Teamsters shine in the nation’s most authentic pioneering festival at Barellan

Eight-year-old goat teamster Abby Parrott, Anna Bay, NSW, with the inaugural Little Teamsters Trophy at the Good Old Days Festival at Barellan. Images Kim Woods 

A tiny goat handler outshone the nation’s most experienced horse, bullock, camel and donkey teamsters in winning the inaugural Little Teamsters Trophy at the 2023 Good Old Days Festival at Barellan. 

A third-generation teamster, Abby Parrott, Anna Bay, NSW, and her goat pair, Peanut and Brittle, in harness pulling a miniature wagon matched it with the giant teams of draught horses, bullocks, camels and mules hauling wool wagons and timber jinkers at the festival on September 29 and October 1.

The trophy was judged by former bullockies Tony Brewer, Tumbarumba, NSW, and David Farrell, Young, NSW, on the animals, the authenticity of the harness and wagon, and the ability of the teamster to control their animals.

Eight-year-old Abby was assisted over the weekend by Jane Herring, Sydney, and was joined by her grandfather and cameleer Rodney Sansom, Salt Ash, NSW, and mother and donkey teamster Emily Parrott, Anna Bay.  Mrs Parrott said Abby had done all the training and preparation of the young goats herself. 

Bullockies from around the nation vied for the Perpetual Teamsters Trophy with Ron McKinnon, Tomerong, NSW, winning the prestigious award. Ron has attended the Good Old Days Festival since its inception in 2011 and was part of the composite team of 28 bullocks pulling an original Mallee roller in the 2023 Tribute to the Teams parade.

The trophy was a scale replica of a James Bennett tabletop wagon made by Allan Langfield, Wagga Wagga, NSW.

“The festival is a highlight of my year with the bullocks and I’m so proud to be able to show what happened in our history. To be judged on historical correctness in this competition is so important,” Mr McKinnon said.

Known as the biggest gathering of teamsters in the nation, the 2023 Good Old Days Festival drew 6000 visitors for the unique working heritage display of blade shearing, chaff cutting, harvesting, ploughing, log snigging, log obstacle course, shoeing, blacksmithing, butter churning, Furphy rebarrelling, working yard dogs, whip cracking, dog jumping, billy boiling and the Australia Light Horse display. 

They scoffed down over 1000 scones made by Barellan CWA in wood fired ovens on the Saturday, and ate their way through a camp oven meal under the stars prepared in 19 camp ovens plus three roast pigs on spits, two lamb spits, and 12 roast chickens. 

Among the first-time visitors was Olympic swimming champion Shane Gould, who travelled from Tasmania. 

A former WA horse ploughing champion, Ms Gould said it was a fantastic weekend to see the good old days skills being kept alive.

A highlight was the Tribute to the Teams parade with the Barellan wool wagon, a composite team of 20 Clydesdale and Australian draught horses, driven by Bruce Bandy and Aleks Berzins, with Colin Bandy on the brake. 

They were joined by a composite team of 28 bullocks driven by Ron McKinnon, Philip Thomson and Darcy Quinn, 12 camels driven by Rodney Sansom, eight donkeys driven by Emily Parrott, three mules driven by Noel Wiltshire and Abby Parrot’s goat pair. 

Darren Gavin, Caloola, NSW, and his draught horses Gracie and Major won the Norma Zingel Memorial Trophy for the champion draught animals in a single furrow plough. The ploughing competition drew horses and bullocks and was judged by Bernie Rice. 

Darren also received a large hand painted saw for winning the log obstacle, judged by Jocelyn Cockbain, and was first and second in the log snig.

The festival was officially opened by Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke and included the unveiling of a life size concrete statue created by Murray Horstman, Orange, NSW, as a tribute to the working Clydesdale. The statue was named “Big Ian” in honour of a 17hh Clydesdale gelding, Ian, who was a valued member of the Barellan team driven by Bruce Bandy and passed away recently at the age of 20.

Samantha Weir, NSW branch vice president Commonwealth Clydesdale Horse Society of Australia, said the stud book would mark its 100th birthday in Australia in 2024. 

“Even though Clydesdales are used for a variety of purposes including shown led in hand, ridden and in harness for show and pleasure, weekends like this are so important as it shows the Clydesdale in its true purpose and original form as a working animal,” Ms Weir said. 

“The display and competition here have grown dramatically since its inception in 2010, the working events give us that shot of working life in rural Australia before mechanisation of the tractor and truck.

“Events like this will keep our breed, horses and interest going.”

Visitors enjoyed hand milking a cow with Barellan farmer Jeanette Overs, separating the milk and cream, and hand churning the cream into butter. Ken Horley, Yeoval Central School, milked goats to turn into cheese. They were also able to see a rare double barrelled Furphy water cart, the first made outside of the Furphy factory, and mules in harness for the first time in the history of the festival.

The exhibitors were joined this year by visiting historic cars dating pre 1919 from the Veteran and Vintage Car Club of Australia – ACT branch. Riverina Light Horse Troop staged a static display of a World War I Light Horse camp and had two Australian Timor ponies in their team this year. They were among 40 Timor brumbies to survive a culling process of 2000 horses at Coffin Bay, South Australia, and made their debut with the Light Horse Troop at Barellan. 

Winners of the junior boy sheaf toss on Saturday was Canowindra’s Lachie Rice who donated his prize to Cody Butt in the spirit of friendship and encouragement. Lachie also won the senior men’s and the junior event on the Sunday was won a tie between Will Evans and Noah Bianchini. 

Jack Bryant, Mansfield, and his dog Jim won the Good Old Days Festival dog jump on both days with a personal best of 2.25m. Kathy Born, Mornington, was second with Nim and Lee Rodgers, Cockatoo, third – it was the first dog jump competition for both. On day two, Eric and Willow Douglas, Harden, were second with Trigger and third was Lou Clemson, Ardlethan, with Billy. 

Camel team assistant Bronco Mathews, from East Oregon, USA, won the final of the popular camel races on Saturday before the large crowd. 

The inaugural Barellan Billy Boiling Championships held on the Friday was won by Nigel Lawrence, Howlong, in a time of 6 minutes 23 seconds. 

Barellan Working Clydesdales vice president Emil White said the event was continuing to grow from strength to strength as it showcased a unique way of life.

Mr White thanked the major sponsors, QPL Rural-McGrath Riverina, Helloworld Cootamundra, AGnVet Rural, and the NSW Government.

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Good Old Days Festival


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