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Gunnedah town feature

Gorgeous gardens

TO INSPIRE Homegrown stars

TOM GLEESON & FANNY LUMSDEN

PEOPLE • HOMES • GARDENS • FOOD • AGRICULTURE • STYLE • EVENTS • TRAVEL CULTURE • BUSINESS • AND MORE FROM OUR BEAUTIFUL REGIONAL AREAS

Showcasing the best of rural and regional New South Wales


• Selling in every auction sale week • Leading wooltrade broker • Forward contract with Riemann • Offering Auctions Plus wool • Accredited & modern rehandle • Cash settlement on small lots • Merchandise • Shearing finance • Web access to client account • One competitive flat rate for all bales • Comprehensive market reporting • Detailed clip analysis

Since taking over our family farm I have been using Jemalong wool exclusively to market our annual woolclip. Using a combination of the traditional auction system and the internet based Wool Trade™ we have been able to take advantage of any upward movements of wool prices. This is due to personalised attention to detail and flexibility due mainly to Jemalong understanding our needs as a business. - Simon Squire-Wilson, Tiverton, Harden, NSW


CENTRAL WEST LIFESTYLE PTY LTD

CONTENT COVERAGE AREA

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 www.centralwestmagazine.com.au FACEBOOK www.facebook.com/CentralWestLifestyle PUBLISHERS, ACCOUNTS & ADVERTISING Elizabeth & Alex Tickle info@centralwestmagazine.com.au EDITOR Elizabeth Tickle editor@centralwestmagazine.com.au CHIEF WRITER & PHOTOGRAPHER Jake Lindsay shotbyjake@hotmail.com ART DIRECTOR Zora Regulic artdirector@centralwestmagazine.com.au

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 www.centralwestmagazine.com.au. © 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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summer 2017 TOWN FEATURE: GUNNEDAH With its awe-inspiring agricultural vistas and breathtaking landscapes, Gunnedah is the hub of one of Australia’s richest agricultural regions: the Liverpool Plains. It is a shire teeming with exceptional characters, assets and experiences.

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130

TRAVEL

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182  THE WAY Spain’s El Camino de Santiago represents a journey of mind and body.

EXPERIENCE

146 170

156 GARDENS

140  “ROCKY RIDGE” Beverley and Robert Oliver’s Cowra garden combines the bold and the beautiful to stunning effect. 146  “EUARRA” John and Irene Bestwick take us for a stroll through their O’Connell garden of grace.

114  BATHURST SHOW The “other Royal” continues to thrive as it approaches its 150th year. 118  BUSHRANGER SERIES Gregory Powell takes a step back in time to the Battle of Temora. 120  SAFE AS HOUSES For QPL Rural, personalised service is paramount. 122  REAL COUNTRY Music sensation Fanny Lumsden tells it like it is. 126  WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE Judy Jakins has put service before self her entire life. 130  OPPORTUNITY KNOX Knox Gibson is spreading the message about embracing people’s differences. 132  FARM FRESH All Saints boarders share a little something from home. 134  THE STORYTELLER Temora filmmaker Masoud Varjavandi is making memories last. 136  SMILES ALL ROUND National Dental Care is providing thorough, cutting-edge treatments. 166  CREATIVE ENERGY The Western Plains Cultural Centre is a hive of activity. 178  NEWSWORTHY Dubbo’s Press café is something to write home about. 186  STYLE AND COMFORT Oak Tree Retirement Villages are ensuring excellent accommodation for the elderly.

EVENTS

190  CWL LAUNCH Pictures from our Spring launch in Coolamon. 194  YEOVAL GATHERING Energetic Women in the Environment. 196  SHOW TIME Dubbo Show draws big crowds. 198  WEDDINGS Meet the Central West’s gorgeous grooms and blushing brides.

REGULAR FEATURES

198  UPCOMING EVENTS 206  OUR ADVERTISERS 208  THE LAST WORD We chat with 99-year-old war veteran Ron Withers.

STYLE

152  WONDER WALLS Tips on turning your blank walls into eye-catching exhibition spaces. 156  LET THERE BE LIGHT Vanessa Hey’s spacious and light-filled home is sheer joy to be in. 162  HANDY HOUSEHOLD HINTS by Hayley Maudsley. 164  THE WHITE PLACE Stylish mother and daughter present the ultimate shopping experience.

(Page 19 Town Feature) Gunnedah town feature

$12.00 inc GST

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SUMMER 2017 VOLUME 19

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170  SEASONAL SENSATIONS Recipes for a stunning three-course summer meal. 176  COUNTRY COOKING Old favourites to delight modern diners.

