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Southern Stars

Coolamon & Junee town feature

The haunting history of


A hidden gem


Showcasing the best of rural and regional New South Wales

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trading as Central West Magazine ABN 151 6322 9418 ADDRESS PO BOX 1050 DUBBO NSW 2830 PHONE 0429 441 086 FAX 02 6867 9895 WEBSITE FACEBOOK PUBLISHERS, ACCOUNTS & ADVERTISING Elizabeth & Alex Tickle EDITOR Elizabeth Tickle CHIEF WRITER & PHOTOGRAPHER Jake Lindsay ART DIRECTOR Zora Regulic

DISTRIBUTION Central West Lifestyle magazine is published quarterly (available at the beginning of each season) and distributed to selected newsagents and retail outlets within the Central West and in the bordering regions of the Far West, North West, Southern Highlands, Canberra, Goulburn, Northern and Eastern suburbs of Sydney, in addition to a selection of other rural and coastal areas of New South Wales. Subscriptions and back issues are also available to read online, on desktop and mobile devices. Unsold magazines are distributed to cafes, health waiting rooms, quality hotels/motels, bed and breakfast establishments, hair and beauty salons and tourist outlets.

Central West Lifestyle showcases authentic content from across rural and regional New South Wales. The heart of the magazine is in the Central West of the state, but a great story knows no boundaries. We are continually amazed by the innovation, inspiration and spirit that we find time and time again in communities both within the Central West and further afield. It is our passion and privilege to bring these stories to you.

SUBSCRIBE ONLINE To order a subscription or back issue (mailed or online), visit © Central West Lifestyle Pty Ltd 2017 All Rights Reserved No part of this magazine may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the publisher. While every care is taken in the publication of Central West Lifestyle magazine, the publishers will not be held responsible for omissions, errors or their subsequent effects.

Pegasus Print Group, is an environmentally responsible printing company that is committed to helping achieve a sustainable environment. To underscore our commitment to environmental sustainability, Pegasus Print Group has achieved FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) accreditation as well as being ISO 14001 accredited. Paper and paper-based materials carrying the FSC symbol can be tracked back to their source, guaranteeing they come from forests which are managed to meet the social, economic and ecological needs of present and future generations. Pegasus Print Group is also an accredited ISO 9001:2008 supplier, which ensures each step of our production process is aligned with world’s best practice to deliver the finest quality possible. Together, these accreditations offered by Pegasus Print Group, offer our clients a guarantee that their printed products are produced by world’s best practice environmental and finest quality standards.



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spring 2017 132


12 COOLAMON Coolamon Shire is a hidden gem, offering many surprises along the way. 66 JUNEE Junee and its surrounding villages offer a cornucopia of experiences, sights, sounds, smells and tastes.


144 HOME ON THE HILL Past and present combine delightfully in Bobbie and Colin Macaulay’s Junee oasis. 150 TEMPERED BEAUTY Bruce and Michelle Hutcheon’s Coolamon property has developed from a bare paddock into a showpiece landscape.

174 144


156 BY THE BOOK Learn how to style your bookshelf into a functional work of art. 158 SUZIE HOPE DESIGNS We meet ironing board cover queen Suzie Hope. 160 SHOPPERS’ PARADISE Lucknow Skin Shop & Boot Barn just keeps getting bigger and better. 162 OUT OF THE ORDINARY Clothes shopping is an adventure at Lucknow’s 2 Fat Ladies.


182 COUNTRY COOKING Spring weather calls for some old-fashioned favourites that are light and lovely.



178 I GO TO RIO Brazil is a marvel to behold and is a must for any traveller.



198 WEDDINGS Meet the Central West’s dashing newlyweds.


198 UPCOMING EVENTS 206 OUR ADVERTISERS 208 ONE-TRACK MIND Look no further than Peter Neve’s backyard for proof of his lifelong obsession with rail.


MONTE CRISTO HOMESTEAD, JUNEE Renowned as the most haunted house in Australia and a must-see tourist destination. (Page 72 Junee Town Feature)

Southern Stars

Coolamon & Junee town feature

$12.00 inc GST >



188 CWL LAUNCH CWL celebrates a fantastic Winter 2017 launch at the Cooee Heritage Centre, Gilgandra. 194 BLAYNEY ART SHOW Pictorial from Blayney’s Textures of One Art Exhibition.






124 BUSHRANGER SERIES Author and bushranger historian Gregory Powell takes a look at Ben Hall and his gang. 128 THE GIFT OF TOMORROW Bali bombing victim Adrian Acheson makes the most of his second chance. 132 CREMA OF THE CROP Fish River Roasters are meeting the demand for excellent coffee in the Central West. 138 QUEST FOR EXCELLENCE The Scots School’s belief in its students is validated time and time again. 142  ACCORDING TO PLAN Hugh and Amanda Rasmussen have a vision splendid for the Central West. 148 GARDEN GLORY Perennialle’s Chris Cuddy deals in plants that survive and flourish. 154 THRIVING BUSINESS Sarah and Josh Curry are growing their garden business with tender loving care. 136 REDEFINING RETIREMENT The Oak Tree Group is committed to quality accommodation for retirees. 168 OPEN AND SHUT CASE Western Plains Windows and Glass is a class act. 174 THAT’S GOLD Hill End is bursting with historical significance and haunting beauty. 184 HEADS TOGETHER Garian Food Wholesalers has a reputation for quality and a commitment to future growth.

