Tasmania stories

Ringarooma is a little town with a big heart 

Ringarooma might be a little town but it has a big heart.

The rural community in north-east Tasmania has been named the 2017 LEGENDAIRY Capital of Tasmania and local dairy farmer Marcus Haywood and his wife Simone, who spearheaded the successful nomination, say it’s a well-deserved honour.

Although Ringarooma’s population barely passes 200, Marcus and the locals are determined to keep the community surviving and thriving.

Dairy farming has always been the backbone of the community and the resilience of farmers continues to shine.

Marcus, a local sharefarmer who was the joint winner of the Tasmanian Young Dairy Farmer Encouragement Award this year, says the community rallies when the chips are down.

When the local fertiliser company lost its trucks and workshop in a fire last year, locals put together an auction to raise funds to help out. A competitor even lent the company a truck so they could continue.

When the school faced closure in 2011 the whole town took a stand and their petitions and protests saved the day.

“That’s the type of community it is,” Marcus said. “Everybody knows each other; if something bad happens to your neighbour you go and check on them. We’re like one big family.”

The threat to the school proved the community’s resilience. “The government was dead wrong about it,” Marcus said. “If they shut the school it would have been an hour-plus drive for students to get to the next school. It was ridiculous.”

The town still has a hall, a few shops, a post office and a pub, mostly relying on the surrounding dairy area for their business.

The locals are determined to keep them. “We play eight ball two nights a week at the pub to help keep it going,” Marcus said. “If a town loses its pub there’s not much to go to. We don’t want to become a ghost town.”

The LEGENDAIRY Capital title has lifted the community’s spirits. “Everybody is rapt in it,” Marcus said. “We’re primarily a dairy area and everyone realises how important it is.”

Ringarooma is one of eight 2017 LEGENDAIRY Capitals from around the country’s dairy regions to receive $2,500 to invest in a community project. The town plans to use the grant to renovate a recreational area for students at the school, including new signs for a bike track, chess pieces for a giant chess board, upgrading a vegetable patch, and maintenance for the school’s defibrillator, which is available for the whole community to access. 

If the town goes on to win the national title, which will be announced in September, it will receive an additional $7500 which would be used to restore the school’s 100-year-old dairy which has fallen into disrepair. 

“We want to fix at least one of the rooms so the kids can raise calves in it,” Marcus said. “That way they can learn about the dairy industry and what makes the town tick.”

The Ringarooma valley has 20 dairy farmers producing about 52ML of milk each year.

The LEGENDAIRY program is producing a video in Ringarooma on Thursday, July 27 that will feature local town identities and dairy farmers. It will culminate with a barbecue celebration at the Ringarooma School at noon. All locals are invited.


Ringarooma crowned 2017 Legendairy Capital of Australia

Ringarooma crowned 2017 LEGENDAIRY Capital of Australia


 

In early February 2017, the search commenced to find and recognise Australia’s LEGENDAIRY towns. Stories have been shared from Beaudesert to Berry, Cowaramup to King Island, and everywhere in between. 

Nine months later, the search is over. Australia’s LEGENDAIRY Capital for 2017 is Ringarooma, from the heart of Tasmania’s north-east.

Home to just 232 people, the town is the second national LEGENDAIRY Capital to be announced as part of Dairy Australia’s search for the nation’s most inspiring and connected dairy towns. 

Dairy Australia’s Managing Director, Ian Halliday said, the nominations received highlighted the enormous pride regional communities felt for their town and local dairy industry. 

“It’s important we continue to recognise hard working dairy farmers and their families and the contribution they make to their vibrant communities, the dairy industry and Australia’s economy, Mr Halliday said.

“It is clear from Ringarooma’s nomination that they’re an inclusive community that’s passionate about dairy farming and committed to sharing dairy’s story with the next generations.”   

Known as the heart of family farming in the Dorset municipality, Ringarooma has a strong dairy farming history dating back to the 1860s when the land was first opened up to farming. After a property was subdivided into lots in 1882, the community was born. Prior to being renamed Ringarooma in 1888, the town was initially known as Krushka Town, named after the original landowner.

As the LEGENDAIRY Capital of Tasmania, Ringarooma received a $2,500 community grant to renew recreational areas of the Ringarooma primary school, as well as extending the school’s vegetable garden and maintaining the town’s defibrillator. The town will now receive an additional $7,500 to help restore the primary school’s historical dairy to connect students with the local dairy industry. 

A community event will be held in Ringarooma in the near future to celebrate the national title, the community and the people behind the nomination. 

Congratulations again to all of the LEGENDAIRY Regional Capitals for 2017: Poowong (Gippsland), Cohuna (Murray Region), Hannam Vale (New South Wales), Mount Schank (South Australia), Beaudesert (Subtropical Region), Ringarooma (Tasmania), Cowaramup (Western Australia) and Simpson (Western Victoria). 

Background
Dairy Australia’s award-winning LEGENDAIRY Capital program asked towns from across Australia’s eight dairy regions to describe what makes them LEGENDAIRY and to nominate a project that will benefit the community.

An independent panel of representatives from Australian Dairy Farmers and the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) was appointed to assess each nomination and grade finalists against a set of program criteria. 

Smithton residents urge other regional towns to nominate now!

Smithton residents urge other regional towns to nominate now! 

