From the age of 10, Warren Zunker has spent much of his time in sugarcane fields, and now the well-respected farmer is “hanging up the boots”.
He’s spent about 55 years as a sugarcane farmer, starting out on his family’s Windermere Road property on the Hummock.
“It was a dry farm, so dad still had to work and we used to come home and help him after school and do some ploughing … until dark,” Warren said.
Now 65, he was just 10-years-old when he started helping out around the farm.
“When I could drive a tractor by myself,” Warren clarified.
“They were only just small 50-60 horsepower tractors, just single-row stuff.
“Dad used to just set us up and we’d keep ploughing.
“Just to get out of homework probably,” he added with a laugh.
But farming quickly became a job that he loved and when his dad retired, he took over the farm with his brothers.
“Every day was different,” he said.
“Farming is a life where you just sort of have got no set plan, but you just do what you’ve got to do.”
In about 2000 they sold the family farm and Warren started managing sugarcane farms for well-known identities including Allan Toft and Rob Rehbein.
In 2013 he took on a role with Greensill Farming Group’s sugarcane team where he worked until his retirement last week.
Executive Director Peter Greensill said it was a pleasure to have worked with Warren.
“His attention to detail and practical, old-fashioned base principles of getting the fundamentals right is why Warren has been a great asset across our business,” Peter said.
“He has a wide-range set of skills and he always ensures everything is held at a high standard.”
Outside of farming Warren was also actively involved in the community.
Warren received his bronze medallion from Bundaberg Surf Lifesaving Club in 1971 at age 15 before going on to join the Elliott Heads Surf Lifesaving Club.
More than 50 years of farming 11-12 hours each day took its toll on Warren and he said he was very much looking forward to retirement.
“It’s good to definitely hang up the boots and spend a bit of time with the grandkids.”
Pending knee replacement surgery Warren said he also hopes to be able to get back into surf lifesaving.
“I might have a bit of a break, then I might go back competing in a couple of years just in the masters.”
At the conclusion of his successful career Warren said he had to thank his wife Janell “for putting up with me for 42 years”.