No bull as bullock drivers crack the whip

THE whips are cracking and the words of encouragement echoing around the district this week as more than a dozen bullock drivers from all over the country converge on the Shoalhaven.

Members of the Australian Bullock Drivers’ League have been in the area for their annual get-together, which this year has been centred on the Shoalhaven and in particular Tomerong.

Local bullocky and league president Ron McKinnon organised the visit to the Shoalhaven.

Mr McKinnon is well known for his team of bullocks which appear at most local agricultural shows, bringing a little piece of a history to the modern world.

On Sunday, the group converged on Mr McKinnon’s property, where his team of 20 bullocks was yoked up and staged a number of demonstrations, while members of the league were able to chat about their hobby.

He said the annual gathering had brought more than 50 people to the area for the week.

“We are all just a bunch of bullock enthusiasts who want to keep the art of bullock driving going,” Mr McKinnon said.

“We had people from every state of Australia except South Australia and even six came over from New Zealand for the week.

“And they come from all walks of life – we have dairy farmers, truck drivers, business owners – we all just have a common interest in bullocks and want to see the tradition continue.

“We just get together and tell a few stories and yarns and chat about different ideas in the way we do things with the bullocks.

“If it wasn’t for bullocks people wouldn’t be here.”

He said the week-long event was a social event where members can share ideas.

The group visited Coolangatta and were booked to head to the top of the mountain on Big Foot but it proved too wet, and a visit to Doug Schutz’s firewood business was also cancelled because of the rain.

While the weather may have interfered with a couple of planned activities, the visitors did not remain idle, with two constructing bull whips, while Mr McKinnon himself did up an old bush axe in a revised afternoon of activities.

On Tuesday the group meet at the historic Emery property Wogamia, west of Nowra, where another local bullocky, Geoff Cochrane’s son Daniel, is dairy farming.

Mr Cochrane’s bullock team was yoked up and displayed in front of the property’s historic 1850 homestead and later traversed a convict-built pass, which was the original access to the area.

“It’s a pretty historic part of the property that is actually owned by Tony Emery,” Mr Cochrane said.

“It’s a bit of a hidden secret, not too many people know about its existence.

“It was interesting for our visitors to watch the bullock team travel through the old pass.”

The visitors are also set to visit John and Andrea Henry’s robotic dairy at Pyree, the Nowra Saleyards, where they are scheduled to put on a whip cracking demonstration. The week wraps up on Friday when they make a visit to Kevin Drury’s farm at Milton to see his bullock team.

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