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Magazines : Our Place - Geelong Region Magazine 2011
THE family farm at Rokewood has a strong grip on Geordie Taylor. But like many young adults he moved away from the 4100 ha Warrambeen to jackaroo for a couple of years then to follow a career in acting. Last year he was Father Corrigan on Neighbours, more recently he was seen on Rush. Now at 31, newly engaged to interior designer and former Geelong Grammar student Charlotte Coote, and with plans to one day bring his own family up on Warrambeen, Geordie is part of a push to diversify and make the farm and country lifestyle work for him. And along the way he is making the name Warrambeen as synonymous with films as it has been with farming. Together with long-time friend and fellow actor Pascal Mercay, Geordie has spearheaded a one-day festival for short films held on the property on the first weekend in March. Films are shown in four venues including the historic shearing shed and the orchard; there is a food and wine market showcasing local produce; and live music will feature in the natural grassy amphitheatre. Last year 's first Warrambeen Film Festival attracted 1000 visitors to watch films from around the world. is year's festival has again exceeded expectations, with its 24 films chosen from a field of more than 100 submitted from as far afield as Africa, Norway, Spain and Germany. is year's festival patron was fellow actor and friend Dustin Clare, who is currently filming Spartacus in the US. But how did a tiny posse of energetic actors go about persuading Geordie's parents, Ian and Trish, to open their farm gates to hundreds of people? Geordie says his parents have always been forward thinkers. "When Mum and Dad took over the farm (it has been in the Trish's family since 1902) they were always far ahead of others,' ' he says. "In the early '90s we set up one of the original Landcare centres, training groups and doing conferences and educating farmers on sustainable agriculture. "Dad set up Western Plains Pork. We were one of the first to be doing that free-range farming. "And they've done a lot of work on preser ving grasslands.' ' Trish says they were initially "a little daunted' ' by their son's film festival proposal, but were open to change and "aware things could be done a little bit differently' ', so they agreed to host the event. But the film festival is not the only time the Taylors have diversified since the property came into their care 20 years ago. " e last 20 years have seen the most change in the last 200 years,' ' Trish says. "We often talk about how the old people would roll in their graves to see how much farming has changed in just 20 years. It's quite phenomenal.' ' Custodians of a precious commodity " ings had got fairly tough in a downturn in the wool industry about 12 years ago and we were scratching our heads wondering what to do,' ' Ian recalls. But when president of Greening Australia John Landy came to talk at a Landcare meeting at their property, a solution began to appear to Ian and Trish. "He started to talk about land being a mosaic of different soil types,' ' Ian says. " e mosaic of Warrambeen is cropping, wool country, native grassland country. You have to try to assess each piece and manage it accordingly. We try to focus on two or three things we can be good at.' ' Family meetings and a shared philosophy add up to a common vision where education is valued and history plays its part. e Taylors also see their farms as being part of the bigger picture. ey're disturbed by the disappearance of native grasslands in western Victoria, so devote time, energy and land to expand the grasslands on their property and to encourage other farmers to do likewise. Ian speaks of the inherent differences between the land "back home' ' (England) and the land the early farmers encountered when they arrived in Australia. e average depth of topsoil in Europe is 60cm while here it is less than eight, but farmers tilled and worked the soil in a way that suited English conditions and ignored their new reality. It's home to Western Plains Pork, a film festival, Landcare education, canola, wheat and barley crops, 10,000 merino -- and the Taylor family. Visit this spectacular Golden Plains property and you'll gain an understanding of diversity. MARGARET LINLEY reports 28 GEELONG ADVERTISER
Breakaway Autumn 2011