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Rural News

A message from Executive Director, Dr Jared Greenville

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A message from Executive Director, Dr Jared Greenville

Reflecting on a busy and productive 2022, it’s no small feat that Australian farming rounds out the year in a strong position.

While it’s impressive how resilient our agriculture sector has been, the past few months are a stark reminder of the volatility of Australia’s climate.

Spring rain and flooding have adversely impacted production in some parts of the country, while other areas are setting new winter crop production benchmarks.

We are forecasting the value of production to be $85 billion in 2022-23, with a record $72b export value.

But the numbers are only part of the story.

We are seeing more evidence of our agricultural industries innovating and adapting to changing climate conditions and production challenges – such as access to labour.

As our Labour Use in Agriculture analysis shows, farmers are looking to non-labour means of bringing the harvest in, such as greater use of machinery or altering crop plantings.

The Australian vegetable industry is also rising to the challenge of shifts in consumer incomes and tastes through product diversification and improvements in quality.

The lesson for other agricultural industries is that there can be significant gains from meeting changes in consumer demand that do not require selling greater quantities or a reliance on price rises for ‘traditional’ products.

Speaking of traditions, Australian seafood will again be a festive season favourite for many of us.

Our 2022 Fishery status reports show that Commonwealth fisheries continue to be well-managed and monitored to ensure their sustainability.

We are also seeing Australian aquaculture’s continued steady growth within the Australian fisheries sector.

In recent years, aquaculture has been broadening the composition of species produced, with an increased emphasis on prawns and finfish varieties, like barramundi and kingfish.

This is another sign of one our great industries adapting and innovating.

In closing, all of us at ABARES wish you and your families a safe and happy festive season.

Looking forward to seeing you in 2023.

In this issue:

 

All I want for Christmas is an Outlook 2023 registration!

Just in time for Christmas, we’ve opened registrations for ABARES Outlook 2023 – the national forum for sharing ideas and planning for the future of Australian agriculture.

The conference, to be held in Canberra on 7-8 March, covers the theme ‘Global uncertainty, local challenges’.

For more details and to take advantage of the discounted early bird registration rate visit the Outlook website.

Hands-free horticulture sees higher production

An analysis of our 2021-22 horticultural survey results shows horticultural businesses are finding ways to improve productivity despite constrained labour availability.

The number of workers used by horticulture farms decreased by around 20 per cent over the last three years, mainly due to fewer overseas working holiday makers.

When we look at changes to peak labour use, we have seen a reduction of close to 35,000 workers on horticulture farms compared to three years ago.

Over the same period, horticulture production has increased by around three per cent, with farms adapting by making greater use of capital equipment, along with increasing hours worked by employees.

The survey results were based on a weighted sample of 2,363 horticulture farms across Australia, selected by region and farm size to be representative of the total population of 9,763 farms.

Surveyed horticulture farms include fruit, nut and vegetable growers.

Read the ABARES Labour use in Australian agriculture report and view the data visualisation.

Fishery status reports 2022

The recently released 27th edition of the ABARES Fishery status report is an independent assessment of the biological and economic status of Commonwealth-managed fish stocks.

This work provides the Australian public with confidence that Australia’s marine resources are being managed appropriately.

The fisheries assessed in the Fishery status reports 2022 generated an estimated gross value of production (GVP) of $374 million in 2020–21, which is 27% of Australia’s total wild-catch fisheries GVP of $1.39 billion.
Of the 101 stocks assessed, 66 were both not overfished and not subject to overfishing.

Overall, the reports indicate that that Commonwealth fisheries continue to be well-managed, and subject to a range of management and monitoring measures to ensure their sustainability.

Cropping prospects mixed

While winter crop production in Australia is forecast to be the second highest on record, seasonal conditions in spring are expected to have constrained plantings of cotton and rice

Cotton production is forecast to decrease 23% in 2022–23 to 4.3 million bales, following a record of 5.6 million bales in 2021–22.

