Girls who wish to learn skills as diverse as jump-starting a tractor, moving stock, shooting, fencing and changing a tyre can do so at two hands-on Southern Girl Finishing School workshops in Kingston next week.

Laura Douglas leases a few hectares from Kingston Station and runs her agri-tourism Real Country venture, which she established in December 2016.

Now, she hosts functions and has two regular coach tours full of tourists on her books, and she provides the visitors with a farm show, animal interactions, clay bird shooting and archery, as well as teaching them whip cracking, shooting and how to test electric fences with grass.

Tourists also meet her Highland cattle, goats, pigs, alpaca and deer, and have a bacon and egg-pie lunch.


The inaugural day-long finishing school workshops are for girls aged 11 and older and will be held on July 16 and 17.

''I am really excited about this,'' Douglas said.

''I want to influence the girls ... to gain confidence and learn practical skills.

''They are for the girls to understand that just because they have not done something before, does not mean that they cannot.

''Each workshop is limited to 10 girls, and I have vacancies in each day.''

Each day costs $110, and she is also looking for sponsors to pay for girls who might not be able to afford to attend.

''I don't want the cost to be a barrier and I want as many kids to come as possible.

''It is something I am passionate about.


''I am also looking for business sponsors to get involved by either providing some gear for the workshops or for the girls so they can take away a Southern Girl goodie bag,'' she said.

Douglas grew up on the family farm in Mossburn.

''From a very young age that gave me the 'can do' mindset and resilience that I needed to pursue a very different life from the one I had just a couple of years ago.

''You do not realise it at the time, but daily life on a busy farm, even as a child, means that you develop a strong sense of responsibility and that there can be serious consequences for your actions (i.e. me going for a pony ride and leaving a gate open so the sheep wandered out through another paddock on to the road).

''You also must use your initiative on a daily basis and you become self reliant.

''As a country kid I had so many opportunities to develop these important life skills that helped us become more capable, self assured, go-getting adults.''