Everyone’s heard the saying, ‘like watching grass grow’, but in the Scenic Rim the turf industry is a dynamic and fast-growing business to be in.
The turf industry in the Scenic Rim accounts for most of the 6733 acres (2725 ha) produced annually in Queensland, keeps hundreds of people in a job and produces more than 7 million square metres of turf per year.
It’s full of local success stories – of family farm businesses growing and thriving for generations to come, of constant innovation, of bolstering the local economy and of reputations built on strong customer service.
Shining on the national stage
When you get the contract to provide 1.2 million square metres of turf for an international airport, you know you’re doing something right.
That is certainly the case for Tinamba Turf, the Scenic Rim-based company at the tail-end of its biggest project to date – the 18-month Brisbane Airport project.
The fifth-generation family company, with General Manager Hugo Struss and owner Stephen Struss at the helm, is arguably the largest turf supplier in Australia.
Tinamba Turf produces more than 2 million square metres of quality turf each year and has about 1000 acres under irrigation, primarily at its Gleneagle farm, with about 250 acres on another site at Chambers Flat.
The company employs more than 30 full time staff and 15 casual staff and contracts a further 35 labourers on a daily basis to lay the product all over south-east Queensland.
Hugo Struss, who recently accepted the 2019 Scenic Rim Business of the Year and Excellence in Transport, Logistics, Manufacturing and Mining awards on behalf of the company, said Tinamba Turf was dedicated to sharing its success on home soil.
“We’re by far the largest turf supplier in the country, and the flow-on effects of our business to the other suppliers in town is significant,” he said.
“The list of companies we use in the Scenic Rim is long, and we deal on a daily basis with the likes of ACS Engineers, Dover and Sons, Lahey and Walker, Tyres Brakes Mechanical Beaudesert and Chesterfield Australia.”
Exclusively supplying Bunnings for decades
If you’ve ever bought turf from Bunnings, the chances are it came from the Scenic Rim.
Allenview-based company Jimboomba Turf started supplying Bunnings in the 1990s and now exclusively supplies Bunnings from Gympie in the north to Dalby and Warwick in the west, Ballina in the south and everywhere in between.
Managing Director Lynn Davidson has been at the helm since his family – originally sheep and cattle farmers from Longreach – purchased the business in 1981, and he employs 43 full time and casual staff.
Jimboomba Turf is not by any means the biggest turf farm in the Scenic Rim – it covers 350 acres at Allenview and has a sales centre outside the region at Acacia Ridge – but its reach is strong.
The company outputs 1.2 million square metres of turf each year for Bunnings as well as for residential, commercial, sporting and mining clients and recently laid 50,000 square metres of Sir Grange Zoysia at Sydney’s famed Killara Golf Club.
And if you ever visit Towri Sheep Cheeses – the boutique sheep cheesery run by Lynn’s wife Carolyn and daughter Dallas just down the road from Jimboomba Turf – you’ll see some of the best-kept lawn on a working farm.
Standing out from the rest
Anyone driving along Mundoolun Connection Road cannot miss Walter the Buffalo standing tall beside vast paddocks of premium quality turf.
Walter is a clever reference to the DNA Tested Sir Walter Buffalo Grass produced in the Scenic Rim by one of the nation’s leading turf producers, Australian Lawn Concepts.
Australian Lawn Concepts is led by two men originally from Central Queensland – Sandy Bauman, who farmed grain and cattle at Dingo west of Rockhampton, and experienced agricultural consultant and agronomist John Keleher.
Sandy and John employ 30 full-time staff as well as contractors, harvesting six days a week through the year and boasting a 24 hour turnaround during the peak summer period.
Their team produces just shy of 2 million square metres of quality turf every year with 500 acres under irrigation, mostly from farms across the Scenic Rim and from one farm on the Sunshine Coast.
They pride themselves on their swift and personal customer service, selling direct to home-owners from across south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales, sporting clubs, racecourses and large Council organisations.
Australian Lawn Concepts is arguably the nation’s largest supplier of Empire Zoysia lawn – marketed as ‘the dream lawn’ – and also produces countless varieties of Couch turf alongside its Sir Walter and Sapphire Buffalo varieties.
Sandy said the Scenic Rim was a great place to do business.
“You’ve got the proximity to the market, good climate, relatively good rainfall most of the time and the rate of housing development and population growth is a boost for the turf industry,” he said.
“And the great thing is we can give back – the turf industry as a whole in the Scenic Rim is a lot more valuable than people realise. We employ a lot of people, we buy 90 per cent of our goods and services out of Beaudesert and there’s a lot of money spent by turf farmers in the Scenic Rim.
“The great thing about farming in the Scenic Rim compared with farming in Central Queensland, too, is the proximity to everything. We’re 45km from the beach, 45km to Brisbane, in the foothills of Tamborine Mountain. Compared to being 100km from a pub, like I was, it’s a fantastic lifestyle it’s better than Dingo.”
Turf fit for PGA champions
Australian PGA Championship golfers know how good Allenview Turf is.
That’s because RACV Royal Pines, the venue which hosts the Australian PGA Championship, used 400,000 square metres of premium Allenview Turf when they recently redesigned their championship course.
The major two-year Royal Pines revamp project was a significant project for Allenview Turf, which produces about 1.5 to 2 million square metres of turf per year from 300 acres across two sites at Allenview.
Allenview Turf prides itself on its environmentally conscious practices, like bringing its runoff back to its own dams, and on supporting the local economy by purchasing most of its goods and services in the Scenic Rim.
Operations Manger Justin King, who works closely with Allenview Turf owner Greg Lindors and director Bryce Lindors, said the company’s biggest strength was its team.
“We’ve got 11 staff, most of them full-time, and most of them have been in the industry for quite some time so they can provide really reliable customer support,” he said.
“We sell directly to the general public as well as to wholesalers and we do a lot for local Council projects in the Tweed, Gold Coast, Redlands, Moreton Bay and Scenic Rim, and strong customer support is a key part of our business.”
Small but mighty
With 80 acres under production across two sites at Tamborine and Rathdowney, All Turf Solutions is a small but mighty player in the turf scene.
The family business was formed in 2001 by Duncan and Anne Swinton, who invested in a 10 acre property at Tamborine after a lifetime of working in the sports turf industry.
Since then, All Turf Solutions has increased its area of turf production eight-fold and grown to a team of seven staff, including Duncan and Anne’s son, general manager Daniel, and daughter-in-law Sarajane.
They produce 200,000 square metres annually and provide personalised, direct service to residential and commercial customers across the Scenic Rim, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Toowoomba and northern New South Wales.
Beyond their core business they are branching out to think outside the box through their ‘Paw-ta-potty’ product, which is home-delivered real grass pet toilets in mess-resistance cartons.
Sarajane, who came up with the Paw-ta-potty idea, said it was important to evolve, adapt and remain engaged with the customer to stay relevant in the turf business.
“Backyards are shrinking and there’s more and more high-density housing, and this is just a case of repackaging and rebranding what we already do,” she said.