South West Victoria stories

Peterborough residents urge local dairy communities to nominate now! 

Nominations now open for Australia’s LEGENDAIRY Capital 2017 

The search is on to find south-west Victoria’s next LEGENDAIRY Capital and the outgoing title holder, Peterborough, is encouraging other local communities to nominate.

Already known as the western gateway to one of the world’s most famous coastal drives; Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, Peterborough became the inaugural LEGENDAIRY Capital of south west Victoria in 2015. 

Now it’s time to hand over the title to a new contender but local farmer Wendy Couch, who was part of the community team that successfully nominated the coastal township, says being the LEGENDAIRY Capital will leave a lasting legacy for Peterborough.

The community used its $2,500 grant to make a film using hours of underwater video footage of the local coast line and its many shipwrecks taken many years ago by dairy farmer Rex Mathieson and electrician Ron Cashmore, who also comes from a farming background.

The video was screened at the Peterborough Community Hall during the summer of 2016 to an appreciative crowd of locals and visitors, and will return over Easter and each summer holiday season. 

“When we saw that LEGENDAIRY was offering small community grants we decided to get together and enter Peterborough,” Ms Couch said. “We had so much fun and thoroughly enjoyed the community involvement. Peterborough is a fabulous town that truly depends on the local dairy industry.

“I would encourage all towns to get together and show everyone how important their town is to the dairying community.”

WestVic Dairy regional manager Lindsay Ferguson said the LEGENDAIRY Capital program was a great initiative, not only because it supports projects in local towns, but because it promotes those towns and their role in the dairy industry. 

“Many towns in south west Victoria are key community and service centres for the dairy industry, which is very significant in this region, producing nearly one quarter of the nation’s milk. I encourage communities to apply to be the LEGENDAIRY Capital of the south west, to promote their town, the industry and the region Australia-wide,” Mr Ferguson said.

Dairy Australia is calling on people across Australia’s eight dairy regions - Gippsland, south west Victoria, the Murray region, Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and the Subtropical region - to nominate their town for the 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. 

Nominations are open until 5pm on 10 April 2017. 

For more information on Australia’s LEGENDAIRY Capital program and to nominate, visit www.legendairy.com.au/nominate


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 www.legendairy.com.au/dairy-talk/capital

For media and Legendairy inquiries please contact:

Mark Pearce – Media Manager, Dairy Australia

03 9694 3809 I 0423 783 756 I  mpearce@dairyaustralia.com.au

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

03 9694 3718 I 0439 336 369 I  sodell@dairyaustralia.com.au

Peterborough pride is sky-high for Legendairy farmer and drone photographer

Peterborough pride is sky-high for Legendairy farmer and drone photographer 

Peterborough residents with Legendairy banner on foreshore

The tiny town of Peterborough in south west Victoria is already renowned as the western gateway to one of Australia’s most famous coastal drives.

Now, this small coastal town on the Great Ocean Road three hours west of Melbourne has also been recognised as the 2015 Legendairy Capital of south west Victoria.

The honour – one of eight across Australia’s dairy regions – recognises that the dairy industry has been an important part of the fabric of the Peterborough community for generations.

Founded in the mid-1800s, the township has become a key service centre to the surrounding dairy heartland region.

It’s where local farmers collect their mail from the post office, opened in 1890, and buy fuel and general provisions from the local store and bottle shop.

Peterborough has a population of just 143, but is a major holiday and retirement destination for dairy farmers in the region due to its beaches, fishing and artistic influence. About 40 per cent of the local workforce employed in the technical and labouring sector is associated with providing support services to the dairy industry.

Local farmer Wendy Couch thinks the Legendairy recognition is long overdue.

“For once we can pat ourselves on the back and walk a little bit taller,” Wendy says. “It feels like we’re important, that we belong here and we’re an important part of the community.

“We’ve all got roots in dairy farming and something like this just makes the farmers feel good.”

Wendy and her husband Bill couldn’t think of a better place to farm.

“It truly is a piece of paradise and it’s a wonderful lifestyle,” she said. “Kids might think they’re a long way from town and missing out on fun but there’s so much fun to be had on the farm. I look back now at my childhood and hear stories of Bill’s childhood – you wouldn’t swap it for the world. We had horses, motorbikes and always had something to do. We had large families and the neighbours had large families as well so there were a lot of kids around.”

The Couch’s main farm at Nullawarre is 400 hectares and milks 700 cows. They employ five young people to oversee daily farm duties. Their Peterborough property is 285 hectares and used for young stock and pre-calving cows.

They milk mostly Friesians but Wendy is passionate about Jerseys and always makes sure there are a few in the herd.

“I’m a photographer and there’s nothing like photographing a cute Jersey,” she said.

Wendy also has a new toy, a DJI Phantom 2 drone, to get a bird’s eye view of their farm and the picturesque Peterborough backdrop.

“It takes amazing photos and videos and it’s the most beautiful area and farm to photograph from above,” she said.

Farming has been good for the Couch family. Although Bill and Wendy no longer milk, they remain active in herd and pasture management and they have no plans to leave the dairy industry they love.

“Bill will probably still be here in his 70s,” Wendy said. “When you marry a dairy farmer you’re in it for the long term but that’s fine with me. We’ve got such a beautiful farm that I’d hate to leave.”

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