Technology through generations – Ballentine Farms near Hopetoun

Pic of Councillor Helen Ballentine with an ipad

I am a fifth generation Australian. My ancestors came to Australia by ship, landing in Melbourne and Geelong and then quickly setting out for inland Victoria to chase the gold trail or work on pastoral stations. I am the last of a huge family network that is still farming in the Wimmera Mallee. On the farm, my main role is book keeping; off the farm, I am a Councillor for the Yarriambiack Shire. Both these roles involve using digital technology, and I am never far from my computer, iPad or iPhone.

When I first started book keeping for the farm, we were still using written records. When we eventually moved to the computer, I learned how to use Quicken and BankLink, as well as other programs that help with farm records and business records in general. Since 2000 I have found the introduction of the quarterly BAS onerous. Although it isn’t hard, it comes around so quickly and is another responsibility that makes me feel that I am constantly on duty. I am currently considering online accounting software, such as Xero, to see if this makes the process easier.

As a Shire Councillor I am involved in tourism promotion, so I use Facebook daily and am starting to consider Instagram. On Messenger I am linked to a couple of hundred people in the region, some of whom I chat with daily. It helps me to stay aware of what is happening across the Shire, but it also provides a great feeling of security.

My other hobby is tracking my ancestry online and saving all my photographs, and one day I will put together some stories for future generations. Sometimes I think of my great grandmother who lived at Tempy, in isolation, and travelled hours in the horse and jig to get into Ouyen to do the shopping, writing out cheques for payment (pictured). My grandchildren, on the other hand, use FaceTime and will be emailing before you know it. Technology has changed so much across the generations, but I enjoy learning new skills and reaping the benefits. I’m looking forward to upskilling even further in 2018.

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