HENRY BATH has received many awards for services to the dairy industry and the community of Cedar Creek in Queensland’s sunny north over his 81 years, including a recent OAM in 2019, but the awards do not faze him one little bit.
As a fourth-generation dairy farmer, Henry was born in Gympie and has lived his entire life on the family farm at Greens Creek.
As well as running a successful dairy business, Henry has devoted his life to family and community.
He has led a rewarding and fulfilling life and he firmly believes hard work and good health (no smoking and drinking) helped to lay the foundation.
The Bath family have lived at Greens Creek since the farm was selected by first deed by Henry Bath (senior) in 1905.
The farm was established as a dairy by Henry senior, milking 50 cows by hand and from those early beginnings, the family would then go on to spend the next 105 years milking on the original selection (with a few additional land purchases over the years).
“My dad Viv took over the farm off Henry senior and then my wife Thelma and I started sharefarming in the early 1960s,” Henry said.
“We bought 113 acres on one side of the home farm which had a small dairy on it and in 1969 we bought the dairy on the other side to combine our herds together on 600 acres.”
At the peak of its operation the family milked 280 cows.
“We always had an Illawarra herd until I got involved in the Aussie Red society through Bill Thompson and by the end of the 1990s we had a full Aussie Red herd, sired from imported red semen from Scandinavia.”
Henry’s son took over the family farm but sadly, reducing farm gate prices forced the family out of dairy in 2010.
“After 105 years we were no longer dairy farmers and it was a very sad day for us. We sold 200 odd milkers for an average of $1600 — back in the old days cattle had a value and your assets had a value, today they don’t.”
Over the years the dairy industry has given so much to Henry and he has been involved in many dairy and community organisations: giving back and being part of the community has always figured heavily in Henry’s life.
He was a member of the junior farmers and went on to be an adviser for 25 years.
“I was involved in establishing a permanent brick building at the show grounds for an animal nursery, in fact I went guarantor for that one.
“I was chairman of the Wide Bay Dairy Association which at one point was the largest cream factory in the Southern Hemisphere. I started way before it merged and became a co-op in Ipswich and then it went on to merge into Dairy Farmers.”
Henry has been heavily involved in the fire brigade and received a national medal for his 50 years of service.
“I still go to the meetings, but they won’t let me fight fires anymore!” he said.
Henry carried the Olympic torch on it’s journey from Cairns to Melbourne in 1956 and again in 2000 for Sydney.
“I have had some great honours over the years.
“Last year I was selected to carry the Queen’s baton for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and people have asked me if I will be around to carry it for Brisbane in 2032, I’ll only be in my 90s then,” he said.
Henry has no regrets and he has always tried to do the right thing.
He said someone once said to him, ‘I have never heard a bad word from anyone about you’.
“I have worked hard over the years and Greens Creek has been a great place to raise a family.
“I was married to Thelma for 52 years and lost her six years ago — we were husband and wife and we worked together all the time, but when you are running a business you just have to learn to get along and we had many happy years.
“We had two daughters and two sons, and now eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
“I also have a few great things in my cabinet that have great personal meaning to me, but I am no different now to what I was before all the awards, I am still the same person,” Henry said.
Some of Henry’s dairy achievements include:
- Queensland Dairyfarmers’ (formerly Dairyman’s) Organisation: past chairman and area representative, Wide Bay District Council, past director, Wide Bay Co-operative Dairy Association.
- Lindsay Volz Award, Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation, ‘for service to the dairy industry’, 2011.
Farmers in Queen’s Birthday honours list
- Margaret Joan Russell from Parkside South Australia received an OAM for services to the community, which includes a significant contribution to dairy — as a member of the Dairy Authority of South Australia from 2011–14, member and deputy chair of the Metropolitan Milk Board, 1984–1993 and chair of the Dairy Authority of South Australia, 1993.
- James Leslie Thompson from Swan Hill, Victoria received an OAM for service to the community. His community involvement included a six-year stint in the Dairy Farmers Association as a member from 1968–74, vice-president 1968–69, secretary 1969–74, district council delegate 1969–74 and district council vice-president from 1973–74.