The haunting history of


A hidden gem



Showcasing the best of rural and regional New South Wales

Photography: Zenio Lapka

Goondiwindi Cotton Summer 17 available at... BERRIMA - Berrimas Natural Aust, BLAXLAND - Clothing Natural Fibres, BOWRAL - Lorraines of Bowral, COONABARABRAN - Chalkies COWRA - The Closet Cowra, DUBBO - Country Chique, FORBES - Allure on Main, FORSTER - Addictive Fashion, GLOUCESTER - Town & Country GOONDIWINDI - Stage One, GRENFELL - Louisa’s Locker, GUNNEDAH - Pursegloves Clothing, KATOOMBA - Kent and Lane, LEURA - The Shirt Lady LITHGOW - Signature, MERRIWA - Di’s Clothing Patch MOREE - Assefs, MUDGEE - Honey Pot Boutique, NARRABRI - McInnes Clothing, NYNGAN - Bradswear ORANGE - Kendal, QUIRINDI - Goodness & Gracious, SPRINGWOOD - Arabesque Springwood, TAMWORTH - Pursegloves Clothing TAREE - Addictive Fashion, TEMORA - Peony Boutique, TRANGIE - Ewe Two Clothing, WARREN - Bradswear, WAUCHOPE - Hastings River Co-op Dept Store WEST WYALONG - House of Fashion, WINGHAM - Ashlea Road Boutique, YOUNG - The Loft, YASS - Boots & Buckles Enquiries phone - (07) 4671 5611

S P R I N G publisher’s letter


welcome to spring “We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have but rather from recognising and appreciating what we do have.” – Frederick Koenig

Welcome to spring, the wonderful season that breathes new life into the world around us! It was a chilly winter, and we trust you stayed warm, enjoyed the sparkle of a wood fire and the magic of family, friends and great conversations. The Winter edition featuring Coonabarabran and Gilgandra was a huge seller, well beyond our expectations. We received a vast amount of positive feedback, especially about the cover showcasing the iconic rock formation the Breadknife, nestled in the heritagelisted Warrumbungle National Park. The Winter launch with over 110 guests was a memorable event. It was so special to feel the pride and sense of community at the Art Gallery within the Cooee Heritage and Visitor Information Centre, Gilgandra. With great excitement we present to you our 120-page feature on the towns of Coolamon and Junee. This feature is our largest ever and reflects not only the unique stories coming from these areas but the unparalleled support we have gained from businesses. Thank you to both these councils for their loyal support and enthusiastic collaboration. We would like to farewell and thank a popular team member, Mitch Brakenridge, CWL advertising designer, who has shared his expertise with us over the past year. He will be now dedicating his time to the growth of his new design business, Next Level Digital, in Orange. We enjoy taking Central West Lifestyle to the regional field days and our yearly calendar includes attendance at the Mudgee Small Farms Field Days and National Field Days at Borenore, Orange. We have now added AgQuip to our field day experience and thoroughly enjoyed exhibiting over the three days at AgQuip in August this year. Being the nation’s biggest agricultural event attracting over 100,000 visitors from across the nation and overseas, AgQuip provided a wonderful opportunity for CWL to showcase our product and network with many visitors from near and far. The Collector’s Edition Volume 1 has “grown wings” and is flying! We had tremendous advertising support from many regional councils and from a significant group of committed advertisers. This exciting new publication, featuring 50 of our best stories over the past 18 editions, will be for sale early October in our regular outlets across the state including newsagencies and selected retailers (see our website for further details). Additionally, copies will be able to be purchased (either online or by phone) and posted as Christmas gifts. We enjoyed attending the recent National Party Dinner here in Dubbo and were honoured to sit at the Premier’s table. A great thrill for us was watching the Hon Gladys Berejiklian being presented with the Fourth Anniversary Collection of CWL by the Hon Troy Grant, Member for Dubbo and Minister for Police and Emergency Services. The town of Gunnedah will grace our pages as the Summer 2017 Feature and we are looking forward to sharing with you the untold stories coming from this highly progressive north-west community. Facebook “f ” Logo


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Winter CWL Launch at Gilgandra; Mayor Cr Doug Batten, Cheryl Batten, Alex and Elizabeth Tickle, Julie Shinton and Warrumbungle Mayor Cr Peter Shinton.

Meeting the Premier. Image courtesy of Peter Bartley.

Time has passed so quickly (it always seems to when you are doing something you love) and our Autumn 2018 edition will represent our 20th edition of CWL and five years in business. Our journey has been a joyful one, allowing us the privilege of exploring special parts of the state, one edition at a time, and meeting some of the most memorable and inspiring people possible. The Yass Valley will be the focus of our Autumn edition, an intriguing and interesting part of the world. We trust you will enjoy this beautiful season and keep safe, happy and healthy.

