2023 Shine Awards Winners | Merino Country

2023 Shine Awards Winners

The Weekly Times

2023 Shine Awards winners announced

by Camille SmithMadeleine StuchberyConor FowlerFiona Sheean and Tallis Miles The Weekly Times

A chef from Central West NSW who has bounced back from tragedy to build a thriving Australian foods brand is the overall winner of the 2023 Shine Awards. 

Now in its seventh year, The Weekly Times Shine Awards, supported by Harvey Norman, celebrates the achievements and contributions of women across regional and rural Australia.


Nominees’ stories have appeared in The Weekly Times and The Australian throughout 2023, with a dedicated campaign that put rural women in the spotlight for the past 14 weeks.

From a field of 124 nominees, 19 finalists were announced last week.


Today, winners are revealed in six categories: Belief, Courage, Dedication, Grace, Passion and Spirit. And a special Youth Award is presented to one nominee under the age of 30 who shows great potential in her field or endeavour.

From those category winners, Sharon Winsor, founder of Indigiearth, was chosen as the 2023 Shine Awards overall winner.


Sharon Winsor, Indigiearth founder, Mudgee, NSW

When disaster destroys a landscape, nature has an ability to regenerate and grow back stronger than ever. Ngemba Weilwan woman Sharon Winsor knows this better than anyone.

Sharon Winsor’s brand works with Aboriginal-owned grower groups, nurseries and farms to source ingredients. Picture: Dean Marzolla
Sharon Winsor’s brand works with Aboriginal-owned grower groups, nurseries and farms to source ingredients. Picture: Dean Marzolla
The executive chef from Mudgee, in Central West NSW, is the personification of rising from the ashes to grow and succeed. Sharon is the founder of Indigiearth, an Aboriginal-owned and operated native food and hospitality brand.

An executive chef who passes on her Indigenous knowledge through native food masterclasses and pop-up dining experiences, Sharon is determined her business will create jobs and opportunities for Aboriginal communities.

Supplied by more than 20 grower and harvesting groups, Indigiearth supports eight new Indigenous-owned native food nurseries and farms. It is also the first Aboriginal-owned native food brand to be stocked in Woolworths.

This union of food and Country is what drives Sharon.

It’s also what has kept her going through some of the darkest moments of her life, including the loss of her firstborn child and being at the end of domestic violence.

“Growing up in the bush and thriving off Country are some of the greatest memories of my life,” Sharon says.

“Starting the business when I was living in Sydney, many years ago, was born from my passion for bush food … and excitement to want to share culture with the world.”

When her son was stillborn, Sharon fell into depression, and felt unable to continue her business. But by eventually picking up the threads of her work again, she connected to her culture as part of her healing, and went on to have two more children.

“This year alone has been a ride, but my greatest personal achievement yet is that I am still here,” Sharon says.

“We need to showcase more First Nations stories and achievements nationally for positive role models and stories that never seem to make mainstream news often enough. That there are many First Nations people who are in business and operate in a wide range of industries, in the hope that we can change some stereotypes.”

For her determination to elevate awareness about her culture and generate economic opportunities for Indigenous communities, Sharon Winsor is a worthy winner of the Grace award and the overall winner of the 2023 Shine Awards.

Meet the other category winners.


Josie Clarke, Ability Agriculture founder, Kempsey NSW

Ability Agriculture founder Josie Clarke. Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts
Ability Agriculture founder Josie Clarke. Picture: Darren Leigh Roberts 

Growing up on her family’s beef property near Kempsey, on NSW’s Mid North Coast, Josie saw her farming father’s life change dramatically when he was rendered paraplegic in a truck accident when she was just five years old.

Knowing how capable and independent her dad remained, and the difficulties they had in finding others with stories like his, Josie took it upon herself to elevate the profile of disabled people in the ag industry.

In early 2021, before starting a PhD course in crop genetics, she launched an online project that has since grown into a registered charity.

Josie’s Ability Agriculture platform is an online resource that is changing the narrative around disability in farming, connecting people with disabilities with work opportunities in primary production.

Her visionary approach to increasing inclusion in rural industries makes Josie Clarke the perfect winner of the 2023 Shine Award for Belief.


Lyndee Severin, cattle farmer and tourism operator, Curtin Springs Station, Northern Territory

Lyndee Severin and her husband, Ashley, on Curtin Springs Station at Petermann in the Northern Territory. Picture: Grenville Turner
Lyndee Severin and her husband, Ashley, on Curtin Springs Station at Petermann in the Northern Territory. Picture: Grenville Turner 

Living in one of the most unforgiving regions in Australia, Lyndee Severin is well versed in relying on her own ingenuity.

The seasoned cattle producer and her husband, Ashley, run a 400,000-hectare station on the lonely road between Alice Springs and Uluru. They face everything the elements throw at them – from fires and drought to the ups and downs of tourism – with a fierce determination to create their own solutions.

That way of thinking inspired Lyndee and her family to diversify into tourism and accommodation on Curtin Springs Station, where they offer their own homegrown beef to guests.

Lyndee has also used abundant native grasses on the station to make her own handmade paper, and now runs papermaking tours for tourists as well.

