Ron Rees is a true blue, and passionate Boggabri citizen who has devoted his entire life to his family, farm and community.

Ron Rees was born in Nurse Carter’s hospital in Boggabri on December 26, 1933, to parents Julia (aka Molly) and Hurtle Rees.

Hurtle Rees’ first wife died in childbirth after giving birth to Euleen, Ken and Cliff.

Mr Rees married Julia Mary Willis (aka Molly) and she and Hurtle welcomed another four children into their family, Ron, Betty, Heather and Martha.

Hurtle Rees was born in 1897 and moved to Boggabri as a small child with his family.

In 1914 Hurtle wanted to start farming in his own right and made the bold move to obtain finance.

The story goes that young Hurtle wanted to start farming in his own right so he went into town and saw Henry L Tebbutt and asked for some finance.

Henry L Tebbutt looked at the 17-year-old said: “what do you want the money for?”

“To buy a horse team was the reply.”

Later Hurtle was walking out of the shop and Henry L Tebbutt said: “Did you get the horses? Hurtle said yes and Mr Tebbutt said, “good, but did you get the jewellery as well? (collars, harness etc.)

Ron Rees says he remembers this story being told many times across the years.

Hurtle must have loved his horses as when he bought his first tractor, he decided to sell his horses, but didn’t want them to go to the knackery so loaded 14 rail trucks, amounting to 42 teams of horses (260 horses) and he accompanied them to Queensland to be sold and used as farm horses.

“Dad bought ‘Sunnyside’ in 1924,” Ron said.

“The family lived there and as each baby was born, a room was added to the house.

“The house had a wood stove but no electricity.

“Then he bought ‘Blairmore’ in 1943 and we moved onto that property.

“The house didn’t have electricity until 1948.”

Ron’s mother designed a new house for ‘Blairmore’ and in 1953 the build started.

Just before the house was finished his mother was very unwell with breast cancer.

The family wanted her to move in before it was finished, but she didn’t want to move into the house until it was completely finished. Sadly, she never got to live in the house as she died in 1954 – a few months before the house was finished.

As a youngster it was Ron’s job to get the cow in for milking.

Ron said he would walk about a mile around the paddock to bring the cow into the yard.

At the same time his Dad was breaking in jersey cows which were notorious for being bad-tempered.

“One day I brought the cow and calf in and as I was returning to the house, I could hear the cow coming behind me as I ran towards the house,” Ron said.

“Lucky Mum came to help.

“The cow ran at her but Mum stood her ground.

“I turned around and there was Mum standing between the cow’s horns, one each side of her body.”

“Without flinching, Mum had stood still and stared the cow down.”

Cows were not the only animal to teach Ron lessons.

Ron remembers when he was only five or six, he had a pony.

He helped his Dad muster the sheep, with his Dad saying that Ron and his pony was as good as another dog.

Ron claims that the pony taught him to ride as he was a shy horse and he continually shied and bucked Ron off, only to run away and then he would wait for Ron to pick himself up, catch him again and get back on.

“One day he bucked me off three times before we got home,” Ron said.

As a child there were not a lot of presents for birthdays, however, they always had a rainbow cake.

Due to his birthday being Boxing Day, the family would spend the day down by the river where it was a bit cooler and there was usually a watermelon in a sugarbag getting cool in the river ready for the children to eat during the afternoon.

Another funny story Ron relates is that when he was two years old, he had a pet chook, ‘Lucy’.

His Dad had a white draught horse called ‘Lucy’ and his dad would tie ‘Lucy’ up at the fence when he would go into the house.

Ron took note and had a piece of string and would also tie his ‘Lucy’ up.

Sometimes he couldn’t find anywhere to tie his chook up so he would hide her.

Come evening his Mum or Dad would notice that ‘Lucy’ was missing when penning up the chooks for the night and there would be a search for poor ‘Lucy’ who had been hidden somewhere, usually in or under a box, and not had any food for the whole day.

Ron attended Wynella school during 1940 to 1945, his primary school years.

There were 15 students in the school including Ron and his sister Betty.

They walked a mile to school.

Their teacher walked three miles despite the parents giving the teacher a bike to ride.