Warm regards, Elizabeth & Alex

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S P R I N G Jake’s message

EVERY FACE TELLS A STORY Greetings and salutations, can you believe we are still going gangbusters 18 editions after first entertaining this crazy notion of uncovering the best towns, businesses and characters in country NSW? Many loyal readers have followed our journey from the start, discovering so many hidden gems along the way. As our dear faithful would know by now, I love photographing old-timers, particularly those old codgers with a lifetime of exposure to the elements etched on their furrowed brows. When you get the trifecta of good lighting, two days of stubble and an old battered Akubra, I’m in photographic heaven! I’ve documented some beautiful old faces in nursing and retirement homes but it’s out in the bush where you find the real deal – especially at rodeos, Anzac Day memorials and the local saleyards. During one of my Junee interviews I met a vibrant 93-year-old who spent over 70 years on the land. Albert Boyton left school at age 11 to start his farming career. With huge, gnarled old hands that have known the meaning of hard yakka, this delightful old fella was always going to make a great subject. Much the same as Bill Lynch, whom I met on his 82nd birthday in Wyong. He was finally retiring after 68 years in the workforce, including the last two decades as a yardman/cleaner at the Top Town Tavern. After a lifetime of shearing and timber cutting, Bill says he is looking forward to “backing some winners” and chilling out on fishing trips to Hillston with his son and grandson. It’s these fair-dinkum old timers like Albert and Bill that helped build this great country of ours. But I digress. I’m here to talk about the feature towns of Coolamon and Junee. Coolamon is one of the prettiest little country towns I’ve come across, with plenty of old buildings and a wealth of local history. As soon as I arrived I knew I was in for a Coolamon-good time. From my comfy lodgings on top of the hill, I was able to watch life pass by as a picturesque country town went about its daily duties. Staying at the Sweet Briar B&B was one of the best experiences in memory. With fun-loving hosts like Andre and Keryl and a beautiful dog like Obi, it was hard to say goodbye. My next stop, Junee, was another eye opener. The railway town has many attractions, including the Monte Cristo ghost house and the Licorice and Chocolate Factory. Both had become derelict buildings before the Ryan and Druce families stepped up to the plate. The historic pubs in Junee are breath-taking in their design and size but I was fortunate to stay in my own manor – Belmore Manor, to be precise – and highly recommend a visit. I laughed till I almost cried talking to Irish family matriarch Norma Higginson and her love of all things royal.


For those who can’t resist a good love story, we have Betty Crowley, the remarkable woman who married her battle-weary husband after not seeing him for five years, and former priest Matt Austin who gave it all up for love. For the farmers we have unearthed some scorchers, including the Curry brothers who have spent a lifetime working alongside each other, a great prime lamb story involving three living generations, an inspiring story on snags and a thriving business that still makes chaff the old-fashioned way. I hope you enjoy burying yourself in this edition on Coolamon and Junee. They are all stories of hope, love and survival, with a bit of entrepreneurial dash thrown in. After I recover from writing this feature I’m off to Gunnedah to do it all again. Never a dull moment in this line of work! Have fun, chase your dreams, whatever they be, and never give up. There is no time like the present.

Cheers, Jake

ABOVE: Albert Boyton (top), 93 years young, is still living life to the full; Bill Lynch is enjoying his retirement after nearly seven decades in the workforce.


meet your team


Publisher, Editor, Advertising


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Writer & Photographer





Country Cuisine Writer




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Chief Writer & Photographer

Advertising Designer & Business Strategist

Home & Style Writer, Photographer

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Publisher, Distribution, Advertising


Wedding Writer



Bushranger Series Writer


Garden Writer


In a day and age of instant news and sensationalised reporting, it is a pleasure to have access and input to a publication of the quality of Central West Lifestyle. To have Gilgandra Shire featured in your Winter 2017 edition has provided a positive boost for the entire community. Not only has the magazine provided a snapshot of the region that has already attracted comments from visitors near and far, it has greatly enhanced the “sense of place” of local residents, many of whom have purchased copies as gifts for family and friends. It has in effect become somewhat of a grandparents’ brag book for Gilgandra. Gilgandra Shire Council was thrilled to have an opportunity to partner with the CWL team and I am sure that we have gained a lot from our association with such a professional group that is truly genuine in their attempt to promote regional communities. To our Economic Development Manager, Randall Medd, our acknowledgement for a job well done in co-ordinating the local input. Looking forward to future issues and features as they reveal the diverse environment and amazing people who make up our special part of NSW.


Doug Batten, Mayor, Gilgandra Shire Council

The Winter 2016 edition highlighting Crookwell captured the heart of the district and portrayed the area unlike no publication or tourist brochure has before. Central West Lifestyle displayed Crookwell to readers all around the readership area and I believe this has led to an increase in the number of visitors to the district. As a result, we at Davies News sold over 1200 copies within the three-month selling period and are still continuing to sell that particular issue. The feedback from customers was incredible and apart from the obvious pro Crookwell comments the main discussion point was the superior quality and presentation of the magazine. In subsequent issues of Central West Lifestyle, the reader interest has been consistently maintained and we are regularly selling over 150 copies per quarterly edition. Congratulations to Elizabeth, Alex and the team at CWL. It remains a pleasure to be associated with such a professional group of people, whose aim is not just to sell but to produce a high quality magazine with a difference. Central West Lifestyle is one of our largest selling magazines and we look forward to its continual growth.

Thinking back, I’m proud of the fact that when you visited us some months ago, we took the opportunity to partner with Gilgandra Shire to present our towns and our lifestyle to your readers. The passionate way that you presented our fellow citizens, showing the warts and all stories of how they came to be what they are in our community, makes me lament the untold stories of our forefathers and heroes, lost forever. The front cover, showing the iconic Breadknife formation, is the best photograph that I have ever seen of that structure. I’ve always been proud of the Coonabarabran community, and am thankful that our stories and the unsurpassed beauty of our landscape have been well captured by Jake Lindsay. Jake, as a Coonabarabran local, has put his own bent on our story as only a local can, and I am sure that as time goes on this publication will take pride of place on the coffee table or on the bookshelves of not only Coonabarabran and Warrumbungle Shire residents but also of those who are envious of the incredible natural wonders and glorious lifestyle in our part of heaven.

Floyd Davies, Davies News Crookwell

Cr Peter Shinton, Mayor of Warrumbungle Council


Two months ago I lent my Editions 1 and 2 of Central West Lifestyle to a neighbour but they were never returned. Thanks for your endeavours in locating replacements for us. I realise that Editions 1 and 2 are in very short supply. We have all your issues and treasure each one, as they promote memories of areas where we have lived. My wife and I have been long-time members of the NSW National Trust and have visited all of the areas that you have featured. Each magazine, with such interesting articles, is read from front to back. Even the advertisements create interest. Many thanks for your efforts, and we look forward to future issues, which we will also treasure.

