WINTER 2016 SPRING 2015
The bush spirit of
Historic Bleak House
Explore the country charm of
BOOROWA & CROOKWELL town feature
winter 2016 VOLUME 13
PEOPLE • HOMES • GARDENS • FOOD • AGRICULTURE • STYLE • EVENTS • TRAVEL CULTURE • BUSINESS • AND MORE FROM THE BEAUTIFUL CENTRAL WEST REGION
capturing the best in the west
• 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
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org EDITOR Elizabeth Tickle email@example.com CHIEF WRITER & PHOTOGRAPHER Jake Lindsay firstname.lastname@example.org ART DIRECTOR Zora Regulic email@example.com
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.
SUBSCRIBE ONLINE To order a subscription or back issue (mailed or online), visit www.centralwestmagazine.com.au. ÂŠ Central West Lifestyle Pty Ltd 2016
All Rights Reserved
Subscriptions and back issues are also available to read online, on desktop and mobile devices.
No part of this magazine may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the publisher.
Unsold magazines are distributed to cafes, health waiting rooms, quality hotels/motels, bed and breakfast establishments, hair and beauty salons and tourist outlets.
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.
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CONTENTS WINTER 2016
114-PAGE TOWN FEATURE: BOOROWA & CROOKWELL
Snuggle up by the fire with your CWL and meet the characters, see the sights, and marvel at the enterprise, ingenuity and calibre of two of the Central West’s most picturesque and enticing villages.
110 SHOW OF FORCE
A PEEK AT BLEAK
The tiny town of Rydal hosts the “biggest little show in the west”.
We visit one of Mudgee’s oldest and finest homes.
HOME AND COSY
COOL, CALM AND CLASSIC
A natural fibre fabulous for home decorating.
Beat the winter blues with these style tips.
We visit the stunning Millthorpe home of Incy Interiors founder Kristy Withers.
WHAT COMES NATURALLY
TICKET TO PARADISE
DISHES TO DIE FOR
Leather, Mohair, Merino and Cashmere make fine fashion staples.
Pip Teys holidays on Hamilton Island.
Anne and Paul Loveridge from The Quarry Restaurant share a winter menu that’s bound to satisfy and delight, while Lorraine Hills serves up some tried and true family favourites.
202 190 EVENTS IN THE WEST
THE LAST WORD
Pictures from CWL’s Autumn launch at Mayfield Garden.
The Central West’s blushing brides and gallant grooms tie the knot in true country style.
Fraser Lyon takes his photography skyward.
ON THE COVER 2016 R 2015 WINTE SPRING
GARDENS to inspire
The bush spirit of
Highly respected pastoralist Jeff Prell OAM in his historic woolshed at “Gundowringa”, Crookwell. Photography: Shot by Jake
of Explore the country charm
BOOROWA & CR OOKW EL L town feature
winter 2016 VOLUME 13
The magazine could not exist without them, and their loyalty shows their commitment to the communities of the Central West.
Historic Bleak House
• EVENTS • TRAVEL AGRICU LTURE • STYLE GARDEN S • FOOD • L WEST REGION PEOPLE • HOMES • THE BEAUTI FUL CENTRA • AND MORE FROM CULTUR E • BUSINE SS
in the west capt uring the best
WE ENCOURAGE OUR READERS TO SUPPORT OUR ADVERTISERS.
