Gippsland stories

Tractors at the school show Poowong’s Legendairy status

The first time Jackie Wilmann turned up to a working bee at the Poowong Consolidated School and saw tractors ready to help, she knew she was in a close-knit farming community.

Jackie and her husband Jim Bott moved to the town five years ago, and were immediately impressed by the community spirit and the importance of the dairy industry.

“Being new to the town I could see the things we’ve got and all the opportunities due to dairy farmers,” Jackie said.

“Poowong has so many things you wouldn’t expect for a town of 600; a school, library, sports facilities, maternal child health that are here because of farmers.

“If there’s a working bee at the school there will be two tractors there to help. Coming from suburbia that was like `wow’, I could see how much of a dairy town Poowong is.”

This made it easy for the Poowong Community Consultative Committee (PCCC) to successfully nominate the town to become Gippsland’s 2017 Legendairy Capital.

“We just needed to show that we’re a dairy town, which we are, so that was pretty easy,” said Jackie, who facilitated the nomination.

“It’s definitely dairy country and such a vibrant and caring community. There’s a farmer on the executive of every committee from the school to sports clubs to the Town Hall. Dairy is everywhere around you.”

The PCCC itself is led by dairy farmers; president Heather Gregg and vice-president Stephen Halliday.

As one of eight Legendairy Capitals from across the country, Poowong will receive $2,500 to invest in a community project plus the chance to secure the coveted title of Australia's Legendairy Capital 2017, receiving an additional grant of $7,500 towards their community initiative.

The application galvanised the community which came together to talk about how dairy had shaped Poowong and how the town could help dairy farmers.

The Legendairy Capital grant will be used to manage weeds such as Ragwort, which is noxious to cattle. PCCC member and Landcare representative Wilma McKay suggested tackling weeds as an appropriate Legendairy activity

“Weeds are a big issue but there’s less funding to deal with them,” Jackie said. “We were excited that the money would go to a program to help farmers.”

The Poowong community is embracing its Legendairy status. “People are quite humble and don’t want to brag but they’re really proud and keen to share the news,” Jackie said.

“We’ve put up Facebook posts about winning the grant and they’ve gone to 10,000 people and we’ve had responses from as far as the United Kingdom. It’s been a nice positive thing to share.”

The national 2017 Legendairy Capital will be announced in September.

Is your town the next LEGENDARY Capital of Gippsland?

Is your town the next LEGENDAIRY Capital of Gippsland?

As a region that accounts for more than one fifth of Australia’s dairy production, dairy is a big part of life in Gippsland. 

That’s why Dairy Australia is calling on people across the Gippsland region to nominate their town as the next LEGENDAIRY Capital by sharing their stories and highlighting the way their town embodies the LEGENDAIRY spirit.

Launched in 2015, Dairy Australia’s LEGENDAIRY Capital program celebrates regional communities around the country by highlighting how dairy farmers contribute to their town, their industry and the Australian economy.

Dairy Australia program manager, Suzi O’Dell, said the program recognises the strength and resilience of hard-working communities and the vital role dairy farmers play in building the social fabric of their towns.
“Dairy farmers - and people working across the dairy supply chain – are at the heart of hundreds of Australian regional communities,” Ms O’Dell said.
“In 2015, Meeniyan, was named the LEGENDAIRY Capital of the Gippsland dairy region. Now we’re back on the road looking for the next regional Capital of Gippsland which could also become the overall LEGENDAIRY Capital of Australia for 2017.”

Locals from each of Australia’s eight dairy regions in Gippsland, south west Victoria, the Murray region, Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and the Subtropical region are encouraged to nominate their town for the prestigious title by sharing stories about what makes their town LEGENDAIRY.
One finalist from each of the eight regions will receive $2,500 to invest in a community project and one of those towns will then go on to secure the coveted title of Australia's LEGENDAIRY Capital 2017, receiving an additional grant of $7,500 to put towards their community project.
The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR), a not-for-profit organisation working towards enabling communities to build their social capital and economic resilience, is supporting Dairy Australia on this program.
Natalie Egleton, Chief Executive of FRRR said: “Every day, farmers juggle the demands of their operations with the needs of the local community. The LEGENDAIRY Capital program celebrates this commitment by pulling together as one, and finding ways to build robust communities that will endure and prosper.
“FRRR is pleased to be able to support Dairy Australia in this important initiative,” said Ms Egleton.
Nominations are open until 5pm on April 10, 2017.
For more information on Australia’s LEGENDAIRY Capital program, including details on how to nominate, visit

Meeniyan - a world class dairy town

Meeniyan – a world class dairy town

BRENDON and Kate Martelli have seen plenty of the world – but they still reckon Meeniyan might be the best place they have lived and worked. 

Having grown up on a New Zealand dairy farm, Brendon was far from home when he met Melbourne girl Kate in a London pub. 

The young couple have since married, had two children and are successfully dairy farming in Meeniyan – the Legendairy Capital of Gippsland for 2015.

Coming from outside the tight-knit community, Brendon and Kate are well placed to judge the friendly spirit of the highly productive dairy town, located near Leongatha in South Gippsland.

“The community in Meeniyan is amazing – it’s a brilliant place. Everyone is so friendly,” Brendon said.

Since arriving in the town in 2008, the young farmers have become involved in the local primary school, where 7-year-old Holly is a student and at the kindergarten where Archie, 4, is enrolled.

“Now we’re at kinder and school it’s an even stronger community link,” Kate said.

The 37-year-old neo-natal intensive care nurse grew up in Melbourne’s sprawling south eastern suburbs, which are only a 90 minute drive, but a world away from the small dairying community.

Kate said the little things like having to pick up the mail at the post office and having friendly neighbours has helped bring them closer to the local community.

“We found great neighbours; we just knocked on their door to say hi. They have kids about the same age as ours, so they can just drop by when they want.  They’ve been great,” she said.

The couple share-farms with Brendon’s parents, who moved back to New Zealand a couple of years ago. 

With 140 hectares to farm and 310 cows to look after, Brendon was appreciative of all the help he could get as he developed his farming skills.

Luckily for him, there are plenty of locals willing to share their knowledge and experience with their fellow dairy farmers.

“We have good discussion groups which have helped us a lot,” he said.

With the daily grind of big city life still a clear memory, Brendon and Kate couldn’t be happier with where they have ended up.

“Mum and Dad looked at a lot of farms and we were pretty pleased they ended up around this area,” Brendon said.

“It’s a great dairy area with a huge number of dairy farms … although I reckon with the quality of the land around here, there should be even more.”

The Legendairy spirit of Meeniyan can be seen through its many community organisations, including its kindergarten and school, numerous sporting and recreational clubs, a strong fire brigade, active church groups and much more.

Dairy Australia’s Legendairy Capital program celebrates and showcases Australia’s most vibrant, proud and resilient regional communities 

Meeniyan was awarded $2500 in Legendairy Capital funding this year to help build a community space where people can get off their farms and connect with family and friends.

More Meeniyan Stories