Cowra in Days Gone Bye by J C Ryall 7/ (Pages 66 to 78)



Published on 16 Mar 1928


P.A.and H. Association

Having disposed of the first public institution in Cowra with which I was intimately associated from its inception to a comparatively recent date, I will now hark back and refer to the origin and progress of the second body for which I was primarily responsible from the date of its inception over a long course of years. But before doing so I will briefly refer to some of the obstacles I had to encounter in my efforts.


Carcoar’s Strong Position.

Fifty years ago Cowra was regarded as practically a suburb of Carcoar. The latter town had its newspaper, “The Chronicle”, which was owned and conducted by Messrs. Boyle and O’Brien. The senior Partner was an able journalist, and a most popular citizen, hence was looked upon as the paper’s controlling factor. When I arrived on the scene the “Chronicle” had assumed the role of Cowra’s local organ, and, as a consequence, care was taken to prevent our little village from encroaching on any of the privileges enjoyed by Carcoar.


That town was then the headquarters of the Police Magistrate (Mr. E.J.C. North), who visited Cowra monthly. There, too, Dr. E. Smith resided, and served Cowra from there fortnightly, but in the event of urgent cases arising he had to be specially summoned from there, a distance of 35 miles. All hospital cases had to be dispatched to the then “hub of the universe,” hence Cowra was periodically called upon to contribute liberally to the upkeep of Carcoar’s institution. Carcoar was also the head of the district’s stock Department’s branch, and the meeting place of the Pastures Protection Board, both of which privileges it still enjoys. That town was also the headquarters of Mr. John Fagan’s mail coach service, furthermore it had been appointed a place of holding Courts of Quarter Sessions and District Courts, hence litigants and jurors had to attend there at intervals.


Again, the Catholics of Cowra had to be satisfied with fortnightly visits from Carcoar’s Parish Priest (Father Phil Ryan). Through Sydenham, near Carcoar, being the residence of the member for the electorate (Mr. Andrew Lynch), that gentleman, through the influence wielded by some of the strong men of Carcoar, was practically forced to procure privileges and concessions for that town to the detriment of their end of the electorate. As a glaring instance of how Carcoar thus benefited I may point to the good condition of the roads leading into that centre- -a state which was directly due to the procuring of special grants from the roads vote, through the persistent efforts of the irrepressible Andy Lynch, whose popularity with the heads of the various Departments of the Public Service was well known.


In those days Carcoar had a thriving P. A.and H. Association, and the annual Shows were most liberally supported by the Cowra public, both in respect to patronage and exhibits. Indeed, to all intents and purposes the people hereabouts regarded the Association’s Show as their annual function.


From the foregoing it will be realised how very dependent Cowra had been and still was on Carcoar. This state of affairs had from custom become so ingrained with the older conservative inhabitants as to render them almost impervious to the dictates of reason and common sense.


“Too premature. “

The mere mention of any attempt at kicking over the traces, and trenching on Carcoar’s prerogative was sternly discountenanced and vigorously denounced. The invariable retort met with whenever a progressive step was broached was: “Too premature.” Thus I had opponents to progress both within and without to confront. Fortunately, however, the new arrivals in the community were of a more go-ahead type. They were men who knew something of the outer world, men whose experience had expanded their ideas, and caused them to discourage adherence to old-fashioned, stereotyped notions.Indeed, were it not for the staunch support accorded me by the those bright and stalwart members of the community my efforts as a journalist here would have been futile. This section tacitly allowed me to assume leadership in the introduction of matters affecting the weal or woe of the town and district, and when the convincing hour arrived, they flocked to my standard.


The foregoing is written with the object of conveying to present-day readers some of the very discouraging influences which had to be encountered and combated by myself and those of progressive proclivities half a century ago in connection with the advancement of the town.


Battle of Wits

Preconceived notions respecting Cowra’s vital interests being made subordinate to those of Carcoar had to be counteracted; the influence of Carcoar’s established newspaper had to be contended with and the subtle tactics closely watched, because, at even that early stage of the life of the “Free Press” the Carcoar organ recognised that with the advancement of Cowra the prestige of Carcoar must correspondingly retrocede. It was the veritable battle of wits between the controlling powers of the two newspapers. With the Carcoar paper an old resident, who vaingloriously boasted that he held the key to the press of N.S.W., allied himself. Thus, I had foes at home as well as abroad to be aware of. I had further to take salutary measure to impress on the member for the district that the time had arrived when Cowra’ s interests should no longer be made subordinate to those of Carcoar.


