Western Australia stories

Cowaramup has extra incentive to celebrate Deja Moo 

Cowaramup has an extra incentive to celebrate its annual Deja Moo festival this weekend as it basks in the glory of being named the 2017 Legendairy Capital of Western Australia.

Although named after the Cowara bird, the town likes to capitalise on its strong dairying history and the `cow’ in its name. This year’s fifth annual festival promises to triple the town’s population and attract 3000 people, many dressed in cow onesies.

“We’re hoping to really push our Legendairy status on the day,” said local real estate agent and member of the Cowaramup Retailers Association, Jill Turton.

“We’re all very excited and happy to have the honour,” she said.

The Udderly Legendairy Country Fair Deja Moo starts at 9am on Saturday 8 July and will feature boot scooting, line dancing, markets, a fire brigade demonstration, mechanical bull riders, calf petting and a display about the area’s dairy history.

Jill, who nominated the town for the Legendairy Capital title on behalf of the association and local farmers, said “cow town” deserved the honour.

“We have a strong dairy history which we showcase through our 42 life-size fibreglass cow and calf sculptures installed around the town,” she said.

“The cows in the main street are a tourist drawcard and are great for our town, but they also recognise our dairy heritage. Everyone who comes to town has a big smile on their face because of our cows.”

Cowaramup’s Legendairy Capital status also reflects its community spirit. “We’ve got a very strong and unique community, particularly with retired dairy farmers who continue to live and contribute to the area,” Jill said. “We have a strong core of people who care about our community.”

The local dairy industry has evolved and innovated to remain relevant. “The dairies have had to become clever about the way they do business,” Jill said. “We have an ice cream producer where people can see cows being milked, and cheese makers and organic dairies which continue to make an economic contribution to the town.”

Saturday’s festival marks the fifth anniversary of the unveiling of the fibreglass cows.

Visitors entering the town from the south also like to stop and watch cows going under the road on an underpass or to watch calves being born in calving paddocks beside the highway.

The Cowaramup Traders Association plans to use its $2500 Legendairy grant to inform the broader community and tourists about dairying by creating a heritage trail of information plaques at the feet of the street cows.

Cowaramup is one of eight 2017 Legendairy Capitals from around the country’s dairy regions to receive a Capital grant to invest in a community project. One of those eight communities will go on to secure the coveted title of Australia's Legendairy Capital 2017, receiving an additional grant to put towards their community initiative. 

The national overall 2017 Legendairy Capital will be announced in September.

Northcliffe residents urge dairy towns to nominate now!

Northcliffe residents urge dairy towns to nominate now! 

Nominations now open for Australia’s LEGENDAIRY Capital 2017 

Northcliffe’s reign as Western Australia’s 2015 LEGENDAIRY Capital is nearing an end, but it’s not going to give up the honour without a fight.

With the search on again for the 2017 LEGENDAIRY Capital, the community is planning to have another go at the title, while encouraging other WA towns to enter.

Northcliffe used the program’s funding for a series of `Rising from the Ashes’ charcoal sculptures to commemorate the resilience of survivors of the 2015 bushfire. The sculptures include local dairy farmers, community members who lost property, and members of the local fire brigade.

Dairy Australia Western Australian regional manager, Esther Jones, said the successful nomination had been a massive morale boost for Northcliffe. 

“Northcliffe had been hit by devastating bushfires so becoming the LEGENDAIRY Capital of WA was something really positive that helped bring the community together,” she said.

“The title, and of course the chance of going on to become the overall LEGENDAIRY Capital of Australia, would be a great boost for any community.”

Northcliffe’s 2015 nominator, Fiona Sinclair, said the Rising from the Ashes sculptures had been terrific in stimulating interest in the broader Understory Art and Nature Trail project and to highlight the importance of the dairy industry.

“More than half of the people who come into the Northcliffe Visitor Centre have been asking about the project,” Ms Sinclair said. “Word of mouth has been great.
“It’s been a real stimulant for local tourism and the dairy connection is prominent in all promotional material.”
Ms Sinclair said being a part of the LEGENDAIRY Capital program had been excellent for the community.

“It was a very easy process and self-reflection is really healthy for a community to move forward,” she said. “We’d encourage other dairy areas to nominate, though we’d really like to win again.”

Ms Sinclair said the LEGENDAIRY Capital title and grant had come at an opportune time with the $20 million development of a creamery at Bannister Downs bringing new interest in the local dairy industry to the region. 
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.