Nominations now open for Australia’s LEGENDAIRY Capital 2017 

The search is on again to find the LEGENDAIRY Capital of Tasmania and the outgoing title holder, Smithton, is encouraging other communities to nominate.

Smithton used the program’s grant money to expand the Cows Create Careers program in the local high school to inspire the next generation of dairy farmers and people working within the industry.

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 prestigious title by sharing stories about what makes their town LEGENDAIRY.

Dairy Australia’s Tasmanian regional manager, Mark Smith, urged dairying communities across the state to take up the challenge.

While maintaining Smithton deserved to win the national title that went to Stanhope in northern Victoria, Mr Smith said town had enjoyed the kudos and recognition that went with the coveted state title.

“The winner can use it as an opportunity to launch a project or activity that promotes the dairy industry in their communities,” he said.

Gerard Blizzard, from Agritas, was part of the community group behind Smithton’s successful nomination and says it was well worth the effort.

“It raises the profile of the town and gives a positive note to an industry that should have a higher profile than it does,” Mr Blizzard said.

“This area survives on the dairy farmers’ back. While there are now a lot of other industries, it’s still the prominent industry in the area and the economy goes up and down with the dairy industry.”

Mr Blizzard said the submission had brought the community together and the win was widely celebrated. “There was good community input from a number of different groups, including Agritas, the Lions Club, Circular Head Council and local farmers,” he said.

Circular Head Council deputy mayor Cr Jan Bishop said being LEGENDAIRY Capital was a big boost to the confidence of the local dairy industry.

“It highlights that there are so many good career options and pathways for young people,” Cr Bishop said. “You have to be virtually a scientist, have good economic skills, be good at animal husbandry and have so many other skills.”

“The LEGENDAIRY Capital program brought the community together and shows an appreciation for the dairy industry.”

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


Is your town the next LEGENDAIRY Capital of Tasmania?

Is your town the next LEGENDAIRY Capital of Tasmania?

Tasmania accounts for nine per cent of Australia’s dairy production and is steeped in rich dairy history.

That’s why Dairy Australia is calling on people across Tasmania’s dairy regions 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, Smithton was named the LEGENDAIRY Capital of Tasmania. Now we’re back on the road looking for the next regional Capital of Tasmania 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. 


Josh brings his love of dairy to school

Josh brings his love of dairy to school

Smithton teacher, Josh Smith, has traded the paddock for the classroom and brought his love of the dairy industry into the school.

Before turning to teaching, Josh was born and raised on a dairy farm near Tasmania’s Legendairy Capital, Smithton.

He has never lost his love for the land and wasn’t about to forget his dairying roots when he took up his new profession. 
 
Now the Grade 9 and 10 coordinator and maths and science teacher at Smithton High School, Josh has integrated Dairy Australia’s Cows Create Careers program into the Grade 9 science program. Its success was one of the reasons Smithton earned itself the title of the Legendairy Capital of Tasmania.

The program is a hit with students and has inspired new respect for the local dairy industry.

As part of Cows Create Careers, students discover the various career opportunities in dairying, while learning about biology, by raising a calf, and science, from growing pastures.

The program is linked to priorities in the Australian education curriculum and has been highly successful in engaging students.

“It’s a huge success,” Josh said. “The practical component and the animal factor engage more students than would normally be engaged in our science program. An issue facing teachers is inclusion and catering for every student’s needs and this program fits that perfectly.

“It allows some students to shine where they might not normally,” Josh said. “Students off farms have that practical knowledge and feel like they’ve got more to contribute to class discussions.”

The program has also given students living in towns a better appreciation of farmers.

“I grew up on a dairy farm so I know that good farmers are extremely highly skilled people who are prepared to take on lots of risk,” Josh said. “I think most town kids under-value the type of knowledge needed to be a good farmer.”

Josh says community support, particularly from local farmer Leigh Schurring who has provided calves and professional assistance, has made the program a success.

“It’s difficult to get off the ground because not every teacher is suited to being responsible for calves, but it’s definitely worth it. It’s created something for Grades 7 and 8 students to look forward to; there’s a feeling of excitement that we’re doing something really cool and worthwhile at school.”

Josh says Smithton deserves its Legendairy Capital title.

“The community revolves around agriculture,” he said. “If agriculture didn’t exist there wouldn’t be a town here. My wife Renee and I both grew up on dairy farms 30 kilometres west of Smithton and still have a passion for the industry.

“You ask anyone: is dairy important to Smithton? And they’d say yes, of course it is. I don’t think I’d be the person I am today without my dairy background.”

Being named the Legendairy Capital has brought extra attention to the industry. “It’s created a buzz that we’re a bit special and we should respect our farmers,” Josh said.

“If I walk up the street and have a conversation about what’s going on in the school, Legendairy always comes up - and that’s nearly 12 months later. It’s done great things for the town and came at a really good time for the industry.” 

Josh plans to continue playing his part in educating the broader community about dairy.

He introduced Cows Create Careers in his previous school at Circular Head Christian School in Smithton and knew it would work at Smithton High.

“Our school has embraced it,” Josh said. “Prior to this, there was no agriculture being taught here but now everyone sees the value in it.”

Although Cows Create Careers is officially a six-week program, the school has kept the calves and has expanded to include a new optional paddock-to-plate subject that brings a broader agricultural perspective.

“It gives students the whole picture,” Josh said. “You need to know where your food comes from.”

Read more LEGENDAIRY Capital stories

SUBSCRIBE