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Humpty Doo Barramundi is doing much more than growing delicious fish for the Australian market – it’s also growing Territory talent.

The company works hard to recruit, grow and retain great people

One of its most successful strategies is called Scale Them Up, a partnership between Humpty Doo Barramundi, Taminmin College and Charles Darwin University.

Year 10 and 11 students studying aquaculture or agriculture-related subjects are invited to do work experience at the eco-friendly fish farm on the Adelaide River floodplain.

Four students – Kel McLachlan, Ayla Nichols,

Makayla Bormann and Grace Krolig – are on work-ready programs and two others, Bailey Baker and Rachael Lantzke, have completed school and remained as full-time employees. Makayla, who finished year 12 last year, began working casual shifts at the farm after enjoying a stint of work experience.

“I really enjoyed it,” she says.

Humpty Doo Barramundi’s Training and Safety Officer Rachel Mara later put Makayla on a school-based program, with Makayla attending school when she was not working. Makayla has worked in 10 areas across the business and also completed a Certificate III in Aquaculture. She says there is a “welcoming and happy to help” atmosphere at Humpty Doo Barramundi.

“If you don’t understand, they teach you. I thought it was valuable to see how other areas run and I learnt so much.

“Rachel said the idea was to help us learn different skills and to also find out what we liked and didn’t like while learning how to run a business. I have surprised myself with the things I like and don’t like – such as early mornings.”

Grace is the newest Scale Them Up starter and does one day a week at Taminmin College studying English and maths.

She worked casually at the farm for a year before starting this program.

“I loved it so much I asked to do the program Makayla was doing. I’m three months into that now. So far I have worked in harvest, grow-out, nursery and reception.


“I really enjoy learning heaps of new things every day and that everyone is always making sure we are ok, and are included and treated equally. “

We were told from the start that we would be part of the team and would be treated like workers, not school kids. And that’s been really great. We feel very protected.”

Bailey Baker is the 2022 Young Rural Achiever Award winner and has been working across the farm for the past few years.

Scale Them Up trainees work across all divisions of the business – finance, administration, marketing, fish health, grow out, harvest, packing and nurseries – while studying for a Certificate III in Aquaculture.

The result? Home-grown aquaculture technicians with an understanding across the breadth of the business.

“We want to strengthen Australia’s aquaculture skill set through Scale Them Up,” says Humpty Doo Barra Head of Business Services Tarun Richards.

The company and its 140 staff will celebrate National Barramundi Day on Friday, 20 October.

They have much to celebrate.

Over half of the barramundi eaten in Australia is still imported.

“We’d like everyone to enjoy a plate of Aussie-grown barra on National Barramundi Day,” says Ms Richards.

Mandatory country-of-origin labelling in restaurants and other food service venues was introduced in the Territory in 2008, the first jurisdiction in Australia to do so.

The Albanese Government are working towards implementing country of origin labelling in food service nationally, which was an election commitment. “This will put power in the hands of diners to know where the seafood they are eating really comes from,” says Ms Richards.

Australia’s best pie for 2023 is not a meat pie – it’s a Cambodian fish amok curry pie made in a bakery in Victoria with fish from Humpty Doo Barra as a key ingredient.

Nearly all of the Humpty Doo Barramundi harvest is sold in Australia.

Humpty Doo Barramundi has succeeded against the odds and much bigger competition in the past.

In the early days, there was no running water nor all-weather road access. And much of the workforce was volunteering family and friends.

Today the NT family-owned business is the largest Australian owned fish farm in the country and a major contributor to the Territory and regional economies.

An independent public impact assessment conducted in 2020 estimates that Humpty Doo Barramundi contributes $63.3 million to the Territory economy, a figure that is estimated to increase to over $214 million by 2030.