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BRONTE WALTER GARDNER (24/02/1947 - 25/09/2006)

Family Eulogybronte gardner, ida vale, white dorper, dorper, white suffolk

Bronte was born on the 24 February 1947 in Kadina, South Australia and was the 2nd son of Enid Crouch and Charles Gardner (deceased). Bronte, along with his brothers Glasson and Paul, grew up on the family farm at Ninnis and attended the local Kulpara Primary School until the end of year seven. He then boarded in Adelaide and attended Urbrea Agricultural High School where he excelled in the all the agricultural subjects. By the end of year 12 the farm in SA had been sold and the family moved to Kojonup. Bronte worked for Keith and Gwen Gardner for three years while acquiring a large circle of friends through his involvement in Junior Farmers, his love of tennis and polo cross while
saving to buy his first vehicle, a brand new XR Falcon ute.

In 1967 with his new ute he first met Di at a party before a Junior Farmers cabaret.
Their relationship blossomed and in May 1970 they were married in Fremantle and made their home in the “Cottage” at Ida Vale. With their great circle of friends, Cabarets, trips to the lake water skiing, dinner parties and the odd B & S thrown in, their social life was great fun. One of Bronte’s greatest pleasures was to take Di for a drive, not to some romantic or interesting place, but around the cows and tell her the life history of each and every one.

Tamesha was born in 1972, followed by Nicola 19 months later. Two and half years past before Scott decided to arrive on the morning of the Knutsford Bull Sale. Not so timely for Bronte as he was set on purchasing a bull at the sale and Di wanted him at the birth. So Bronte came up with a plan. While Di was still in labour, they would quickly slip out to the sale, tee up the purchase of the bull and then go to the hospital. With little time to spare he managed to see his son born, then go home for lunch and back to the sale to purchase the bull himself. A true stockman!

Bronte was a unique and uncanny stockman and breeding stud animals was a passion deeply instilled in his life. In the earlier days he bred and exhibited Devon cattle before moving into the Salers breed. His first showing of Salers’ in Perth saw Ida Vale win Supreme Champion of All Breeds with a yearling bull. He continued to pursue excellence in breeding cattle by experimenting with different composite breeds.
Meat sheep breeding was in the Gardner family and their Dorset Horn stud travelled across from South Australia with their move. Realising the limitations of the horns, Bronte became one of the earliest Poll Dorset stud breeders in Australia. He was ever searching to find the ultimate meat sheep breed and that even caught his mate and fellow stud breeder, Garry Mitchell, unawares. The two of them went in partnership and purchased a top Poll Dorset ram from Pine Avenue and at a similar time Bronte asked Garry to purchase him some Suffolk ewes. When Garry came to collect the newly purchased ram, to his horror, it was in with the Suffolk ewes and hence the White Suffolks had their Western Australian beginning at Ida Vale.

With the White Suffolks firmly established, and still looking for a challenge, Bronte ventured into the Dorper and White Dorper sheep breed.

With Di’s long service leave due they tried to decide where they would travel overseas. After many suggestions and declines by Bronte he finally said he would go to South Africa. Why would he go there? You guessed it. To look at sheep. They made a pact, the first two weeks were to look at sheep and the next two on a safari.
During this trip Bronte first saw the White Dorpers at Coon De Beer’s farm. This man was very skeptical about Bronte’s sheep skills and asked him to pick the top three rams out of a yard of about 30. Bronte walked through the sheep for a few minutes, adjusted his hat, then selected his first ram. Coon turned to Di and said 100%, waved his hand and was satisfied that Bronte had picked his top ram first off. This was another turning point at Ida Vale and a new challenge for Bronte.

Although sheep appeared to dominate Bronte’s thoughts, Di was always his Cherub and very much a part of his life, providing support, comfort and companionship. Bronte was not the husband that came with flowers, but on every anniversary, Di would receive a rose from the garden- thorns and all!! He was not one to often show his emotions, but if you delved below the surface you would always find a very gentle, kind and loving man who simple adored his wife and family. Bronte and Di were lucky enough in latter years to enjoy several trips overseas together.
What you saw with Bronte was what you got, the bushy beard, the turned up collar, the shirt hanging out and his ute, the dog box. He was a salt of the earth man, proud of what he did in his own humble and traditional way and always willing to share his knowledge and expertise with any one who was interested or inquired.

Bronte’s mother has always played a special part in his life, sharing his passion for the stock and the land. Most weekends saw a visit from Nan and she and Bronte along with his mates, the dogs, would head off together to embrace their love of the farm.

Recently Bronte and Meesh spent 12 very special days traveling in NSW, visiting old and new friends. They had plenty of time to chat and discuss the dreams and challenges ahead of them. During that time they saw the passing of Steve Irwin and when the news of Peter Brock came through, Bronte turned and said, “They haven’t got all of the superstars, they haven’t got me”. Funny how things run in threes.

Di, Meesh, Nic & Scott, have now lost their superstar and all of you here today would acknowledge star like qualities found in Bronte.