Excessively wet conditions and flooding across major NSW production regions in spring prevented planting. However, improved water storage levels in parts of Queensland are expected to add slightly to cotton production.

Rice production is forecast to fall by 51% in 2022–23 to 340,000 tonnes because of widespread flooding in southern NSW and many growers being unable to access paddocks.

Forest scientists in the field

ABARES forest scientists Steve Read, Claire Howell and Cressida Lehmann travelled to Albury in October for the 2022 Forestry Australia Symposium Leading, Adapting and Reimagining – The Future of Forestry.

The various talks focussed on the role of active forest management in addressing a range of social and environmental challenges.

One highlight was A/Professor Michael-Shawn Fletcher, a descendent of the Wiradjuri and with the University of Melbourne, recalibrating our understanding of how cultural burning practices could alter the prevalence of eucalypts in the landscape.

Claire chaired an energetic panel on growing timber on Australian farms, which included the 2022 Australian Farmer of the Year, Michael Taylor, NSW, as a speaker, with other panellists from Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and New Zealand (online).

The conference also featured the release of Key Performance Indicators for Australia’s National Bushfire Management Policy Statement.

The Saturday field trip to Tumbarumba, NSW, provided the opportunity to learn first-hand of the devastation from the 2019-20 bushfires and the management of regenerating native forests and replanted plantations.

To learn more about our forestry science work visit the Forests Australiawebsite.

Future forest and wood products research assured

ABARES and Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA) have signed a two-year extension to their existing work program to fund future research into Australia’s forest and wood products industries.

The extension follows extensive consultation with FWPA members on the value that they place on ABARES work and the value placed on continuing the relationship.

The work program includes:

  • the biannual publication of the Australian Forest and Wood products statistics, which provides a compendium of statistics to guide industry and government decisions,
  • an annual 5-year outlook for the forest and wood products sector to inform government and business planning and decisions,
  • the ongoing national wood processing survey to provide a snapshot of the current state of the wood processing value chain including log input, employment, and current challenges,
  • a review of existing data sources and collections across federal and state governments and industry organisations to reduce survey burden on industry, and
  • a future project using FoRUM (The Forest Resource Use Model) to model the future of Australia’s forest and wood products sector.

Each project is designed to deliver a robust evidence base which industry and government can use to make informed decisions.

For more details on ABARES-FWPA work program please contact ABARES at foreststatistics@agriculture.gov.au.

NRM knowledge conference

ABARES scientist Jasmine Howorth attended the 8th annual NRM knowledge conference 31 October – 2 November in Margaret River, Western Australia.

Jasmine presented at the Australian Government Long-term Monitoring Program field trip and workshop demonstrating the use of satellite data to report on vegetation change.

Participants got to test the RaPP Map which provides regions with data, tools and analyses for their reporting under the National Landcare Program’s Regional Land Partnerships.

ABARES with CSIRO will be hosting additional training sessions for regional groups in 2023.  For more details contact land_management@agriculture.gov.au.

Indigenous forest data

A new Forests Australia webpage now provides access to ABARES-prepared land and forest data related to Indigenous peoples and communities.

Australia’s Indigenous peoples and communities, which comprise all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities, value forests for a range of cultural, social and economic reasons.

Substantial areas of Australia’s land and forest estate also have recognised ownership, management, or special rights of access or use by Indigenous peoples and communities, and together make up the ‘Indigenous estate’.

Information describing the connection of Indigenous peoples and communities to Australia’s land and forest is published in Australia’s State of the Forests Report.

ABARES data on the Indigenous estate also feature in the Australia State of the Environment report.

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CORAKI FERRY

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CORAKI FERRY

 

By Helen Trustum

From about the time of 1849 when a permanent settlement was established at Coraki and William Yabsley was able to obtain the lease of Brook Station and with the passing of the Robertson Land Act in 1861, many new settlers arrived.  A plan to build a “Village of Coraki” was made in 1866.  From then on, the settlement began to grow and a public ferry crossing was needed.

