It’s been a while since we’ve attended one of the best things about Tassie, the freaking awesome events! Today we had the immense pleasure of driving the very short distance down to our neighbour’s property to attend the Heritage Farming Expo. The Coal River valley has been farmed by settlers for 200 years now and was the hunting ground for the Oyster Bay/Big River or Merrimeneer people for thousands of years before that.
The first settlers brought with them agricultural practices from Europe at a time when the Industrial Revolution was really kicking into gear. Traditional practices of using horses and teams of Bullocks were slowly replaced by steam powered behemoths and later the combustion engine as means of harvesting crops. The full timescale was well represented at the Expo and each aspect was fascinating and impressive in its own right. A single farmer with something as basic as a scythe could perhaps manage an acre a day, the introduction of horses and cows raised that to 14 or 15 acres. Steam power upped the ante considerably and yields of 100 acres a day became possible. It’s hard to imagine being able to work so much land but these amazing inventions made it possible.
I’m not mechanically minded at all and wouldn’t know my way around an engine for love nor money but I find it absolutely fascinating, the process that led to these machines being developed. They’re incredibly complex when compared with a scythe so there really was a great leap in the creativity of people to invent the various parts and put them together.
Today, the respect and admiration for those early pioneers hasn’t diminished amongst a community of passionate and wonderful enthusiasts. Whilst many of these machines, some more than a century old are long since lost, a choice few have been saved from the scrapheap and lovingly restored to their original condition. The sound of a steam engine is something special and the sight of these frankly gigantic machines is a treat to behold. Kids these days are excited by seeing a tractor, kids in the late 19th century must have been absolutely ecstatic and out of their minds giddy seeing a steam tractor. They’re freaking awesome!
Enough about machines, how about natural beasts of burden? The highlight of the Expo for me was definitely Brian Fish and his incredible team of 6 Bullocks. Cows are usually pretty big, these ones were next level. You definitely would not mess with them and if you saw one in a dark alley, you’d walk the other way for sure. Actually no you probably would walk towards them because seeing a giant cow in a dark alley would be very odd and intriguing haha. The intelligence of these beautiful creatures was so cool to see. Brian has the utmost of respect for them and you can tell there’s a special bond there, like a sheep farmer would have with his dogs. The Bullocks knew exactly where to go with seemingly no prompting or instruction and as Brian told us, they team up together and refuse to work with another Bullock once paired up, it was like telepathy, amazing to see. They were so calm and at ease with him and with each other, that’s something you don’t get with a machine (although I’m sure there’s many who would say otherwise haha).
It was such a good day, a wonderful event and to have it right on our doorstep was an added bonus. There’s always been an air of mystery to farms and the work that goes on there so it was fascinating to take a peak behind the curtain and find out a little more about the incredible people, machines and animals that work to provide us with our food, clothing and so much more.
Keen to know more? Check out the Hobart Vintage Machinery Society on Facebook.