FEW businesses have 100 years under their belt, so it was quite the occasion on Saturday when a reunion of descendents was held to celebrate a century of dairying on a farm at Frank’s Wharf, Utungun.
Leonard Charles and Jane Isabel Johnston started the operation at Frank’s Wharf which earned its name as it was a government wharf for general goods while just around the bend on the next flat, was a logging wharf and the farm was owned by Charles Frank.
The farm was a selection by Mr Frank – a German migrant in 1868 – and was leased to Leonard and Jane in 1912 before it was finally purchased by Leonard in 1920.
Leonard, who was born at Seven Oakes on the Macleay River in 1865, was married to Jane Bransdon in 1900 in the Port Macquarie area.
They had a family of four sons – Ross, Horace, Howard and Wilfred – all born in the Rolland Plains area.
Leonard and Jane moved their young family including a newborn to the farm at Frank’s Wharf in 1912 where they began dairying.
Leonard was no stranger to the Nambucca River as his family had lived at ‘Figtree’ on the Gumma peninsular for a period of time, where some of his siblings were born.
Family life was hard in the early years with no motorised equipment to help milk or plough the paddocks to plant feed for the cattle. Everything was done by hand or horse.
After the cows were milked by hand, the cream was then separated off, put into large cream cans and taken by horse and cart to the wharf.
It was then collected by the cream launch and taken to the butter factory at North Macksville to be churned.
As things progressed with roads, cars, trucks and farm machinery, the cream cans were transported by road and milking machines were installed to speed up the process.
With the use of tractors and equipment, more feed was able to be planted, which in turn boosted milk production.
By 1974 the family had moved from cream into whole milk production, and this continues today with the use of refrigerated milk vats and bulk tanker collection.
Jane died in 1936 and Leonard in 1950 – both are buried in Macksville cemetery.
Leonard’s two youngest sons, Howard and Wilfred, continued to work the farm until Wilfred bought the farm in 1961.
Wilfred died in 1970 and the farm passed to his widow Margaret, who with the help from her sons Robert (full time), and Bruce and Doug on weekends, continued to run the farm.
Robert and his wife Sharyn have now managed the farm for about 37 years and when his mother Margaret passed in 2008, he bought the farm to keep the tradition going.
At a gathering of descendants on Saturday, a great time was had as memories were shared and tales told.
Lunch was served in the hay shed which was followed by the cutting of a cake to mark the occasion. People travelled from as far afield as Perth, Toowoomba and Newcastle.
A special thanks goes to Jean Gillies (daughter of Horace), of Alstonville, for organising the day and putting together a family history folder, and to Robert and Sharyn Johnston for hosting a great day.
– by David Johnston, great
grandson of Leonard and Jane