A FAMILY AFFAIR: Kate and Nat Groves with their gorgeous daughters, Grace and Elsie, in the cotton fields at “Myalla”, Gunnedah.

Gorgeous gardens

TO INSPIRE

Photographer: Shot by Jake

Homegrown stars

TOM GLEESON & FANNY LUMSDEN

PEOPLE • HOMES • GARDENS • FOOD • AGRICULTURE • STYLE • EVENTS • TRAVEL CULTURE • BUSINESS • AND MORE FROM OUR BEAUTIFUL REGIONAL AREAS

Showcasing the best of rural and regional New South Wales

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FOOD

ON THE COVER

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S U M M E R publisher’s letter

FROM THE PUBLISHERS

welcome to summer “Happiness is a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which, if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne

Spring CWL featuring Coolamon and Junee Since Edition 18 featuring Coolamon and Junee, we know that these two beautiful towns and their local areas have been destinations for many of our readers. The 2017 Spring cover featuring Australia’s most famous ghost house, Monte Cristo, Junee, was much admired. And the lure of the all-time favourite Licorice and Chocolate Factory has surely resulted in a boost to visitor numbers. We have received many comments about planned visits to Coolamon to experience the Cheese Factory, the fire station museum and of course, the Up to Date Store, among just some of the other local attractions. It certainly is a pleasure to be able to reveal these wonderful tourist destinations in all their glory.

Collectors Edition Volume 1 On August 29, we launched our much-awaited Collector’s Edition, Volume 1. We will be sharing the beautiful images from the launch in the Autumn 2018 edition of Central West Lifestyle. The Collector’s Edition showcases 50 iconic stories from across the many regions we have covered in the first 18 editions of the magazine. With loyal businesses and 17 councils supporting the concept through advertising, the project evolved very quickly and we were thrilled with the eventual result. Our usual stockists are selling the Collector’s Edition and it can also be ordered online. At the reasonable price of $14.95, it makes an ideal Christmas gift. We hope you can find time to enjoy it.

Central West Lifestyle Spring 2017 launch at Coolamon: Margaret Seymour, Mayor of Coolamon, Cr John Seymour, OAM, MP Michael McCormack, Member for Riverina, Mayor of Junee, Cr Neil Smith, Publishers of Central West Lifestyle Elizabeth and Alex Tickle.

Gunnedah featured in Summer 2017 It has been an absolute privilege to bring you a collection of stories showcasing the lifestyle of the north western town of Gunnedah. We feel that the stunning cover, featuring the Groves family in the field of cotton, epitomises what young farming families are all about. Again, we are most grateful to the Gunnedah Council for collaborating with us in this feature and to all the businesses who had the vision to have a presence in this town feature. We hear so many positive stories about the long-term benefits businesses experience through having a presence in our magazine and we thank them for their loyalty.

The Seymour family celebrating the presentation of John's OAM at Government House: Stuart and Sharn Seymour, Margaret Seymour, Jake Seymour, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley, Governor of New South Wales, Cr John Seymour OAM with Zoe Seymour. Rob Tuckwell Photography

Five years in the business

Happy Christmas to all our readers

The Autumn 2018 edition will represent our 20th edition and five years in business. We have been on the journey of a lifetime, meeting wonderful people, visiting new and interesting places and with our talented team, creating something that, we are told, is making a real difference to tourism in NSW. Our 20th edition will feature the Yass Valley, an area made up of Yass surrounded by nine gorgeous villages, with a total population of 16,500. We are certain you will love exploring this region with us.

We trust that you experience a joyous Christmas surrounded by family and friends. Take time out to do something new and different (for some it may just be switching off from the demands of work). All the best for a healthy, happy and rewarding 2018. Thank you for your ongoing support. Enjoy the Summer edition, tell your friends about our magazine and in doing so, keep the alluring communities of rural and regional NSW alive and well.

