Preserving Garston History

Whenever I want to know about Garston’s history, I go straight to Peter Naylor and Noel McMillan. 

These two farmers were born and bred in Garston and have lived here all their lives. And both men are passionate in their own ways about preserving our history. 

Peter has albums filled with photos of farming life back in the day and a story to go with each one. He kindly let me use some of these photos in 

Winter Feeding On The Farm   and  Making Hay While The Sun Shines

History on the Garston Green

One of Peter’s main passions is restoring old vehicles to their former glory. When Russell Glendinning found that two of his old railway jiggers had gone to rack and ruin he brought them to Garston, hoping that Peter would work some magic. 

And Peter did. Now, Garston is lucky to have them on display as part of our railway heritage precinct on the Garston Green.

Red and yellow 1910 hand-operated railway jigger restored by Peter Naylor.
This 1910 hand-operated railway jigger is part of the railway heritage collection on the Garston Green. It was donated by Russell Glendinning and restored by Peter Naylor.

Noel, on the other hand, has dedicated much of his time to collecting and preserving documents from the past. He’s got files, folders and books galore of fascinating documents and photographs showing farming and community life as it used to be.

The way we were. Garston railway yards, hotel and garage. Winter, 1950-60’s.

Now, Noel is collaborating with his granddaughter to bring us a new Facebook page. Amanda has been posting photos and articles from Noel’s vast collection and reminding us of a bygone era. If you’ve lived in Northern Southland, you might well recognise places, events and faces. You might even spot yourself at these special events.

You can check it out at Preserving History

Thanks to Noel, Peter and all the dedicated historians who collect, sift, store and retell the stories of their districts. Our lives are richer for your work.

More History on TOML

Electric Fencing Ups And Downs

Every day in August – and now in early September, I stride back and forth across the paddocks helping to shift electric fences. Each one takes about half an hour so I have had plenty of time to reflect while I get my daily exercise. 

These days we’re a well-oiled electric fencing team, my farmer and me. But this wasn’t always the case…

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Oh! Those Gum Trees On The Farm

Gum trees tower over the house.

Blue gums line the gravel road that winds past our dusty little farmhouse. Look out to the west. Once you could see for miles, but not any more. Now your gaze stops at the towering gums.

Why are they still there, blocking my view?

Eucalyptus trees, as blue gums are more properly called, are a hardy bunch with more than a few annoying features.

You couldn’t call them pretty trees. Their bark peels like last week’s sunburnt skin littering the lawn with long brown stripes. Branches sprout every which way and their dull green leaves hang limply from every twig.

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The Old Apple Tree

There’s nothing quite like crunchy, crisp apples straight from the tree. But if you ask your great-granny about her youth, I guarantee she’ll say, “Apples tasted better back then.”

And it’s true!


Since the 20th century we’ve let many old varieties of fruit and vegetables slip quietly into oblivion — and with them have gone taste… aroma…and diversity. Count up how many different apple names you can see on the supermarket shelves. You might see six, but years ago there would have been dozens throughout the country.

It’s both sad and dangerous for the environment that we’ve lost so much plant diversity in the last hundred years. That’s why we treasure the oldest tree on our farm.

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Making Hay While The Sun Shines

Summer is haymaking season on the farm and I love to reflect on how making hay has changed over the years. We still use dried grass but our ancestors wouldn’t believe how we can make hay now.

The tractor fluffing up rows of hay with the hay-bob in perfect, sunny haymaking conditions.
Terry’s Massey-Ferguson tractor fluffing up rows of hay with the hay-bob.
Our farming ancestors would be so impressed with how easy this is. 
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