THE AUSTRALIAN Dairy Conference tour travelled through Gippsland in February, with 30 farmers and service providers from around Australia enjoying insights into the region’s production systems.
The tour took in some of the most productive and attractive farmland in the region as it headed towards its first stop in the heart of the Strzelecki Ranges at Ellinbank, where the Victorian Government’s National Centre for Dairy Research and Development is located.
From there, it moved into the rolling hills of West Gippsland where a visit to Tarago River Cheese offered participants the chance to see a working dairy farm combined with a specialty cheese production facility. They also had the chance to taste some of their wonderful cheese.
The final stop of day one was at Willow Grove, where Ian and Kerry Cougle have set up a large herd dairy business with an associated beef operation.
The tour dinner that night saw Macalister Irrigation District farmers Michael and Sarah O’Brien share their journey through the industry. Agriculture Victoria’s Alexis Killoran also spoke about innovations in the irrigation sector.
Day two took participants through the heart of Victoria’s power generation industry to south-east Gippsland where Won Wron farmers Paul and Lisa Mumford have a Jersey herd that is a showpiece of genetic investment
Later that day the tour moved to the property of Fish Creek farmers Graeme, Jenny and Shaun Cope, who run a large herd operation in one of the most reliable rainfall areas in Australia.
GippsDairy regional extension co-ordinator Tony Platt said the tour was an unqualified success, with participants eager to learn from successful farmers running unique farming systems.
“The best indicator of interest in these sort of events is the number of questions being asked — and it was often difficult to get the participants back on the bus because they were so engaged with the farmers they were visiting,” Mr Platt said.
“I’d like to thank all the farm businesses involved for sharing their stories and opening up their farms to a busload of complete strangers.
“It was a really worthwhile exercise and a great way to kick off the Australian Dairy Conference.”