From the Publishers Welcome to winter in the Central West! We are thrilled to present to you a Town Feature on Boorowa and Crookwell. Very welcoming and full of history and amazing stories, these two towns were certainly a pleasure to research and explore. Although CWL attended the Crookwell Show and experienced that country vibe and feeling of pride that comes with the annual show, we have chosen to showcase this special event in the Spring 2016 edition. It is with great sadness we share the news of the passing of one of West Wyalong’s much-loved residents, John Pellow. CWL writer Cath Player wrote a beautiful story about John in our Summer 2015 edition. We had a great deal of positive feedback from that story and many people recounted friendships that they had with John or work relationships that were based on trust and loyalty. West Wyalong will certainly miss John’s smiling face and we extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Alice, and John’s family and friends. It has been a great privilege to be part of an adjudication panel for the Nationals Soap Box Challenge public speaking competition, facilitated by the Deputy Premier and Member for Dubbo, Troy Grant. This competition included participants from public and private high schools in Mudgee, Wellington, Narromine, Trangie and Dubbo. The finals held in Dubbo in April saw spirited competition from both boys and girls from Years 7 to 12 with James Barton, Macquarie Anglican Grammar School, Dubbo, and Maree Pobje, Dubbo College Delroy Campus, Dubbo, taking out the coveted titles. Congratulations to all students who entered this competition and to school staff and families who supported their endeavours. We recently attended the Nationals Dinner in Dubbo where we had the great thrill of meeting former Prime Minister John Howard. He held the prime ministerial office for 11 years as one of the longest serving prime ministers of our time. We felt very proud when Troy Grant presented Mr Howard with the 3rd Anniversary Collection of CWL. Dubbo recently had the honour of a visit from NSW Governor, General David Hurley. Snare’s Newsagency, Dubbo, was one of four businesses in the city to receive a visit from the Governor. Peter Snare chose to present a gift of the first 12 editions of CWL, packaged as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Anniversary Collections to the Governor. This was certainly a great thrill for the CWL team! We farewell our advertising graphic designer, Lisa Starr, from the CWL team. Lisa has worked with us over the past nine editions and we thank her for her collaboration with our many advertisers and her high quality creative input to our magazine. We would like to welcome Orange-based Mitch Brakenridge, who takes up the advertising graphic designer position. He comes with a wealth of experience in design, marketing and communication and we look forward to working with Mitch on our journey with CWL. April saw yet more Open Days at Iandra Castle where CWL enjoyed having a stand, showcasing our magazine to visitors and networking with many people, some of whom were visiting the amazing Iandra Castle for the first time. We have been busy visiting and researching our next three towns to be featured in spring, West Wyalong, Condobolin and Lake Cargelligo. What incredibly interesting and progressive towns we discovered with so many people involved in ventures that add to the intrinsic fabric of their captivating communities. Till next time, stay warm, find a cosy spot to curl up and enjoy the latest edition of Central West Lifestyle. Warm regards,
Elizabeth and Alex Tickle 6 CWL
Above: From left, back row: Adjudicators Pip Job, 2014 NSW ACT Rural Woman of the Year, Elizabeth Tickle, CWL Editor, Nathan Quigley, State Director of the NSW Nationals. Middle row: Trophy donors Nancy Peacocke, wife of the late Gerry Peacocke, Judy Jakins, the first female member of the Legislative Council (Upper House), with the Hon Troy Grant MP. Front row: Winners James Barton and Maree Pobje.
Above: Publishers Elizabeth and Alex Tickle with former Prime Minister John Howard.
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reetings and salutations to the good folk carving out a living and growing older by the day in the good old Central West!
During my memorable stay in the delightful little town of Boorowa I was fortunate to camp out at the converted jackeroo quarters at the Wantana Cottage Farm Stay. The likeable owners, Bill and Sharee Darmody, had gone to the coast for a well-earned break and left the farm to yours truly, with no responsibilities other than to sit back and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the bush, the stars at night and early mornings for writing. The last time I stayed in a jackeroos’ quarters (along with five other mostly ute owners, making my old pink EK Holden sedan look appalling) was 36 years ago at Gunbar Station, Merriwagga (near Hay). I must admit I was never cut out for farm work but my time there was a real eye opener for a young bloke still trying to find his way. The days were long and the pay, at $60 a week, was enough to get by on. While I often struggled with the horse-breaking, constant mustering and endless drenching, lamb-marking, dipping and grass-seed removal, I had at least one constant companion (besides my kelpie dog, who was about as useless as this correspondent) and that was my Konica camera, permanently tucked away in my saddlebag.
