Di and Phillip Ridge with Tony Abbott

Di and Phillip Ridge with Prime Minister Tony Abbott

Di grew up in central west New South Wales near a small town called Cumnock with an elder and younger brother. Di was educated at a primary school in the district and then in Sydney for 7 years where she bordered at an all-girls school. Upon finishing school Di went home to help on the family farm. She had a Kelpie called Jill and a horse called Hal that were part of the team. Together they attended to the husbandry needs of their sheep and cattle including drafting and drenching of lambs and calves.

Di moved to the Bourke District 25 years ago when she married Phillip Ridge whose family have lived in the District since the 1880s. They have been busy raising 4 sons, Richard (23), Henry (22), Ollie (19), and Hugo (16) and running a 100,000 acre property called “Jandra” where they have around 8000 female sheep (ewes).

As drought and a wool recession took hold in 2001, Di like other farming families explored other avenues to earn an income. She had made a salad dressing – a recipe that was given to her – which was much admired, and friends suggested that she make it commercially. Di took her friends’ advice after many sleepless nights and started her salad dressing business, Di Ridge Poppy SeedSalad Dressing. The salad dressing is personally handmade to fulfil shop and mail order sales from all over Australia.

In February this year, Di and Phillip had their moment of fame when they were asked to escort Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott around their property as part of a drought tour.