Thanks for sharing the love @littlebluewren1

Roger Lindsay, Warrawee

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people power from the Mayor of Coolamon Shire It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to the Coolamon Shire. My role as mayor has many fulfilling commitments, but by far the proudest and most rewarding is to introduce people to our region. My wife Margaret and I have become regular readers of Central West Lifestyle magazine, enjoying the articles about our important regional towns and communities. As a country person I believe they are the backbone of our nation and provide the productivity to keep our nation ticking. As our most recent Australia Day Ambassador, Rick Timperi, said: “Sydney, Melbourne – that’s just the skin. If you visit the country areas, that’s where the heart and veins of Australia are. The real people.” We therefore were delighted when Elizabeth and Alex approached us with an offer to showcase our region. As you can probably tell, we are proud of where we live and believe that it has lots to offer. Coolamon Shire is made up of the towns of Coolamon, Ganmain and Ardlethan and the villages of Beckom, Matong and Marrar – all supported by a rich and prosperous agricultural region. And I personally vouch for the fact that all residents are passionate about their communities. As a born and bred person of the Coolamon district, I have watched our communities grow and offer opportunities to all those who live, work and play here. It is my belief that this is based on a history of

long, stable, local governance by people who are truly invested and have a real interest in the outcomes that support their towns. But we all know that it is the people who really make a place and I can speak first-hand when I say that we are welcoming, friendly, innovative, passionate and entrepreneurial. An idyllic country lifestyle awaits those tempted away from the hustle and bustle of larger population centres to any one of our communities within the Coolamon Shire. But it is not only a relaxed lifestyle that’s on offer. Our close proximity to Wagga gives easy access to the largest inland regional centre in NSW and therefore quality education, superior health facilities and a strong economy offering numerous job opportunities. We are on the cusp of great opportunities. Our location within easy access to the regional airport, Bomen Industrial Estate and the NBN rollout, will see us perfectly placed to take advantage of our affordable land and house prices that, together with excellent services and facilities, make a much soughtafter family and community-focused lifestyle. Please read through the articles about the people and places within the Coolamon Shire. I hope that they tempt you to come and visit, or even move to our area and see for yourself the wonderful district that is our home and we believe a treasure of regional NSW. Cr John Seymour OAM, Coolamon Shire Mayor

ABOVE: The Coolamon Council Chambers 50 years ago; the current look of the Coolamon Council Chambers.


An idyllic country lifestyle awaits those tempted away from the hustle and bustle of larger population centres.

Coolamon T O W N F E A T U R E

time to shine

Coolamon Shire is a hidden gem offering many surprises along the way. Boasting a picturesque heritage main street and manicured gardens, Coolamon is nestled among rich farming and grazing land. Residents enjoy the best of both worlds – the friendly, relaxed atmosphere of rural living and the close proximity to the services and facilities of a large regional centre. Wiradjuri people were the first inhabitants of the region. The town is named after the local indigenous vessel for carrying goods, children or water – “Coolamon”. The reliable conditions and rich soil produced strong farming communities that saw the railway arrive, and the services and infrastructure to support them followed. The town of Coolamon was established around the time the railway arrived in 1881. The shire was proclaimed on March 3, 1906. Coolamon Shire is located in the Riverina region of NSW, just a short detour off the Olympic, Sturt or Newell highways. Coolamon is the largest town within the shire, which also includes the smaller towns of Ardlethan and Ganmain and villages of Beckom, Matong and Marrar. Towns and villages are supported by proud and passionate communities boasting their own charm and unique qualities. To immerse yourself in local history, the State Heritage-listed building the Up-to-Date Store in Coolamon is the perfect starting point. This beautiful building is an elegant and rare example of a country general store. The store is home to the original and operational gravity-fed Lamson cash-carrying machine. The store hosts a number of wonderful displays including the Garth Jones, Mavis Furner and

Reg Goode collections and nearby RSL Museum. Step across the road and you’ll find yourself inside the impressive Fire Museum. Wander along the wide main street to capture many of the heritage buildings and lovely park spaces. Stop by the local eateries, pubs and boutique giftware stores to experience local shopping and produce at its best. Must-see attractions are showcased throughout the Coolamon Shire. Taste local cheeses at the newly opened Coolamon Cheese, visit the Kelpie Statue in Ardlethan and the striking Hay Display Centre in Ganmain. Short trips to towns and villages will not disappoint. Together with our neighbours, an exciting tourism opportunity has been launched, the Canola Trail. This initiative promotes day trips or for those with the time, a more relaxed journey through our region including the shires of Junee and Temora. The Canola Trail is an opportunity to explore and discover at your own pace. Take a moment to enjoy the walking and mountain bike tracks and trails within the shire, providing an excellent opportunity to observe the many birds, wildlife and plant species. These include the Coolamon Kindra State Forest and Murrumbang Nature Walk in Ganmain. Visitors to the area can be assured that friendly community members and businesses will take the wonderful opportunity to showcase our area and what the shire has to offer. This is an exciting time for the shire as it continues to grow. CWL Images: Capture Coolamon Shire Photography Competition entrants, clockwise from top left, Aimee Fox, Kathy Maslin, Mark Slater, and Amy Curran.


days gone by Coolamon

Pictures courtesy of the Max Robertson Collection.