Looking back, I could see it was my images and not my stock handling ability that would take me places in this world. So, all these years later, I am still taking pictures and sharing my stories, but this time with an audience – you, the faceless and largely unknown readers who have grown to love this magazine and the little unsung legends we seem to uncover!
When the lights went out I would get to work in my makeshift darkroom (in the small space next to my bed), printing images of all facets of station life and hanging them on a piece of wire to dry overnight. There was a constant stream of “new chums” coming and going and I never tired of listening to their stories and shooting a way of life that in many respects has now sadly disappeared.
I totally love Boorowa and not just because it has three pubs and two clubs, making it, per capita, one of the biggest drinking towns in the country (I must admit that it never quite looked like that, but you get my point).
I even made a few bob selling the prints to the station’s workforce, including the manager, a Mr Peter Wilson (who smoked a pipe and commanded deep respect), the overseer, six jackeroos (including your traditional “green” Pommy Jackeroo who was the butt of even more jokes than me), four station hands, a cook and a “cowboy”, who taught me how to butcher a “killer” (probably the most gruesome job of all and one that I never really got my head around!). Then there were the shearers, who camped in the shearers’ quarters for weeks at a time, and the horse-breaker, a nuggety bloke from Gunnedah who put me on some frisky, station-bred young colts that were clearly not like the ones I used to ride in my old Pony Club days! How I wished I hadn’t put my Barcoo Poley saddle on that top rung of the yards on my first day (I was later reminded that it meant I was prepared to ride anything!).
Left: In the air with Ross Williams over the skies of Boorowa. Below: Nothing like a good sunset at Wantana Cottage Farm Stay to see the day out.
Staying in Crookwell, just over the ranges, was much the same. I kept running into folk with great vision, like John and Liz Baker who saw a lovely home in an old, decrepit Cobb and Co building out near Frogmore and spent years bringing it back to its former glory. Visionaries like former mayor Robert Gledhill, whose love for the town knows no boundaries. Farmers like Bill and Sharee Darmody, who quietly go about their business and the Big Boys like Wally Merriman (Merinos), Garry Kadwell (potatoes) and John Kelly (thoroughbreds), all putting their respective country towns in the spotlight. I was honoured to catch up with two very skilled wordsmiths in this issue. Peter Austin is a household name for readers of the bush bible, The Land. He was my editor during a memorable two-year stint in Tamworth back in the 1980s. I have the utmost respect for this man who has devoted 40 years of his life to informing people of what’s happening in our country. I shouldn’t have been so nervous about seeing him for so long – he hasn’t changed one bit! I was also lucky to catch up with Laggan’s Christopher Lee, a gifted scriptwriter responsible for some of the most engaging programs we have seen on our televisions. This man reminded me of some very good lessons: seize the moment and live life to the full. The spirit of the bush is truly alive. I must also thank the two generous men who gave up their time to take me flying over Crookwell and Boorowa: Jake Bush (in his boss’s chopper) and Ross Williams (in Brett Hughston’s funky little trike ultralight). Seeing these towns from 1000 feet up always offers a new, if not a daring, perspective of the towns we are proud to call “home”. I’ll leave you with a thought from the Dalai Lama, who said “Man” surprised him most about humanity. “Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future. He lives as if he is never going to die and then dies having never really lived.” Hoping you are all living life to the max and enjoying good health and peace. Now go and find your favourite chair for the good bits!
Shot by Jake 8 CWL
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Situated close to trout fishing in Lake Oberon. 29km from Jenolan Caves and Kanangra Boyd National Park. Visit Mayfield Water Garden, Open 7 days with Nursery & Kitchen Cafe.
