New South Wales stories

Hannam Vale a dairy home in more ways than one 

When Carissa Wolfe and Karyn Cassar found their farm in Hannam Vale, they knew it was going to be home.

Nestled in a picturesque valley on NSW’s Mid North Coast, the farm and local community have turned out to be everything they’d hoped for.

“We looked from Bega to the Queensland border and talked to more than 440 farmers and this was one of the most idyllic places we found in all of our travels,” Carissa said.

“It’s an amazing valley and we feel fortunate to be here. It’s very much home now.”

The Mid North Coast Women in Dairy Group shares that view and successfully nominated Hannam Vale as the 2017 LEGENDAIRY Capital for New South Wales.

Carissa, who helped with the application, says the town’s new standing is totally justified.

“The history of Hannam Vale involved dairy farming from the beginning,” she said. “It’s such a welcoming community and the paddocks look as gorgeous as they do because farmers are taking care of the land.”

The new title has sent a pleasant buzz through the community. “Everybody is thrilled,” Carissa said. “We never thought little bitty Hannam Vale would be picked but it truly is a LEGENDAIRY valley.”

Carissa said Manning Area dairy farmers in general and the Women in Dairy group are part of a close-knit community.

The LEGENDAIRY Capital grant will be used to upgrade the Hannam Vale recreation reserve and continue the annual dairy farmers’ picnic that successfully debuted in 2016.

“A lot of people moved here from Sydney or Brisbane and the picnic was to help the broader community to appreciate what the dairy industry means to the valley,” Carissa said. “Everyone enjoyed it and the community wanted to make it an annual event. By being the LEGENDAIRY Capital we can highlight the community for what it is.”

Karyn did her dairy apprenticeship on the south coast while Carissa grew up in the mountains on Montana in the United States. She got a taste for farming visiting her grandfather’s beef farm on summer holidays.

“My first trip to Australia was in 2002 and I found out what it meant when people said they felt at home or they found their roots,” she said. “I fell in love with it.” 

Carissa and Karyn worked for 10 years in the US in a business servicing dairies. “We wanted to learn as much as possible from the different systems because the plan was always to farm in Australia. When the timing was right we looked for a farm and after 18 months we leased this property.”

“The community is like the community my grandfather’s beef farm was in.”

Hannam Vale is one of eight 2017 LEGENDAIRY Capitals from around the country’s dairy regions to receive $2,500 to invest in a community project. In September, one of those eight communities will 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 initiative. 

Is your town the next Legendairy Capital of New South Wales?

Is your town the next LEGENDAIRY Capital of New South Wales?

Dairy farmers in New South Wales produce millions of litres of high-quality milk each year, and make a huge contribution to the economy of the state’s regional communities.

That’s why Dairy Australia is calling on people across the New South Wales dairy 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, Comboyne, was named the LEGENDAIRY Capital of the New South Wales dairy region. Now we’re back on the road looking for the next Capital of New South Wales 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.

Comboyne farmer hopes for Legendairy spin-off

Comboyne farmer hopes for Legendairy spin-off

As Comboyne gets set to unveil an innovative new building at the local showgrounds on December 5, dairy farmer Rod Fisher hopes the town’s new `Legendairy’ status will inspire the same sort of community spirit that helped save the showgrounds in the first place.

When community ownership of the showgrounds was under threat, Rod and others in the local farming fraternity rallied to ensure its future. The annual Comboyne Goat Race was born, becoming an integral part of the show’s revival and survival.


Rod also hopes the town’s Legendairy title will bring more attention to the needs of local dairy farmers.

Born into the dairy farming life, Rod, at 62 is worried that he might be the last of a dying breed in the Comboyne area.

He’s had great success and growth over the decades but believes better prices are needed to sustain local farmers.

“We started off with 225 acres when dad bought the farm in 1950 and grew it to 900 acres. We went from 40 to 300 cows but have gone back to 200 because we’ve had a bit of a problem finding labour,” Rod said.

Rod and Susan’s two sons, aged in their mid-20s, have their own careers as an electrical engineer and personal trainer. “When I milk my last cow, I’m afraid it will be last cow ever milked here, which is a shame but that’s probably how it’s going to be,” Rod said.

“The boys like the farm and don‘t want to see it sold, but they don’t plan to return to milk the cows.”

Rod’s seen a lot of change in the local dairy industry since he started in 1968.

“Originally there were 120 farmers supplying our local butter factory. We had 37 in 2000 when we were deregulated and now we’re down to 13, although we’re probably producing just as much milk because we’ve all expanded.”

Rod has been living in hope of a revival of fortunes for local farmers and says the impetus of being named the Legendairy Capital of New South Wales could lead to more hands-on interest from young people and a better price for farmers.

“Those who are left are getting older but the bank tells me I can’t retire yet. Expenses keep going up but the price per litre doesn’t really vary and doesn’t get to where it needs to be,” he said. “We’re a fair way behind the eight ball in my view.”

Rod says an extra five cents per litre would ease the concerns of local farmers.

He appreciates the Legendairy communications initiative to raise the profile and reputation of the industry and thinks the best way to promote dairying is to get children involved.

“We have busloads of kids from Port Macquarie come to the farm,” he said. “A lot of them have never been outside Port Macquarie and they think it’s fantastic. A farm is a really good place to raise kids.”

Comboyne being named the Legendairy Capital of NSW was a bit of a shock to Rod, albeit a pleasant one.

“I was quite amazed,” he said. “There are a lot of areas with more dairy farms than we’ve got but dairy farming is really important for the community; it has kept Comboyne going for all these years.”

He thinks it’s the “community minded” spirit that got the town over the line.

“Everyone fits in quite well together. It’s normal in Comboyne to help each other when there’s a problem.”

That’s what happened when the showgrounds and the annual show were under threat.

“I got involved when they couldn’t meet the insurance costs and the old buildings were falling down and they were looking at giving it to the council,” Rod said.

“I think keeping the showground as a community asset is really important. The community didn’t like it so people came out of the woodwork to help, including a lot of dairy farmers and graziers.”

On the back of being crowned the Legendairy Capital of NSW last month, the celebrations continue in Comboyne with the imminent opening of the new building, which will house an art gallery and host weddings and other celebrations for years to come.

For more information on Comboyne, LEGENDAIRY Capital of New South Wales, visit

For media and Legendairy inquiries please contact:

Mark Pearce – Media Manager, Dairy Australia

03 9694 3809 I 0423 783 756 I

Suzi O’Dell — Communications and Engagement Manager, Farm Communities, Dairy Australia

03 9694 3718 I 0439 336 369 I

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