Coolamon T O W N F E A T U R E

a town full of history

Its buildings exude old-world charm but the community of Coolamon has its sights firmly set on a bright future.


a timely link to the past A visit to Coolamon’s Up-To-Date Store is like stepping into a time machine.

Built in 1909 with freestyle Federation architecture, the Up-To-Date Store continues to play a crucial role for the people of Coolamon. With its magnificent facade and verandah, it offers a rare glimpse of how country general stores looked and functioned a century ago. Back in the early days, customers could find anything from a needle to a haystack. Whether you needed building materials, horse harnesses, castor oil or the finest silk stockings, you were sure to find it at the Up-To-Date Store. Offering the best quality and lowest prices, the store presented its customers with a range of goods not often seen outside the big stores of the metropolitan area. It had a wide range of goods, including grocery, ironmongery, crockery, drapery, mercery, millinery, haberdashery, clothing and footwear. Sturdy wooden counters, shelves, benches and floors bear the physical imprint of the many thousands of customers and staff who moved through the interior over the years. The elegantly vaulted, wood-lined ceilings seem to echo with the countless voices of generations of Coolamon locals. The cellar was used as cool storage for cheese, eggs, hams and fish. It is amazing to read that as early as 1907, fresh seafood could be purchased at the Up-To-Date store. The store still has its original fittings, including the impressive Lamson Cash Railway, the only known ball-style cash railway system in the world still in its original location.


This early form of cash carrier is gravity operated, with timber balls holding money and dockets rolled from counters to the cashier’s office along little tracks. The Up-To-Date-Store continued as a general store until 1932 before taking on a variety of uses from fruit vendor to roller skating rink. After nearly 80 years of ownership, the Mutton family sold the store in 1987 to Robert and Margaret Miles, who operated a second-hand and antiques business. Through the urgings of a far-sighted and dedicated community, the Coolamon Shire Council purchased the property in 1997. Today it operates as a cultural facility incorporating the Mavis Furner collection, town library and museum. The Up-to-Date Store’s social and historical significance was acknowledged with its listing on the State Heritage Register in 2006. The store is a reminder of the ingenuity and skill of local architects, builders, retail traders and their staff. It also remains as a focus for the collective memories of the people who, over the years, have called Coolamon home. CWL FACING PAGE: Coolamon’s historic Up-To-Date Store looks visually appealing from both inside and out. BELOW: Laura Higgins, Community Development Officer for the Coolamon Shire Council, in front of the unique Lamson Cash Railway; a close-up of the cash carrier reminds many older shoppers of their youth.

Coolamon T O W N F E A T U R E

The Up-to-Date Store’s social and historical significance was acknowledged with its listing on the State Heritage Register in 2006.


sartorial splendour With the Mavis Furner Collection comes a wealth of stories about the social life of the Coolamon community.

Mavis Furner devoted equal doses of energy to her husband George as she did to her sporting pursuits and pastimes of tennis, golf, bowls and dancing. In between, she created her own wardrobe of eye-catching garments that are marvelled at today, housed in the Up-To-Date Store, as they were during the mid 20th century. Mavis was a country girl, born at “Oakleigh”, Coolamon, in 1918, the youngest and only girl in a family of six children. The daughters and wives of farmers in her era were expected to perform domestic duties and sometimes assist on the farm. Rarely did they have jobs or professions. WW2 brought many changes for women. Mavis enlisted in the Australian Army Medical Women’s Service in early 1943, serving at the 113th Military Hospital in Concorde until late 1945. She returned home and in 1947 married neighbour George Furner and moved to “Hopewell”. Mavis was a committed and active member of many community groups including the Country Women’s Association, where she was a proud member for 60 years. As she wrote before her death in 2006, aged 88, she continued with many forms of handiwork during her early years of marriage until a Manly holiday in 1959 changed her way of thinking. “One day while shopping I noticed three coats in a boutique window and discovered they were hand-made in Italy – handcrocheted in fine wool but, oh the price! I was tempted, then I thought, why couldn’t I do that? Why not! “Home I came, working out what I could do. I bought five pounds (about $10) of 4 ply Crepetta wool from Coles and set about with crochet hook and tape measure to create a replica of the coat I’d seen.” Before long she was designing her own colourful patterns.


“Times were hard so we made sure we got value for money.”

“It was a challenge,” she wrote. “When I was young, people had to economise. The Depression taught us respect for economy. Times were hard so we made sure we got value for money.” Mavis was a true citizen of Coolamon, bequeathing her collection to her trustees for the benefit of the people. The garments link the private stories of their owner and designer and the social and cultural events in the community where they were worn. Many costumes were made to be worn at particular events and all are carefully documented, including photos of Mavis wearing some of the clothes, making the collection even more significant. The Mavis Furner Collection serves as a superb reminder of the design talents of country women and their outstanding skills with a needle. CWL

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Mavis Furner always dressed for the occasion, pictured with husband George; a selection of her gowns; an attractive nurse during WW2; Mavis’s niece, Jan.