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S U M M E R Jake’s message

MOUNTAIN MAGIC Greetings and salutations to our well-informed CWL readers! I'm guessing you've just picked up your latest magazine and are eagerly devouring it from the front end first! Isn't it great seeing Gunnedah cotton farmers Nat and Kate Groves and their two gorgeous girls gracing our cover! I have known Kate’s parents, Andy and Georgie Carrigan, since my early forays out west, and have always admired their keen sense of adventure and ability to work together as a tight, cohesive family. Witnessing their daughter and likeable son-in-law pick cotton at sunset was pretty awe-inspiring. For me, this shot was about carrying on proud family traditions and farming for the future. I've always had a soft spot for Gunnedah, our feature town, ever since I was a little tacker, and it had nothing to do with being Australia's koala capital, home of AgQuip or being located smack in the middle of the rich Liverpool Plains. The truth is I love mountains, and Gunnedah, framed by the Nandewar Ranges, has always been a major agricultural region and desirable spot to start a business and raise a family. It's a town full of characters, none more interesting than local photographer Paul Mathews. Chewing the fat with this humble legend of the lens involved reliving great moments captured, near misses and the forever-changing nature of the business. In his game, a split second made all the difference between front page news and the scrap heap. Images have shaped his life, as have mine, although I've never reached hundreds of thousands of readers as he did during his heady press days. Always remember in this fast-paced world when we expect everything right now, a beautiful picture capturing some dramatic or beautiful moment in your life is better preserved as a framed print on your wall rather than an image on your phone. One of my favourite encounters was meeting Gunnedah's Citizen of the Year, Mike Barnier, a down-to-earth retired farmer who devotes his spare time taking to the skies with Angel Flight. Thanks for the flight, Mike, which enabled me to capture Gunnedah at her stunning best. This edition sees yarns with an emerging tennis star, an AFL footy star, a dry-humoured comedian, farmers, innovative businesses and old timers with a story to tell. Spending a few hours with Mullaley farmer Don Finlay taught me a lot. One never knows how the cards will fall in life but I drove away knowing you sometimes have to fight for what you believe in. The simple things are always the best. A moment, a look, a smile, one shot!

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While at the Gunnedah saleyards I heard this loud, bellowing laughter emanating from the converging throng of cattlemen. I'd heard about this unforgettable sound and guessed, correctly as it turned out, the culprit was soon-to-be-retired Gunnedah stock and station agent Bert Hewitt, the fair-dinkum, larger than life, loveable bird breeder who gets on with everybody and goes about his job every day with the same quiet confidence and joy. There are always plenty of characters at the saleyards but most don’t enjoy being interrupted by a zealous photographer during the course of their business. I'm much better off at a country pub! At a watering hole in Tambar Springs I noticed an old cobber sitting out in the sun, catching a few rays, sipping on a beer and thinking about everything and nothing. With the mandatory busted old Akubra and three days of stubble, I had found my shot! The good thing about shooting such bushies is that they have time on their side and feel relaxed – two vital ingredients if you are on the hunt for great portraits. Another year has come to a close. Thanks to everyone, especially you, the reader, for being part of our journey exploring regional NSW, where all the best things are to be found. On that note, I hope each of you makes time to celebrate Christmas with mates and family in this, the lucky country, where anybody can achieve goals if they keep chipping away. Remember you are never too old to develop new interests and skills, so take your chances and roll the dice. Let's be like our farmers and simply plough on through the day. Leave no sod unearthed! Till next time we meet, keep cool, keep happy, treasure your loved ones and remember tomorrow brings with it the promise of a brighter day!

Cheers, Jake

ABOVE: I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Gunnedah but getting on this road means Coona here I come!; former stockman and fencer Keith Whiting is a Tambar Springs local with a thousand tales etched on his face. The gremlins intervened in our story on the Curry brothers in our Junee/Winter edition. Featured were Tim Curry and wife Nicola, children Sasha, Lincoln and Lara, with Brian and Glenn Curry and their wives Heather and Lynne.


SUMMER 2017 CONTRIBUTORS

meet your team

ELIZABETH TICKLE

ALEX TICKLE

JAKE LINDSAY

Publisher, Editor, Advertising

Publisher, Distribution, Advertising

Chief Writer & Photographer

GINA CRANSON

KATE BOSHAMMER

ZORA REGULIC

CATHERINE PLAYER Writer

Writer & Social Media Manager

AMANDA O’SULLIVAN

DAYNA TIERNEY

ROBERT I BRUCE

JANE SANDERSON

ELIZABETH SWANE

SUE MEIKLE

ZENIO LAPKA

HAYLEY MAUDSLEY

HEATHER CROSBY

Sub-Editor & Proofreader

Home & Style Writer, Photographer

Advertising Designer & Business Strategist

Social Photographer

Writer

Photographer

KATE MURFET Travel Writer

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Art Director

Photographer

LORRAINE HILLS

Country Cuisine Writer

JOHN CURLEY Accountant

Wedding Writer

Household Hints Writer

PAUL & ANNE LOVERIDGE Seasonal Food Writers

ANNA TICKLE

Garden Writer

GREGORY POWELL

Bushranger Series Writer

Writer


I salute Elizabeth and her crew for the sensitive and beautiful way they have delved into our people and our place. This magazine is of course something that locals will cherish, that visitors will use as their guide to the region and for those who are less aware, a teaser that will whet their appetite to explore more. For me personally, it will be a gift to family, friends and visitors, but more, it will be a snapshot – a time capsule if you like. A window into the times and the people of one of the most diverse and beautiful countries on this planet. Cr Neil Smith, Mayor Junee Shire

