Ipswich Women Share Their Success Stories

It is currently Queensland Women’s Week, and will be International Women’s Day on Thursday March 8. There is a strong call to Motivate whole communities to progress gender parity.


The Friends of Ipswich Libraries are hosting lunch in the library on Friday March 9. Ipswich First caught up with the two Ipswich women who will share their unique journey.


Karalee’s Sonia Bitmead (pictured above) is a second generation flower farmer, wife to Jeremmy and mother to two children Molly, 9, and Eli, 7.

“Our farm, Currey Flowers, was started by my parents Don and Lynda Currey 41 years ago,” she said.

They supply florists and wholesalers locally and up and down the coast of Queensland.

There are 60 000 rose bushes and 13 000 gerberas. They are hydroponically grown and is a 7 day a week operation.

An average day for Mrs Bitmead involves picking flowers about half an hour after sunrise and getting them into the packing shed.

Getting the kids bundled off to school and spending the rest of her work day taking and processing orders, looking after the maintenance of the flowers.

“We keep the roses for four to five years and the gerberas for about two years. Trends change and the quality of the flowers decrease over time.,” she said.

“We donate them to the Salvation Army who take them and sell them.”

The constant quest to grow the perfect flower keeps Sonia and her team on their toes.

“We are really well known for our quality and that is our reputation,” she said.

“People think growing flowers must be very romantic and you spend your days prancing around the fields 60s style, but it is a lot of work. They don’t stop flowering for holidays.

“Because the business is 365 days a year it is always a constant juggle. As a mother I have massive mother’s guilt. I’m lucky as my mum watches the kids when I can’t.

“You are always juggling sport, school and work. If everything is good at home work is falling behind. If you are on top of your work the kids are falling behind.

“That constant guilt, I have no answers. But I have really great kids so I must be doing something right.”

Despite the busy lifestyle Mrs Bitmead wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I was born on this farm. When I went to school I was not going to work on the farm. But it’s in my blood,” she said.

“I am really passionate about it, I really enjoy it.”

Karrabin’s Lori Patrick published a memoir titled ‘The Publican’s Wife – From Milkmaid to Barmaid’.

Mrs Patrick started writing down some memories of her life after her two grandkids used to often ask her ‘tell me about the old days grandma’.

“So I thought, the old days disappear if somebody doesn’t make a record of them,” she said.

“I’ve been around a bit so I thought I’d put it down on paper.”

Mrs Patrick started out working on her parent’s dairy farm. She then worked as a typist for the Queensland Times where she met her husband Barrie.

“We then decided to head west to make our fortune,” she said.

“I was a governess and he was a ringer.

“Barrie worked as a stock inspector for a long time and we were at Julia Creek at the time a little pub in Kynuna came up for sale so we bought it.

“The Blue Heeler Hotel was home for the next 14 years.”

It became a major tourist attraction and their homegrown entertainment included Barrie holding up tourist coaches with a shotgun and whip cracking a cigarette our of Lori’s mouth.

After one of their four children was killed by a drunk driver then moved back to Ipswich.

“Barrie died in 2002. These days I live on one corner of my daughters property,” she said.

“I still travel a lot, I like to write and the 60 and Better Choir keeps me busy.

“I think woman can do almost about anything if they try. Sometimes we need a little nudge to get us out of our comfort zone.

“When I was a young person all I aspired to was getting married and buying a house. I was earning 3 pounds a week and it just seemed impossible. We didn’t make a fortune but we didn’t go broke and everyone was happy. I’m still having fun.

“They say life begins at 40, but for me I think it began at 80, when my book published.

“I’ve had such an interesting time since then travelling around talking about the book, it’s been a wonderful way to fill in my old age,” she said.

Friends of Ipswich Libraries 

Lunch in the Library: International Women’s Day

WHEN: Friday March 9. 12noon – 2pm
WHERE: Ipswich Central Library, 40 South Street, Ipswich
COST: $15pp including a light lunch

Bookings and payment are essential. Please phone 3810 6815 or visit any Library branch to book.

Read about inspirational women


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