A PILOT, a bank manager, a corporate manager, now the mayor, a mother-of-two, wife, and Julia Creek’s new (and only) florist.
McKinlay shire mayor, Belinda Murphy has been trading her corporate shoes and suit for hessian and flowers after launching her own floristry business, Flinders & Mitchell.
Sitting at home on her verandah, freshly home from meetings in town and still wearing her heels, Cr Murphy relaxes while the family’s new puppy plays around her feet, and smiles contentedly as she talks about her newest passion.
But all around her are the signs drought – the Murphy family’s small property is dry like most of the region, and the only flowers within sight are growing in the small house garden. Currently Cr Murphy is buying her flowers from a wholesaler in Townsville, but she said her future dreams include growing her own – right there in Julia Creek.
“Long term, we have a lot of land and I’d love to explore the concept of a flower farm here,” she said.
“Obviously we have plenty of challenges with the heat, the grasshoppers, the soil types here.”
After growing up in Tasmania on a small 120 hectare property but spending plenty of time on her grandparents’ sheep property on Flinders Island, a young Belinda had big dreams of becoming a pilot – something her dad supported, despite the costs.
Dreams to work for a commercial airline quickly changed when she made the big move to Queensland – to fly a six seater for Stanbroke at Strathmore Station in far north Queensland.
While working for the Macdonald family at MDH she met her husband – and it was then that her life on the land and in rural Queensland became a certainty.
After careers in banking and corporate management she had her first child, Madeline, and moved into consultancy before McKinlay’s previous mayor, Paul Woodhouse, announced he would not be running again in 2012.
It was then that Belinda Murphy became the mayor of the region. Cr Murphy said her business was born rapidly after she was put in charge of the luncheon at last year’s Dirt and Dust festival.
“I knew what I wanted it to look like, but I was looking at budgets and the cost of getting things from Townsville, and I rang (husband) Wayne and said ‘I’m going to register Flinders and Mitchell as a flower business’,” she laughed.
At the moment Flinders & Mitchell may be a side business, but Cr Murphy said she doesn’t expect it to stay that way long term. “I love being mayor, I truly do even though it is challenging, but like everything it has an expiry date,” she said.