Now I would like to tell you about our dad.

His knowledge and his love for the land has been imbedded in his children and we all spent many hot, dusty days in the sheep yards drenching or needling and learning our first swear words – to be kept from mums ears. Dad always wanted us to be independent and taught us how to change a tyre, check the oil, run down flyblown sheep and bring in rouge bulls with the roo bar. He also taught us how to milk a cow, shear a sheep using a dead one, shoot a fox and ride our first pony. We were never scared of trying anything as he accepted every outcome as an experience. Even paddocks ripped up by donuts never seemed to be a problem.
Everyone learnt to ride motor bikes well, except Mum, who one day managed from a stationary position to turn the throttle on full bore, knock Dad off his bike and buckle his wheel.
Tree planting was always a family affair with afternoons spent down at the creek digging holes, planting trees and chatting about nature and the bugs we would find.
Our staple diet with Dad in Mums absence, consisted of chops, chips and eggs.

 

Eulogy by Andy Michael

To My Dear and Great Friend Bronte

I would like to start this tribute to my great friend by taking this paragraph out of the Australian White Suffolk History Book.

“Bronte Gardner from “IDA VALE” Kojonup Western Australia was a successful Poll Dorset breeder who for many years admired the Suffolk breed from a distance.
On a trip to Adelaide Show in 1983, Bronte heard rumours of several South Australian breeders crossing Poll Dorset and Suffolk sheep with startling results. During the trip he visited Don Ferguson at “Anna Villa” and was convinced this cross had a great deal to offer. For quite a number of years “IDA VALE” was the only White Suffolk Stud in Western Australia, but after several successful field days at “IDA VALE” in the early 1990’s the breed has, by 2003, blossomed to become the second most numerous in the Prime Lamb Industry in Western Australia”.

My Friendship and admiration for Bronte developed because of his passion for progress through life, and our love for the sheep industry.
The paragraph from the White Suffolk history book reflexes Bronte’s vision for life. There was no hurdle too great, nor no challenge to daunting, and I believe the greater the challenge the more Bronte enjoyed it.
Bronte’s work was not completed with the success of the White Suffolks in Australia, he could see a need for helping pastoralists in marginal farming country become more profitable by becoming heavily involved in developing and importing Dorper Sheep from South Africa. Bronte again held field Days to share his knowledge of the Dorper Sheep, and was the inaugural Australian President of the Dorper Breed. 3 weeks ago a Dorper Ram sold for $41,000.00 in Dubbo New South Wales, dare I say thanks again Bronte Gardner.

Bronte and I spent many hours discussing sheep breeding, family and life in general, and you new with Bronte it was “Ridgy Didge”, there were no airs and graces, but a great man with a huge passion for life, love, honesty and success.

At this stage I am now wipping away the tears because I have lost a GREAT FRIEND, but I know Di, Meesh, Nick and Scotty will keep Bronte’s dreams alive.

Andrew Michael.
 

Eulogy by Matthew Young

It is a great honour for me today to be able to say a few words about Bronte when there are many other people here today who have known him a lot longer than me.

My first recollection of Bronte was about 12 years ago when the Dorper sheep were first imported from South Africa I saw an advertisement regarding Dorper sheep with Bronte’s name attached not being what you  called a common Australian name. I was intrigued and curious and rang the number and I was greeted with ‘Hello Bronte here’ and that was the start of a great friendship.

Bronte was a huge support of any research that I conducted over the years with Dorpers whether it was in the wheat belt, Midwest or the pastoral area. At no cost to my employer but of considerable cost to him and his family.

I realized very early in our relationship that Bronte had an incredible knowledge of sheep and a great vision for the sheep meat industry in Australia. He had wonderful communication skills, he could talk to anybody and he treated everybody the same, whether you had 10 sheep or 10,000. Over the years I received many, many calls regarding Dorper sheep and many of these people like to speak to somebody who currently breeds Dorpers. I used to pass these on to Bronte. I knew he would tell it as it was warts and all and without the high pitched sales talk.
I also remember him saying what he thought of some of these callers but no repeatable today.

My fondest memories were when Bronte and I went on a couple of Dorpers trips one to the World Sheep Congress in New Zealand about 5 years ago. The other one we drove across the Nullarbor to Dubbo and back a couple of years ago with a trailer of rams on board for the inaugural National Dorper Sale. Bronte knew somebody or they knew him all the way to Dubbo. We had no problems finding a bed. We would roll up about beer o’clock at a property and within minutes Bronte had everybody at ease talking about his beloved Dorpers and a few beers. He would tell them everything which was a great deal. So there were some very late nights. Early the next morning he would class or give his opinion on any sheep that were nearby or available for inspection at no cost. That was the genuine type of man he was.

 In such a short period of time here today, it is impossible for me to describe the impact he has and will have into the future of sheep meat industry not only in WA but the whole of the country.
I have no doubt it has and will be enormous.

Bronte, you were a true inspiration and a great friend. God Bless You Mate.