South West dairy stalwart humble after award

Zach RelphCountryman
White Rocks Dairy’s David Partridge.
Camera IconWhite Rocks Dairy’s David Partridge. Credit: Lee Griffith

Brunswick dairy farmer David Partridge is not someone to bask in glory.

The humble 86-year-old admits he would rather avoid fanfare and the attention associated with it.

But it has been hard for Mr Partridge to escape applause after he was bestowed the Australian Dairy Industry Council’s coveted Pat Rowley Award for Outstanding Service last month.

“I am proud and pleased, but I shouldn’t have got it,” he said.

Mr Partridge, who was awarded the gong for a lifetime of achievement in the dairy industry at an event in Melbourne on November 28, comes from proud South West dairy origins.

The acknowledgement comes after his involvement with State and national committees including ADIC, Australian Dairy Farmers Federation and the National Farmers’ Federation.

Mr Partridge had an almost 30-year career advocating for the dairy industry from the late 1960s to the mid-1990s, before easing into semi-retirement.

Nowadays, the White Rocks Dairy owner is still involved in the family farm but spends most of his time happily watching from the sidelines with wife Elizabeth as son Michael oversees its operations.

Modest while speaking about his achievements, Mr Partridge said lobbying for the Wellington Dam’s salinity issues to be addressed was among one of his proudest feats.

“I become aware that our irrigation water coming out of the Collie River was getting more and more saline,” he said.

“I worked pretty hard with a couple of other blokes about it and got the Liberal Government to put clearing bans on the Collie catchment.

“I maintain if we didn’t do that then, we wouldn’t have the fresh water — which isn’t too fresh anyway — for irrigation at the moment.”

The supermarket giants ongoing pricing war, which has driven milk prices down following the $1-a-litre offer, is a major issue threatening the nation’s dairy suppliers, Mr Partridge said.

Mr Partridge also raised concerns about growing international investment in Australia’s dairy processing.

Despite the worries, the passionate dairy farmer said he was reassured the family farm would remain in good stead under Michael’s guidance.

“I left school in 1949 and have been milking cows ever since,” he said.

“I’ve done bugger all on the farm in the past 10 years, but Michael runs the farm and he runs it very well.”

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