T O W N F E A T U R E Coolamon

A LOYAL CONSTITUENT Community-minded Coolamon solicitor Bill Thompson knows how to get things done. Bill Thompson OAM has been sitting in the same chair in the same office for 32 years. “I’m actually in my father’s old office where he would have sat for 50 years,” he declares proudly. It’s not hard to feel the nostalgia. “The huge old safe, which holds our important documents, leads me to believe the building was one of the town’s early banks,” he says. As one of the six partners of Riverina legal firm Commins Hendriks (and in charge of the Coolamon and Ganmain branches), Bill has walked in the footsteps of his family predecessors. His grandfather Arthur Thompson took over the office in 1911, having realised there was no room for him on the family farm. In a proud family tradition, he was followed by son Arthur James (known as Jim) and grandson William, known as Bill. Bill Thompson is well known throughout southern NSW for his leading edge work in succession planning. Considered by many as an “instrument for change”, he was actively involved in lobbying for the Intergenerational Stamp Duty Exemption and changes to the Centrelink assets and income test to benefit farmers. Apart from schooling in Kilmore, ANU in Canberra and a year in Mt Isa with the legal service, Bill has been a Coolamon man all his life. “Mt Isa was a real eye opener,” he says. “The first weekend there I was put on the white legal-aid roster and ended up playing AFL football with them, a sport I’ve loved since I was a little tacker.” Bill later played 10 seasons with the Coolamon Grasshoppers and is a big supporter. The highlights of his life have been family and the way his legal firm helps out with community long-term goals. “I love the teamwork between people of different skills in our town and the willingness to roll up their sleeves and have a go before waiting for government funding,” he says. Just recently the Coolamon Sport and Recreation Club was in the red and the town got right behind it through contributions – just one example of good country folk getting together to ensure that another service is not lost.” Along the way Bill says he learnt to not judge others on their wealth or where they went to school. “We are all equal with the same rights, and everybody should have the same access to justice,” he says.


He’s a strong campaigner on many issues, particularly keeping a legal presence in the town. “We have two young lawyers here and although legal practice advisors encourage us to centralise, I and my fellow partners feel it’s imperative we maintain our staff in smaller communities.” Family has always played a big role in Bill’s life. Married to Gabrielle with three grown children, they enjoyed a multicultural family experience growing up in a small country town. “We adopted an Indonesian boy, Alexander, and Jack from a Chinese/Vietnamese family, when both were only six weeks old,” he says. Alexander now works as an assistant to the cheese maker at the Coolamon Cheese Factory while Jack has just finished a law degree and works in Canberra. Then there is red-haired Charlie, who is studying for a degree in industrial design in Melbourne but secretly dreams of being a barista. The final piece of the puzzle is community. Bill and his parents all received OAMs for service to the community. “The lesson they taught was to give as much as possible, particularly if you had a certain talent,” he says. “I do the paper work for the new Kindra Park, which is our revamped oval. A lot of others have also contributed their time and knowledge. We’ve just had a corporate box installed that fits eight – a classic example of getting things done.

“We fought the amalgamation of councils. One reason we wanted to stay as an independent council was because we felt that the locals are more likely to get behind projects.” Bill suggests Coolamon has moved forward thanks to the enormous support from the locals. “As an example, my father was approached by a long-standing client for a free will back in the 1980s. My father questioned the fairness of this transaction, only to be told that if he prepared the will he would hand over $100,000 to the local Allawah Lodge.” Bill is also a long-term member of the Rural Issues Committee of the Law Society of NSW and has been a supporter of NERRCS, Southern Agventure, Coolamon Lions Club, football, local schools, the arts, youth events and the Coolamon Shire Community Fund. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease five years ago, Bill fears he may not get to spend as long in business as his father, who was still working as a consultant at age 80. Bill says he is particularly proud to be working from the very same building in Coolamon as his forebears, where for 106 years they’ve shared their professional skills with the district. CWL

ABOVE: Bill Thompson OAM believes the success of smaller towns like Coolamon is largely due to the commitment of its locals.

Coolamon T O W N F E A T U R E

war stories

The Coolamon RSL Memorial Museum houses a comprehensive history of Coolamon’s involvement in Australia’s military forces from the Boer War to the present day.

The museum was established by the Coolamon Sub Branch of the Returned and Services League (RSL) with the aim of preserving an important slice of the town’s history for future generations. Formed in late 1919, the Sub Branch provided relief for ex-servicemen and their families who had fallen on hard times. A number of records and documents from those desperate days form part of the museum’s collection today. When the depression eased, meetings were resumed. After WW2 there was a swell in numbers, necessitating the need for larger premises. After the acquisition of the RSL Hall, considerable voluntary work was carried out on the building. In the following years, as smaller communities in the district declined, the Coolamon RSL received a number of honour boards that had hung in halls and churches. In 2001, under the direction of president Bill Levy, the museum project began developing into the attraction it is today. While the photographs remain the focal point of the collection, the donation and loans of many uniforms and memorabilia from the locals saw the collection grow. Sub Branch member David McCann, a graduate of Deacon University (Museum

Studies), was the curator responsible for much of the great work. “The aim of the collection is to provide a facility to house items of local military interest and to provide a means to educate the wider community on the service to the nation of the men and women from the Coolamon district,” he says. The emphasis is on items of local history. Among a number of significant items is the diary of Sergeant Horrie Fosse, a local man who landed at Gallipoli on April 25, 1915, and was among one of the first Australians ashore that day. The diary provides a tremendous insight into the events and personal feelings of Sergeant Fosse as he experienced life in the Dardanelles. “In much the same way that the Australian War Memorial in Canberra displays its collection, this museum does not glorify war but tries to show the way in which members of the armed services lived,” David says. One of the more popular displays is a depiction of life in an Officers Mess, showing a lighter side of the war. No entry fee is charged to view the collection, however gold coin donations are always welcome. All funds raised help to further improve the collection. CWL



cheese A tasty new venture is putting a smile on the faces of visitors to Coolamon.