A new ferry for this service was built by William Yabsley Jnr. and launched by him in August 1879. This service operated from a point in the river near the Police Station. Local Member, Mr Robert Pyers received many requests for a bridge over the South Arm.

Ferryman, Andy Arthurson during 1965 Flood

Ferryman, Andy Arthurson during 1965 Flood

In 1891 “Scrubby” Nolan obtained the lease to operate the ferry for 10 pounds, the next year it went to Patrick Gillick for 53 pounds then in later years J. Hutchinson paid 93 pounds. However, there were many complaints about the service. The early ferries had no gates or side rails. There were problems with the ferry approaches as they were steep and slippery in wet weather.

By the 1880’s both Yabsley and Yeager had established successful shipping enterprises and Coraki was a busy inland port. There was obviously a huge increase in the use of a ferry.

On 10th February 1897 it was noted in John McKinnons diary that Council decided to take over another ferry at Coraki to be established at the foot of Adam Street.

Allan Trustum and Helen Maxwell crossing the Coraki Ferry in 1965

Allan Trustum and Helen Maxwell crossing the Coraki Ferry in 1965

Public Works annual report 1898 – 1899 recorded that a new hand ferry was built at Adam Street.

During 1904 the Government announced that it would endeavour to convert all ferries to steam, but this was not accomplished in Coraki until September 1910 when a steam ferry built in Ballina went into operation.

Allan Clark with his horse crossing the Coraki Ferry

Allan Clark with his horse crossing the Coraki Ferry

Responsibility for roads, bridges and ferries was in the hands of the Department of Public Works from the late 1850’s. In 1925 the Main Roads Board assumed responsibility. This became the Department of Main Roads in 1932 and in 1989 the Roads and Traffic Authority.

Glebe Bridge over the South Arm of the Richmond River was built with the first pile driven in 1904. The bridge was always referred to as the Pyers Bridge, as Robert Pyers officially opened the South Arm Bridge on 4th May 1905 at a cost of 9,500 pounds.

Water hyacinth was always a menace in the river where a flood was the only effective way of getting rid of it.

Coraki Ferry

Coraki Ferry

The Arthurson Family deserve recognition in the Coraki Ferry story. Men from the Arthurson family have a special record, for at one stage, three brothers manned Richmond River Ferries. Jack was on Burns Point, Angus (Spark) on Woodburn and Andy on Coraki. These men had previously worked on river boats, as their father before them. “Spark” was on the small relief ferry when it sank in the February 1951 flood at Woodburn. Sadly, “Spark” himself was drowned on 20th June 1960, when his car plunged off the Coraki Ferry into the Richmond River.

A grand occasion was held for the opening of the $1.6 million bridge on 23rd May 1990. The bridge was officially opened by the Minister for National Resources Mr Ian Causley, while Coraki Councillor, Mr Ken Thomas shared cutting the ribbon. Over 5,000 people were in attendance on this special day in Coraki to witness the opening of the bridge after 92 years of ferry service.

Warren Robinson one of the last operators of the Coraki Ferry. He was part of a team of five men operating the ferry service for the last 10 years leading up to the ferry ceasing operation. Before Coraki, Warren worked at Woodburn until it was replaced by a bridge in 1982. The Coraki Ferry was shipped to Ulmarra on the Clarence, for the Ulmarra run.

Memories:

Ray Hunt: I have crossed all the ferries on the South and North Arm of the Richmond Riveras it was named. From Tuckurimba where I live, I crossed the Broadwater Ferry for 41 years. I retired in 1998 and a bridge was built the following year. Nearly call that bad luck. The ferrymen over the years were a fine bunch of men either day or night. It always paid to be good friends, or they would leave you waiting on the bank.

Men, Ray Hunt recall’s: Ollie Ryan – Coraki, Spark and Andy Arthurson- Coraki, Bill Tarplee- Coraki,  Warren Robinson- Coraki,  Jim Haynes – Woodburn, John Gallagher- Woodburn, Col Sauer- Broadwater, Jim Trellfo- Wardell.

