Galston High School 30th Visit to Quirindi
In December, 2013, 39 year nine enthusiastic agriculture students set off bright and early in the morning for the 30th annual Galston High School Agricultural excursion to Quirindi. They were accompanied by four hard working teachers, the ever present leader Paul Udy and regulars Caroline Carden, Wendy Pike and Jake Van Baarl as well as three representatives from The Rotary Club of Galston.
First stop on Wednesday was for breakfast at that well known "Golden Arches" restaurant in Cessnock. This was followed by a visit to the Arrowfield thoroughbred horse stud near Scone. Redoubts Choice resides here in his resplendent air conditioned home as well as several other top class stallions and many breeding mares. Redoubts Choice is one of the world’s leading stallions which prior to the 2008 financial crisis commanded a stud fee of around $360,000, this is now down to a mere $140,000.
Wednesday afternoon saw a visit to the superbly equipped Quirindi historical museum which was opened especially for the students. After this they enjoyed over an hour at the local swimming pool before settling in at their accommodation at the Quirindi race course.
The excellent Wednesday night BBQ was, as usual, organised by The Rotary Club of Quirindi. George Cromie, an ex Rotary Club of Galston member, who initiated the visits, came along and gave a chat about its history. A special Certificate of Appreciation was presented by The Rotary Club of Galston to the Quirindi community for the thirty years it has supported the Galston High School. This was obtained with a donation of U$S1,000 The Rotary Foundation towards funding its many international projects.
Thursday saw a poor start with some rain but this cleared up during the morning. We visited four of the farms which year after year have made huge efforts to make presentations to the students. The first visit was to Robert and Merriel Cox’s lucerne farm with its large array of specialised equipment which produces top class hay in bales of all sizes. Next was Breeza Station, previously a sheep station with its old wool shed, but now a 7,200 acre broad acre flood irrigated farm. Then on to Roy Eykemp’s world leading kikuyu seed farm with its giant pieces of equipment especially designed to harvest such small seed. The final visit of the day was to historic Windy Station, formally mainly a sheep station, founded around 1830, with its magnificent forty four stand wool shed built in 1902. It now carries 32,000 head of cattle on its 52,000 acres.
The Thursday night BBQ dinner was hosted by The Rotary Club of Galston.On that night we celebrated the 95th birthday of Mick Mackham who has been associated with the visit virtually from its inception. We saw a lot of the fit and well raconteur Mick who as usual regaled us with stories about Quirindi.
After a final farm visit on Friday morning the long trip back to Galston began.
All in all a wonderful educational trip, enjoyed by everyone. Grateful thanks to all those involved in Quirindi for making the excursion so successful.
Agriculture Students Visit Quirindi, 2007
For the 24th successive year, Galston High School Year 9 Agriculture students visited the far North West NSW town of Quirindi. Thirty students accompanied by teachers and Galston Rotary Club members embarked on the annual excursion to gain first-hand experience of large scale farming activities in this agriculturally rich area of the State. The event is organized by the Rotary Club of Galston in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Quirindi.
Based at the Quirindi showground for two nights, visits were made to surrounding properties in the area. Itineraries included the stunning Arrowfield horse stud, cattle dog demonstrations, and some enormous farming properties growing lucerne, kikuyu and saltbush seed, beef, and sheep. The impact of water restrictions, types of irrigation for different crops, and new coal mining activities was carefully explained. They met the original old timers whose characters and history moulded both the town and country life, and gave the students experiences and stories they could never forget.
Due to heavy rain in parts making bus access to some properties impossible, a visit to the Quirindi Rural Heritage Village was organized – a rural museum packed with culture and machinery reflecting the history of the area.
Thirty Galston High School Year 9 Agriculture students departed for Quirindi by bus (captained by Ross Burleigh) at 8am on Tuesday 4th December, accompanied by teachers Paul Udy, Chris Limbers, Wendy Pike and Karleen Arnold. Brian Dodd, Bob Spence & Terry Mullen travelled ahead by car. This was the 24th consecutive excursion organized by Galston and Quirindi Rotary Clubs, and designed to give the students first-hand experience of some large scale and unique farming activities in this very fertile agricultural area.
The first stop on the way was the prestigious Arrowfield horse stud, where students were able to get up close to some of the mares despite current equine influenza restrictions – they were allowed nowhere near the multi-million dollar stallions!
Following a dip in the local pool, students stayed at the Quirindi Showground, with a BBQ dinner being prepared on the first night by Quirindi RC, including the well known Charlie Eccles. We were joined by past well known farm host Mick Makeham and son Andrew, together with Tamworth Rotarian (ex-Galston RC) George Cromie.
On Wednesday, sheep dog demonstrations were given at the property of Minnie Hunt.
Robert & Merril Cox hosted the visit to their large lucerne growing property, and gave demonstrations of hay and silage harvesting and baling equipment. When the air-tight green plastic wrapping is opened on one of those large round fermenting bales, you’d swear you were in the brewing room of a local Rotarian!
Killara was another large property co-owned by Elders, and scientifically prepares (feeds) cattle in different ways for markets such as Woolworths, and Japanese export. The Japanese export stock is fed in such a manner as to produce a high degree of marbling in the meat. The property capacity is 20,000 head of cattle, and was holding 5,000 head at the time of our visit.
The Eyekamp family kikuyu business is quite unique in being the only kikuyu seed production business in the Southern Hemisphere, with product being sold nationally and exported around the world. The family have developed their own techniques and equipment for producing, harvesting and separating the small seed. Also grown on the property is Old Mans Saltbush, which not only concentrates vital minerals such as selenium for cattle feed supplementation, but the plant leaves have proven an effective remedy for Newcastle Itch in horses.
Following a further dip in the local pool, the students returned to the showground with Gaslton RC cooking the evening BBQ meal. Happy Birthday was sung to Mick Makeham, celebrating his 89th.
On Thursday the 40,000 acre Windy Sheep Station was visited. This magnificent property once housed up to 48 shearers, with the main shearing shed and covered holding buildings constructed from timber from the property around 1890. Aside from sheep, various crops are also grown on the property including mustard seed currently.
Due to heavy rainfall in some parts and the bus being unable to access one of the cattle properties, an alternate arrangement was made to visit the Quirindi Rural Heritage Museum on the last day before the trip home. The museum was kindly opened up especially for the school by some of the volunteers, and proved to be a very interesting exhibit of early items and farm machinery from the area.