For facing challenges head-on and continually evolving in some of Australia’s harshest conditions, Lyndee Severin is a deserving winner of the 2023 Shine Award for Courage.


Kathy Duff, councillor and community champion, South Burnett, Queensland

South Burnett councillor Kathy Duff. Picture: Maggie O’Shannessy
South Burnett councillor Kathy Duff. Picture: Maggie O’Shannessy 

Kathy Duff’s passion and love for her South Burnett community is evident in everything she has contributed in her role as a councillor for the past 20 years.

The southeast Queensland farmer, who grew up on remote 6000-hectare DiDi cattle station as one of five children, has always been greatly involved in many aspects of South Burnett life.

“Because you’re so isolated (on the station), every chance you get, you go to a community event,” she says.

She has also been a strong advocate for mental health awareness and services in the bush.

Kathy took over the management of DiDi when her father, who she had cared for during his struggle with diabetes, died in 2019. Just a year earlier, her partner passed away from suicide. Kathy donated $28,000 of her inheritance to build a Men’s Shed in her hometown.

“I didn’t speak about it for a long time but I decided to talk about it because I think we need to get the word out and keep an eye out for each other,” she says.

Putting others before herself again, she also donated $66,000 to community groups to purchase seven run-down shops in the main street.

Kathy’s long-term commitment to her community and selfless contribution despite hardship makes her a deserving winner of the 2023 Shine Award for Dedication.


Claire Harrison, King of the Mountain organiser and Active Farmers instructor, Bridgewater on Loddon, Victoria

Active Farmers instructor Claire Harrison. Picture: Zoe Phillips
Active Farmers instructor Claire Harrison. Picture: Zoe Phillips 

Claire Harrison is passionate about giving her community reasons to come together and stay healthy.

In her hometown of Bridgewater on Loddon, the tireless mum of three has been a driving force behind resurrecting the historic King of the Mountain race at Wycheproof this year. She has also pulled off the Back to Bridgewater community event and runs Active Farmers fitness classes three times a week, all in the name of boosting wellbeing and physical activity.

“Health and wellbeing is my passion. I love helping other people find ways to be active,” she says.

Claire is also one of the figures behind Bridgewater’s Run for Resilience, which had more than 400 people taking part in May this year.

The event was founded in tribute to one of her Active Farmers class members, Lesley Morrison, who tragically passed away in an accident during the pandemic.

“I firmly believe good physical health means strong mental health and that’s why I want to be involved in so many different activities,” she says.

For exciting her community about health and wellbeing while drawing visitors to her region, Claire Harrison is the deserving winner of the 2023 Shine Award for Passion.


Amanda Loy, Cowgirls Gathering founder, Coleyville, Queensland

For The Weekly Times Shine Awards. Cowgirls Gathering founder Amanda Loy. Picture: Supplied
Cowgirls Gathering founder Amanda Loy. Picture: Supplied

A self-confessed corporate cowgirl from Coleyville, in the Scenic Rim, Amanda Loy has poured her energy into creating an iconic horse skills event in regional Queensland, where the successes of women are celebrated as much as cowgirl culture.

Held at the Kilkivan Showgrounds this year, Amanda’s Cowgirls Gathering drew a crowd of more than 700 people, and offered more than $20,000 in prizes for the nation’s most ambitious cowgirls.

The original idea was sparked by a trip to the US, where Amanda saw the passion and vigour in US cowgirl culture.

“I went off to see The Art of the Cowgirl (in the US), and it was this most amazing event, celebrating women, and bringing women together in a really supportive environment,” Amanda says. “I just kept saying ‘Australia needs this’. And I somehow convinced myself to do it.”

Amanda’s drive to create an event that unites and excites Australia’s female western riders makes her a perfect winner of the 2023 Shine Award for Spirit.


Annie Pumpa, ABS supply chain manager, Braidwood, NSW

ABS Global beef sales and InFocus supply chain manager Annie Pumpa. Picture: Nicole Cleary
ABS Global beef sales and InFocus supply chain manager Annie Pumpa. Picture: Nicole Cleary 

From family farm heartbreak to global beef industry leader, 24-year-old Annie Pumpa is an inspiration to all youth keen to forge a career in agriculture.

Annie grew up on a family farm in the Riverina, but in 2016 was “devastated” when the farm was sold.

Rather than give up on her dream of breeding cattle, the loss gave Annie more drive to stay in the industry and the gift to explore new pathways.

Annie completed Year 12 and worked at a pig farm to help fund a gap year in Canada where she worked on a ranch. On returning home, she took on a role at ABS Global – a leading provider of beef genetics and reproduction services. 

Through hard work and determination, Annie became the company’s beef sales and InFocus supply chain manager, providing genetics advice to farmers in building nucleus herds to breed bulls.

She also holds leadership roles with Herefords Australia National Youth Committee, Angus Youth National Roundup, Herefords Australia and the National All Breeds junior Heifer Expo.

Annie says at times it feels surreal to be working at such a young age for a global company with a footprint in 80 countries.

 2023 Shine Awards FINALISTS (including Merino Country Founder, Kerrie Richards)

1 comment

  • Congratulations to all on being the winners of all categories especially to you Lyndee for the courageous, and passionate woman you are. Well done and well deserved 👏 👍

    Robin Prentice

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