Sue Robertson came across beautiful but remote Baffle Creek in the Gladstone region of Queensland by chance. She is extremely passionate about the Baffle Creek area and has taken out several awards at both state and national levels for highest number of rural sales.
BAFFLE CREEK1 is on the Queensland coast, approximately one hour from both Gladstone and Bundaberg. The ‘creek’ is actually a whopping 120 kilometre-long river with a tidal reach of 35km, which boasts being one of the few pristine waterways in south-east Queensland. In addition, the region has another three tidal waterways and over 30 kilometres of beautiful, unspoilt beaches. The climate is subtropical, with summer temperatures usually no higher than 31 degrees and humidity rarely above 60 per cent. Crocodile and box jellyfish-free, the area has been a holiday mecca for campers, fishermen and water enthusiasts for many years and is recognised for good fishing, crabbing and prawning.
Firstly, what brought you to Baffle Creek?
I was actually looking for properties for my mum and dad and tripped across Baffle Creek in my search. I fell in love with the beauty of the area. It is unspoiled and quiet, the sort of place your parents took you to when you were a kid – before those places got discovered and progress ruined them.
How many people work in your office?
There’s just the two of us here, myself and Sandy, who is my PA. Sandy has worked for RE/MAX for five years, the last year with me running the office. Prior to that she was in sales in Bundaberg.
Describe Baffle Creek and the type of properties you work with.
Being a rural area, most of our blocks are 40 acres or larger. We have vacant blocks, weekenders and houses. The area was all grazing going back many years but it’s changing now. Although we do have some large grazing properties, mostly people buying in the area are looking for a lifestyle block where they can hobby farm.
Pretty well the criteria of all buyers are ‘I don’t want to see neighbours and I don’t want to see the road’. I spend half my time driving on the road and the other half bush-bashing over properties. Some have pretty rough tracks, if you can call them that. If I list a property that has no tracks, I’ll walk it so I can explain it to buyers.
The region appeals to those people who are looking for a lifestyle change to escape the hustle and bustle; and, as the saying goes, ‘the best investments are made before an area is discovered’.
What do you still find most challenging about what you do, and how do you deal with it?
One of the things I find most challenging is dealing with so many people, owners and buyers, and finding the time to keep in touch with them all. I spend my life apologising!
Describe what a typical day looks like for you?
My day generally starts with phone calls from owners and buyers. I usually race into the office to get information on properties I’m showing that day. As I cover a large area, I’m generally in the car with people for at least half the day, or all day many times. Sometimes I run from one lot to another – sometimes three a day. When finished, regardless of what time that is, I answer missed calls, return email enquiries, try and ring a couple of owners up to 8.30pm. Then I usually start sorting photos and doing write-ups for new listings. Busy, busy!
Being so remote, how do you keep in touch with the team?
I love the support calls I get from the team at RE/MAX head office. Being an hour from any other agency, it’s just nice to feel that they are there and care enough to keep in touch regularly with you.
Is there one thing that’s not obvious about you that you wish more people would ‘get’?
One thing is that I’m actually very shy. The other is that I work all the time and I wish owners would understand that even though they may not hear from me for a while, I’m still flat out and working for them. There is so much behind-the-scenes work that owners really have no idea about.
What’s your secret skill or superpower?
I like to please and help people. I love being told ‘you’ve done a great job’. I work very hard to please everyone and it’s nice when it’s appreciated.
What makes you laugh?
To be honest, it’s hard to say. That’s the outcome of too much work and not enough play! My grandchildren, when I get to see them, are funny.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received, and why?
That’s easy: being told ‘You’re the best mum’. Life wasn’t easy when bringing up my girls and sometimes you make decisions and worry at the time how it’s going to affect your children when they grow up.
It’s a relief to know that you did your best and it worked out.
Is there anything you’re afraid to do, or you would like to do if you weren’t afraid to do it?
I hate public speaking in any form! As I said, I’m pretty shy and don’t like being the centre of attention in any way.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, I would have bought real estate much, much earlier. Fear of buying badly and lack of confidence made me back away whenever I thought about it. You can make money by buying. It’s forced saving.
Define success for you personally. What will you have achieved?
To me, success is having an excellent reputation and being known in an area as the best. Money is secondary, but I’ll think I’ve achieved success when I’ve got enough money in the bank to be able to take the family on a holiday together without stressing about the bank balance. I’ve worked all my life as the kids were growing up, out of necessity, and as I am always so busy it’s very rare to be able to spend time with my family. To me, the dream is to be able to afford to take them all away for a week or two so that we can have genuine ‘catch-up’ time.
I want to try and get balance back in my life without letting anyone down. I always joke to people that if I was rich I’d be able to buy all the blocks I fall in love with and then I’d be the Queen of Baffle!
1 According to Wikipedia the population of Baffle Creek was too low to separately report in the 2011 census and was aggregated with the neighbouring locality of Deepwater which had a reported population of 548 people.