Robert Maxwell: I remember the time when a certain resident came to the ferry on his way home from a night in Coraki. After entering the ferry, he went off to sleep and the ferry man could not wake him. This caused a problem, so he was left in the car on the ferry where he went back and forwards across the river till daylight.

Ferryman at Coraki: Courtesy of booklet “Ferry to Bridge, Crossing the Richmond River at Coraki”.

The First Ferry, William Tunstall, W. Watt, John McVicar, Nelson, Charles Sharpe. Bloom, Gillespie, “Scrubby” Nolan, Patrick Gillick, N. Manlow, J. Hutchinson, P. Roche and J. Hile.

Adam Street Ferry – Paddy Roche, Joe Nix, Jack Day, Ted Sheather, Mr Fairhall, “Dad” Roberts, Ted Coombes, Dave Williams, P. B. O’Conner, H. Louis, J. Mc Intyre, C.J. Cavanaugh, T. Andrews, Murray, C.S. Smith,

C.A Gillum, D.S. Rosman, P. Orchard, A.V. Bottrell, Max Saxon, J. Evans, Andy Arthurson, Spark Arthurson, Sandy Davis, Foggy Richards, C. Gilbert, Neil Wallace, F. Webber, H.L. Morton, W. Greber.

J. R. McFadden, A.J. Winslade, W. Tarplee, Reg Black, Lyndon Everingham, Stan Everingham, J. Nighingdale, M. Chaffy, Ollie Ryan, Jim Haynes, Colin Sauer, M. Milligan, W. Robinson, J. Gollan, A. Wilkes.

Ref: Ferry to Bridge – Crossing the Richmond River at Coraki, published by the Mid Richmond Historical Society: Northern Star.

 

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TATHAM FERRY

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TATHAM FERRY

 

By Helen Trustum

In the early days of dairying in the Richmond Valley, river boats played an important role in the transport of cream from dairy farms to the factory. Cream boats provided a service to farms that were often difficult to access by road and easily isolated in times of flooding. The cream boats traversed to the Richmond River from Woodburn to Coraki, before returning to Coraki and travelling up the Wilson River to Lismore.

As stated in the Richmond River Herald 16/3/1909 The Coraki / Tatham people were overjoyed when they were getting a ferry to operate across the river at Tatham.

Tatham Ferry - Johnny Schneider, Jill Barnett ( on horse), Ted Richardson, Johnny and Janice Patfield ( near horse). Photo supplied by Jill Barnett.

Tatham Ferry – Johnny Schneider, Jill Barnett ( on horse), Ted Richardson, Johnny and Janice Patfield ( near horse). Photo supplied by Jill Barnett.

A large number of townspeople met at the Coraki Rowing Club Shed to witness the launching of the new ferry built at the order of Tomki Shire, by Alf Conroy for the ferry service at Tatham. The new punt, which was decorated with flags, entered the water with a resounding smack, though very little spray fell on the deck. After the craft had been launched everyone made to the Rowing Club Shed where bottles were uncorked and the Engineer of Woodburn Shire, Mr A Adams proposed a toast to ”The Punt”. Mr Adams remarked: that he had taken a keen interest in the building of the punt. He congratulated both Tomki and Woodburn Shire on sourcing such a first class punt and trusted that it would have a long and successful career in the ferry service at Tatham.

Tatham Ferry - 1950. Fred Murphy and Kathleen McFadden ( first cousins)

Tatham Ferry – 1950. Fred Murphy and Kathleen McFadden ( first cousins)

The punt measured 30 feet in length (9.15 metres), 12 feet 3 inches(3.75 metres) beams and 3 feet deep  (91.5cm) with two 9 feet flap (2.75 metres).. The outside planking was built of Oregon pine, while the deck and upper works were hardwood. The ferry was sheathed with galvanized iron and carried three coats of tar inside and out. It was indeed one of the staunchest punts on the river and every way a credit to the designer Mr Kirkpatrick and builder Mr Alf Conroy.

On 16th December 1913, The Public works acknowledged approval of receipt of tender for one hundred and forty pound, eight shillings to J.H. Easterbrook for working on the ferry.

