Wilf remembers dying art

Well known district horseman Wilf Norris remembers tractors taking over from horse teams on wheat farms, especially those teams that worked in the 1940s.

“In 1942, at 14 years of age I started driving my father’s 10 horse team and finished in 1949 at the age of 22,” Wilf said. 

“A tractor was bought and my father gave me the horses, I still have some of the breed today.

“During these years I got to know all the farmers who drove horse teams in the district, east from Peak Hill to the Harvey Ranges down to Hadiner Creek and along the Newell Highway back to Peak Hill.

“It was an area of about six miles wide by 11 miles long and 295 horses worked in this area growing wheat.”

Wilf said they averaged 200 to 400 acres per farm depending on the size of the team.

The machinery they mainly used behind the teams were: 

  • 10 disc and 14 disc plough
  • 15 and 18 tine scarifiers
  • 14, 15, and 16 run combines
  • 8 and 10 foot headers 

Here are the names of the farmers in Wilf’s district during the 1940s and the number of horses in the teams they worked. 

Bill Sharkey (8), Spider Mulholland (8), Neville Rosser (10), Charlie Randall (8), Harold Stone (8), Jim Dunn (10), Bert Bayley (8), Robert Denman (10), Bert Francis (10), Joe and Len Norris (10), Wilf Norris (10), Bill McCarron (12), Charlie Wright (10), Bill Sellers (10), Jack and Hilton Stanford (10), Les Stanford (8), Jack Wilson (10), Jim Murry (8), Les Whitlock (10), Doug Gallienne (12), Mervin New (12), Toby Baton (8), Bert Plate (10), Jack Donnelly (10), Terry Donnelly (12), Tom Hallinan (8), Staff Hallinan (12), Bert Stanford (8) , Bill Rushworth (8) and Terry Attenbrower. 

Wilf worked will all these men and thinks they have all passed away now. 

“The only one I am not sure about is Robert Denham,” he said.

“We were the small wheat growers and I drove my father’s team for eight years.” 

Wilf bought a property in Eugowra and moved to the area in 1955.

“My son Bill now runs the farm. We farm sheep and wheat, we did have pigs at one stage,” he said.

Bill and his wife Patricia have a family of three boys and five girls, who all still live around the area.

“We still have a team of nine draught horses on the property, but it’s a bit of a dying art. I don’t know anyone around here who still has horse teams.” 

Wilf was left heartbroken in March last year when his lifetime’s work and passion was stolen. “All our draught horse working gear was stolen from the shed, they cleaned us out,” Wilf said.

“They still haven’t been found.”