More than 350 farmers and outback ag enthusiasts gathered at the Hungerford sports ground for a dose of farming innovations, fashions and fun at Australia’s remotest agricultural field day event.
Many of them travelled from stations in NSW, leading to traffic jams of up to three cars deep at the Wild Dog Fence that makes up the state border with Queensland at Hungerford. Like the gate rule on farms, the dog fence gates across the main road into Hungerford must be closed after entry.
By all accounts, the tiny delay was well worth the wait as remote farmers revelled in their first big Hungerford gathering since 2019.
The good vibes contributed to a fundraising record for the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS), with $34,387 amassed through a charity auction and field day entry donations.
Hungerford appetite for community events
The tiny village of Hungerford only has six permanent residents, but it punches above its weight when to comes to hosting outback events.
Most of that is thanks to the Hungerford Progress Association, which spearheads the community’s two showpiece events: the Field Day, which includes a ‘legendary’ night out at Royal Mail pub in Hungerford, and an annual Sports Day on the October long weekend.
Moc and Sheree Parker are two of the six residents and are coordinators for the Field Day event, which was held on Friday 2 June.
“It would not happen without the support of the community and the Progress Association committee,” Moc said.
“It is also well supported by the Bulloo Shire, the exhibitors and our sponsors.”
Moc, who does some bush poetry on the side, said the 55 exhibitors who attended this year had a genuine outback experience while having the opportunity for a rare catch up with some of the country’s most far-flung farmers.
He said accommodation options are limited in Hungerford, with most exhibitors and visitors enjoying a camp out at the Ross Wallace Sports Ground.
“The caravan park and the pub do have some accommodation, but we had about 60 of the exhibitors camping out at the sports ground.
“There is a great night out at the Royal Mail Hotel the night before and another night of live entertainment on the Friday around an outback fireplace.”
Soaring support for Flying Doctors
The RFDS has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Hungerford Field Day since its inception in 1982.
All proceeds from the Hungerford Field Day are donated to RFDS, which is a vital and highly loved medical service for outback communities like Hungerford.
The idea to host an enlightening event for farmers and raise funds for the RFDS was the brainchild of Margaret Dunk, who was part of a 99-year Dunk family farming legacy at Warroo Station on the outskirts of Hungerford.
Margaret and husband Peter transformed the idea into reality in 1982 and it soon became a much-anticipated annual event for the outback region.
“Mum ran the first event, and it was a wonderful show, and she continued to run it for the next 21 years,” said Margaret’s son John Dunk.
“It was a small start, but it’s grown from strength to strength. We’ve had all sorts of exhibitors over the years, from bulls to workings dogs, farming equipment and tools and nowadays there is more clothing and artists as well.
“I was at the Progress Association meeting when it was first talked about. The reasons behind having a field day were that farmers out here can be the last to find anything out about new technology and machinery.”
The event is now biennial to accommodate for a field day run in concurrent years at nearby Louth, a mere 260-kilometre drive south of Hungerford.
“We take it in turns with Louth. There is no point in competing against each out here.
“Most importantly, it’s a day for everyone to get together and support the Royal Flying Doctors. It truly is wonderful service that they provide out here.
“The night before is legendary now. The hotel does a camp oven dinner, and most people bring a swag and camp there. It’s a really important social event for the community and farmers.
“There are not many people out here, but it’s a wonderful district.”
The next Hungerford Field Day will be in June 2025.
Interested in outback communities? Learn about Ivanhoe here.