By Gisela Horner | Bella Vista Farm Volunteer
Sheep shearer Alastair McLaren calls himself ‘a lambscaper’. He has a droll sense of humour, the charm of a decent hard-working bloke with a positive attitude.
He grew up on a farm in South Gippsland Victoria, left school in Year 11 and took off jackarooing in Queensland for two years. When he returned home, his stepmother said there wasn’t enough for two wages, so he left to make his own way in life.
He worked on a dairy farm in Wilberforce for over four years. After work he would visit the Tropicana Hotel, Wilberforce and reminisces about great nights with well-known country singers being the entertainment including Casey Chambers, Adam Harvey, Wolverines, Rough Stock, to name a few. It was here he met his future wife, Kellie.
The Australiana Pioneer Village at Wilberforce was his next job. In the shows, he sheared sheep, drove Clydesdales and cracked stock whips. Once the Village closed down, Alastair managed a property for 12 years owned by a wealthy businessman. It had once been an old sand mine which they turned into one of Sydney’s finest rural properties breeding Angus stud cattle.
He and Kellie married in 2004. They have four children – Michael, Angus, Eliza and Hamish. All the children have a keen interest in rural life – the older sons are training to be specialised diesel mechanics, Eliza 14, possibly a future vet and Hamish 12, is already making a growing business selling his ‘olive’ eggs. They’re from crossbreed hens, which have colours ranging from blue to green.
Alastair and Kellie have always encouraged their family to be part of the farm and they all share a passion for the land, reversing the effects of climate change and practising regenerative farming where no chemicals are used.
Alastair has had some struggles in his farming career, but has a healthy attitude and thinks outside the box to help others. Every Christmas their farm holds a Bush Santa event where families are invited to bring their animals, meet farm animals and have photos taken in a rural setting. He has recently been to Bella Vista Farm for the annual shearing, drenching and toe-clipping. To the great relief of the sheep! 80 kilos of fine wool were bagged from the 10 sheep. Another great job done. Thank you, Alastair!
Bella Vista Farm is open the 1stSunday of every month. It has been closed since March 2020. Now the farm is open again – the next Open Day is Sunday December 6 from 10am to 2pm. All Covid rules will be strictly observed. We will be delighted to welcome you back for tour. Take a stroll through the heritage gardens and have a delicious Devonshire Tea seated in a relaxed rural setting. The Farm is located on the corner of Elizabeth Macarthur Drive and Norwest Boulevard, Bella Vista.