The Browns trade shears for beers

The Browns trade shears for beers

100 Stories of Hope
Selwyn and Sharon Brown have found a new calling at Wyandra.

Selwyn and Sharon Brown have found a new calling at Wyandra.

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They spent nearly three decades running a contract shearing business but now the Brown family have found a new home behind an outback bar. Penelope Arthur dropped in to Wyandra to meet the new publicans.

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It's a fair change of pace from the unrelenting hustle of a shearing shed to a quiet morning behind the bar of an outback pub.

But come next winter, the new owners of the Gladstone Hotel at Wyandra might have a need to call upon the skills they honed from decades working in shearing sheds to get them through the busy tourist season.

"We've only been here for six weeks," Selwyn Brown tells me when I call in to meet the new publicans in the tiny western Queensland town in late October.

"We had just enough of the tail end of the busy season for us to think we know what we'll be up against come next year but we'll see."

The Browns are clearly a couple who relish a new opportunity. They moved to the Wyandra district just two years ago when they purchased two properties in the area.

The family had run a shearing business from Condoblin, NSW for nearly 30 years and the plan had been to retire from the sheds and run their own Merino operation.

"We had done a lot of work in that western NSW/Cunnamulla area and always really liked it," Sharon said.

"When the two properties came up here - on the highway, on a river, close to a school, we thought they were perfect. Then we found out the pub was for sale and we thought why not?"

Selwyn and Sharon had initially moved to the 16,200 hectare Ardrossan, 30km south of Wyandra, while their son and daughter-in-law, Jarrod and Renee moved to Macks Creek (14,175ha) with their young family.

Sharon said they also hoped their other son Cameron, his wife Melanie and their daughter, Ivy, would join the family at Wyandra.

Sharon and Selwyn have been busy getting their new venture into shape and say their aim is to run a pub known for delicious home cooked food, cold drinks and a family atmosphere.

They are looking forward to busy winter months and are considering the possibility of using the Macks Creek shearing shed, which is close to the pub, to run shearing demonstrations for tourists.

"I have a vision of having some sort of tourist venture where we could shear some sheep for the visitors and then bring them to the pub," she said.

"There a lots of possibilities."

They've also been well supported by the locals who are thrilled to have one of their own behind the bar.

"We are so lucky to have them," says local landowner Kevin Bredhauer.

"They've got the pub looking terrific - it is clean and the food is great. It's a pleasure to call in for a beer."

And the respect goes both ways.

"We feel like we have fitted in really well - they are just nice, calm people in this area who are easy to get along with," Selwyn said. "All the property owners - as tough as they are doing it - have come in for a feed and a beer to support us."

The Browns are currently running a flock of 1500 Mumblebone Merinos on Ardrossan. The 19 micron flock is protected from wild dogs by a cluster fence that surrounds Ardrossan and neighbouring properties.

Macks Creek, which is not exclusion fenced, is currently running 100 cows plus some agistment cattle.

Despite a fairly decent winter, the Browns say they will be looking to offload stock within the next month due to a lack of feed.

"Our feed has probably lasted us a bit longer due to the fact that we were unfamiliar with what the country could do but in the next month we'll have to get serious about offloading cows and some sheep," Sharon said.

Ironically, it was drought conditions back at Condoblin two years ago that meant the Browns couldn't stock their new properties with their own flock.

"We had a self-replacing Merino flock and unfortunately we had to sell all our sheep down there before we could buy up here due to the drought there," Sharon said. "We just couldn't hang on."

Both Jarrod and Cameron are also skilled shearers and there's no shortage of that work in the local area. Selwyn and Sharon have also been called into local sheds since arriving in the district but say they've no desire to re-establish a contracting business.

"We aren't getting any younger and having the pub will keep us close to our family."

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