It was a battle royal for supremacy, and at one time was so keen as to cause Mr. Lynch to regard me as a bitter political antagonist. Eventually, however, it was this wise. Meeting Mr. Howey, who was the landlord of the Westville Hotel, in the street one day, I heartily congratulated him upon being such a successful exhibitor in the pigeon and canary sections at the recent Carcoar Show. In the conversation which followed it was agreed that Cowra was quite capable of running a Show of its own. In the following issue of the “Free Press” I had an editorial, in which, after recounting the tenor of the conversation with Mr. Howey, I expatiated on the advantages to be derived from a P. A. and H. Association, and pointed out that, as such Societies were liberally subsidised by the Government, the successful establishment of one in Cowra was practicable.


Stronger editorial

No move was made in the matter by those who ought to have been concerned. Consequently, after a brief interval the “Free Press” came out with another much stronger editorial, in which the duties attached to citizenship, it was pointed out, demanded that every available opportunity be seized to secure the development of a district with such potentialities and immense natural resources. This caused the progressive and more practical section of the community to consider the practicability of the proposal in its various bearings, the result being a tacit agreement with all I had advanced in support of it. Still no effort was made to test public opinion. No one having sufficient courage to come to the front and take the initiative.


Determined not to be foiled in a matter of such very great importance to the district, I resolved to “bell the cat”, hence, I inserted an advertisement convening a public meeting, with the ostensible object of forming a P. A. and H. Association.

That meeting took place at the Royal Hotel, when about fifty representative citizens were in attendance. Mr. J.H. Turner, manager of the local branch of the A.J.S. Bank, having been installed in the chair, opened the proceedings by stating that he had spoken to Mr. George Campbell, Senr, on the subject, and that gentleman had expressed the opinion that the movement was premature, and counselled waiting a couple of years longer, Mr. I.J. Sloan, too, of North Logan, held a similar opinion.


In such untoward circumstances he maintained that it would be inadvisable to proceed further with such an important undertaking. This was certainly a damper to those who had come prepared to found the proposed new .institution. Messrs. Howey, Lockyer and A.R. West strongly advocated proceeding with the formation of the Society forthwith, and suggested the immediate enrolment of members. an appeal to the meeting resulted in fifty names being handed in. The Chairman held that a much larger membership would be required before they could dream of proceeding further. Thereupon Mr. Howey said he would guarantee ten more members. Mr. Lockyer followed suit with ten, and Messrs. A.R. West, H. Ford and P. Robinson ten each.


The Chairman remarked that this looked like business, then adjourned the meeting for a week to enable the guarantors to furnish the names of the members they had undertaken to secure.


The Association Declared Duly Formed

When the meeting re-assembled the following week, Mr. Turner being again in the chair, a membership of over 100 paid up members was reported. The Association was then declared duly formed and office- bearers were appointed for the year, the position of first honorary secretary being allotted to me. Later it was resolved to commemorate the founding of the Society by holding a Show. It was realised that many difficulties would have to be faced as the Society was without a suitable ground, also the requisite Show buildings, yards, pens, etc. This was overcome in a measure by Mr. S.G. Alford generously placing his paddock in the town at the disposal of the management.


This enclosure was bordered on the north by Kendall Street, south by Vaux street, east by where the railway now runs, and west by Fitzroy street. As the use of the paddock had only been granted for one Show, and as it was also necessary that the funds of the Society should be husbanded as closely as possible, it was resolved to restrict expenditure on the essential appointments. Thus the cattle pens were made of rough saplings, the sheep pens of hurdles borrowed from various sources, and the pavilion had a framework of strong saplings which was lined with green interlaced boughs. It was in every respect a crude and very prim- itive structure. The entrance gate, or rather sliprails, was in the vicinity of where the Methodist Church now stands, and the pavilion was located some distance in the rear.


Our First Show.

Despite innumerable drawbacks, which were inseparable from an initial effort under particularly disadvantageous conditions, the primary function was a far greater success than the most sanguine promoters ever dreamed of. The entries in horses, cattle, and sheep were most creditable, as were also in the other unhoused sections, and the pavilion was well stocked with exhibits of a most interesting character. The attendance of the public was also most gratifying, the more particularly so as it practically evidenced a desire to assist the Society to justify its existence. Amongst the visitors there were many of the leading residents of Carcoar, Blayney and neighbouring districts. The most gratifying feature of the function was its financial aspect, an appreciable profit having resulted.