Just a note of thanks for sending me your wonderful magazine. It is so professional and a brilliant production. Thank you for giving me the chance to be part of it on this occasion. It is absolutely well done and utterly interesting! Ray Warren OAM

Thank you for including my true story and photograph in the Spring edition of your delightful magazine featuring Junee, Volume 18. (Queen of Hearts, pages 92-93) I have read it from front to back, back to front, several times, always finding new and interesting discoveries along the way. I was tickled pink with Jake and how he cleverly portrayed my story. Few knew the full details, and now when we meet along the street or corner, we can all laugh, indulge and reminisce. Volume 18 has grown wings and gone to Northern Ireland and Canada. Looking forward to great new discoveries along the highways and corners of NSW.

YOUR LETTERS When approached by Central West Lifestyle to feature in the Spring 2017 edition with Junee Shire, we at Coolamon Shire had no hesitation coming on board. The opportunity to showcase our shire through your beautifully presented magazine has been both a privilege and a pleasure. We are overwhelmed with the response locally, and many copies have made their way to all states of Australia. The potential for tourism with the Canola Trail through the partnership of Coolamon, Junee and Temora shires is already evident. We are thrilled with the positive feedback we are receiving from visitors and readers that is directly as a result of the Autumn 2017 edition featuring Temora and the most recent Spring edition featuring Coolamon and Junee. I join with my fellow councillors in thanking Elizabeth, Alex and your talented team and congratulate you on yet another wonderful edition of Central West Lifestyle Magazine.

Norma Higginson, Mount Pleasant, Junee

Our story in the 108-page Temora feature in this year’s Autumn edition of Central West Lifestyle was the talk of the town! We felt very honoured to have our Courthouse Cottage B&B chosen for this feature in a beautiful superior quality coffee table magazine with a long “shelf life” and features about extraordinary people and beautiful places in our part of the world! Having worked for many years in sales and marketing at a national level, I can say that the quality of this magazine is unparalleled. The high quality gloss photos and incredible stories are simply dazzling! Garry Cocks, Temora

Cr John Seymour OAM, Mayor, Coolamon Shire

#CentralWestLifestyle

Junee Shire partnered with Coolamon Shire for the Spring 2017 edition of Central West Lifestyle Magazine. So many great things flowed from this “getting together” and from our areas being showcased in this high quality, professionally produced and beautifully presented publication. The surprise for me was learning about the people in our community. You can live and work in a place for decades, interact closely with those around you and still not know their full story.

@2cphotography_pruecritchon relaxing with the latest issue of CWL.

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Gunnedah TOWN FE ATURE WORDS & IMAGES: SHOT BY JAKE

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land of opportunity from the Mayor of Gunnedah Shire

“Our shire is prosperous, inclusive, caring and proud, which is reflected in the achievements and aspirations of our people and their strong sense of community.”

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As Mayor, I’m excited that the Gunnedah Shire is being featured in Central West Lifestyle, giving us the opportunity to showcase our wonderful and diverse community. We’ve got so much to offer, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Gunnedah is often referred to as the “Land of Opportunity” and once you’ve visited our shire, it’s easy to see why. Of course, Gunnedah has all the usual perks of a country town, with liveability being one of our specialities. No traffic, wide open spaces and welcoming faces. But how is that different from any other lovely country town in Australia? Our secret, I believe, is truly the community and the abundant opportunity that makes Gunnedah so special. Our vibrant community situated in north west NSW is rich with prime agricultural land, burgeoning energy resources and a thriving commercial and retail service sector. While agriculture and rural industry have long been the backbone of the local economy, with rich farm land and abundant underground water supporting a thriving agricultural industry, Gunnedah has experienced rapid growth due to coal mining activity and has evolved as a service hub with many service-based businesses in the shire. I was born in Quirindi and grew up on a farm on the outskirts of Tamworth. I decided to make Gunnedah my home in 1990. I was lucky enough to meet Judy, my wife, here in Gunnedah. We’ve now been married for 24 years and have four children.

