My dad – Big Al…

Mr Wilson, Big Al, Al Aquo are just some of the nicknames dad has acquired over the years. My dad is the most amazing human being on this planet, he means the absolute world to me. He is the strongest, most kind hearted bloke I have ever met – and dad, It’s ok, I know I’m your favourite. See that’s a joke between my two sisters, my brother and I. They always call themselves mum’s favourite – It’s ok, cause I’m dad’s.

Here’s a fun fact – not many people know this but when he is really angry his eyes turn yellow. Like a freaky daemonic yellow you see on Supernatural.

Dad and I at The last Race Meet in Ingham before my accident…

Until my accident I was dad’s shadow – “I’m going to do farm work.” “Riteo, I’m coming.” I’d yell at mum through the house “mum, I’m going farming with dad.” Over the years we have become professional singers, but… Only in the harvester. Every Morning by Sugar Ray, Copperhead Road by Steve Earle, any song by The Eagles and pretty much every Dixie Chicks and Pink songs, were just some of tunes we would bust out to. After Zio Jon passed, Drops of Jupiter by Train and Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd became some of the most popular – As they were Zio’s favourites.

People could say that the perfect father does not exist, I actually do not know if that is true, but what I surely know is that my father is perfect for me. Dad has always been able to keep me level headed – he can always, always calm ‘the angry bird’ – as I put it. BECAUSE he says it how it is!

I consider myself so blessed because I can’t think of a way I could improve upon my relationship with my father, except for perhaps by spending more time with each other. I have always been close with my Dad, and as each year I grow I find that I am becoming more and more like him, which makes me happy. Dad and I are still close, but life gets busy… especially when the sugar cane crushing season starts. It’s now too hard for me to take both the boys out to where dad is cutting and go for a ride in the harvester and after he finishes he’s too tired to come in and visit. I get it… I didn’t say I like it… But I get it.

BUT – The first thing I do when mum’s free is drop my Harry off and take Jack for a ride with dad. He loves anything farming, especially with Nonno.

My father has taught me to have strong moral values, personal responsibility, honesty and trust. He has shown me how to be compassionate and to be a respectful person in life. He taught me the value of education, and how to make good decisions in life. I’m not saying I make good decisions in life but dad did teach me about them haha. While he showed me how to have fun and to laugh, he also has taught me the meaning of hard work, and the meaning of love. He did this by being a nurturing father, coach, along with being a loving parent.

My father has always been there to share with me moments of joy and times of hardship. He has generously given me his personal time, so that I may grow up to face this challenging world full of courage, hope and faith. My father is not perfect, and like every human, he has his faults, struggles and weaknesses. He taught me, however, how to face these problems and challenges with a positive attitude and a strong will. I remember when I swamped his six wheeler in Christie’s Creek – All dad cared about is if everyone was OK, he stripped the six wheeler to let it dry out, he measured a meter of water that went through the vehicle but thanked me for killing the ants nest that had been in there for ages. This example and all the other memories I have shared with my father will be everlasting and have a positive influence on my life.

Our family is unified, we work together nurturing our love to keep it positive and in full force against any opposing force that would tear down our family unit. We are a very close family woven together by difficult times, learning from our experiences and pursuing peace and harmony.

I believe I need to keep forgiveness strong, peace active, love appropriated and strength exercised. I pray to god to give my father the will to pull through any rough times he faces and be bless him for his love, strength and wisdom. My dad has to be the most humble man in the world – I have so much respect for him.

Congratulations again dad on operating a harvester for 40 years. We are all super proud of you and wish you all the best for the future.

Love,

Number 1 Xx

Dad and I at the 2014 Race Meet…
Something I started before my accident – dinner and drinks in front of a fire…
Always with dad…
I planned dad a little gathering for his birthday 2015…
Dad and I on my wedding day 2018…
Dad and I at Ben & Jess Barbi’s engagement 2018…

Aquo Xx

My son – the farmer…

Farming has been apart of Jack’s life since he was born. Both myself & his father, as well as most of his grandparents and some of his great grandparents were also born into the farm life in the Hinchinbrook Shire – Being Townsville Road just past Andy’s Road House (BEST Hamburgers ever!), the Aquilini farm then out Warren’s Hill, Blackrock the Irvin farms. So yeah it really does run in our blood. I believe that’s why I personally, have an enormously large passion for the sugar industry in the Hinchinbrook Shire.

This may be the reason why since a baby he would sit in front of the TV and watch harvesting videos on YouTube and if you were to turn it off – God help you! Whenever we have gone out to mum and dad’s if dad is mowing Jack HAS to go mowing to. Dad still has the little 90 quad bike that he bought my sister and I when I was five years old. It has never been rebuilt and it still has the original tires on it – Jack just thinks it’s the best thing. There is no way I would ever let him ride it himself after everything that’s happened, but I have full trust in my sister and my brother, even though my sister is wayyy too overconfident at times, she’s always safe with Jack.

Jack can tell you what every switch and button does in dad’s harvester (John Deere 3520), he watches everything! He watches where dad’s hands are positioned on the sticks (and sometimes when nobody is looking the harvester mysteriously moves) and he makes sure the elevator flap is positioned correctly. I have no doubt in my mind he could do a full day in the harvester with Nonno. He loves it!

