The Good Old Days Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary on October 5-6 with a record single day attendance and the biggest gathering of draught animal teams ever witnessed in the nation’s history.
Hosted by the Barellan Working Clydesdale Committee at the Barellan showground, the Festival drew 7000 visitors from every state and territory to enjoy, learn and experience Australia’s pioneer heritage.
The most experienced teamsters in the country assembled at Barellan to showcase horses, camels, bullocks, donkeys, mules and goats all in harness and hauling wagons, binders, headers, ploughs, carts, buggies, sleds, sulkies and a mallee roller.
A highlight of the event was the 90 minute harnessing of a composite team of 32 horses to the Clydesdale committee’s own fully laden wool wagon.
The huge team set off around the main arena with two foals tied alongside their mothers, handlers and three master teamsters at the reins, Steve Johnson, Bruce Bandy and Colin Bandy.
They were joined by a camel team of 12, owned by Chris Hill, Uluru, NT, and bullock teams owned by Ron McKinnon, Tomerong, NSW, and Philip Thomson, Numbinah Valley, Qld.
The newly formed Riverina Light Horse Troop, comprising riders from Grong Grong, Adelong and Wagga Wagga, presented a musical ride and skill-at-arms display in authentic military uniform, along with a static display of a World War I Light Horse Camp.
Champion shearer Lionel Garner, of Hay, not only put on a machine shearing display blindfolded, but also shore a first-cross wether which had evaded shearing for 3.5 years. The fleece weighed 19.2kg and funds were raised from the shearing to donate to Motor Neurone Disease.
A ploughing competition drew horse, camel and bullock teams from around the country under the eye of judge Ben Sullivan, Casino, NSW.
Darren Gavin, Caloola, guided his draught horse pair Gracie and Barney to the ploughing championship with Rod Sansom, Salt Ash, NSW, and his team of camels taking out reserve champion.
The second annual Furphy Festival drew enthusiasts from around the country along with special guests and fifth generation members of J Furphy & Sons, Adam and Sam Furphy.
Peter and Matthew Irvin, Barellan, staged a Furphy re-barrelling demonstration each day while collector Josh Powles, Mildura, had Australia’s rarest Furphy on display, a pre-1893 cart valued at $35,000.
Bush poets, the Vagg family, took time away from their livestock and cropping station at Hillston to entertain the crowds and raise money for Dementia Australia. They have donated over $50,000 to date and are aiming to raise $100,000.
Winner of the men’s sheaf toss was Peter Brown, Cumnock, on 9.7m, Lachie Rice, Canowindra, won the boys on 4.3m, Breanna Twigg, Yenda, the girls on 3.4m and Brianna Gray-Mills, Leeton, the senior women’s on 3.9m.
Judge Penny Perry, Nambucca Valley, presided over the horse ring where competitors exhibited their Clydesdale and other draught-bred horses in led, ridden, harness and working classes.
Chris Hill runs the largest camel farm in the southern hemisphere at Uluru with 80 camels and 25 staff, and travelled the 2700km to Barellan with his team and a 1916 Bennett wagon.
“The size of this camel team seen today has never before been seen in Australia since the 1930s or 1940s,” Mr Hill said.
“What you are witnessing today is history.
“Not long a go half of these camels were running wild in the desert and were broken-in on the road on the way here.”
Euston shearer Tony Waters captured the dog jump trophy with Lui, the current Australian champion, with a winning jump of seven feet two inches.
Volunteers were kept busy feeding the huge crowd with 650 meals served on Saturday night from camp ovens, cooked all day on hot coals.
Cooks used wood fired stoves to turn out around 1000 scones, using 37.5kg of flour on Saturday alone.
The Festival was officially opened by Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke on Saturday.
Barellan Working Clydesdale Committee secretary Norma Zingel said the festival draw 7000 visitors, and set a single day attendance record for its 10-year history.
“We are chuffed with the way the whole event and it was great to see so many people returning while there was also plenty of new faces,” she said.
“There were a lot more families this year with one visitor telling me his son milked a cow for the first time and would be returning to tell his class milk comes out of cows and not from a supermarket.
“It was good to see everyone of all ages enjoying themselves.”