In the almost 30 years I’ve been here, Gunnedah has continued to progress and prosper and we are one of a lucky few regional towns in our area that has seen solid population growth. My pride in our shire grows with each and every conversation I have with local residents and visitors who tell me just how vibrant our community has become. Our growth and diversity is something we are all proud of and can celebrate, but we’re not resting on our laurels. We are a council that is excited about things to come. We’re proactively working to support growth in the region and to value add so that our community is prepared for whatever the future may bring. Our shire is prosperous, inclusive, caring and proud, which is reflected in the achievements and aspirations of our people and their strong sense of community. Many people have come from our region and have gone on to other things but I’m sure they still feel the familiar tug at their heart strings when they recall fond memories of time growing up in Gunnedah. I know plenty still feel like Gunnedah is their home. Whether you call our shire home or are just here to visit, there is much to discover within our “Land of Opportunity”. I’d like to welcome you and encourage you to stay and enjoy the many riches that Gunnedah and surrounds have to offer. Cr Jamie Chaffey, Mayor of Gunnedah


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

wander out yonder

Gunnedah Shire is teeming with rich and rewarding assets and experiences.

Gunnedah Shire is in the heart of north west NSW on the Oxley Highway, approximately 450 kilometres from Sydney and 655 kilometres from Brisbane. Gunnedah Shire covers an area of 4994 square kilometres and has a growing population of 12,500 people living in Gunnedah and surrounding villages, including Curlewis and Breeza to the south east, Carroll to the east and Tambar Springs and Mullaley to the south west. Gunnedah Shire has a proud, rich and vibrant Aboriginal heritage and is the traditional land of the Kamilaroi people. The traditional language spoken is known as Gamilaraay. The name Gunnedah is an Aboriginal word meaning “Place of White Stones”, which refers to the quartz pebbles and outcrops in the area that are visible from the top of Porcupine Lookout, a significant place for the Kamilaroi people and a great place to view the Gunnedah Shire from. With rich agricultural vistas and breathtaking landscapes, Gunnedah is the hub of one of Australia’s richest agricultural regions: the Liverpool Plains. Key industry for the shire includes agriculture (cropping and livestock), coal mining and manufacturing and processing services that include brick works, leather works and grain milling.

As “Koala capital of the world”, Gunnedah is proudly home to a population of one of Australia’s icons. Keep an eye out for koala hot spots where you may be lucky enough to meet one of our famous furry friends. There are plenty of things to see and do. Our country charm, lively cultural and social scene are just the start. Wherever you are in the shire, you’re bound to be surrounded by beautiful country and friendly faces. Once you take in the magnificent views at both of Gunnedah’s lookouts – Porcupine and Pensioners Hill, you’ll see it is little wonder that this beautiful area inspired Dorothea Mackellar. Immerse yourself in Gunnedah’s beauty and culture via its many rural and urban tour routes, walks and precincts. Visit local true blue country pubs and experience the Lyrical Loos in Brock’s Court. Visit our local boutiques for a spot of shopping, head to a local café or restaurant, grab some lunch and wander down to the riverside precinct to watch the Namoi River flow. The cultural precinct isn’t far away either and is the perfect place to catch a movie at the Civic, grab an events calendar or visit the Bicentennial Creative Arts Gallery. While you’re in the mood for culture, located in ANZAC Park is the life-sized Dorothea Mackellar Memorial statue,

the Maas Walk and the Mackellar Centre, headquarters of the Dorothea Mackellar Memorial Society. Gunnedah also has loads of other attractions including Lake Keepit, memorials, museums, parks and recreational facilities. If you can’t fit it all in one day, there are a wide range of accommodation and dining options to suit all budgets and tastes. We can’t wait to have you here. Take some time out and wander out yonder. You may even choose to stay a while. CWL Images: Shot By Jake and Paul Mathews

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solid foundations Gunnedah's buildings, like its people, stand proud and strong.

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

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days gone by Gunnedah

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Images supplied by Gunnedah and District Historical Society


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

loving life on the land Nat and Kate Groves are embracing the challenges of growing irrigated cotton and grain and raising a family at “Myalla�, Gunnedah.

Managing and share-farming their property as part of a family succession plan, Nat and Kate Groves are raising their two girls Grace, 4, and Elsie, 2, in a vibrant, diverse and prosperous local community. Kate is a third-generation irrigated cotton farmer born and raised in the Gunnedah area, and was involved in the family farm before attending the University of New England to study Law and Agriculture.

