Frances Besterman | There's no place like home
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There's no place like home

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Frances Besterman

 

When it comes to raising a young family, for Ayr’s Frances Besterman the rich cultural heritage of Europe proved no match compared to a traditional Aussie farm childhood.

Frances, a Rabobank rural manager, returned to Australia just over a year ago after 15 years living in Sweden, an unlikely return home inspired by the opportunity to provide her children with the same unique rural upbringing she so enjoyed. 

A born-and-bred Ayr girl, Frances left for Sweden on a Rotary exchange after leaving school – a fateful decision from which she thrived – and met her future husband. 

“I was born in Ayr and lived there until I was 13 years old with my five brothers and sisters before my family relocated to a cattle property on the Atherton Tablelands in the year 2000.

After completing High School I was ready for a change so embraced the opportunity to travel to Sweden. I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but it wasn’t long before I met my Swedish husband and completed an economics degree over there we now have two children, so everything worked out pretty well,” Frances smiles. 

Yet sometimes it takes a journey around the globe to realise there’s no place like home. 

“If you’d asked me five years ago whether I imagined returning to Ayr to live I would have laughed, but with our children now six and eight, coupled with the uncertainly of Covid over recent years, we were prompted to really reassess our priorities.

“As our children got older I really started to crave that rural Australian lifestyle for them, the family ties, the sense of community, appreciation for food and agriculture and the outdoor focus I cherished growing up.”

Having lived in Europe during Covid’s worst upheaval, Frances said returning to Australia on New Year’s Eve 2020 was an enormous relief, and the family automatically felt comfort nestled amongst the familiarity of her childhood community. 

“It’s so wonderful being close to family again, and I still recognise so many faces - in Ayr everyone really does know everyone, which underpins the unique and supportive community spirit found across most rural and regional Australian towns, it’s very special.”

Having worked in corporate banking in Sweden, Frances took a role with Rabobank in Townsville before transferring to the Ayr branch – the opportunity to combine her passion for banking and agriculture, particularly in her home town, was a genuine trifecta.

“It’s so inspiring working with the North Queensland team, we have a really close knit staff always ready to support one another, and it’s a team culture that I really enjoy working within.

With her parents still running a beef operation on the Atherton Tableland, Frances said she was enjoying the opportunity to get back to her agricultural roots, whilst embracing the challenge of learning all things sugar cane production – a sector she wasn’t as familiar with. 

I have a renewed appreciation for our local farmers and the quality and diversity of commodities produced across a relatively small region, I’m so proud to be working with the clients that I do in one of Australia’s top food bowls.”

And after years of living in Europe, Frances said she no longer takes the ability to source fresh, local produce year round for granted. 

“The European climate made it very difficult to grow much locally in Sweden other than greens, and certainly I can taste the difference in produce now that I’m back in Australia.”

“Fresh fruit has never tasted so good!

With an active family that enjoys an outdoor lifestyle, she said the move home had been embraced, with the children cherishing trips to their grandparents farm, family hikes, mountain bike riding and swimming.

“Of course there are elements of Sweden that we miss, but seeing the kids running around outside with room to play, not having to worry about snow or slush, makes me very happy, and I know we’ve made the right decision.”

Frances Besterman

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