Angela Tiede, 25 April 2023. Image: Sign on entry gate of Collingwood Children’s Farm, Abbotsford, Melbourne.
A beautiful sunny day, and hordes of interested visitors to Collingwood Children’s Farm made it a busy day for our two Waler mares Coolibah and Piperita. The reception from the general public to the horses and education display is heartwarming and makes us really proud to have the opportunity to showcase Walers and our horse history each ANZAC Day.
An early start to listen to the radio broadcast of the Dawn service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, then into the city to meet up with Coolibah and Piperita’s owners, get the horses settled into the stables, and set up the information display.
I have been lucky enough to have had this opportunity each year since 2006, and am truly grateful to be invited back to this wonderful venue on a bend of the Yarra River, a favourite spot for Melbournians and visitors to our city alike. The historic stables allow easy access for visitors to see the horses but also are large enough for the horses to stay back from the inquisitive hordes whenever they want to.
As soon as the Farm gates open the fun begins, with some heading straight to the stables to get the first glimpse of the Walers. This makes for a hasty unloading of horses and display set up, answering a barrage of questions which descend usually before we have quite finished getting organised.
The comprehensive information display was well inspected and digested, and the horses strutted their stuff in the arena at two advertised times with yours truly spruiking all things Waler to the interested assembly of the general public, ranging in age from babies to the elderly and everything in between.
A friend gave me a shirt to wear so I could be easily spotted in the crowd, I reckon it did the trick!
Our website received a great deal of attention and I have some photo boards showing display material from the early days, ever hopeful it will encourage those with photos and history to share to send in material that we can post on the website to ensure it reaches a broader audience than has been possible in the past, if at all.
Without recording what we know, and sharing it, our rare breed Walers will likely stay just that, rare. Everyone who has participated in our Waler events at Collingwood Children’s Farm has been genuinely interested and keen to learn more, and I certainly hear a lot of family history with Walers as once a Waler is seen then the memories start flowing.
Can’t wait to do it all again next year!