Keith Coulton, an irrigation pioneer, cotton trailblazer and family man, has died aged 94.
Mr Coulton was born on June 21, 1929, and passed on the same day 94 years later, leaving behind five children.
His family is remembering him as a man who selflessly served the NSW-Queensland border regions and the agricultural industry.
Described as the "father of irrigation in the north west", Mr Coulton started to experiment with irrigating sudangrass out of an old stock bore in 1957 and soon diversified into growing crops such as wheat, barley and sorghum.
Sam Coulton, his son, said he later led the "white gold rush" in the MacIntyre Valley, NSW, being one of the first to plant cotton at his farm Alcheringa near Boggabilla.
"In 1977, he put in his first cotton crop, along with a neighbour, Roger North - the first cotton crop grown on the Macintyre range. That was the start of the industry in the Macintyre," Sam said.
His service was extensive, forming several water and cropping associations and boards and serving on many of them.
In 1962, he formed the Macintyre Valley Water Users Association, one of the first water users associations in NSW.
The Water Users Association of NSW was then formed and he chaired it for many years.
In 1969, together with three other producers, he formed the Australian Coarse Grain Association to help market coarse grains and oilseeds on an export basis.
In 1973, the Oilseed Marketing Board of NSW was formed and he became chairman.
He then formed the Border Rivers Council and became chairman, and in 1975-76 he helped form the BAKES Irrigators Association.
Keith's dedication saw him awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) for service to agriculture in 1979.
Pindari Dam enlargement
Sam said his father's work campaigning for the Pindari Dam to be enlarged in the 1990s was one of his most noteworthy achievements, as it helped secure farmers' livelihoods for generations to come.
Northern NSW's first dam, Pindari was built in 1967-69 on the Severn River, 80km north-east of Inverell near the border.
With irrigated cropping industries growing, reliability became an issue and Keith made it his priority.
"We were told that if all the licences were developed along the Macintyre valley that been handed out in those days, you would end up with a 30pc reliability factor, so we were in trouble," Sam said.
"We went to government and asked for it to be enlarged more than eight times its size to 312,000ML, which would give it a reliability factor of 65pc.
"It was going to cost $75 million, so we said we'll put in half as irrigators and they they gave it the go ahead and had it completed by 1994.
"It was something that he pushed for and campaigned for.
"If there was going to be any movement or major structural buildings or dams, it had to be good for the whole community, not just for us.
"He took the whole community in his stride that way."
Life on the land
Keith's life on the land began early at property Getta Getta, between North Star and Yetman, which his father Alfred settled in 1924.
He lived on Getta until the age of six when he started boarding at New England Grammar School at Glen Innes. After a year he started at The Armidale School.
He excelled at school as an academic and was also a great sportsman, playing rugby and cricket and winning titles for shotgun shooting.
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He learnt to play the piano and taught himself to play the trumpet and could play music by ear.
Tragically, Alfred died in 1947 at the age of 43, leaving Keith fatherless at 17.
Sam said it was then that his father decided to head home to Getta Getta and make the land his life.
"Dad was the only one to take over. Back in those days there was a fair bit of death duty to pay. I think the death duty was worth more than the place, but he was determined and just kept going," Sam said.
Not long after, he met the love of his life Patricia on a train trip home to Goondiwindi.
They were married at Goomeri in 1951 and went on to have five children - Samuel, Benjamin, Dixie, David and Mark.
From livestock to irrigating crops
Initially farming sheep and cattle, the 1957-58 drought was severe so he started to experiment with irrigating sudangrass out of an old stock bore.
From there he diversified into growing crops such as wheat, barley and sorghum and had to clear the land, so he bought a Cat D7 dozer. This caused him to lose his hearing.
In the late 60s, Mr Coulton felt that sorghum growers were not being paid well enough, so in 1969, together with three other producers, he formed the Australian Coarse Grain Association to help market coarse grains and oilseeds on an export basis.
This took the price of sorghum from $35 to $75 per tonne, and in the second year of operation, they exported 400,000 tonnes of sorghum and 60,000 tonnes of oilseeds.
While Keith has passed and joined Patricia, his memory lives on in the hearts of family members and his legacy continues in the soil he toiled.
Samuel, Benjamin, Dixie, David and Mark are third generation on the farm and are now watching the fifth generation come through, including young Harry Coulton at Alcheringa.