Picture in your mind a typical Australian farmer. What do you see? Probably same as me: at least 6 ½ foot tall (that’s about 195 cm for those among you who have forgotten imperial measurements), the physique of a Half Back, a bit taciturn, can go for hours without saying a word…
 
OK, those of you who have met Ray Drowley would by now have a bit of a smile on their dial… Born some 78 years ago into a dairy farming family with 9 kids, he spent the first 58 years of his life in Inverloch, South West Gippsland in Victoria. It wouldn’t have been an easy life. “We also used to trap rabbits to supplement our income” Ray recollected. “The pelts were just as valuable as the meat and would even be exported”. He went to school in Inverloch, completing Year 9 and 10 in an Agricultural Tech Course. For 4 years he worked the family farm with his father and his brothers. “At 19 years, I purchased 75 cows from dad and started on my own together with one of my brothers” he said. At 24 years old, when my second son was born, I started purchasing the farm from dad. Somewhere in-between (some 56 years ago today) he and his childhood sweetheart Kaye married. “We were a ‘closed’ farm, meaning that we bred all our own stock, with only the bull imported”, he stated with well warranted pride. Ultimately, his second son completed Agricultural College and they share farmed together for 14 years and milked as many as 240 cows on 290 acres. Ray was also very much involved with the local community: “I was a member of Life Savers, St John’s Ambulance and particularly the UDV” he said. UDV? The United Dairy Farmers of Victoria, of which he was a committee member “fighting government deregulation”…
 
In his spare time (and there wasn’t much if one was herding cattle), Ray enjoys boating and fishing, watching Documentaries, and he is an avid reader of Bryce Courtenay (The Power of One, The Potato Factory etc) and listens to Buddy Holly and all the other “rat bags” of the golden era of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
 
At 58, struck with a severe illness, he and Kaye decided to pull up stumps and move to the Gold Coast. They are the proud parents of 4 children and much enjoy the company of their 13 grandkids and 2 great grandkids. “Hopefully, we’ll again be able to visit them again soon in Victoria, without the worry of having to quarantine upon return”. I asked him what is the theme of his life? “To be a good farmer, to be totally self sufficient”.