Coolamon T O W N F E A T U R E

Since opening a year ago, a cheese factory designed to be a tourist attraction is ticking all the right boxes. Visitors to Coolamon Cheese can enjoy cheese tasting and cheese-inspired meals, watch cheese being handcrafted and matured, learn the history of cheese and even take a course on making it. Eminent cheesemaker Barry Lillywhite, aka “The Big Cheese”, has a background in science and microbiology coupled with more than 30 years’ experience in cheesemaking. The job has taken him all over Australia, including 13 years at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, where he managed the cheese factory. Barry is renowned for his use of Indigenous Australian ingredients that complement a range of traditional cheese styles. Cheeses can take up to 12 months to mature and over two years to become a good-tasting vintage. “I love all my cheeses but have a tendency to really appreciate the very aged Cheddar cheese,” he says. “The complexity of the flavours is enormous – but it must be accompanied by a good red!” When the original factory closed in 2011, there was a community outcry to re-establish the Riverina icon. Barry was approached by several local councils to set up a similar factory and found the Coolamon Shire Council most accommodating. It was at this time that Barry called upon the support of son Anton Green, who spent 15 years working in five-star hotels and resorts both here and overseas. Armed with a Bachelor of Business in International Hotel Management from Southern Cross University, Anton has proved up to the challenge. “This new venture was always going to be a ‘cellar door’ experience, showcasing Barry’s cheese-making talent, offering workshops and highlighting dairy and produce from across the region,” he says. “Coming here was an exciting opportunity to work alongside Dad. The first three years involved planning and putting together a creditable business proposal before securing the finance.” Coolamon Cheese, he says, is a privately owned company, with shareholders from the local community helping make the dream a reality. The factory is located in the 90-year-old Coolamon Co-op store, which became an IGA supermarket and second-hand store before its latest facelift. A clever design gives visitors an excellent view of the various stages of cheese-making, with 30-minute tours conducted by either The Big Cheese himself or cheese-maker supremo Adam Papprill. Always close by is Anton’s partner, venue and brand manager Kate Mitchell, who has worked in hotels, a two-hat restaurant and the airline industry while completing a Diploma of Interior Design and Decoration. Chris Galvin-Moule heads up the kitchen. The seasoned chef has been tasked with matching Coolamon Cheese with the best produce the Riverina has to offer in an inventive and delectable all-day menu. Visitors have been coming in droves since the new factory was opened in September 2016. “We can see the impact the business is having on town, especially over the weekends,” Barry says. “Sundays in Coolamon are now very different to the days of old when you could fire a cannon down the main street. “The town is humming. Feedback has been exceptional and we couldn’t have done it without overwhelming support from council and the locals.” Barry says the business has created five full-time jobs and 13 part-time jobs.

“I’m one of the lucky people who come to work to make cheese. It doesn’t get much better. Although Anton is technically my boss, it’s nevertheless immensely satisfying working with him and partner Kate, who designed the look of our place,” he says. After five years of research, planning and hard work, Anton is just grateful the vision has finally become a reality. They visited more than 50 cheese factories in the process. “It’s a sensational feeling finally to be up and running after so much planning and building,” Anton says. They have more to come, including sparking up the original 1912 Scotch oven bakery and creating an edible native outdoor garden venue for visitors to relax in and enjoy their cheese. Evening events such as wine and cheese matching dinners, accompanied by live music, are also part of the plan to make cheese and crackers the new cool combination in Coolamon. CWL FACING PAGE: “The Big Cheese”, Barry Lillywhite, is delighted with progress of the town’s latest tourist attraction, Coolamon Cheese. ABOVE: Partners in life and business: Anton Green and Kate Mitchell are bringing a new, creative flair to Coolamon Cheese; Coolamon Cheese head chef Chris Galvin-Moule and apprentice chef James Morgan prepare cheese-inspired meals.


all fired up A lovingly compiled collection of fire-fighting equipment is drawing visitors like moths to a flame.


Coolamon’s Fire Museum is a monument to one man’s love of all things red, old and anything to do with putting out fires. It all started when a former fireman and local carpenter, Chris Berry, noticed an old brass fireman’s helmet while installing a new kitchen in West Wyalong. After forking out $500, Chris became the proud new owner of not just the helmet but a belt, axe and spanner. The collection had begun. Over the next three decades, Chris was always on the lookout for anything associated with fire-fighting, buying items from throughout Australia and all over the world. He attended clearance sales, garage sales, markets, swap meets and in recent years advanced to ebay. “What a smorgasbord ebay turned out,” he laughs. “My son-in-law was buying items for me. After six months I asked him what I owed and he quietly said ‘hang on a minute and I’ll add it up’. It was well into five figures.” Many other items have been generously donated. The collection is still growing despite the limited space. “You can always squeeze in a bit more,” says Chris, who always knows what he is getting for his birthday, Father’s Day and Christmas. His collection numbers in the thousands, including 160 helmets stretching back to the early 1900s, fire hydrants, hose reels, uniforms, medals and paraphernalia. Chris and wife Joanne moved to Coolamon in 1976 with three young children. They had been living in Emu Plains, where they had a joinery, and were attending a builder’s party at Ardlethan after finishing a big job. “We came through Coolamon and instantly fell in love with place,” Chris says. They had a furniture factory and within a few years Chris had joined the Coolamon Fire Brigade. For 22 years he was a dedicated fireman and an enthusiastic engine keeper in Coolamon and Temora. Chris was going to establish the museum in the main street but by 2013 the old fire station was too small for the new and larger fire trucks and was closed. Hardly believing his luck, Chris was able to move into the old building, which overlooks the main street. The Commissioner of NSW Fire and Rescue, Greg Mullins, opened the museum in October 2015.

