Retired farmer notches up 70 years with Nelshaby Agricultural Bureau

MILESTONE: Ross Roberts, right, accepts a plaque marking his 70-year membership of the Nelshaby Agricultural Bureau from bureau secretary Bart Joyce, left, and president Darren Button at the Christmas dinner at Warnertown.

MILESTONE: Ross Roberts, right, accepts a plaque marking his 70-year membership of the Nelshaby Agricultural Bureau from bureau secretary Bart Joyce, left, and president Darren Button at the Christmas dinner at Warnertown.

In what is quite possibly a record, Ross Roberts has notched up 70 years as a member of the Nelshaby Agricultural Bureau.

He graced the cover of the Agricultural Bureau of South Australia’s yearly report for his feat and received a plaque at the Nelshaby bureau’s Christmas dinner at the Flinders Rest Hotel at Warnertown on Monday.

Bureau president Darren Button said it was possibly the first time that anyone had achieved 70 years’ membership.

“I understand Ross is a former president. Both he and Ron Johns, who has 60 years’ service, have been stalwarts of the bureau,” he said.

“They both encouraged me in my official roles.”

Mr Roberts, 92, lives at Luella, a homestead at Nelshaby where his farm property is contracted to Brian and Heath Tiller, of Warnertown.

“I have been a proud member of the Agricultural Bureau of South Australia for the past 70 years,” he said in his acceptance speech.

“I am especially proud to be a member of our local branch whose members have taken on responsible positions organising monthly meetings which are entertaining and educational.

“The yearly trips away to interesting and informative places are a great feature of this branch. I wish the members every success.”

Mr Roberts was a broad-acre cereal cropper, farming barley, wheat, lupins and field peas. He continued this well into his late 80s until retiring some years ago.

His father Louis Clifton Roberts, a former Light Horseman, was a founding member of the Nelshaby bureau in 1922.

Mr Roberts still remembers attending his first bureau meeting as a lad just out of high school – he came home as branch secretary.

In the early days, he was so devoted to his bureau duties that his wife Lorna was forced to take drastic action.

“She locked my good pants in the wardrobe to keep me home and stop me from going to a meeting,” he said, tongue-in-cheek.

Nelshaby, representing a market garden area supplying the Port Pirie district, was formed after the Port Pirie branch closed in 1921. When Mr Roberts’ father returned from World War I, he took up a soldier’s settler block and began farming. He built a house, carting stone for it from the nearby hills. This historic house is the place Mr Roberts still calls home today – a gentleman in his manor with a rich history of involvement in agriculture.

Also honoured at the bureau dinner were 20-year members Merv Lewis, Barry Mudge, Steven Johns, Brendan Johns; 30-year members Ray Haldane, Philip Johns, Gordon Baker, Graeme Crouch, Peter Bishop; and 50-year members Henry Mudge and Daryle Johns.

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