Apparently, the teacher didn’t like the bike.

His teacher left the school in 1945 leaving the students without a teacher for the last term of school.

Ron’s education continued at Armidale High School for three years where he boarded at the St John’s Hostel.

“We would often throw a ball over the fence at the hostel into NEGS yard hoping one of the girls would pick it up and bring it back to the fence so we could say thank you and strike up a conversation.

“It never happened, the girls would pick the ball up and take it to the teacher and then we would have to get permission to go and get it back from the teachers.”

After Armidale High School, Ron went to Trinity College in Sydney for three years prior to coming home at the age of 18 to work on the farm.

Rees children: Back, Joanne McLoughlan, Warwick Rees, Duncan Hoy, Michelle Galvin, front, Penny and Ron Rees. Absent Ashley Rees.

Ron is a devoted Methodist Church member and since the church closed in Boggabri, he attends the Boggabri Community Church in the Anglican Church.

Ron and his wife Penny Dahlhelm met in Sydney under sad circumstances.

Ron’s brother’s wife, Nancy was very ill in Narrabri and she was transferred to Sydney.

Ken had taken his children to see their mother and in a twist of fate Penny was babysitting children in a house across the road from where the Rees children were staying.

Ron had gone to Sydney to bring his brother’s children home and met Penny.

Meeting Penny was a happy side of the trip.

Ron and Penny were married in Sutherland on July 29, 1961.

Ron has no excuses for not remembering his wedding anniversary as the date was also his father’s birthday.

Penny and Ron lived on ‘Blairmore’ until they moved to their current address in Merton Street Boggabri in 2001.

Ron and Penny have four children – Warwick Rees, Michelle Galvin, Joanne McLoughlan and Ashley Rees.

Ron and Penny have also been parents to Duncan Hoy.

Duncan came into their care as a twelve-year-old special needs boy in 1987.

The four Rees children have given Ron and Penny many hours of family bliss as well as giving them nine grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

Ron doesn’t have a lot of hobbies, however, he does enjoy doing jig-saw puzzles and watching sport.

He was an avid cricket player into his sixties until a ball smacked him in the face and broke all his teeth.

Ron remembers his Dad’s first car was a Chevrolet Phoenix and coming to town one day with all the children plus a young lady who helped Mrs Rees.

The door swung open and his sister Heather who was standing up in the middle was sucked out of the door and only saved by the young lady grabbing Heather’s clothes and hanging on to her.

Ron’s first car was a green Holden and according to Penny most cars thereafter were Holden and green.

They also had a green Plymouth at one stage.

Penny and Ron bought one of the first Magnas when they were released.

They bought it from Cliff Bird’s garage in Boggabri, it wasn’t green but they were proud of their new car.

Western Australia is the only state or territory in Australia that the Rees haven’t travelled around.

A trip to New Zealand and Norfolk Island has also been enjoyed in between the Australian trips.

Ron completed National Service and was disappointed that they couldn’t join the RSL Club when they returned as they didn’t leave Australia.

Some of Ron’s proudest times have been the 12 years that he represented the Narrabri Shire as a councillor and the 30 plus years he was a Cub master.

Ron said his proudest time on the council was when he moved to have the new bridge over Deadman’s Gully and Cox’s Creek and the wonderful community celebrations held at the official opening ceremony of Cox’s Creek.

Something people still talk about today.

If he was allowed, he would still be a Cub master he enjoyed it so much.

He has fond memories of some of the activities that he completed with the boys as well as some of the mishaps like the day some of the boys ran through the stinging nettle patch.

When asked if he had a ‘bucket list’, he said: “I hope I live long enough to see the cotton farmers around here grow the cotton, gin it and then make it into fabric.”

“I think it’s terrible that we grow the cotton, pay to gin it, sell it to China, pay to send it to China or somewhere and then have to pay to get the fabric back.”

On Saturday, December 30, 75 family and a few very close friends joined Penny and Ron to celebrate Ron’s 90th birthday at the Boggabri RSL Club.

Joanne made his beautiful cake.

Ron made a speech and there were lots of stories shared on the day.

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