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Roy, Leanne and Helen Hamilton

Roy, Leanne and Helen Hamilton

Bogandillan, Rand, New South Wales

The Hamilton family - James, Michael, Leanne, Roy and Helen

Bogandillan has been in the Hamilton family for over 70 years. Helen Kennedy (Roy's mother) arrived on the property with her parents at the age of four, riding horses through flood water and picking a high point on the creek to build the house in which Roy and Leanne now live.

When Roy and Leanne first came to Bogandillan the property was 4000 acres, however this has now been increased to over 7000 acres.

Converted into hectares the cropping translates into 1200 hectarce of wheat, 700 canola and 150 hectares of triticale. The Hamilton's have a 1200-head self-replacing Merino flock, the ewes are joined to Merino rams and another 600 older ewes that are crossed with a white Suffolk for fat lamb production. There are no wethers at present because there is not enough money in the wool industry.

Roy is more positive than negative about the future of farming and notes that with $750,000 tied up in machinery, it is not an industry that you can move in and out of. However with falling terms of trade and the price of wheat less in real terms, the sustainability of the property is dependent on the world price of wheat. New technology such as yield mapping has helped with fertiliser inputs on different soil types on the farm, which has led to zonale management and best practice farming.

Their two elder children are keen to come back to the farm, but Leanne would like them to do this only when they are older and in their 30s and have other experiences. Labouring on properties is now good in the area and can command a reasonable wage, which wasn't the case when Roy returned home.

With the winter months on the farm taken up with machinery maintenance, Roy developed his PHD (personal heating device) to trail behind him and keep his hands warm in the large cold machinery sheds.

Audio and transcript

Roy Hamilton

audio_w15 Listen to Roy's story (MP3 file 743kb)
Duration: 1 minute, 34 seconds

We've got 1200 hectares of wheat in and 700 hectares of canola, and then about 150 hectares of triticale.

We've got a flock of ewes; we've given Webbers away because there's not enough money in wool to make it worthwhile, running just wool cutting sheep at the moment.

We believe we're probably doing, as an industry, and I suppose I'm talking about the grains industry now, we're as close to best practice that we possibly can be because we're the least subsidised of any of the nations that are growing wheat.

Say this place had a gross income of a million dollars. I think in the States it would be about $320,000 of that would be coming from the government directly, in the EU it's about $420,000 and here it's around about $40–50,000 and that's extensions that we get provided with from the Department of Agriculture and those sorts of things.

I really feel sorry for people who worked in what was called the Department of Agriculture because the state government has screwed it around that many times and this short-term thing of ... There was one brilliant example a few years ago that they decided they would give redundancy packages to around about 40 per cent of their agronomists, and some these guys had been at the Department 20–25 years and this is this knowledge and the feel for the area.

And then 18 months, two years later they decided they had a chronic shortage so they got all these kids coming out of college, as raw as you can get them, they'd come out here and you ask them something and the poor little fellas they'd be looking in the book.

They just stuffed 'em around so badly, that sometimes I feel that we're better off without the government saying we're providing all this when it's really not.

Gallery slideshow

Below you can view a slideshow of the Hamilton family and their property.