The Big Trout Motor Inn is located in the township of Oberon, which is best known for Jenolan Caves, Kanangra Walls, trout fishing, its snowfalls in winter and daffodils in spring. It now also has one of the largest privately owned cool climate gardens in the country, Mayfield Garden. The town and its environment abound with magnificent scenery and offer exciting adventures and activities for visitors of all ages. These include, bush walking, 4 Wheel Driving, gem fossicking and mushrooming. Canoeing, Kayaking and sailing on Lake Oberon are also popular during the summer months. We specialise in Coach Groups and provide organised tours of the district with a local guide. Tours take in
surrounding towns and villages including Hill End, Sofala, Bathurst, Rockley, Carcoar, Lithgow and Jenolan Caves. They can be tailored to include a farm experience, Mayfield Garden tours, timber harvesting as well as the history of the region. With 33 ground floor units, there are facilities to suit everyone. Two units in the complex have luxurious spa baths. A Licensed Restaurant with popular Chinese and Australian cuisine is connected to the motel, while room service is available on request.
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WINTER 2016 CONTRIBUTORS
Meet your team
Publisher & Editor
Publisher & Advertising
Chief Writer & Photographer
Sub-Editor & Proofreader
ANGUS WADDELL Photographer
Weddings & Events Writer
Writer & Social Media Manager
ALI WANCHAP WOOD
Home & Style and Travel Writer
PAUL & ANNE LOVERIDGE
ROBERT I BRUCE
Country Cuisine Writer
Seasonal Food Writers
Home & Style Writer
Social Media Curator
SECTION On behalf of myself and my husband Andrew McDougall OAM, I would like to express our gratitude and thanks to Elizabeth Tickle, photographer Jake Lindsay, and the great team at Central West Lifestyle magazine, for putting together a remarkable Summer 2015 edition. It has been a great experience being a part of this edition for the Orange community. The focus on heritage and the depth of passion within rural communities and local families is an important element. This was brought home recently when we hosted Christmas 2015 at “Strathroy”, Orange, providing the perfect opportunity for the Phillips family to come together and enjoy five generations of women being together. Family matriarch 92-year-old Gwen Phillips was able to spend time enjoying the company of daughter Deanne, granddaughters Michelle and Nikki, great granddaughters Grace and Abbey and most importantly great-great-granddaughter Evelyn, along with other family members. Five generations enjoyed a luncheon in the beautiful “Strathroy” garden, making this a memorable occasion for all. Thank you to a great team of professionals, producing a very exciting publication supporting rural towns, villages and individuals.
your letters Anyone who lives in the Central West region of NSW knows it is a great place to live, work and play. While it’s great that we recognise how good we’ve got it and how privileged we are to live in this beautiful area of the state, I am grateful that we have an opportunity to showcase our region to visitors and local communities alike in a professional and quality publication. Since the winter of 2013, Central West Lifestyle has captured and showcased our region. Across 13 editions to date, this first-class publication has told the stories of our remarkable community members and promoted the beauty of our area with spectacular photography to not only other regions in NSW and Australia but across the world. Central West Lifestyle goes behind the images and resilience of the area and takes the reader with them as they delve into the lives and the history of the Central West’s greatest assets: its people. It is compelling editorial and visually delightful. I look forward to grabbing each edition off the shelf at my newsagent every quarter. Thank you to the team at Central West Lifestyle for recognising our region and for the professional manner in which you promote our area. I congratulate you and wish you every success for many more editions to come.
Deanne Phillips OAM, Orange It is with pleasure that I look back and consider Oberon’s experience with the Central West Lifestyle magazine team. Oberon and Lithgow shared a 113page feature in the Autumn edition. The compilation was painless and professional from our perspective, the launch was very enjoyable and the end result, the magazine itself, was spectacular. The individual stories were interesting and well researched and the photography visually stunning. Community feedback has been extremely positive and I have no doubt this project will encourage visitation to our region. Of the complimentary issues we received, I have already given copies to several metro council mayors, prompting comments such as: “What a stunning part of the world you live in” and “I had no idea the Central West was so beautiful”. I consider the project a winner and I hope to continue our relationship with Elizabeth and her team into the future. Kathy Sajowitz, Mayor, Oberon Council I buy each issue and marvel at your well-deserved success. Each issue seems to be getting bigger. It is such an outstanding magazine. Alex is obviously a whizz at securing advertising, such a genuine man to deal with – why wouldn’t everyone sign up! The content of each magazine is so motivating, I have decided to go on a winter road trip and discover some of the lovely country towns in NSW that I have never visited.