Coolamon T O W N F E A T U R E

In early 2016, a Visitors Centre was added to the museum and the 1932 Coolamon Fire Brigade bell, which had been missing for 30 years, was reinstated. Thousands have visited the museum since opening, and Chris never tires of discussing the history of the old fire station. “The old pit in the middle of the floor was used to work on engine maintenance. Oil stains on the floor have accumulated over the past 80 years,” he says. Grey markings on the ceilings show where the exhaust fumes hit the ceiling every time the engine started up. The window blinds are original, as are many of the old glass panels in the windows. The cast iron fire place is still in the communication room, and the original flag pole has been restored. The history lesson extends to the backyard, where a large square brick trough was used to wash the hoses after use. Close by is a tall timber pole called a hose whip for drying them. Although having just turned 70, Chris loves going to his museum seven days a week. “My wife is happy to see me so content, and I’m just happy to share my collection with others,” he says. CWL FACING PAGE: Some of the 160 helmets used by firemen over the past century; the Coolamon Fire Museum has developed into a popular tourist attraction. THIS PAGE: Chris Berry has been collecting old brass firemen’s helmets for over 30 years; the fire museum is located in the old fire station; there is something to see for people of all ages, including the collection of antique miniature models.


sweet spot

A Sydney couple literally stumbled upon a new life in Coolamon.


Coolamon T O W N F E A T U R E

Sweet Briar B&B, housed in Coolamon’s former Bank of NSW building, captures the grandeur, style and romance of a bygone era. While keeping the features like pressed-metal ceilings, claw-foot baths and classic furnishings, the three beautiful bedrooms and en suites have luxurious modern fit-outs. In addition, there’s a guest lounge room, breakfast room and two beautifully appointed country cottages, which overlook manicured lawns and gardens. Current owners Andre and Keryl de Haan discovered the place quite by accident in 2008. It all started with a trip from Sydney to visit school-teaching friends who had moved to Coolamon. “We’ve always been drawn to the country,” Keryl says. “On our trips between Sydney and Melbourne we took the road less travelled, finding hidden little treasures in the towns along the way. “What a shock when we got here,” Andre says. “The town was just coming out of a long, debilitating drought and although it looked a bit tired there was still something there.” Then a strange thing happened. “Our son Daniel tripped over in the driveway of a place on the corner called Nanna Maloney’s B&B. Our friends knew the owners so we went in to clean him up,” Andre says. They were gobsmacked by the amazing character of the historic property and knew they had found their dream home. Although they felt a tree change coming on strong, it took three years and some luck on the internet before finally acquiring the keys to the front door. The Bank of NSW building has been around nearly as long as the town. Built in 1887 for just over a thousand pounds, it came with a bank, manager’s office, strongroom and residence. During the winter of 1908, the front half of the building was replaced with a stunning new brick facade to give a more commercial appearance. In 1998, the bank closed its doors for the final time. New owners John and Maryanne Haslam had a bold vision and in 2004 established their B&B and built the cottages, garage and house extension. “When we became the new owners in 2011 we had a magnificent kitchen and living area the size of our first small cottage in the Blue Mountains,” Keryl laughs. With no experience in the hospitality industry, the pair jumped in boots and all into their “Sweet Briar”. >

ABOVE: Keryl and Andre de Haan with their delightful sons Daniel and Aaron, and Obi, their mischievous Bichon Frise dog; The family love outdoor activities like bike riding in the Kindra State Forest.

With no experience in the hospitality industry, the pair jumped in boots and all into their “Sweet Briar”. COOLAMON CWL 29

Old money The Bank of NSW building has been around nearly as long as the town. Built in 1887 for just over a thousand pounds, it came with a bank, manager’s office, strongroom and residence.

After a satisfying 30-year career with Telstra, Andre finally found time to develop his gardening skills while spending quality time with sons Daniel, 13, and Aaron, 9. Keryl enjoys working as a registered nurse with Murrumbidgee Local Health District. “Moving to a small country town was slightly daunting in the first few months,” she says, “but we were lucky our friends were still here at that stage.” Those friends have since moved back to Sydney, but in the B&B business there has never been a shortage of new friends. “Once we got to know the guests, a large percentage of whom had families in the district, we soon got to know different families and various other business owners,” Keryl says. “We enjoy meeting people and love hosting. The B&B has proved a wonderful introduction into the workings of a small country town. We moved here because of this place and couldn’t be happier. “Andre was never a keen gardener but since coming here he has transformed the gardens into a district showpiece.” Andre takes great pride in his lawn, rose gardens and various plants and greenery. With the aid of a landscape designer, the area is functional, lush and ideal for outdoor entertaining. The fun-loving pair are now in their sixth year operating the B&B and still look forward to receiving guests from all over the country. “It really is a lifestyle choice,” Keryl says. “We love our regular guests who come back time and time again. Some have become almost like family.” Recently Mike Whitney from the Sydney Weekender program visited for a night, shooting a story on Sweet Briar and Coolamon Cheese. “Coolamon has a great everyday feel,” Andre says. “When we cross the road to the butcher or to the supermarket, library, school or newsagents we are always rubbing shoulders with like-minded friends. “We are all connected and we love the sense of community that this brings to our everyday lives. “We may have arrived here by accident but, now that we are part of the strong local community, I can say it’s the best choice we ever could have made.” CWL

LEFT: One of Coolamon’s most iconic buildings, the former Bank of NSW, built in 1887 and now a premier B&B in the district; the spacious bedrooms are beautifully appointed; the self-contained Sweet Briar cottages are conveniently located at the top of the main street.


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Central West Lifestyle Spring 2017 Preview - Issue 18  
Central West Lifestyle Spring 2017 Preview - Issue 18