Further Progress.

The management next directed its attention to securing a suitable site for a Show ground and in this connection a portion of the camping reserve on the opposite side of the river, fronting the Grenfell road, and on the northern side of Cowra Park, the present recreation ground, was selected. Through the efforts of Mr. Andrew Lynch, M. L. A., the dedication of an area of ten acres of the approved spot was secured. Later additions to the ground increased the area to 27 acres, the first trustees of which were Messrs. W. Howey, G. Lockyer, H. Ford, D.C.J. Donnelly and myself.


In due time the area of 10 acres originally dedicated was enclosed with a substantial paling fence, suitable cattle pens were erected, and hurdles for sheep pens were purchased, in addition a spacious structure with rough slab walls and iron roof was erected for the housing of perishable exhibits.


The Second Show.

Although still far short of the requisite appointments for exhibition purposes, on the recently acquired ground, the second Show in respect to exhibits and patronage of the public was a vast improvement on the initial effort.


Further Improvements.

With the passage of time the Association prospered, and this enabled the controlling body to erect a spacious sheep pavilion, also a remarkably neat and splendidly equipped Show pavilion with weatherboard walls, iron roof, and lined internally with varnished Lachlan pine. This very ornate and commodious structure was designed and erected by Mr. H.H.S. Francis. Unfortunately, this remarkably fine building was a couple of years later totally destroyed by fire, assumedly through a camping swagman having lit a fire on the floor of the structure for warmth. At all events, notwithstanding every effort on the part of the police the perpetrator of the act was never traced, hence it remains an undiscovered crime.The building was of course insured, but the sum paid by the insurance company did not cover more than half the value of the property. This was a very serious blow to the Association, whose funds were in a very depleted condition, and practically menaced its extinction.


We wll1 here digress with a view to showing why the Association was in a state of financial stress. It had been the custom of the Association to dispose of the right to charge the public for admission to the ground at Show time. For years this privilege was acquired by local men, hence no friction occurred, but just before the loss of the pavilion the right to the Show gates was purchased, at a considerable advance on what had been previously paid by a Mr. Hemsworth of Bathurst. Previously it had been thus of country patrons, after visiting the Show in the forenoon to proceed to the town for lunch, and to be re-admitted on their return without further payment. Mr. Hemsworth, however, insisted on refusing re-admission until a second fee was paid.


Breach of Agreement

In the meantime quite a number of those who protested against paying a second time had congregated outside the gate and were loud in their clamorings for admittance. At this juncture Mr. Geo. Lockyer, a trustee and member of the committee, came on the scene, and, perceiving how patrons stood, he impulsively threw open the gates. Mr. Hemsworth thereupon retired, and declined to have anything further to do with the gates. Later the President was served with a Supreme Court writ in which Mr. Hemsworth claimed £500 for breach of agreement and damage.


The Association’s solicitor later submitted a case to an eminent barrister for his opinion, and acting on his advice a settlement was effected. This little episode cost the Society between £300 and £400. In addition to this there had been a very considerable leakage of funds through the negligence and inefficiency of the various secretaries. Subsequently the financial strain was sufficiently relieved to admit of a brick pavilion with cement floor being erected.This was designed by me and the working plans ware drawn by Mr. H.G. Dunlop.


Published on 23 March 1928


The Cowra P. A. arid H. Association.

When the affairs of the above Society were in a desperate plight, the exchequer having been exhausted, while the unpaid accounts in the aggregate amounted to a considerable sum, it was questioned by many of the members whether it would be advisable too close down in the face of such adverse conditions. Just then Messrs. A. C. Reid, Jas Smith, F. King, and a few other progressive citizens took a hand in the resuscitation of the practically moribund institution. As an initial step, under the direction of such capable business men, it was at a meeting held at the Club House Hotel resolved to circularise the leading residents of the district with a view to ascertaining what measures of support would be forthcoming in the event of it being decided to keep the Association a going concern.


The circular, in addition to emphasising the necessity for prompt action, pointed out how detrimental it would be to the prestige of the town and district to allow such a very valuable and useful institution to pass into oblivion owing to lack of generous support; at the hands of those whose interest it should be to do all in their power to further its aims. It was further pointed out that as citizens it was their bounden duty to promote and foster such public institutions as conduced to the general good of all. The response was most encouraginq , far exceeding the most sanguine anticipations of all concerned, consequently, the requisite machinery was installed and steps were taken to proceed with the next annual Show, the finances having been first adjusted.


