'Cyclone Joe' set to slow down

Jo FulwoodCountryman

He's known to most as 'Cyclone Joe', and he's been a permanent fixture at the Dowerin field days for a quarter of a century.

But this year is to be his last, as Cyclone Joe finally retires from a 58-year career in the agricultural industry.

"I started work when I was 13, and I'm 72 now, it's getting a bit too much for me now," Joe said.

"Lots of people will say - who is Joe McGree - but they will probably know of Cyclone Joe."

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With a strong Irish brogue, Cyclone Joe is clearly not a born and bred Western Australian.

But with limited opportunities in Ireland for a young lad from a large family, Joe came to Australia in 1963, looking for work, and a new life.

Farming for many years in Mullewa, Joe ended up as a fencing contractor, and every year since 1988, he's been manning the stand at Dowerin for Boral-Cyclone.

Also know for running the fencing competition in previous years, Joe laments the days when the younger generation was taught how to properly erect a stock fence.

"The competition would bring an extra 200 to 300 people to the site to see their kids perform in the competition," he said.

"I was honoured to teach these kids the art of fencing, but that's been lost a bit these days."

Joe said one the most significant changes he has seen since his first few years at Dowerin had been the drying climate.

"25 years ago - weatherwise - it was always wet at Dowerin," he said.

And even though he has travelled to field days across the country representing Boral-Cyclone, Joe passionately believes Dowerin still remains the premier field in Australia.

"I always sell the display yard here without fail," he said.

And will there be any regrets this time next year when he's no longer part of the field day action.

"Yes, more than likely I will have a twinge of regret, particularly since next year is the 50th year for the field days, so I might just come up and make a nuisance of myself," Joe said.

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