of golden canola in this documentary.

I am not going to beat around the bush, this documentary has been difficult, I am a nature lover at heart. I recently completed a documentary book on farming in which I followed a farmer for 3 months, it opened my eyes to farming more than I could ever imagine and a topic that kept popping up was the word ‘drought’, and yes, we have heard a lot about the drought in the last few months.

During the drought farmers plant canola seed in the hope that the drought will break and they will reap the benefits of a thriving harvest with winter rains… but they haven’t been so lucky. Most of the canola crops are struggling, very thin and not many flowers which is an indicator of the harvest that’s in front of them. Many farmers in Victoria have been or will be forced to cut the crop down and bale it in the hope of breaking even on their investment. That’s why farming is like gambling and a lot of the time, the house always wins.

The start of spring sees Central Victoria, Geelong and Bellarine Peninsula immersed in the yellow glow of canola, for many farmers will tell you they dread this time of year. The flowering canola means hundreds if not thousands of social media chasers flocking to the yellow fields in search of their 15 minutes of fame.

But what is the cost? Well for the instagrammer… Nothing. For the farmers, EVERYTHING!

Some farmers lose thousands of dollars of crops every year through damage by trespasses. If you include the cost of the drought, pests such as rabbits and kangaroos the costs continue to add up.

Just for one minute, people need to ask themselves… What if a farmer walked onto your property for a selfie? What if that action jeopardised your annual income? Now would you think twice?

Our farmers are the most laid back approachable people, they have no problems with you taking images from the fence, that’s why there is a fence. So why do we feel the need to break the law for our 15 minutes of fame? When it’s all said, and done is it honestly worth it?

I travelled to Geelong and Bellarine Peninsula in search of trophy hunters, and what I found far exceeded what I thought I would find. In the little farming community of Lara, Little River and Point Wilson lies Avalon Airport. In my research of Canola Fields, Point Wilson kept popping up, so on a beautiful spring day I took the drive out in search of the fields.

A short drive past the entrance to Avalon Airport, less than 500metres, I found hectares and hectares of the yellow gold and the road lined with parked cars, and whilst most took the opportunity to take images from the fence line, many also felt the need to just climb the fence and stroll through the fields taking selfies, laying in the canola, tearing plants out of the ground to throw them into the air to make their shot different from the next. A couple set up a picnic in amongst the fields and rotated through countless garment changes as if it was a fashion shoot.

But the most alarming sight was drones, remember I said we are only 500 metres from a major commercial passenger airport. In fact, from where I was standing, you could see planes taking off and landing on the runway. CASA has strict rules, no flying within 5.5km of an airport and yet these tourists were breaking the law with their drones up as high 120m less than 500m from an airport runway. Not a care in the world, they continued to take selfies and aerial photographs of the fields from above. What if a plane hit the drone? I read such report that it would tear an aircraft engine to shreds.

As I stood in the middle of the road, photographing, two spotted me and brought their drones down and drove away, another changed battery after battery and kept shooting.

I reported the incident to CASA, but as I drove away I felt angry that people would jeopardise others for the sake of an image, let alone the decimation of crops that would hinder a farmer’s income.

Have we become so selfish and ego driven we don’t think about the consequences?