City life versus country life
It was an epiphany moment for Old Boy and then recent Cambridge graduate Hamish Murray (12086). Train-bound to London for a job interview in 2008, he was about to embark on a new career.
“I clearly remember thinking ‘I don’t want to live and work here in a job that I don’t really love, just to make money’. In the future, I’d like to have children and it was important for me to give them the same or similar opportunities growing up as we had been given – to learn to ride a horse, hunt in the bush, build huts and swim in the rivers. And the best way I knew how to do that was in agriculture.”
So, after two years reading Economics and playing rugby for Cambridge University, the young graduate returned to Marlborough’s Bluff Station, a high-country sheep and beef property. It stretches from the coast at Kekerengu inland into the Clarence Valley and right up to the base of Mt Tapuae-O-Ueneku.
In the family for a generation or two, Bluff Station is now run by Hamish, his wife, Jess, and their three children. In 2019, Hamish also completed a Nuffield Scholarship. The station runs 6000 merino ewes, 950 Angus and Hereford breeding cows and 800 beehives. The activities provide his family with an enviable life.
“We enjoy the diversity of the production system and the yearly calendar of events. There’s always something new to look forward to as we switch from cattle to sheep, then back again – rolling through mating, shearing, set stocking, marking and then through into weaning. We also enjoy what the honey production cycle brings as well.”
Bluff Station featured on television’s long-running Country Calendar in August.
Most of the wool that the Murrays produce is for Icebreaker, a sustainable clothing brand with which they have had a 25-year association – proven in their commitment with a rolling 10-year contract.
Ensuring traceability within the supply chain is a leading objective for Hamish – and an element that consumers increasingly demand.
“There’s a growing awareness around types of production and the environment. Our natural high-country system, with low stocking rates and its biodiversity, is a great story to share,” he says.
Looking back, Hamish recalls his College years as being “enjoyable and busy”. He was a Prefect and played cricket and rugby.
“I made some great friends at College, had the opportunity to play some quality sport and was supported with an education that has opened many doors for me. I’m lucky that belief from supportive staff and coaches at the right moments encouraged me to be more than I knew I could be.”