Mr. Jas Smith having very generously allowed himself to be prevailed upon to accept the office of honorary secretary, on the understanding that he should be privileged to employ such unpaid assistants as he deemed expedient, entered on his duties. With such a painstaking, vigilant, and energetic officer at the helm practically a new era was entered upon. It is a recognised fact that the secretary of any public body is virtually its very life and soul.


Thus, if a secretary is remiss and inactive, the affairs of the body he is identified with suffer proportionately; but if on the other hand he enters on his duty with a firm determination to overcome obstacles, beat down opposition, and to achieve success, he imbues those associated with him with a similar spirit and thereby secures their whole-hearted co-operation. With all the essential attributes, in addition to a cheery disposition, and organising powers of an exceptionally high standard, Mr. Smith was just the man to fill the bill in a situation confronted with many difficulties. Those who preceded him in office lacked initiative, and business principles, they were simply men who seemed to care little how the Society fared so long as there was sufficient of the wherewithal to meet their salary.


While Mr. Smith held office he insisted that his paid assistants performed their duties to the letter, and he personally saw that his instructions were strictly adhered to. Under such stern auspices the Society’s finances were placde in a most satisfactory condition, and its sphere of operations expanded considerably. Amongst his successors in office, several of whom were salaried, were Messrs. H.V. Smith, F.B. Piddington, Manager of the Commercial Bank, F. P. Fawcett, Manager of the A. J. S. Bank, J. T. Martin, E.A. Field, G. Fisher, E.W. Warren, and lastly E.P. Todhunter, the present occupant. These names may not be in order, but that is immaterial. Of these we feel it incumbent on us to single Mr. Piddington out for special mention. Next to Mr. James Smith he was unquestionably the best occupant of the office. Under this gentleman’s regime the membership roll expanded, the special prize list increased materially, and the position of the Society generally became unassailable. During his entire tenure of office no officer could possibly have been more indefatigable in his discharge of his onerous duties.


Mr. Fawcett was also a very excellent secretary, but he was unable to devote as much time to the duties as Mr. Piddington. Mr. Field, too, was a very worthy and painstaking officer, but the cares of business handicapped him considerably. The other occupants of the office, salaried men, had rather brief tenures in the position. we now get down to Mr. E.P. Todhunter, who has been in office for several years. At the time of his appointment the Society owed the bank of Commerce about £2000. That debt has been effaced and a substantial credit balance is now reported. This speaks volumes for Mr. Todhunter’s efficiency.


. This satisfactory state of affairs has in a measure been due to the increased charge for admission to Shows, also to the operations of the P. A. and H. Association’s Race Club Furthermore the expenditure on works has been reduced to a minimum. The Society is to congratulated upon having such an efficient and painstaking officer.


In the foregoing I have not referred to the joint ownership of the present ground, viz., by the Jockey Club and the Association, hence I will now do so. Prior to this union the Association had a very suitable and compact ground of its own on the opposite side of the Grenfell road to the present ground, the area being about 27 acres. This admitted of being added to by obtaining the use for the trotting- track of the adjoining recreation ground, and if further qround were necessary it could have been secured, about the time of the amalgamation (say ten acres), for practically a mere nominal sum. Thus the area could have been increased to 47 acres, and this would most assuredly have been ample for requirements. All the requisite appointments had been erected on the old site with the exception of an elaborate grandstand.


Cowra‘s Old Model Showground

Even without enlarging the ground, the enclosure for Show purposes was ideal. It is in a fairly elevated situation, hence the surface is well drained and sound. Visitors from a distance have been unstinted in their praise of Cowra’s old model Showground. Owing to its compactness, the various sections, including sheep, horses, cattle, etc., could be readily viewed, therefore people were not compelled to tramp long distances in quest of live stock, machinery, dogs, poultry and other exhibits. Further, the ring events, which are at all times interesting, could be viewed from any portion of the ground in comfort, and at the same time the various sideshows were accessible to all.


