Sungold Field Days day one | Photos

From wood chopping to whip cracking and the latest in farm machinery, day one of the Sungold Field Days aimed to offer something for everyone.

The sound of whips cracking rang out over the Allansford site courtesy of stock whip stars Madi and Kiera Buzza.

From the Queensland crossover to the Tassie twist, the competition regulars had plenty of moves to show the crowd.

Audience participation was encouraged, with youngsters getting up to test their skills.  

Madi said she and her younger sister trained for hours each week to keep their skills sharp, claiming state and national titles along the way.

For those looking for a thrill, the axe-throwing and wood chopping was the place to be.

Axes were flying through the air and the wood chop experts were getting through a 10-inch log in under 20 seconds during Wednesday’s demonstrations.

Western Victorian Axeman’s Association’s Scott Anderson, from Colac, has been competing for about 10 years and said apart from the thrill of competition, the sport was all about camaraderie.

“It’s all about the friendships that we make,” he said. 

“We travel around all over the place, we go interstate a lot and sometimes even overseas.”

Over in the animal nursery, Emmanuel College student Georgia Gibson proved the old adage of never working with children and animals doesn’t ring true.

The 16-year-old volunteers at the animal nursery as part of her agriculture classes and was up to her ankles in puppies, guinea pigs and other farm friends. “I’ve been out here a few times,” she said. “I really like the animals.”

Site awards were also given out on Wednesday, with judges tasked with the difficult decision of finding winners.

The winners were:

  • Best site award: Greg Allan Farm Machinery
  • Best commercial exhibit: Landmark
  • Best small business award: Bade Ness
  • Best farm machinery award: Rhys Evans
  • Graham Collins Innovation Award: Forest and Garden Tree Services.

Dairy at the heart of our success, chairman says

The importance of the region’s dairy industry should not be underestimated, the chief of the south-west’s biggest agricultural event says.

Sungold Field Days chairman Tony Rea said anyone walking around the Allansford site on Wednesday would be left in no doubt about how vital dairy was to the region’s economy.

“The amount of machinery, cars, stock handling equipment and the like is up at least a third on what we’ve ever had here before,” he said. 

“The amount of equipment on site is just amazing.

“It just shows what agriculture and the dairy industry means to the economy.”

Mr Rea said agriculture was often an overlooked contributor to the region.

Feeding the masses: Hay supplier Benn Fraser, from Bo Peep, has been returning to the Sungold Field Days for 15 years. Field days chairman Tony Rea said many exhibitors return to the event year after year. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Feeding the masses: Hay supplier Benn Fraser, from Bo Peep, has been returning to the Sungold Field Days for 15 years. Field days chairman Tony Rea said many exhibitors return to the event year after year. Picture: Morgan Hancock

“A lot of people don’t realise what the dairy industry is worth to this area,” he said. 

“A lot of people take it for granted, which I think is disappointing.

“If people from Warrnambool come out and take in (the machinery, businesses, and innovation involved)… they will see what the dairy industry is worth to farmers, business, jobs and the local economy.” The mercury climbed into the 30s for the first day of the field days, which is marking its 37th annual event this year.

Mr Rea said crowds were out in force and the strong numbers were expected to continue over the event’s remaining two days.

“I’m very pleased with the first day,” he said.

Confidence was high among the more than 200 exhibitors, Mr Rea said, with many businesses returning to the event.

“I hope that all the businesses get something out of it and I know they do because they keep coming back every year,” he said.

Hay supplier Benn Fraser from Bo Peep, near Ballarat, is one of those exhibitors. His family’s businees has hosted a site at the field days for the past 15 years. 

He said demand this year had been strong, with the business “flat out” with farmers on the lookout for hay due to the dry conditions.

Little grey Fergies a true labour of love

When Ken “Floss” Bibby began farming, the Ferguson tractor was king. Almost 70 years on, times have changed, but for Mr Bibby the Fergie is still number one.

Mr Bibby, from Warracknabeal, was among the Harry Ferguson Tractor Club members putting their pride and joy on show at the Sungold Field Days on Wednesday.

“I currently own 10 Fergie tractors, no two the same,” he said.

“They replaced the horse on small farms where someone had one, two or three horses, the Fergie replaced them. 

“One year they built 70,000 and all told they built 517,651 worldwide, only 50,000 of them came to Australia.

Fergie Fan: Harry Ferguson Tractor Club member Ken Bibby with one of the Fergies on display at the Sungold Field Days. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Fergie Fan: Harry Ferguson Tractor Club member Ken Bibby with one of the Fergies on display at the Sungold Field Days. Picture: Morgan Hancock

“The main thing about them was the three-point linkage, it was Harry Ferguson’s invention and it’s still used today. Every new tractor that is being manufactured is still using that three-point linkage.”

From Mr Bibby’s own experience, creature comforts in the earlier models were certainly lacking. “When I first started farming in 1949 I used to sit out on (the open tractor) under an umbrella and I used to work the comb of the header… with chaff and dust swirling around. We were buying army disposal plastic goggles to keep it out,” he said.

Mr Bibby said the tractors later came into favour as collectors items as they were easy to restore and light to cart.

The club is one of the biggest tractor clubs in Australia with about 800 members and tractors dating back 60 years.

Vicky rolls in to share stories

She’s big, she’s bold and she’s proud to be Victorian.

Vicky the truck rolled into Sungold Field Days on Wednesday hoping to get the crowd thinking about what it meant to be a Vic.

Michael Cutrupi, who is on the road with Vicky, said the state government initiative was all about sharing stories. 

Beau Colton with the VR headset inside the 'Vicky' truck. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Beau Colton with the VR headset inside the 'Vicky' truck. Picture: Morgan Hancock

Through virtual reality headsets, participants get to see the stories of some average Victorians before getting a change to share their own through videos and photos.

After travelling across the state, Mr Cutrupi said the reception was always positive.

“We have people from really different walks of life and they all stay it’s great to have something... that they can see themselves in,” he said.

“It’s a fun thing to do, virtual reality is a really great thing to do.”

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