The tales behind top Sydney moments

Sydney Royal Show filled with plenty of big moments over almost 200 year history

Beef
Former PM Malcolm Fraser inspects the grand champion Hereford, Bolong Kimbo, at the Sydney Royal in 1978 with owner, Peter Croker, Taralga.

Former PM Malcolm Fraser inspects the grand champion Hereford, Bolong Kimbo, at the Sydney Royal in 1978 with owner, Peter Croker, Taralga.

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A $160,000 heifer sale, truck spills and legendary wool growers.

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The Royal Sydney Show has been a staple in the calendars of livestock producers across the country for almost 200 years.

When the first show was held at Parramatta in 1823 prizes of plates were awarded to stallions and rams and servants were judged for good conduct and farming skills.

While a lot has changed since then, 2020 marks the first time since the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1919 that the staple event has been cancelled due to a public health emergency.

Stand Strong - Sydney Royal is an advertising feature keeping the spotlight on exhibitors who are already planning for next year's event.

In lieu of the 12-day event, which would have concluded on Tuesday, The Land has looked back on some of the top memories from past years.

From truck spill to PM greeting

In 1978 the grand champion Hereford bull was awarded to Bolong Kimbo but his winning run was almost over before it began.

The junior bull was exhibited by Russell Croker and family, Bolong, near Taralga, in extremely muddy conditions at the Old Moore Park Showgrounds.

Russell's son, Pete, was driving the truck to the Sydney Royal in the rain when it ran off the road and rolled at Mittagong.

"Luckily, there was only a bit of bark off each bull in the truck, and also Peter, and they got to Sydney and won everything," The Land journalist Mark Griggs said.

"The main arena was so bogged that even the Clydesdales' legs got stuck."

The cattle judging was conducted on the bitumen road outside the cattle sheds.

John Williams winning way

John Williams, Laggan, has won the Stonehaven Cup 11 times - from 1972 until 1995 with Koonwarra stud, and in 2016 with Thalabah Merinos.

John Williams, Laggan, has won the Stonehaven Cup 11 times - from 1972 until 1995 with Koonwarra stud, and in 2016 with Thalabah Merinos.

Few people have stamped their name in Sydney Royal sheep showing history as many times as Laggan's John Williams.

Mr Williams secured the Stonehaven Cup, seen by stud Merino breeders as the ultimate prize for five March-shorn sheep, a mammoth 11 times.

He had a winning run from 1972 to 1995 with the Koonwarra stud, including a hat trick at the Sydney Sheep Show in 1972/73/74 and then the Sydney Royal. The stud was sold in 1998.

It was 18 years later when Mr Williams returned to the show ring and reclaimed the cup in 2016 with Thalabah Merinos.

Mr Williams also won the inaugural supreme Merino exhibit title at the Sydney Royal in 1980 with a six-tooth medium wool ewe.

It is understood a meeting took place before the sheep show in which the NSW Stud Merino Breeders voted to allow a ewe to be named supreme when placed against a ram entry.

"It is said the general consensus for the decision was because most believed they wouldn't ever have to worry about this happening as a ewe would never beat a ram," Mr Williams' daughter Kristen Frost said.

Sale hits $160k

The Hodges family, Baldrudgery, Baldry, sold Baldrudgery Lisa for $160,000 at the show in 1990 to Dennis and Lois Brancourt. Photo: Poll Hereford Journal

The Hodges family, Baldrudgery, Baldry, sold Baldrudgery Lisa for $160,000 at the show in 1990 to Dennis and Lois Brancourt. Photo: Poll Hereford Journal

There was an element of excitement among beef breeders at the 1990 Sydney Royal Show which flowed into the auction arena when a 16-month-old heifer was knocked down for $160,000.

The Hodges family of Baldrudgery, Baldry, sold Baldrudgery Lisa during an Easter show sale to Dennis and Lois Brancourt.

It was alleged to be a world record registered female price at the time with bidders keen to secure the heifer's US bloodlines as a daughter to the American sire, Beartooth Quester 442T.

A half-sibling to Lisa, Baldrudgery Sally Ann 60, also made $140,000 at the same sale to the Newham family.

Just a year earlier Australian import policies had allowed livestock breeding animals and genetics into the country from America, many via a Cocos Island quarantine station.

Cameron's fleece

The sheep sheds of Sydney Royal Show are full of fleeces each year but in 2018 one particular display of wool held a very special meaning.

The Cox family of Bocoble Merino stud, Mudgee, donated the fleece of their 2017 Armidale Ram Show supreme exhibit to the Australian Wool Innovation's (AWI) Flock to Baggy Green project in honour of their late son.

Sadly Cameron's life was cut short in February 2017 when the young farmer and talented cricketer was killed by a lightning strike while trying to protect his family's livestock from several grassfires sparked by a freak storm at their property in Moolarben.

The donated fleece came from the supreme exhibit ram at the 2017 Armidale Ram Show and Sale, in which Cameron, 22, was the handler. It was a week before he was killed.

"We weren't sure what to do with the fleece," his father Malcolm Cox said.

"Rather than putting it in a bale with other fleece, we wanted to put it towards this because cricket was close to Cameron's heart."

More than 400 woolgrowers donated in excess of 500kg of wool to the Flock to Baggy Green project which was to be used to create the next batch of iconic caps.

Braunvieh's big Urquhart win

The inaugural Urquhart Trophy winners with Christine and Jim Leachman (judge), of Montana, US, Bruce Urquhart, Hayden and Travis Green, and Ian Moreland.

The inaugural Urquhart Trophy winners with Christine and Jim Leachman (judge), of Montana, US, Bruce Urquhart, Hayden and Travis Green, and Ian Moreland.

The Urquhart Perpetual Trophy for the supreme beef exhibit of the Sydney Royal has been won by Charolais, Shorthorn, Poll Hereford, Limousin, Angus and Hereford in the last 10 years.

But the inaugural winner in 1999 was a Braunvieh exhibit; a dual-purpose milk and meat breed that was exhibited in the beef classes.

At the time the award was given to a pair from the Tarrawarra Braunvieh stud, Victoria, with Tarrawarra Glen Regina 2836 and Tarrawarra Glen Rocky 2837.

Regina was an embryo purchased from Canada while Rocky was also embryo born out of a female who was imported live from Denmark.

"The genetics was very poor in Australia at that stage so I imported them (Rocky's mother and bull) for new genetics and I did a lot of embryos out of that cow; there are probably 50 or 60 calves around somewhere," he said.

It was the second Sydney show for Mr Zeller who said there were about for or five other exhibits in their breed judging before achieving the interbreed honours in front of a "full house".

"It was very good," he said.

"The prize money paid for the trip up. It was about $1000."

Mr Zeller established his herd in 1984/85 and was running about 300 head for beef production before selling up and retiring in the 2000s.

"We used to cross them with the Angus, especially with Red Angus as they turned out very good," he said.

The inaugural Hordern Trophy, for the best pair, was won by the Charolais exhibits from Mandalong stud, Mendooran, in 1980.

Rick Pisaturo Snr, who is now 98, exhibited Mandalong Jessica 2 and Mandalong Lad to victory before returning in 1989 to reclaim the trophy with Mandalong Eden and Mandalong Friesia B19E.

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