Compare this with the present state of affairs, and what do we find? The Show and poultry pavilions are not far from the entrance gate, but where do the ring events take place? Where are the vehicles and agricultural and other machinery exhibits? Where are the cattle and sheep pens? They are all so far afield, and in most instances, so widely separated as to render a visit to each a most tiresome undertaking. The practice of a large proportion of our young people in existing conditions is to hover about the side-shows, and to practically ignore the Show proper. Thus, so far as that section of the Community is concerned the Show as an educational factor is a dead letter. Other people after they have passed through the pavilion, viewing a couple of sections en passant, consider they have seen all that is worth seeing, hence they join the throng assembled about the side-shows.


This is regretted, but we are not prepared to suggest a remedy for such a deplorable laxity of interest in the many indications presented of the industry and ingenuity of those who entered the lists in competition with all-corners. I have, in thus digressing, unwittingly indulged in a diatribe against those who bluntly overlook, what should serve as an object lesson to them, in order that they may be enabled to patronise and support monte-banks and catch-penny tricksters.


Some may say that such a heterogeneous element should not be permitted to ply their sundry and devious vocations on the ground. This would assuredly be a drastic and probably an effective remedy for overcoming the assumed evil, but, when it is considered that many Show patrons derive some enjoyment from the species of entertainment provided by the purveyors of boxes of tricks, also that the latter class of people have to pay a liberal fee for the privilege of occupying stands on the ground and therefore have to contribute materially to the funds of the Association, it is questionable whether their exclusion from the Show would have a tendency to improve matters.


Opposed to the Amalgamation

It amounts to this: if the Association is unable to provide sufficient entertainment for a large section of the public, it must let outsiders cater in that connection. From what I have remarked regarding the comparative merits of the two grounds it will be gleaned that I was opposed to the amalgamation scheme in respect to the ground, and my views on the subject continue unaltered. Whoever was responsible for fathering this union of landed interests I cannot just now call to mind, but I well remember that Mr. James Miller, honorary secretary to the Cowra Jockey Club, and also a member of the committee of the P. A. and H. Association, was from the very outset a vigorous advocate for the union, and I believe, that the first meeting of the joint bodies to test the feeling of members was convened by that gentle man.


At that meeting Mr. Montgomerie and myself alone opposed the proposed fusion. My objection was based on the ground that in the course of time conflicting views respecting the use and control of the ground would most assuredly arise and ultimately a resolution in favor” of the amalgamation was carried by an overwhelming majority. Some of the speakers supported the motion submitted that it was a monstrous shame that such a valuable and ideal pleasure resort should be selfishly locked up from the public. It was contended that under joint ownership the grounds would be planted with lovely blooms and ornamental shrubs, and that the public should have free access to it at will. Thus, it was added, a man with his wife and family would be privileged, when he felt so inclined, to drive over such glorious grounds. (The forecast of the would-be prophetic speaker is still as far off realisation as it ever was).


At a later joint meeting the terms of partnership were submitted and adopted unanimously. The sanction of the minister for Lands was next obtained, and this was followed by the Trustees of the old ground surrendering their right to the area. For some time I steadfastly declined to sign the document sanctioning the surrender, but upon being made aware that the minister was prepared to dispense with my signature should I finally adhere to my determination, I yielded and appended my name most reluctantly by the objectionable sheet of paper. The Minister dealt most liberally with the Association seeing that in addition to a tolerably large sum of money, it was permitted to remove or dispose of all the improvements on the old ground.


The first matter to engage the attention of the Association’s Committee of management was the erection of an up-to-date brick pavilion. Eventually a design submitted by Mr. W. Lamrock, architect, of Orange, was approved. The same gentleman subsequently prepared the working plans and supervised the erection. With the generous aid of the Jockey Club, matters for some time progressed satisfactorily, but eventually a hitch occurred in the Board of Management which was composed of an equal number of the committee of each body.


Bone of Discord

The friction eventually extended to the two committees, and a deadlock appeared imminent. Then the Trustees, having been called upon to intervene, took over the functions of the defunct Board of Control. At length, in response to overtures, the two bodies allowed better counsels to prevail and agreed to re-appoint a Board of Control consisting of three members from each committee which was presided over by an independent Chairman, and it was further agreed that the new controlling body should be provided with a working fund, in addition to being invested with more elastic powers, than its predecessor. The bone of discord has thus apparently been buried, but circumstances have come to our knowledge which warrant the conclusion that the truce has been only partially patched up. In proof of this we need only point to the fact that the Jockey Club has offered the Association £5000 to withdraw from the partnership. We understand that the offer has been rejected.


