Booligar's birthday bash

Booligar's birthday bash


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Donald and Douglas Crothers, along with their families, are looking forward to celebrating Booligar's 150th anniversary on April 20 next year.

Donald and Douglas Crothers, along with their families, are looking forward to celebrating Booligar's 150th anniversary on April 20 next year.

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IN 1864 two brothers - Henry and Thomas Crothers -settled an 11,253-hectare property, Booligar, near Dirranbandi.

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IN 1864 two brothers - Henry and Thomas Crothers -settled an 11,253-hectare property, Booligar, near Dirranbandi.

Now nearly 150 years later and three generations on another set of brothers and their wives - Donald and Pam and Douglas and Lorraine Crothers - are holding the reins.

In the wake of Booligar's birthday bash Douglas and Donald share their memories, the changes, and invite anyone connected to the block to help them mark history come April 20 next year.

"Donald and Pam and their daughter Rossi (and her husband James Moore) and son Tom along with Lorraine and me and our daughters Caitlin, Lauren and Andrea are looking forward to welcoming family, friends, neighbours, those who have worked on Booligar in some form, and the community to join the celebration," Douglas said.

"The day will be an opportunity to renew old friendships, with lots of talking, laughter and trips down memory lane and for many to see the various changes on Booligar."

Changes will be aplenty, most notably the switch from sheep to cattle during their parents' time Booligar was run as a mammoth sheep property, shearing 10,000 animals annually.

"Our father Tom was a pioneer in the irrigation industry, building the first ring tank for irrigation in 1956/57 and the 500 megalitre capacity was used to grow fodder crops for his livestock. At the time it was the first dam of its kind built in Australia for irrigation," Douglas said.

After losing a lot of sheep in a local flood, which nearly broke Tom's heart, the decision was made to focus instead on the cattle industry.

Donald still remembers the night the rains came in as one of the greatest disasters he has ever seen.

"In 1974 Booligar was gearing up for shearing on the first Monday of the new year and about a third of the sheep were shedded or in the house paddock," Donald said.

"The remaining Booligar sheep were in a paddock with a mixture of high and low country, so thinking they were safe we didn't check immediately.

"Walking a horse to their paddock, Dad climbed a windmill to see that they were not on high country at all but stranded on the black.

"Being full woolled sheep they were difficult to retrieve and many drowned."

Similarly Douglas most vividly remembers heavy flooding in 1996 patrolling the levee bank as flood waters rose and workers were frantically sheering sheep.

"To my horror at about 2.30pm I discovered that part of the bank had let go," he said.

"I raced back to the shed to break the news. Everyone, including the shearing team, downed tools and we all raced out to the levy bank where we tried to block the hole, however, we failed.

"We ran back to the shed to get as many of the sheep out before the water got into the yards. As we were doing this, a huge thunderstorm fell upon us. With the floodwater racing towards us and the rain pelting down, in an effort to get the sheep to higher ground, Donald had an accident on the motorbike. We had to get him to hospital and the only way out was by helicopter, which we did."

"The next morning we woke to find flood water at our garden gate. It was one of those days when everything went wrong."

Unable to recover and branching into cattle Tom started a Sahiwal Stud having success at the Brisbane Exhibition, while Douglas and Donald ran a commercial herd of Charolais cross-breeders.

"Dad sold the stud on his retirement and we sold our breeders in the mid-2000s to concentrate on the farming and now just run steers to grow and fatten," Douglas said.

Growing cotton in the mid-1990s, the duo increased their broadacre area to what it is today – 680ha irrigation and 3200ha broadacre.

Looking to the horizon and Douglas expects the property to run along on similar lines with more expansion of the broadacre expected, rotating winter crops of wheat, chickpea and oats and livestock staying with steers and a few cross bred lambs.

In conjunction with the 150th celebration, the family are compiling a recipe book that will be a collection of favourites from family, friends, neighbours and those connected with the celebration in any way, and are calling out for contributions.

The family are happy to accept emailed or handwritten recipes along with a brief message or background story attached.

v For more information or to contact the family call Donald and Pam on (07) 46 250 826 or email crothersp@bigpond.com, or for Douglas and Lorraine call (07) 46 250 856 or email crothdl@bigpond.com.

v For handwritten recipes post to Douglas and Lorraine Crothers, Booligar, Dirranbandi, 4486.

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