That's a knife: Warwick woman's tale of survival
OUR CITY, OUR FUTURE - Janet Walker
IN HER shop on Grafton St, Janet Walker does a pretty mean Paul Hogan impersonation.
Mrs Walker sits surrounded by knives, large and small, remnants of stock left from her business venture with husband James.
"The business is called Now That's A Knife," she said.
"Paul Hogan never registered the name, so we did."
Born in Yass, Mrs Walker spent her childhood there before marrying James at 21 and moving to Mudgee.
From there, it was on to a cotton farm at Warren.
"This is when things started to get interesting," Mrs Walker said.
"James' brothers convinced their father to borrow $3million against all their properties to move into irrigation licensing.
"James was completely against the idea so we left and borrowed some money and bought our own place at Mungindi."
Not long after this, Mr Walker's family lost everything.
"They went completely bust," Mrs Walker said.
"They had bought a heap of properties at inflated prices with the borrowed millions in the hope of putting water licences on them. It didn't work and they couldn't sell the properties."
In an effort to recoup their money, the banks came after Mr and Mrs Walker as well.
"They took our house and land in 1992," she said.
"But they didn't take our sheep. So we took off droving for two-and-a-half years (with) 7500 sheep between the two of us."
Without a destination, they set off, often getting into trouble with rangers as they travelled around across country down to Nyngan in central New South Wales.
From there it was back up to Goondiwindi, across to Mungindi before finally stopping at Narrabri.
"When we left, sheep prices weren't that good, so we walked until they were," she said.
"We sold the sheep at Narrabri and bought a house in Hendon."
The plan was then to retire but Mr Walker didn't take to retirement and decided to start a knife business. The couple took their business on the road, travelling to expos and field days. "Every year we went to 28 field days across four states," Mrs Walker said.
"That was a great life, we got to see so much of the country."
Then last year, only two days after returning from Maitland, James Walker had a stroke and shortly after moved to live at Akooramak.
"So I was left with a whole heap of stock," Mrs Walker said.
"I was coming to Warwick every day to see James so I decided to open a shop in Grafton St to get rid of what we had left."
Mrs Walker said she saw a bright future for Warwick.
"There's a lot of development happening here, but I think a lot of it goes unseen.
"The development of Wellcamp Airport and the inland rail will only help Warwick grow into the future."