Published on 30 March 1928.


Ploughing Competitions

In the eighties, when the Cowra P. A. and H. Association was in its infancy, agriculture in the district was a very diminutive industry, and not more than about a dozen of the settlers being sufficiently enterprising to till even a portion of their holding, and even then a crop of 50 acres was looked upon as a large one. The methods adopted in respect to culture were of the most primitive nature. The soil simply turned over any way, the seed was hand-planted, and then followed a rough harrowing. This done, the farmer sat back until the crop was fit to be harvested. No effort was made to provide a properly prepared seed bed; seed drills and superphosphate manures were unknown.


The farmers of that day were a very conservative class inasmuch as they were sticklers for old customs, their contention being “What was good enough for our fathers and grandfathers should be good enough for us.” The notion then prevailed that, after land had been cropped for three years or four years it was worn out and became only suitable for grazing. Fallowing was not practised till some years later, when Mr. William Carpenter, of Spring Creek, demonstrated the benefits which accrued from its adoption. In the selection of horses for ploughing and harrowing our farmers were singularly backward, as the type used was much too light for work of that character. Only single furrow mould-board ploughs being in use, the man who turned over three-quarters of an acre to an acre of the soil per day was held to have done well.


Under such very crude conditions as those described, it will be observed that farming could not be classed as a local staple industry. Indeed, we believe, it can be safely asserted that with- in a radius of twelve miles of the town the entire cultivated area was under 2000 acres. For a brief space Messrs. Rheuben Bros., the local millers, contrived, by producing flour of a very superior quality, to secure orders for supplies from far afield, but the cost of carriage to the nearest railway station, in addition to trade competition was much too serious a handicap for these very enterprising millers to surmount, hence they were forced to bow to the inevitable and await more propitious developments.


With the object of stimulating an interest in agriculture, and thereby augmenting our powers of productivity, in anticipation of the extension to the town of railway facilities, which meant bringing the place in closed touch with the Metropolitan market, our very alert P. A. and H. Association, acting on the suggestion of the “Free Press”, resolved to inaugurate a series of ploughing competitions. The promoters of such a progressive and valuable auxiliary maintained that under its influence inexperienced farmers could be instructed in modern cultural methods, and shown how farming could be made a remunerative industry. Just prior to the date fixed for the inaugural competition there was an influx of experienced Victorian farmers here, which in its ranks included Messrs. Patrick and James Delaney, John Hayes, John Swindle, John and William Houlston, all of whom allied themselves with the P. A. and H. Association, and proved valuable factors in the management of the new candidate for public favour.


The initial series of ploughing contents was, with the per- mission of Mr. Robert Daly, conducted on that townsman’s farm, adjacent to Binni Creek. The judges on that occasion were Messrs. John Hayes and P. Delaney, and the stewards were Messrs. Jos. Delaney and J.C. Ryall.


Admiration of Local Cockies

In the competition for local supremacy Mr. Andrew McClymont was awarded first prize. The prizes in the open competition classes, which were for single, double and three furrow ploughs, were awarded to the distinguished Bathurst champions, Messrs. Harry joy and W. Edwards, unopposed, their work being pronounced by the judges of exceptional merit in every instance. The horses and implements used by these famed ploughmen evoked intense admiration at the hands of local cockies, who were amazed at the ease with which the animals attached to the two and three furrow ploughs did their work. It was a revelation to them, because it demonstrated in a convincing manner, that if they desired to make farming a profitable industry, they must discard the obsolete single furrow implements and replace them with those of the double and treble furrow pattern.


That they must replace their weedy nags with horses of the true draught type was also indelibly impressed on them. When such a drastic revolution in all that pertained to the cultivation of the soil was generally admitted to be imperative it must be conceded that the object lesson conveyed on the occasion was productive of splendid results, and amply justified the action of the P. A. and H. Association in bringing about the introduction of competitive tests of skill in the agricultural arena.


In the following year the second series of these ploughing competitions was conducted, with the kind permission of Mr. Alex. Middlemis, in his Taragala paddock, and was a vast improvement on its predecessor in respect to public patronage and number of contestants. This time a prize was offered for the best team of draught horses, and this was readily awarded to the grand and splendidly equipped exhibit of Mr. George Rowlands Senior, who also the prize for straightest furrow. Two of Mr. George Rowlands’ sons, viz., Fred C. and Geo. W were competitors in the ploughing classes, as were also Messrs. Alex. and Thos. Goodacre, and Donald McInnes Senior. After continuing these competitions for quite a number of years with much success, the Association was eventually compelled to abandon them, owing to the difficulty experience in securing suitable enclosed ground within easy access of the town.