Pamela Munson, Paterson
Troy Grant, Deputy Premier, Leader of the NSW National Party, Member for Dubbo Lithgow City Council partnered with Oberon Council for the Autumn edition of Central West Lifestyle. This proved to be a very successful venture. The positive remarks and enthusiasm this gorgeous magazine has created is really wonderful for our future tourism opportunities and has spread the word of our silent achievers doing fabulous things! I have spoken to many people from the Central West since the launch of the magazine. The interest that has been created far exceeds my expectations. It has been enlightening and encouraging. The stories and photography are incredible, very personal showing a side of our fellow citizens that perhaps we never get to see. These are real stories that have educated us in the journey of others. Maree Statham, Mayor, Lithgow City Council
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12 CWL BOOROWA
BOOROWA TOWN FEATURE WORDS & IMAGES: SHOT BY JAKE
BOOROWA CWL 13
FROM THE MAYOR As a child travelling from Canberra to my birthplace of Cowra to visit my nan, a school holiday ritual for my family, we used to make a point of stopping at the clean facilities at the Boorowa Courthouse Park. My father would begrudgingly appease the moaning from the backseat from his four children, and pull in to the recognisable spot. At the time, I was of the opinion that Boorowa was just a one-street town with little appeal. I could have never imagined that Boorowa would play such a large part in my future. In 1997 my husband and I decided to buy a farm and raise our gorgeous boys, aged four and two at the time, some 15 kilometres from that familiar main street of Boorowa. It was a bold move, but clearly one of the best life choices we have made. The Boorowa community embraced us as their own and it felt wonderful to be connected with such a vibrant, passionate and welcoming community that truly made us believe we were indeed the fortunate ones. We embraced the people and the places and became part of a diverse range of community groups. Through this engagement we have made lifelong friendships and reaped the rewards that a rural life is known for. A pivotal suggestion saw me run for council in 2004, and I was elected and later became Mayor in 2007, a role I continue to be honoured to hold to this day. My greatest thrill was being a part of a visionary council that designed and upgraded the main street and gave Boorowa a sense of place, an aesthetic that enticed the travelling public to stop and take notice and, more importantly, gave the locals a place to be proud of. We all knew the beauty held within, we just needed to unlock that beauty for the rest of the world to enjoy. The transformation is so visible and vibrant and the recognition that Boorowa receives from far and wide is truly well deserved. My sense of pride and belonging to such an inspiring town only grows when I am stopped by a stranger, to be told me that they have been to Boorowa and what a beautiful town it is. Beyond the main street there are beautiful parks and small villages in the Local Government Area, each offering their own unique appeal and yet a commonality. Boorowa continues to be recognised for being home to agriculture leaders and innovators and was the clear choice as an idyllic location for the CSIRO Agriculture Research and Development Farm. Boorowa will be showcased to the world as research and development teams visit, make their home here and experience what we have been so proud to call home for so long. Come and visit and see for yourself the many reasons why Boorowa is beautiful! Youâ€™re welcome any time! Wendy Tuckerman, Mayor of Boorowa 14 CWL BOOROWA
PRIDE of place B
oorowa presents a picturesque and varied landscape ranging from rugged wooded ridgelines to rolling hills and open grazing land. The hills and flats host rich grazing country and productive croplands. The ridgelines also contain veins of various precious ores and rare minerals. Boorowa is host to some beautiful colours and views all year round! The area sits along the borders of the Ngunnawal and Wiradjuri Aboriginal country. Europeans settled in the early 1800s, which saw the establishment of the agricultural industry evident in Boorowa today. As settlers gradually moved onto the fertile flats and valleys of the district, the towns and villages grew at river crossings. The township of Boorowa quickly emerged as the significant centre. The importance of the transit routes from Goulburn were reinforced by the gold rush that occurred at Lambing Flat from 1860. Immerse yourself in some of this beautiful local history by following one of the three Shamrock Trails. The trails tell the history of Boorowa, providing a compelling story of bushrangers, settlers, convicts and gold.