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.

Is your town the next LEGENDAIRY Capital of Western Australia?

Is your town the next LEGENDAIRY Capital of Western Australia?

As a state that produces almost 400 million litres of high-quality milk each year, the industry plays a key role in the economy of its local communities.

That’s why Dairy Australia is calling on people across Western Australia’s 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, Northcliffe was named the LEGENDAIRY Capital of Western Australia. Now we’re back on the road looking for the next Capital of WA 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.

Science proves what the heart knows for Northcliffe farmer

Science proves what the heart knows for Northcliffe farmer

Sue Daubney can use science to explain why Northcliffe is Western Australia’s Legendairy Capital but she’s just as likely to let her heart do the talking.

Sue, who has a Bachelor of Nursing, a post-graduate Diploma of Education and a Bachelor of Science, says Northcliffe’s climate provides a perfect recipe for dairy.

“On a scientific basis I can give you data from all around Australia that proves Northcliffe is the best place for dairy with the combination of rainfall and temperatures,” she says. “We have a higher minimum and a lower maximum but we have the rainfall equivalent to Tasmania. It’s the perfect formula,” she said.

It’s been an amazing turnaround for the Legendairy farmer and managing director of Bannister Downs who was initially cautious about country life.

After Sue moved from Perth to the Bannister Downs farm settled by her husband Mat’s family in 1924, she pined for the big city, an 800km round-trip.

“It was a big adjustment,” she admits. “In the first year after we were married I’d look for every opportunity to go to Perth. Now, I avoid it as much as I can and do what I have to do and get back as quickly as I can.”

Today Sue has no doubt Northcliffe deserves its Legendairy Capital status.

“We can validate it scientifically but I just love being on a farm; I love where we live. It’s a very small town and it’s just beautiful. It makes you grateful to be alive.”

Sue and Mat’s four children, aged 10 to 16, are now the fourth generation on the farm which continues to grow after taking a “sink or swim” decision in 1999 to start processing, packing and distributing their own milk.

“We were finding it tough in 1999 and it got worse with deregulation,” Sue admitted. “We were seriously considering getting out or looking at other farming options but the whole place was set up for dairy and that’s where Mat’s passion was.”

Selling their own milk emerged as the best option, particularly as they were getting only 18 cents per litre from their processor at the time.

“We had to make sure our product would be different or better than what was on offer,” Sue said. This involved innovative packaging, assembling a top team determined to eliminate any errors, adopting a low temperature pasteurisation heat treatment method, and maintaining full control right through to the customer. 

It took a while, but eventually the gamble paid off with Bannister Downs now home to more than 2200 Holstein Friesian cows, the state’s first Automatic Milking Rotary (robotic dairy) and exciting plans for a new creamery that will open up the farm and the industry to the broader community.

Perhaps oddly, Sue believes the $1 milk price war was the turning point. While $1 milk seemed to be the worst-case scenario, Bannister Downs had 5 per cent growth in the month it rolled out.

“That gave me the confidence that the consumer does care and thinks beyond today,” Sue said. “Our growth was an example of people with their hand in pocket making a good decision and taking a stand. There are growing numbers of consumers aware that $1 milk is a false economy. We’ve put a fair price so we can pay our people, look after our cows and grow our business.”

Bannister Downs now has 46 full-time employees spread over 60 people. Sue hopes the planned creamery complex will reinforce dairy as the cornerstone industry for the town and shire.

“There are only seven of us left in dairy in Northcliffe but we’re getting bigger and being the Legendairy Capital has raised awareness. It’s got the town talking and put us front and centre so people can see there is great potential for dairy. We really haven’t hit our straps yet.” 

The creamery will show people the supply chain from cow to retail product with the latest technology and robotic milking on show, along with a function centre and education centre.

 Sue hopes that like the Legendairy communications initiative and the town’s Legendairy Capital status, the new creamery will spread good news about the industry.

 On her frequent visits to Perth, Sue finds people are fascinated by dairy. “It’s great that we’re going to be opening our doors and giving people the opportunity to find out more,” she said.

 Now at home on the land, Sue couldn’t see herself doing anything else. “I once had a politician ask what would happen if a Chinese buyer offered a lot of money to buy our business.

“I said we wouldn’t sell. This is what we do; it gives us a sense of purpose and we feel we can make a difference and really achieve something. It’s not related to money; we’ve been given responsibility to produce food for Australia and that’s fantastic.”

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