It was here she met her future husband. With a limited agricultural background, Nat was encouraged by his Agriculture teacher and family in Portland to study for a Bachelor of Rural Science. He gained most of his practical farming skills over holiday periods at mates’ places and work experience but it was his passion and interest for agriculture that kept him in the area and led him to the cotton industry. > GUNNEDAH CWL 19


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

Nat and Kate plant their cotton in the middle of October and harvest late April/May the following year. After completing their degrees, the couple married in Kate’s family homestead, “Milchengowrie�, Boggabri, and worked throughout the north west in agribusiness and agronomy before returning to the farm to start their family. Nat has worked alongside his in-laws, Andy and Georgie Carrigan, forging a strong partnership and gaining the necessary management skills required for cotton production. Eventually, an opportunity arose for a share-farming agreement on a family property where they now reside.

Nat and Kate plant their cotton in the middle of October and harvest late April/May the following year. The main tasks throughout the growing season are plant and soil health, weed and pest control and water management. Grace and Elsie love being involved in all aspects of production: finding seed as it is planted into the ground, swimming in the irrigation channels and spending time on the tractors and cotton pickers as harvest comes around. >

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“We are seeing high yields and strong production now in the Liverpool Plains.”

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

Grace is always bringing seeds and flowers home in her pocket to ask her dad what they are and if she can plant and grow it, just like him. Show and tell is almost always about what her dad is doing, and her class has planted the grain seeds that she has taken to school. Elsie is definitely Nat’s right-hand girl and is the first one in the buggy or ute to inspect the crops and let him know what she thinks of his work. In recent years, the Gunnedah region has seen an increase in the amount of area planted to cotton. This is largely due to plant breeding delivering new varieties, which has enabled new growers in cooler climates to produce cotton. “We are seeing high yields and strong production now in the Liverpool Plains – as far as Quirindi and Coolah, where historically it hasn’t been grown much further south than Gunnedah,” Kate says. Throughout the winter months, the family grow dry land wheat and chickpeas on the back of the cotton season, harvesting in November. This keeps everyone busy over the whole year, especially during the overlap of summer and winter cropping. After going through the devastating loss of two stillborn baby girls, Maysie and Clementine, each at 38 weeks, they hope to build a family home at “Myalla”, Orange Grove Road, where Nat is the manager/share-farmer. Grace and Elsie are always watching the sky, hoping for a “rain day” so they can have Nat and Kate all to themselves, often spending the day together in the garden or workshop. Although it sounds cliché, this pair couldn’t think of a better way to raise their two girls than on the farm and in the vibrant Gunnedah community. CWL

Bears of HopePregnancy and Infant Loss Support Bears of Hope is an Australian registered not-for-profit organisation that provides support and exceptional care for families who experience the loss of a baby. www.bearsofhope.org.au

ABOVE: Cotton picking is always a busy time with all hands on deck. FACING PAGE: Family affair: Kate Groves and Georgie Carrigan; Elsie and Grace having fun while the serious work is completed.

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

HISTORY ON TAP A repurposed water tower holds the region’s priceless relics.

Gunnedah’s Water Tower Museum, as the name suggests, is housed in the 110-year-old reservoir built to provide the town with a clean water supply. The tower remained in service until the late 1950s, when it was replaced by a steel reservoir erected nearby. The Gunnedah and District Historical Society was formed in 1963, and in 1967 it was decided the old water tower could be converted into an amazing space to house its growing collection. Work on the ambitious program began in 1968 but it took 10 years to complete. The stunning conversion includes a basement, three display floors and an observation deck with glorious views over town. A feature of the museum are the murals on the third floor depicting Aboriginal life at the time of European settlement in the district. Some of the more interesting items on display include an 1856 Gunnedah village map sketched on cloth, an 1870 penny farthing, a wedding dress from the 1800s, swimmer Andrew “Boy” Charlton’s cap, an early model wheelchair and a blacksmith’s hut. Many of the relics paint a story of how people lived in the district in the 19th century, with everything from cross-cut saws to shears, a bath tub, clothing and a handmade wooden leg. The museum is open on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. The Gunnedah Historical Society is still going strong with about 20 hard-working volunteers led by president Bob Leister. “Coming to the museum gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning,” laughs Bob, a sprightly 79-year-old who has been involved with the museum for 15 years after a lifetime selling and servicing farm machinery. Research officer Shirley Coote is the longest-serving member, having been involved with the society since 1980. The society has produced a few impressive books – The Way We Were and In The Line of Fire – but most energy is poured into the museum, where all the old records and newspapers documenting the town's history are kept. “Many visitors have commented on our war memorabilia – from the Boer War through to Vietnam – and reckon our display is the best outside of Singleton and Canberra,” says Bob. “It’s unique in the fact that we’ve tried to include things that came from Gunnedah and the local district.” This museum is a credit to everybody who has helped make it the success it is today. More volunteers, however, are needed to extend the hours of operation and keep the dream alive. CWL

LEFT: President of the Gunnedah Historical Society Bob Leister with research officer Shirley Coote in the Water Tower Museum.

