Willera Merinos is a family operated business which has been operating in the Serpentine District, still running the original holding Willera for 5 generations since 1900. The business is run primarily by Karl and Will Hooke with assistance from their father, Robert.
Robert & Cathie Hooke
Robert and Cathie came back to “Willera” after Cath completed nursing at The Royal Childrens, and Robert completed his Diploma of Agriculture. After a year working on a cattle property at Yea, then a year at “Old Cobram” Deniliquin, they came home to work with Robert's Dad, and brother Bill joined the farm a few years later. They have six children and many experiences of drought and floods over the last 45 years.
Here we must acknowledge Robert's parents, John and Norma, they gave us a go right from the start, gave us the freedom to learn, while always being there to learn from. They had the foresight to plan for the future, and prioritise that their boys and their families would be backed to continue to build a successful business.
We now farm with 2 sons, Karl and Will, and their families. And son-in-law Simon. Robert says, “ We love the land, caring for it and seeing how it responds. I have a deep commitment to the sheep, and have enjoyed the road we’ve travelled to get to where we are. It gives us great joy to have the boys and their families now leading and running the business into the future.
For us, good health, mental and physical, happiness, hard work and regular time off are the priority. The weather and global warming are definitely our main challenges now. Merinos continue to reward us, and continue to be a steady, positive presence in the budget.
Will & Kia Hooke
Will attended Marcus Oldham College where he obtained his Diploma in Agriculture. He then returned to the farm to live and work. He met Kia and they were married in 2013, they now have 3 children, Piper, 6, Jonty, 4, and Hagen, 2. Kia completed a Bachelor of Health Science at Swinburne University and works as an Environmental Health Officer.
Karl & Kate Hooke
Karl completed a Bachelor of Business at VUT and after working in the corporate world in Melbourne, returned to the farm in 2005 with his wife, Kate. Kate completed a Bachelor of Commerce at Deakin University and now works for an Environmental Services Company in Bendigo. They have 3 children, Jacob, 15, Sienna, 13, and Ethan 12.
Simon & Arishika Coutts
Simon completed a Bachelor of Farm Management at the University of Sydney (Orange). After working and managing both corporate and family run stud and commercial sheep properties in the Riverina, he returned to Victoria and met Arishika (Hooke) and has since joined the team at Willera Merinos. Arishika studied Events Management at Latrobe University and is currently working in retail in Bendigo. They welcomed Jemima into the world in January 2018, a sister for Georgia, 13.
Cameron (Ronny) & Sarah Krahe
Ronny is a qualified mechanic and began working for Willera in 2011. He completed an Agronomy course at Longerenong College and now looks after the chemical program and takes on a major role with cropping. He is pictured here with wife, Sarah, and son, Lewis. Sarah is a teacher at the local P-12 College.
Tienus & Shirley DeJong
Tienus and Shirley are the farm managers for "Wargam Station" at Wargam, Boorooban NSW and started with Willera in 2010. They have extensive knowledge and backgrounds in farm management in the Riverina District. Their attention to detail with repairs and maintenance and farm improvements are second to none, as is Shirley's cooking!
Karen started with Willera in January 2019 and is the manager of the Kangertong property. Karen comes to Willera with an extensive background in sheep enterprises. Karen brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the rural enterprise in the south west of Victoria. Karen and her partner Karen live on the property along with their array of pets and passion for improvement.
Mitch joined the Willera team at Serpentine in October 2021, Mitch plays a major role in the day to day management of the commercial and stud flocks.
He completed a cert 3 in Ag whilst studying year 12, and then went on to work as a Livestock Agent for Elders at Corowa and then onto their Bendigo branch, Mitch's background is stud sheep at his hometown of Jerilderie. Mitch's partner Lily is a childcare educator in Bendigo and is currently completing a Diploma in Early Childcare, next year she plans to study a Bachelor in Primary Education.