Retired Farmers Group spins a great yarn

Retired Farmers Group spins a great yarn

For two retired and seasoned farmers in Tamworth and Inverell, monthly meetings have become a highlight of the year.

The two chapters of the Retired Farmers Group consist of retired and semi-retired farmers, carrying a combined farming experience of more than 2,000 years. The members meet once a month to discuss important local, state and national issues, and each meeting also features a guest lecturer – usually a politician or representative with a unique perspective on the farming industry.

Mick Collins, local regional manager in North/Northwest and Retired Farmers Group organiser, was inspired to begin the program after a conversation with a friend, who saw the value in bringing seasoned farmers together to share their knowledge and to have a yarn.

“The Retired Farmers Group is an opportunity for farmers to make friends and meet people with similar interests, while also getting out and about,” Mick explains. “They may not be as physically fit as they used to be, but mentally they’re as sharp as ever. Staying in town can become quite frustrating, so here they can talk about what they’ve achieved and contributed to agriculture over their lives, and still feel connected to the industry.”

For Mick, organising the meetings has been personally rewarding as well. 

“Running the Retired Farmers Group is one of the best parts of my job at the NSW Farmers Association. It’s very rewarding to walk into this room of friends and know that it’s a highlight for them as well. We have a cup of tea and a great yarn, mostly just sharing what they’ve all seen and experienced.”

The Retired Farmers Group meeting up in Tamworth.

The talk of Tamworth

Tamworth group member Ken Douglas has always been involved in farming. As a young man, he left school to start working on the land, eventually buying his own property and expanding it by 600 acres. In 1989, he sold his farm and moved to Tamworth to oversee a major engineering company.

“I still enjoy turning up and interacting with customers,” says Ken. “They travel from all around for our services. Just a few days ago, we had a guy ring up asking about new pieces for his egg sorting machine!”

For him, the Retired Farmers Group has led to plenty of new friends.

“It’s really a meeting of mates. We turn up early for a cup of coffee, and often stay after the meeting to have lunch together. I’ve known them for years as locals, but I never had much interaction with them until I joined the group. Now we sit around and talk about different things. It gives us all a reason to get out of bed and get moving.”

The Retired Farmers Group monthly meet-ups are a great way for retired farmers to keep in touch, get out and about, and share their knowledge.

Step into Inverell

Andrew Fuller, a member from the Inverell group, explains why it’s so important to share opinions and experiences with the other members.

“I grew up in marginal grazing and farming country,” he says. “I worked hard digging holes in granite and putting up fences to stop rabbits, roos and foxes. Eventually, I sat on committees and became chairman of the showground trust.”

Despite this long and successful career, Andrew is still being challenged and inspired by the monthly group meetings.

“From a young age, my father emphasised the importance of enquiry. He was born in a mining community, he didn’t have the strongest education, but he did know how to listen and think for himself. And that meant he was one of the first people in the community to accept contour banks or to have a sheep dip on his property.

“That’s one of the things I love about the meetings. We might have different opinions, but we appreciate one another’s efforts. I enjoy chatting to the blokes about old times, and about academic and farming issues. Everyone is welcome to join, and we all love it.”

If you enjoyed this piece about the Retired Farmers Group, make sure to check out the remarkable story of Philip Melbourne – at 92, he’s NSW Farmers’ oldest member, and still dedicated to the land.

One thought on “Retired Farmers Group spins a great yarn

  1. Hi Farmer NSW,

    I’m an AoD Counsellor enquiring on behalf of a old farmer client of mines, who’s been struggling with transition to retirement due to lost of physical capacity.

    Spotted your article about Retired farmer’s group having a great yarn. Am wondering how to get in touch with someone from the group.
    Or if you can point me the right way to speak to someone with knowledge of possible help and resource I can pass on to my client.


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