Wagra Dexter Cattle

Australian-bred cattle of Ancient Irish descent,
born & bred at Wagra Dexter in the Far East Gippsland Mountains, Victoria.

Welcome to Wagra

(Click any image for enlargement and description)
 
Bendoc is a border town in the Far East Gippsland ranges of Victoria, “south-of-the-border” sister to Delegate, NSW. There is still a sign on the Gap Road that says ‘Population 53’, but, according to more recent records (http://www.theage.com.au/news, 2005), there are thirty people in the town with 600 in the wider area. Nevertheless, whichever way you look at it, Bendoc is certainly not a bustling metropolis. Wagra was the early name of Bendoc. According to local folklore, it was also the name of the wind that blows through the Cottonwood Range, the warning for the local aborigines to head down towards the coast before the snows. That wind can be heard roaring well before any movement is visible. An alternative meaning of Wagra is said to be “black eyed crow”. Whatever the literal translation, Wagra is the name chosen by Graham and Margaret for their farm.
 
Graham has been the publican at Bendoc since 1987, and has had the Post Office almost as long. Even though he had no large-animal or farming experience prior to the venture into Dexter cattle, he is the brawn behind all the heavy work associated with farm fencing, buildings, and machinery. Margaret provides assistance, researches history and pedigrees, disbuds the calves, and AIs the cows when outside bloodlines are required.
 
Bendoc in snowMargaret first developed an interest in Dexter cattle after reading a reference made to them by Bill Mollison in a Permaculture magazine in about 1980. Ten years later interest was renewed, instigated by a conversation with friends. After further research, Graham and Margaret purchased two Grade 1 cows and became members of what was then called the Australasian Dexter Association. Their names are on the Welcome New Members list in the association bulletin of December 1990. Three Grade 2 cows were bought in 1991, with unregistered ‘commercial’ crossbred calves being bred for the next few years. Finally, in 1994, with the purchase of the dun bull, Bindalee Celtic Chieftain, Graham and Margaret became seriously dedicated and obsessed breeders.
 
Our cowgirls, Caitlin and Maddy: The future of Wagra.   Margaret’s family grew up surrounded by livestock; horses, house-cows, goats, and poultry; so the venture into Dexter cattle was viewed as unremarkable at the time.They were all busy working hard to establish their careers and only came home for holidays; and continue to work hard balancing happy family lives and highly successful, heavily-scheduled professions and/or businesses. However, after they had children of their own, they became more aware of natural nutrition; so the family Dexters have taken on a entirely new role of importance: providing naturally grown meat, free of growth-promotant hormones, with better quality and flavour than the shop-bought alternatives. The family has now become interested and involved in all aspects of the health, well-being and breeding policies regarding the Dexter cattle herd.
 
It is the grandchildren who have truly inherited the passion; particularly Caitlin and Maddy, cousins, shown in the photo (Caitlin left, Maddy right). Caitlin, who is actually a ballet dancer and athlete, took on Agricultural Studies including Cattle Handling when she started high school. She was chosen to represent the school at the agricultural shows; and on 18 February, 2012, she won Champion YR 9 Parader and Supreme Champion School Parader at the Gundagai Show, parading an 11 m/o commercial cross-bred steer. Still to come are the Canberra, Tumut and Adelong Shows. Maddy, for most of her life, had big plans for her parents to move house back to Bendoc in her desperate need to be close to the Dexters. In her ‘other life’, at home with her parents, she is a horse-rider and spends much of her time at the local indoor riding school, or going on long rides with her friends on the outskirts of Canberra. Whatever she does, wherever she goes, she has a natural animal rapport and the calm self-confidence required for successful stock handling. Much of the yard work on Wagra is held over for school holidays when the girls are available to give a willing hand.