John a stalwart of his community

Tiffany DaveyCountryman
John Podmore
Camera IconJohn Podmore Credit: Tiffany Davey

The day 15-year-old John Podmore stepped on to the shores of Albany, King George died.

He recalls his father remarking the King must not have been able to live in England without them.

Mr Podmore had just sailed on a cargo ship for three weeks to start a new life farming with his parents in Australia.

He had left behind memories of the war — although he won’t ever forget the long nights spent in the air shelters, the sound of the guns or the planes flying overhead.

But Mr Podmore arrived in Australia looking forward to establishing a property and escaping the high taxes of England in the 1950s.

On arrival in Albany, Mr Podmore and his parents discovered there were no facilities for the diesel station wagon they had bought over to drive north.

It continued on a train to Fremantle, where his father had to visit the port five times a week to get it released so they could make their way out to Koorda.

When they arrived at Koorda, the Podmores were greeted by the Lego family who ran the local shop.

It was there Mr Podmore began his first job as an Australian, picking Mallee stumps.

Mr Podmore describes the agricultural industry as “a part of” him.

His first job was back in England, earning a shilling an hour as a child picking potatoes alongside seven men on a 165 acre property.

Since then, he has hated cities and known he is forever going to be on the land.

After 12 months in Koorda, Mr Podmore and his parents settled in Cadoux.

They chose this area to farm due to family ties, as his mother was originally from Benjaberring.

“In the 30s my father came out to Australia, where he met her,” Mr Podmore said.

“Due to the depression and the wheat prices, mum and dad returned to Wales, only to find that the depression was worldwide.

“Eventually, they decided to try and escape the tax prices so we headed back to Australia.”

Crowds gather at the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days.
Camera IconCrowds gather at the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days. Credit: Kate Drennan

He has fond memories of travelling around to dances at Konnongorring, Wongan Hills, Cadoux and Koorda.

He recalls the Dews playing the tunes at the Konnongorring dance and catching up with the Whitfields.

To this day, he believes Cadoux’s dances were the most fun.

“Due to the average size of a farm being 2000 acres, there was plenty of mates to attend social events with,” Mr Podmore said.

“We were allowed beer outside of the hall at Cadoux, whereas we weren’t at the Konno dances, so Cadoux was my favourite.”

Mr Podmore became involved in a number of sporting clubs, being secretary of a majority of them over the years.

It was at the Cadoux tennis club he met the future Mrs Elaine Podmore.

“I still remember the day I met her and I still haven’t worked out how I managed to win her over,” Mr Podmore said.

He believes the secret to a happy marriage is not to be selfish, always give and then take, and try to understand the other person.

The first Dowerin GWN7 Field Days was an exciting event, with everyone carpooling from Cadoux to see what the latest and greatest within the industry was.

“It was very exciting at the time, because the field days was different to other town shows,” he said.

Mr Podmore recalls exhibitors having small exhibitor blocks and doing tractor demonstrations.

Watching from a distance, he saw a hydraulic hose blow and squirt hot oil all over the visitors who were all “dressed to the nines” watching this machine.

“There was an uproar, with everyone getting all excited over it,” he said, with a chuckle.

After the first event, he made an effort to attend as many as he could to stay up to date with the progressing industry.

In 1978, Mr and Mrs Podmore moved to Minnivale due to the loss of arable land to salinity.

Mr Podmore ran pigs as the biggest enterprise on the property for 43 years until he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and decided pigs were “a young man’s game”.

Upon arrival in Minnivale, the Podmores discovered the thing to do was to start volunteering at field days.

“If you live in the district you may as well get involved — it’s a bunch of wonderful people and a well-run organisation. It’s great to be involved and really is the hub of the community,” Mr Podmore said.

He still supports a number of sporting clubs he has been involved with over the years, by donating his field days money to them.

He is also still involved in the community by doing the washing up at football home games.

Mr Podmore was awarded life membership of the Wyalkatchem Football Club just before the club amalgamated with Dowerin.

He describes the award as one of the highlights of his life.

He said he never played sports well, particularly cricket, but simply enjoyed being involved.

When he handed the bat to his son the only piece of advice he could give was: “many ducks had been made by this one”.

Mr Podmore continues running the exhibitor caravan park despite his diagnosis of narcolepsy and in his own words “being a 1932 drop”.

With the support of the Wyalkatchem Fire Brigade he has been doing it for 10 years.

He thinks taxes have always been an issue throughout his time farming, but the hydraulic hose has been the biggest change he has enjoyed in his years on the land.

He has also enjoyed seeing women getting more respect within the industry and would never have deprived his daughters of returning to the land if they wanted that life.

“No one got out of feeding the pigs,” he said. His advice to his 18-year-old self would be stay involved – that the towns may one day fold, so do what you can. If he had to do it again, he wouldn’t change a thing.

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