A particular highlight is the Boorowa River Walk that meanders along the river banks through beautiful parks and gardens. A must-see site along the beautiful trails is St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church. The church is reminiscent of a cathedral in all its beauty. Ned Ryan on his ticket of leave from Clonoulty was instrumental in building the new church and bringing priceless marble from Italy to form the magnificent altar. Prominent above the doorway is a stained glass window dedicated to Daniel O’Connell, the liberator of Ireland. A particular highlight is the Boorowa River Walk that meanders along the river banks through beautiful parks and gardens. Often you can see platypuses playing at dawn and dusk and look out for the native superb parrot in spring. A pub stop or few along the way will quench the thirst of any weary traveller. Picture yourself with an ice-cold beer, a hearty pub meal, having a good old yarn, whether it is the local update on wool prices, the weather or the footy scores. You will experience good old-fashioned hospitality when in beautiful Boorowa. Boorowa’s Irish history and woolly heritage led to the famous annual event The Running of the Sheep. Imagine sheep rampaging down the main street of beautiful Boorowa, leading a colourful street parade at the annual Irish Woolfest on the Sunday of the October Long Weekend. This is the feature event not to be missed and one for the bucket list. CWL BOOROWA CWL 15
A TOWN well
16 CWL BOOROWA
Days gone by
Images courtesy of the Boorowa Historical Society.
BOOROWA CWL 17
RIPPING YARNS FOR THREE GENERATIONS THE MERRIMAN FAMILY OF BOOROWA HAVE STEADFASTLY STUCK TO THEIR HIGHLY PRIZED MERRYVILLE BLOODLINES, WHOSE GENETICS ARE SAID TO HAVE INFLUENCED MORE THAN 70 PER CENT OF THE WORLD’S FINE-WOOL SHEEP POPULATION.
t all started with Sir Walter Merriman, who created a Merino sheep dynasty, the likes of which the country has never seen before or since.
Since coming to “Beverley”, on the outskirts of Boorowa, and living in the cottage with his five siblings, there was never a dull moment.
A fine physical man with a mind to match, Sir Walter was highly regarded as a superb sportsman, public speaker, businessman, sheep and cattle breeder and one of the pioneers of pasture improvement in the district.
Young Wally grew up with his brothers, the sheep, station hands, shearers and plenty of old family friends and mentors. Breeding was in his blood from the time he could walk.