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Keepit real

Whether you’re after action aplenty or some rest and relaxation, Keepit Dam can deliver.

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Keepit Dam plays a pivotal role in the lives of hundreds of farmers throughout the Namoi Valley, supplying water for irrigated cotton and cereal crops, lucerne, vegetables, vines and orchards. The dam, between Tamworth and Gunnedah, is also a popular retreat for fishing and boating enthusiasts, nature lovers and families. Started in 1939 and completed in 1960, the dam has a surface area of 4370ha and a catchment area of nearly 6000 square kilometres. At its maximum capacity, the dam reaches 48 metres deep and holds nearly two thirds of Sydney Harbour. Keepit Dam is not just popular with thousands of day visitors and holidaymakers but serves as a healthy respite for the farmers and townsfolk of the region. Some of the many activities on offer include boating, fishing, sailing and water skiing. The lake is also one of the premier soaring sites in Australia. The nearby soaring club offers flights for those keen to tick off another “must do” activity from the bucket list. Lake Keepit is famous for its fishing. Try your luck catching the local varieties of Silver and Golden Perch (Yellow Belly), Murray Cod and even Catfish. Many visitors to the area take advantage of the picnic and barbecue facilities, as well as the BMX bike track, tennis courts, skate bowl, water park and playgrounds.

There are plenty of accommodation options, from cabins to onsite tents to rustic bush campsites. Bring the marshmallows and toast them on an open fire. The Lake View Cafe has been refurbished and is now open for business Wednesday to Sunday. Providing hot food, cold drinks, ice cream and convenience products, the cafe is a great addition to the park. CWL

Catching the breeze The sailing bug was picked up later in life by farmers Ian and Lyn Pine, “llalinga”, Emerald Hill, who discovered a refreshing new world at Lake Keepit Sailing Club. On sunny Sundays, the fun-loving pair love nothing more than packing away their farming woes and heading off for a spot of therapeutic sailing. “We’ve sailed when the water level is only two per cent in the middle of a raging drought,” Ian says. “Our club members are a fiercely committed lot and will usually do anything to get out on the water – resorting to a small dinghy if need be.” Ian is the long-standing Commodore of the Lake Keepit Sailing Club. Lyn is the dedicated treasurer of the club, which has around 40 members. Ian says it’s a great way to create new friendships and forget, momentarily at least, the “wide, brown land” beyond. Ian remembers the huge amount of community work in clearing that part of the former grazing property now available for water sports. Thankfully, chainsaws were new on the scene and helped in the removal of thousands of trees. The sailors decided to build a clubhouse that was officially opened in 1967 after years of voluntary labour and fundraising. “I was only a young fella at the time but can remember the massive expanse of dried concrete and all these officials milling around in dark suits and hats,” he laughs. Ian discovered the joy of sailing in his early 20s during visits to his brother, a wool buyer in Sydney. Fortunately, his brother

had a mate who loved sailing and many a fine afternoon was spent taking in the glorious sights of Middle Harbour. It took him a couple of decades to get back on the water but he and Lyn are making up for lost time in “Wagtail”, a Beale 850 that flies like the wind on a good day. “It’s a great thrill feeling the power of the wind filling the sails,” Ian says. “Then there’s the beautiful sound of the water as you increase speed. Out there on the water you feel a million miles from all your cares and worries.” Ian says there is both social cruising and competitive sailing on offer. “Either way, it’s recreational and gets us away from the humdrum of farm life. It’s a great respite in the drier times.” Watching the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race each Christmas is always something the Pines look forward to. The Lake Keepit Sailing Club even has a few connections with the famous race.

