Chris loves the rural life. He enjoys the career opportunities and revels in the lifestyle of country Victoria. At 27, Chris is helping manage one of the largest trout fish producers in Australia.
A trout farm called home
As a boy, Chris Mullins never dreamed he would make a living and create a lifestyle as an Operations Manager in Alexandra distributing 800 tonnes of fresh, smoked or frozen rainbow trout fish across the country and the world each year.
Chris was ready to get to work at the end of Year 11 and a careers teacher at high school suggested he try working at Goulburn River Trout Pty Ltd. Initially, the lifestyle is what drew Chris to this line of work.
'The city is too busy for me. I've always been a country boy as I've got everything right here. I do a lot of motorbike riding and shooting so five minutes from work and I'm in my element. Mount Buller is just over an hour up the road and everything is on my door step,' said Chris Mullins.
Chris developed his skills and experience working on a cropping farm and traveling overseas before returning to Goulburn River Trout where he was offered an assistant manager position before being offered his current Operations Manager role. At 27, Chris is now driven to help grow the business. He manages seven staff and is charged with ensuring that when the processing manager makes an order for a certain amount of fish, he and his team deliver. He prides himself on always exceeding past targets and meeting key performance indicators.
'I like my job as I've got the freedom to organise my day, to pick and choose what we're going to do, and it's quite satisfying motivating a team where each person catches 120–150 tonnes of fish per person each year,' said Chris Mullins.
Chris appreciates that every workday is different, whether it's selecting 350 male fish for breeding, shipping fish to other ponds or learning new technology, he revels in the diversity of the work. Because trout farming involves after hours observations, Chris also lives on the property and oversees the fish after sunset. He particularly likes the peace and quiet of the landscape and he hopes to raise a family on the land one day.
'I enjoy what I do and I'd encourage anyone considering working in agriculture and a life on the land to give it a go. The people I work with all get on really well and nobody is on your back, and you're given the freedom to get the job done,' said Chris Mullins.
'People don't often realise where food comes from and have no idea what goes into it. There is so much to it and I'm always learning as technology, population growth and climate change have created many changes to agriculture, which keeps the work interesting. We're always going to need food, so there is always going to be work and a future in agriculture.'
About Goulburn River Trout
Goulburn River Trout is based near Alexandra in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range in North East Victoria, Australia. The company has two farming sites and a centralised processing plant. The two trout farms are approximately six kilometres apart on the Goulburn River, and approximately 20 kilometres downstream from Lake Eildon. The business delivers fresh product within 24 hours of harvest to the major Australian markets and is the largest freshwater trout producer in Australia.
Goulburn River Trout is a family business that focuses on quality products, looking after its environmental responsibilities and servicing its many loyal Australian and international customers. Chris attributes part of his success to the coaching from manager, Ed Meggitt, who Chris says has taught him everything he knows over the years.
Chris has worked closely with the family through the droughts and has seen what it takes to overcome the elements against of the land. For this reason, he doesn't aspire to run his own agriculture business and instead appreciates his role on the farm.
For further information, visit Goulburn River Trout Pty Ltd.
Learn more about Victoria's Aquaculture industry
Skills and experience
Chris Mullins grew up in Alexandra and after leaving school he worked at Goulburn River Trout for two years. He then travelled the world and visited Europe, Mexico and the United States before working on a large cropping farm that also ran 20,000 sheep.
While Chris is also pleased to have some formal training behind him and studied a Certificate Two in Inland Agriculture at TAFE over 12 months, he believes there is nothing like hands on experience.
Chris values his past work experiences as spending time on a different type of farm and food production system helped give him fresh perspective.
'Sheep farming is also pretty hands on and it's similar in that it's a twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week job. I enjoy the hands on work. With the drought and the way the climate is changing, we have to get a lot smarter about the way we do things and it's challenging which is good,' said Chris Mullins.
In more recent years, the trout farming operations have expanded. Oxygen generators have been set up on both farms and a market has been established for Goulburn River Trout's much sought after King Trout, which is a selected trout grown out to a minimum of two kilograms.