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Kim Tyrer
 
25 February 2013 | History | Kim Tyrer

OK...so what started as a love story quickly turned into reality!

 

My parents, Ian and Linda Tyrer, spent all their savings on a property in Mount barker on which they were going to plant a vineyard.

It had a house on this property.   Linda's father, a builder, came over to help them set up. Linda, proud of her new purchase showed her father around the house asking him what they could do to fix it up. Her father tossed her a packet of matches.  Ian of course clearly states, as all farmers do, "We didn't buy the property for the house!"  And assured Linda that they would build a new house once they'd settled.  That was 1977. The new house was built in 1995. Unfortunately I can't tell you all the stories about that house because they are not suitable however it was previously owned by a shearer and no longer exists.  But the main point is, it's not like these days where you mortgage your life away on a beautiful new 4 bedroom 2 bathroom 2 garage stunning house. This house would have been listed as 'renovators delight!'  But even that's a stretch.


So the property was an apple orchid with grazing paddocks.  No Vineyard yet!

Ian organised to get Jarrah trees cut down from another property down the road and hired a wood splitter.  He then by hand splits every Jarrah trunk and makes each Jarrah post for the vineyard. That is thousands of Jarrah posts.   (Not like these days were you go down to the rural store and buy treated pine posts). When Ian started working in Mount Barker he was a slight 65kgs. It didn't take long before he became 95kgs which he maintained throughout his winemaking days. I remember the boys teasing him saying he had forearms the size of a normal man's calf.  But this is the wine industry and you work hard!

Linda planted the vineyard when I was a baby. They had a big Mary Poppins style pram.  I was in there with the cuttings.  She pushed me along and planted the vines.
 

As the vines grew they encountered many problems such as Black Beetle and weeds. These days, again, you go down to the rural shop and buy plastic protectors for the vines and spray over them. But they did not exist in the late 70's. Ian had a bright idea, not dissimilar to the plastic protectors, but to use a witch's hat and put it over the vines while you spray. However, he had to get off the tractor and move the witches hat several times to make it work.

 To help make money, Linda and Ian, sold fruit from the property and grew pumpkins within the rows of the vines.  They never made any money but gave themselves more hard work.

In 1978 Cyclone Alby came through.  Linda remembers it well.  Linda and Ian were selling hay and a man was down at the sheds buying hay.  He came up to the house and asked to pay Linda.  Linda asked why he hadn't just paid Ian while they were down the shed.  He explained that Ian had gone off to fight the bush fires.  "Bush Fires!  What bushfires?"  The man pointed to the horizon where the sky was a wall of red. "Everyone was burning off before the cyclone came." the man explained.
" What? What Cyclone?"  Linda Panicked again.

Later Linda asked Ian why he hadn't told her about the bush fires and the cyclones. " I didn't want to worry you?"  He replied.

Meanwhile back at the ranch I was put under the table and Ian went out to fight the bush fires the cyclone had caused.  Linda was very nervous at home waiting.  People were calling her over the phone trying to find loved ones out fighting the fires concerned for their welfare.  One man was worried about his father who was pulling trees out on our property so we could plant a vineyard.  His father had not returned and he was concerned that he might be injured.  Linda pleaded that she could not go out and look for him as I was only 4 months old.  After another 20 minutes passed he rang again. So Linda jumped in the Ute and drove down to the front paddock to look for him. She could not see more than 2 metres in front of the ute. The dust, wind and smoke were severe. While driving along the wind pushed a tree over in front of the Ute and she drove around it continuing to look for the man. Then in the distance Linda saw our Border Collie, Bonnie.  Linda knew that if Bonnie was there then Ian was not far behind.  Ian been separated from the group and lost his sight with all the smoke damage.  Ian was holding the fence wire and was using it to guide him home. Linda picked him up in the Ute and their dog and went home. The other guy was fine and returned home safely.  It just took him a long time with all the trees on the road.

Eventually the cyclone passed.  The next day, Linda and Ian Jumped in the Ute to inspect the damage on the property. The cyclone knocked over their outside dunny and many trees had fallen down. Ironically the cyclone had knocked over more trees than the guy they paid to pull trees out!

These are only a few of the stories in the first years of Galafrey Wines.

 

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