Tom Marsh at Tatham Post Office - 1977

Tom Marsh at Tatham Post Office – 1977

Ferryman, in 1917 was Mr J. Birmingham. He was given approval on 17th September 1917 for working the Tatham Ferry at 164 pounds and 5 shillings per year. Although it was not the lowest tender but a very popular one as Council had received a signed petition in his favor. President, Mr Sullivan, said he had explained the position to the Department in Sydney and they had said, they would like a returned soldier to work the punt.

The punt was almost on the boundary of Gundurimba Shire and visitors to the area used the punt almost as much as the ratepayers. For that reason, he did not think Tomki Shire should be saddled with the whole expense.

The Tatham Ferry was in service until 11th January 1968 then a new bridge was being built starting on 22nd October 1963.

Tatham Post Office

Tatham Post Office

Memories:

Frank Brown (now deceased): who was 92 years old at the time in 2020 remembered the great times as a lad growing up at Tatham, when the young ones of the district would meet at the Tatham Ferry and go swimming. This would happen every Sunday during summer. The ferry driver Gus Lewin would park the ferry in the middle of the river so the children could dive off. All the time watching for cars. They included children from Browns, Magners, Hancocks, Lyle and Kevin Clarke and Neville Cowan.

Frank also remembered the teacher from Pidcocks Lane School, which was over the river from the Brown property. Her name was Sally Rankin. Sally later married George Cox from Tatham. Each school day Sally would ride her horse from their property (known as Ray Mison’s) across the little ferry at Tatham and down to Pidcocks Lane School.

Jack Donovan (now deceased): In those early days of settlement at Tatham, Jack Donovan recalled in notes that it was necessary for a crossing at Tatham. The ferry consisted of pine and cedar chained together and a rope was fastened to trees on both sides, so it could be pulled over.

Joe Rathbourne was the first man to build a hotel at Tatham, on the south bank close to the wharf. The river near the wharf was a popular spot for swimming. A swimming club was formed in the 1920’s.

During flood times, great care had to be taken with the ferry disconnecting the rope so the ferry could be pulled up on to the bank to stop it being washed away. The main rope had to be dropped further down in the river so all boat traffic could pass by.

There was a bell that people could ring to alert the ferryman. This bell was given to the Casino Public School.

Tom Marsh (now deceased): Some early reflections from Tom Marsh from his notes:

Wharf was built by Mr Rankin on the south bank. There was also a store, hotel, blacksmith, saddler’s, fruit shop, bakers, George Smith Bootmaker and Mr Wilson’s Creamery.

The village was built in a very flooded area. 1887 “Big Flood”, 1891, 1893, !921 “Big Flood”, March 1931, then a series 1945, 1948 and the big one 1954.

Tatham Public School opened at The Red Hill, at Tatham, Johnathan McInnes was the teacher. Convent School opened in 1906 with a few desks in the back of the church. School Hall was built in 1908.

Marie Kempton: The family all had fun swimming off the ferry, that was all the “Tatham-ites”. They were O’Donnells, De Lewins, Wares, Eckerts and the Parkers. During the 1954 flood, Marie along with her family, the Small’s, took refuge on the road outside Parkers house.

Colleen Knight: Gus De Lewin was one of the ferry operators also the cream carrier. His family Sonia, Jo, Florence and a younger one would help him on the cream truck.

Ferry Drivers: Harry Windsor, Nugget and Archie Lamont, G. Schneider, John Birmingham, Tom Donovan, J. Watts, Gus De Lewin, Bill Leahy, Joe Rathbourne, Albert Avery, J. Frost, J.W. Easterbrook,

Ref: Mid Richmond Historical Society at Coraki, Jack Donovan’s memories, Tom Marsh’s memories, records shared by Elaine Trustum, Tatham.

