Taree Probus Club visits Upper Lansdowne dairy and turf farms

Adrian and Stella Drury (under sign) greet members of Taree Probus Club to their robotic dairy, prior to a tour of the facility.
Adrian and Stella Drury (under sign) greet members of Taree Probus Club to their robotic dairy, prior to a tour of the facility.

Taree Probus Club recently held its "boys’ day out" annual outing.

Members were taken by bus to the Upper Lansdowne farm of Adrian and Stella Drury, to view their computer controlled robotic dairy.

Here all aspects of the dairy process are monitored by computer with ear tag identification. They milk 400 plus cows, on average each cow 2.3 times a day.

The cows come to the dairy, approach a gate which reads the ear tag allowing the cow in. Once the cow enters a milking robot, a controlled amount of feed is conveyed into the stall, they stand contented while the robot machine locates and washes each teat, puts milking cups in place.

The Probus Club took a tour of the robotic dairy.

The Probus Club took a tour of the robotic dairy.

While the milking is taking place, a screen gives the Drurys all relevant information of the cow. What is more interesting, they are able to access information on any cow, such as calving, lactation, feed and nutrient intake, quality of milk and amount each quarter, no matter where they are in the paddock.

It was very interesting to see computers and robots used in this way.

After a quick morning tea, Probus members moved down the road to meet Vernon Drury at Banksia Turf to view his operation.

Education: Vernon Drury (in the high visibility shirt) explains to Taree Probus Club members the workings of the grass strip cutting machine.

Education: Vernon Drury (in the high visibility shirt) explains to Taree Probus Club members the workings of the grass strip cutting machine.

They farm Buffalo or Kykuyu grasses, by stripping off 500mm wide rolls of grass, using a machine mounted on the side of a tractor and put on a pallet for distribution. They mow twice a week and fertilise using chook manure, as cow manure has weed seeds which they have to control. Another informative business for us to see.

Lunch was enjoyed at Lansdowne Bowling Club, then members headed back to town to inspect the sewage treatment works.

Here they were met by Aaron Little and his team to explain the process of our body waste. The plant receives four megalitres a day to process using various bacterial controls and filters to breakdown solids and separate liquids, to one of three clarifiers, where the waste product is supplied to farms or businesses registered to receiving processed waste product. 

Watching a machine in operation, demonstrated by Vernon Drury.

Watching a machine in operation, demonstrated by Vernon Drury.

Three worthwhile businesses to inspect and a great day enjoyed by members.

Members heard from three members who gave a brief look at their life journey, 

Ron Mellon was born in England in 1937 and was raised in Barrow Furness, a small shipyard town.

In 1940 England was at war with Germany, and Ron and his family lived in a row of terrace houses with air raid shelters off the back street. Barrow was 90 miles from the Scottish border, in the Lake District. The late Donald Campbell was killed there in his attempt to break the water speed record.

Ron later became an art teacher and, along with his family, came to Australia in 1962 landing in Darwin. From there he taught at Asquith High School, Auburn High School to end of term three, to Taree High School in 1965 then to Chatham High School until retirement.

Aaron Little gives Probus Club members an aspect of one part in the process of treating sewage.

Aaron Little gives Probus Club members an aspect of one part in the process of treating sewage.

John Ward was born in Pagewood in 1939. His father worked at Holden.

John loved swimming and had a lot of success at surf titles, winning many championships. He married in 1966 and has three children, in Western Australia, the Blue Mounatins and Sydney, and a foster daughter in Port Macquarie. He has been involved in surf clubs at Coogee, Collaroy and Crowdy Head.

David Walker was born in Goulburn and raised in Collaroy Heights. He obtained his leaving certificate in 1948 and worked for Sydney Water, later studying engineering.

He worked in the Sydney Water Board clerical department, then in Lands Department as surveyor assistant. In 1969 he became a registered surveyor and in 1972 a registered valuer. His work has taken him to Lord Howe Island, Grafton, Lismore and Taree. David enjoys a game of golf when his health permits. 

Manning River Men’s Shed representative, Len Keough, was the guest speaker. There is much debate about who started Men’s Sheds, which have grown in number. In 2007 a Men’s Shed Association was formed with 200 in the State, which has now grown to 400, with over 1000 Australia wide.

The Men’s Sheds play a major role in keeping men from falling into depression and other mental health issues.

They hold within their group Depression Awareness Days, support the RUOK initiative by staying in touch with members, have a "Pitstop" program, which relates to parts of a car.

Taree is in zone 6 of 16, Nabiac, Port Macquarie to Woolgoolga, mainly men, though some opening to women with a couple of Shiela sheds.

Manning River started in Railway Street converting pushbikes to wheelchairs for Rotary International to ship to war torn Cambodia. This project has continued for 13 years.

They are constantly on the lookout for projects that can assist the community.

For two years they have a program for "Work for the Dole"workers of 25 hours per week. The shedders, 35 in number have 100 ways to recycle a pallet and gain skills to make it happen. Members can work on their own project or assist in a shed program.

Manning River group supports Prostate Cancer and four years ago ran a fundraiser which originated from a combined meet and greet, help each other, share ideas and swap equipment days.

Men come to Men’s Shed to meet Centrelink requirements of 15 hours a week, they also help young people with suicide prevention and arrange guest speakers from health professionals for health check days.

It is an $10 annual fee to join, no skills required. Members sign in for insurance requirements and there are no rules as long as what you do is not offensive to others.

Arthur Southwell thanked Len for his contribution to the day’s meeting.