It is worthy of note, however, that the educational objective of the Association had in view in conducting these competitions was fully attained prior to their cessation. Amongst the radical changes effected in cultural methods by our yeomanry through the operation of these competitions may be mentioned some of vital improvement, such as a change in the character of the draught stock to something approaching a proper standard, and the bringing into general use such implements and machinery, as placed within the reach of users, the means to vastly increase their cultivation areas at a minimum of expense.


With the passage of time the irrational prejudice which prevailed in respect to the modes of tillage adopted by our progenitors, being above reproach, was completely dissipated, and as a result much larger areas were cropped, and the individual returns therefrom were considerably augmented. Thus with increased production, which brought in its train a corresponding measure of wealth, the prosperity and progress of our district became assured.


Before further passing on to outline the origin and history of other local public movements, we feel impelled to pay a tribute to the usefulness and worth of an institution which has done so much to mould public opinion, to assist in the development our abundant natural resources, and to, at the same time, keep the place well in the eye of the outer world. We refer to the Cowra Pastoral Agricultural and Horticultural Association. By means of annual Shows that grand institution has brought our farmers into touch with agricultural implements and machinery of the most modern type; the very latest labour saving devices; the best breeds of horses for farm work; the most profitable breeds of cattle for beef or dairying; or the best varieties of sheep for wool production, the fat lamb market, and early maturing lambs of the rapid growth kind.


Advantages to Our Farmers

I might go on ad libitum enumerating the immensity of the advantages which have accrued to our farmers directly per means of the operations of an institution with such far reaching potentialities, but I will content myself with referring to a salient advantage which is not made as’ much of as it should be by many on the occasion of our annual Shows. We allude to the splendid opportunities presented through the congregation of those engaged in both grazing and agriculture from near and far to interchange experiences and ideas. An old axiom runs, “In a multitude of counsellors there is a wisdom,” and this is daily exemplified. No man is perfect, hence he should be prepared to profit by the failures or success of his brother yeomen. By gaining knowledge of what conduced to failure he is enabled to avoid pitfalls, and on the other hand the experience of the successful man when passed along becomes an example worthy of being followed.


Again, our Shows are made occasions for the assembling of friends and relatives from afar, and are also made the means of obtaining rational entertainment, and genuine relaxation. an institution which has such a far reaching influence, and by its operations done so much to benefit a community, and particularly the man on the land, is worthy of the practical support of every thoughtful and intelligent denizen of the town and district. The mere payment of an admittance fee at Show time should not be deemed ample. Through the holding of the annual Show our shop-keepers and tradespeople generally reap a golden harvest, hence common gratitude should impel them to contribute a portion of their gains to the instrument responsible thereof.


They should remember that as the Society progresses and is enabled to present additional attractions for visitors, and there-by ensure greater patronage for our Shows, that their gains must increase in proportion. Therefore. if from no other motive, self interest. should impel both farmers and business people to make a united, vigorous effort to make our Shows worthy of a district whose fertility and pastoral resources cannot be surpassed in the Commonwealth. The membership of the Society should include every farmer and business man in the community and in addition to the membership fee every man who can afford it should contribute to the special prize list.


It is a reflection on Cowra that kindred Societies in districts which cannot approach ours in respect to nature’s gifts, can boast of special prize lists of an aggregate value four and five times greater than that of ours. By comparison, our list looks positively paltry. The community should realise that its interests and those of the Society are identical. If one prospers and flourishes so does the other. If the efforts of the Society are seconded by a good solid financial backing, it can be trusted to pursue a policy of judicious expenditure, an expenditure which will ensure a handsome return for the outlay.


If the public can be once made to realise what its duties and obligations are in respect to an institution which has done so much for the town and district, and is capable of doing much more still. Mr. Todhunter and his assistants would be keep busily engaged for some time enroll ing members and adding contributions to the special prizes list. In thus writing I have no selfish end to serve, and are solely actuated by a desire to advance the interests of an institution which is so closely identified with the weal of our town and district, and should anything I have advanced be the means of arousing people to a true sense of the duties attached to citizenship in this connection, I will have achieved my objective.


 ……to Part EIGHT.