 

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WYRALLAH FERRY

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WYRALLAH FERRY

 

By Helen Trustum

Nestled in the hills 10 kilometers south of Lismore lies Wyrallah. It was once a thriving place when it boasted a mill, brickworks, four hotels, two wine shops, four butcher shops, churches and a school as well as other stores and public buildings. One of the first sawmills on the Richmond River was erected in the early 1860’s at Wyrallah on what was known as the North Arm. In 1862 Mr William Lane and son Albert landed from the schooner “Josephine” and erected a slab hut. Shortly after the paddle boat “Rainbow” arrived from Port Stephens with the machinery for the owner James and Captain Robert Beckenridge. Within a year the mill was operating. Beckenridge Brothers had their teams of bullocks, trucks, drays, horses and cattle were bought overland from Port Stephens, Via Grafton and the Tablelands.

Randle Children off to school by crossing river in the boat

Randle Children off to school by crossing river in the boat

Referring to the ferry, Gundurimba Shire records make note of it functioning in 1885. The ferryman’s cottage beside the Wilsons River was built about the same time the ferry started operating on the 1st September 1885. The ferry carried foot passengers, animals, horses, gigs and drays, with the ferry wound across the river by hand. When the ferry sank in the 1890 flood, it was sent to Ballina for repairs. Foot passengers and horseman were carried by boat and the horses swam the river.

The ferrymen operated the Wyrallah ferry, in 24 hour shifts. These men were: Bill George, Fred West Snr., James Edward Pearce, Charles Tonkin, Mr Nipperess, Herb and Ray Whitney. (only names I have found out).

Fred West under new bridge at Wyrallah Ferry - 1968

Fred West under new bridge at Wyrallah – 1968

The last ferry operator before the bridge was built in 1968 was Mr Charles Tonkin. The new Wyrallah Bridge was officially opened by the Honourable Sir Davis Hughes, Minister for Public Works on 31st August 1968.

The Wyrallah Ferry was then moved to Swan Bay and the Ferrymans House was moved just a few hundred metres to the rear of the Wyrallah Bush Fire Brigade headquarters.  Wyrallah residents were very happy with their new bridge.

Ferryman's Cottage near the Wyrallah Ferry

Ferryman’s Cottage near the Wyrallah Ferry

Memories:

Dawn Coles, (nee Randle): was reared at Ferros Lane, Ruthven in a family of 13. The children loved the river and every chance they had the Randle children would be swimming in the river. That is where they learnt to swim with their father getting them to jump into the water while they were tied on to a long rope. Dawn remembers the Gallagher Family often fishing at night. Travelling to the school at Wyrallah the children had to cross the river by boat. Dawn also rode her pony to school where she would cross the ferry. This was in the early 1950’s.

Marie Essery, (nee West): lived with her parents, Fred and Elsie West on Tuckean Island. When it came for her to attend school at Wyrallah she was boarded at Ray and Mavis Prentice’s home near the Wyrallah ferry.  Marie is the Grand Daughter of the Ferry Master at Wyrallah, Fred West Snr. and his wife Lavina, who lived in the Ferrymans cottage near the ferry. Fred operated the ferry for many years.

Jim Pearce: His Grandfather James Edward Pearce was the ferryman at Wyrallah. Jim spent many great weekends sitting on the side gate fishing for garfish. This would have been between 1953 and 1955.

David Barnsley: As a child, David used to go on the run delivering bread for McLeish’s Bakery over the ferry and back to town. One day the river was swollen with flood water. He found it very scary as he had to hand wind the ferry over and with all the logs and debris coming downstream at him, he said the responsibility was way beyond his paygrade $0.

Fred Hoskins: Fred still lives at Wyrallah and at 92 years of age, remembers when Bill George retired from operating the Wyrallah Ferry and went to live in Sydney. Every time he heard the bell ringing at the railway station, he would say “COMING”. Fred said it took a long time to get that out of his mind. As that was the way of telling the Ferry Crew, they were on the other side waiting for the ferry. Bill was Ferrymaster at Wyrallah during the 1920’s.

Ref: Northern Star, Fred Hoskins Wyrallah, May Essery Mullumbimby, and Dawn Coles Lismore.

 

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