The late John Gibson loved his outings at Keepit and was a well-known crew member for Helsal II. His grandson, Daniel “Gibbo” Hawkins, who learnt the fundamentals of sailing on Keepit, has raced twice to Hobart in his own yacht, The Goat. On a slightly smaller scale but with the same level of commitment is the Keepit Kool Regatta, held each June long weekend. This year nearly 50 boats participated but next year, being the 50th anniversary, promises to be even bigger. “It’s very much a family concern,” Lyn says. “Everybody is prepared to share their knowledge. You never stop learning and the conditions are always different.” CWL ABOVE: Commodore of the Lake Keepit Sailing Club, Ian Pine with wife Lyn; their sailing boat, Wagtail, has provided many hours of enjoyment on Lake Keepit. FACING PAGE: You don’t need to own a boat to enjoy a sail, with the club hiring all types of craft suited to people of all ages and ability; the dam wall height at Keepit is 55 metres.

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time machine Gunnedah Rural Museum houses one of the largest collections of early agricultural and transport memorabilia in Australia, including one of the largest tractor collections in the country.

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From humble beginnings in 1988, the Gunnedah Rural Museum has grown to include seven display buildings with over 18,000 individual exhibits covering all aspects of domestic, agricultural, industrial and commercial history of early rural Australia. The museum is staffed by about 50 volunteers, including a dozen committed individuals who assist with moving, restoring machinery and general maintenance. Over the years countless people have lent a hand to set up more than 1600 displays, including tractors, steam engines, antique farming and mining machinery, horse-drawn and motorised vehicles. The museum opened its doors in 1992 prior to the opening of AgQuip, Australia’s largest field day. Among the throng of 1000 visitors was former federal member John Anderson, who performed the official duties. According to press clippings from the time, he spoke passionately about the early wheat-stripping implements that would eventually allow Australia to become competitive on the world market.

“The history here reminds us of what happened in the past,” he said. “It also tells us that if our forebears were able to get through without throwing in the towel – so should we. We have a legacy to live up to.” The concept for the museum was formulated after a group of dedicated Gunnedah and district enthusiasts decided to build a memorial to the days of yesteryear. Located on the Oxley Highway towards Coonabarabran, the museum features an amazing collection of memorabilia from a bygone era when the country was young and the modern equipment today’s man on the land takes for granted was still a pipe dream. Today the museum serves many purposes, including housing the Men’s Shed, where men of all ages turn up on Wednesdays to enjoy a yarn or get involved in some of the many restoration projects. What began as a seed of an idea by a group of enthusiasts nearly 30 years ago has now developed into a major tourist attraction and a centre for learning for future generations. Drop in for a visit to see how it was “in the good old days” when our pioneers tamed the land. CWL

FACING PAGE: The Barnes Shed houses what is believed to be the largest collection of Arnott’s biscuit tins and memorabilia ever assembled. CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: The Museum is lovingly maintained by nearly 50 volunteers; publicity officer Bill Barry with an old Allis Chalmers tractor; volunteer Owen Tydd works on the miniature railway donated by Gunnedah stalwart Don McDonagh; there are plenty of old automobiles for the car enthusiast; an impressive collection of shifters.

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

colourful characters You won’t find a pair of dehorners at Skinny Lizard Longhorns, Emerald Hill, home to Australia’s horniest cattle.

Proud Texas Longhorn breeder Geoff Dawson loves the breed’s reputation for enormous horns and vibrant colour. “I like to have our cattle with various horn shapes to add variety to our herd,” he says as he walks through his tranquil mob. “I like different colours and they are certainly the breed that produces colour. No other cattle breed can boast as many colour varieties as the Texas Longhorn.” During the week Geoff wears a very different cap as an agribusiness manager for NAB, Gunnedah, an institution he has worked with for 40 years. “What I like most of all is to change into my work shirt, jeans and farm boots on the weekend and work on the seemingly thousands of jobs you have when you own 200 acres,” he laughs. It’s abundantly obvious how much Geoff and wife Belinda love sharing their property “Dallas” with their beloved Longhorns. After 30 years of marriage, it serves as the perfect retreat from their very separate lives in town.

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“We often refer to the place as ‘our little bubble’, where we can just get away from our jobs and enjoy a good country life, watching the cattle graze contently in the paddock,” he says. Geoff caught the Longhorn bug quite by accident in 1998. The internet was a novel thing in those days and Geoff, a cub scout leader at Parkes, was visiting the local library. “Having watched the kids looking things up on this weird thing called the World Wide Web, for fun I looked up Texas Longhorn cattle, a breed that’s always fascinated me,” he says. “A couple of weeks later I was reading The Land and noticed an ad for a full-blood Texas Longhorn bull – I didn’t realise there were any in Australia,” he laughs. >

FACING PAGE: Geoff Dawson’s favourite Longhorn is Rastus, a whopping one tonne trophy steer with long and twisted horns. He is as gentle as a lamb and loves a scratch.


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