Perhaps his most memorable ram purchase was snapping up Sir Francis in 1917 from the Falkiners’ Wanganella stud in the western Riverina. He paid 1000 guineas for the sire as a five-year-old – a risky proposition in the days before artificial breeding. When Collinsville sold its record-priced ram in the 1980s, an actuary was asked to work out the equivalent in modern money to the Sir Francis sale. The calculation put the purchase at about $250,000 – an enormous investment for a stud not yet 14 years old. He had tried a few Peppin rams in the mediums, but this one really “nicked” with his ewe flock. The dynasty continued through his much-loved son Bruce, who died in 1988, and now his grandsons, Wally and George. It’s a big family. There’s also Ron, a local vet and a partner in the business, Charlie, who runs the Merrignee stud, and Michael, who operates from “Fifeshire” at Yass. Wally knew from a young age that he would follow into the sheep industry and perhaps, at some stage, take over the stud, established in 1903, although stud breeding records go back at least another 50 years from that date. 18 CWL BOOROWA
“I always followed my old man around,” he says matter-of-factly over a cuppa in the old homestead, which he has called home for the past 50 years. “I never thought of anything else. I did what he did and it was just a natural progression.” The homestead is cosy, cool and functional – a big testament to wife Tina, a former Darling Downs girl who Wally met at the Yass Picnic Races. They have two daughters, Penny (with her pure Merino wool jumpers, she featured in CWL’s 2015 Winter edition) and Prue, who works for a catering business in Canberra and also dabbles in dress design. For such an icon of the wool industry, it’s natural we start with one of his favourite topics, the Sydney Royal Easter Show, which he has been attending, without fail, for half a century. He can never forget his first outing, when Merryville won the most prestigious sheep award in the country: the Stonehaven Cup. “There would have been 20 to 30 teams in the old Hordern arena out at the old showgrounds,” he says. “It took about an hour and a half to sort them out. When the winner was finally announced a great roar went up. I thought ‘How bloody good is this’ but it was another 10 years before we won another one.” >
BOOROWA CWL 19
WALLY CREDITS A LOT OF HIS SUCCESS TO HIS STAFF, WHOM HE HAS ALWAYS HAD CLOSE LINKS WITH.
Merryville last picked up the “Holy Grail” in 2014, making it a record 26 wins, unsurpassed by any other stud in the land. Despite the great name of Merryville, things have not always gone smoothly, particularly when Mother Nature has had her way. After returning home from boarding school in Canberra, Wally spent his first two years on the farm feeding out sheep nuts from Cowra to keep the prized flock alive. There have been plenty of droughts since then, including the one about 10 years ago, when the normally safe area received less than 10 inches of annual rain, in two consecutive years. “It was supposed to be the one-in-100-year drought but we copped it back to back. It blew a big hole in our family finances as we are forced to hand feed. There is no real option of buying back genetics with 100 years of breeding.” The family has also endured its share of fires. Merryville (when it was at Yass) was burnt out in the devastating fire of 1964, while the “Old Boss” was still alive. Sir Walter didn’t believe in insurance and in today’s terms, the family lost nearly $2 million of stock, fences and property. Wally concedes it’s all part of life on the land. More important are the genetics of his beloved stud, something he has devoted his life to and is still passionate about. He explains how his grandfather came to merge the superb wool but slight stature of the Saxon strain with the large-framed Peppin Merinos from the western Riverina, to produce a productive sheep that could cut far larger quantities of wool. 20 CWL BOOROWA
“That’s really how we got started and what put us above the rest of the pack,” Wally says. “You had people going for the short, wrinkly sheep – that was the fashion – and my grandfather said ‘no, that’s no good, you’ve got to have staple and size’.” These days the family runs about 25,000 sheep and sells about 350 to 400 rams a year throughout Australia. Then there is the herd of 750 mostly Poll Hereford commercial cattle. Both enterprises run over four properties in the district totalling about 3700 acres. “Historically, we’ve always had a few cattle, originally Shorthorn,” Wally says. “They complement the sheep, until you get a drought, but there has always been more money in sheep,” he adds with a sheepish grin that belies the grit and determination in his bones. Wally has always been a competitive bloke, and with the stud’s solid reputation, he admits he doesn’t like being beaten. His track record makes it fairly plain it is not all that often he is, whether it’s in the sale ring, the show ring, at wether trials or on the show floor at wool sales. Like his forebears, he is an excellent promoter, particularly in the show ring. The stud’s preparation and presentation techniques have become a role model for the sheep industry. Wally credits a lot of his success to his staff, whom he has always had close links with. These bonds were no doubt inherited from Sir Walter, a man who received enormous loyalty from his contingent of workers. By the time of his death in the old homestead, there were 45 staff on the books, including Bruce Hunter, who ended up working for the family for 61 years.
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