In livestock pavilions around the Sydney Royal Easter Show, rows of box-like structures or ‘lockers’ sit next to each exhibitor area, sleeping farming families of up to three in a 2-by-3 metre space.
One farmer living adjacent to his dry heifers in the Cattle Pavilion lockers this year is ex-NRL player, Ian Hindmarsh. Hindmarsh now farms cattle in Cowra.
“It’s just a box,” said Hindmarsh. “You can put a swag in there, maybe a fridge to keep something cold.”
After dark when the crowds go home, livestock pavilions become farming fraternities. “It’s definitely not rowdy because everyone’s up early and reasonably tired, but everyone will have a few drinks and socialise, and it’s just good to meet other farmers and people you haven’t seen for a few months,” says Hindmarsh.
David Mayo, general manager of artificial breeding company, Semex, rises before dawn. “We’ve got two milk cows so we’re out of bed at 4:30, feed them, and then take them to the dairy to be milked,” says Mayo.
David describes locker life as basic but tolerable. “It’s not a luxury apartment. I’m sleeping on a stretcher with a sleeping bag,” he said. “You think it’s quiet until you start laying down in bed and you hear the street sweepers and the machines and the trucks driving past.”
“Some people have a full-on setup, they bring their little camper wardrobes…but I’ve just got all my stuff spread out across the floor,” says Alpaca Pavilion locker-liver, Katie Armson-Graham. “You’ve got the dairy cattle up at some ungodly hour of the morning, so you don’t get an awful lot of sleep, but it’s a lot of fun.”