During the sugar cane crushing season, my boys go wild! All I hear is Harvester, Train, Haulout, Train, Bins, Units, Mill, sometimes it drives me insane… BUT I love it! This season when Andrew is in one of the Greaves, I take both the boys for a ride and they both don’t want to leave. It’s pretty cool how we can fit all four of us in there – AND there’s still room.

My dad has had Case Maxi-hauls since the early 2000’s and I’ve always thought they are the ducks nuts, they go faster however there is no way you could fit two adults, a toddler and a baby as well as all the crap you have cart along. AND THERE GREEN! Jack says “Greaves – not a Deere” Deere being for John Deere., it is possibly the cutest thing ever!

Harry is only six months old, but because his brother is, he will probably be sugar industry mad also. I’m unsure what the future holds for Andrew and myself, but he has always just wanted to be a farmer – so I guess that makes me a farmer’s wife.

Aquo Xx

How sugar cane grows and how much fun growing up on a cane farm is…

Video by Farming Media – YouTube

In our house – our big boy when he turned one would carry on until we turned harvesting videos on and he would sit on one of his tractors or his harvester and would not move! Probably the reason why he drove nonno’s harvester last season. Dad was playing around with his GPS – next minute the harvester started moving. It was hilarious! Our German Au Pairs were amazed how he could tell them exactly what was happening and what everything is.

Sugarcane has been my life – since the day I popped out. Essentially sugar cane is the main industry that fuels our town. I’ve recently been researching the production process and things like that… I’ve got an idea, but I can’t explain it – so I teach myself, the internet is the most powerful tool in the world you just need to know what you’re looking for.

sugarcane is a tall tropical perennial grass that grows to between 2-4m high. It’s used to make heaps of different processed foods, drinks and things like molasses and golden syrup. The biofuel ethanol can also be produced from sugarcane which can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form but is usually blended with gasoline to improve vehicle emissions.

Sugar cane has heaps of nicknames like sugar bush, sticks, there are so many different things we call it. Sugar cane needs 1.5 m of rainfall each year if not more or access to irrigation to survive. Sugar is made in the leaves of the sugarcane plant through a natural process called photosynthesis. Photosynthesis occurs when a plant, using energy from the sun, transforms carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H20) into oxygen (02) and glucose (sugar).

The plant absorbs water through its roots and oxygen from the air through the pores in its leaves. Sugar is created when this process is combined with the help of a substance called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is green and gives plants their colour. It allows plants to absorb the sun’s energy more readily. In the same way that animals store fat, the sugarcane plant stores energy that is doesn’t need. This extra energy is sugar and it is stored as sweet juice in the plants’ stalks.

When ripe, sugarcane stalks are harvested (the fun part!) and taken to a sugar mill and converted into raw sugar. In the Herbert River district we have two sugar mills – Victoria and Macknade Mill. Victoria mill produced 3330 million tonnes of sugar in 2007 being the mill that produced the largest amount of sugar in Queensland.

In Australia, sugarcane can be seen growing along 2,100 kilometers of coastline between Mossman in far north Queensland and Grafton in northern New South Wales. Because of their proximity, many cane growing families spend their weekends outdoors riding motor bikes/quads and fishing. Cane growers go out of their way to manage the land so it is still in excellent condition for their children and grandchildren to enjoy for many generations to come.

I miss the days were we would burn cane in the Herbert. Black snow (ash) everywhere! I still remember the smell… I wouldn’t let mum wash my shirt for a week after it… #Farm kid. There is nothing better than growing up on a farm! I remember finishing my homework so quick so I could go mowing, ride the quad bikes/motorbikes or go and chat to dad in the shed. I remember my old headland bomb – cheers uncle Micky! My cousins and siblings helped me paint it – I strolled off to the shed – noone there, it’s all good, a drum of John Deere green paint, i’ll take that! We painted it with rollers and ended up banging it up pretty bad.

I can’t remember if I got away with murder or I just didn’t listen… You know – a regular teenager! I made friends with the kids that lived out my way and we used to run amuck. I remember one had a go kart OMG – so. much. FUN. Dad still has the same quad that we have had since 1997 – It’s never been rebuilt and it still has the original tires. I don’t know how it’s still alive – we flogged that thing… Good ole Honda.

Here are some of my favourite photos:-

My nonno (Jack Aquilini) back in the day with a python he killed – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
My nonno – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
My Nonno & Dad down in the Burdekin – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
Dad & Douggie – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
Cane fire south of Ingham – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
When the Maxis first came on the scene – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
When the Maxihauls were new and dad still had the ’97’ Cameco ‘Pac man 2’ – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
The transporter ‘Fat Boy’ in action – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
One of the days I went hauling back in 2012 – Photo by Amy Aquilini
Dad ‘Big Al’ – Photo by Amy Aquilini
During my recovery, this is where I loved to be – with my daddy! – Photo by Amy Aquilini
Sunrise at our farm – Photo by Amy Aquilini
My sister-in-law Katy Irvin and I at the field day – Photo by Allen Aquilini
John, Andrew & Jack and Allen & Amy Aquilini, Irvin – Photo by Amy Aquilini
The day my boy drove the harvester – Photo by Amy Aquilini
Our wedding day – Photo by Rachelle Angela
It’s in our blood – Photo by Andrew Irvin
My big boy and I – Photo by Amy Aquilini

Aquo Xx