A LARGE crowd gathered at the Grampians Estate Cellar door at Great Western for the launch of The Longest Drive, written by Tom Guthrie.
"It is a good time to reflect on the Guthrie family's long history within the sheep and wool industry given that the book's release coincides with the family's 150 year celebration of Guthries running their family property 'Rich Avon' at Donald," Louise Staley said in launching the book.
"The Guthries' contribution to rural Australia went much further than their farming operations, as they were involved in agri-politics, local, state and federal parliament, wool auction houses and stud sheep."
As the local Liberal candidate for Ripon at the upcoming state election, Ms Staley noted that a former Member for Ripon was Sir Rutherford Guthrie.
The book tells the story of Tom Guthrie's great grandfather's adventures during the formative years of Australia's history, taking him and his family from agricultural pursuits in Victoria to the new frontier in the Northern Territory in the 1880s.
In 1882, 11,000 sheep left Donald bound for the remote north. Sixteen months and 3500 kilometres later, the sheep that completed the journey become the basis of a flock which some years later peaked at 70,000.
That droving journey is regarded as the longest ever sheep droving journey in Australian history and gave Mr Guthrie the title of his book.
Mr Guthrie's inspiration for writing the book was sparked after he read his great grandfather's memoirs in 2002. It provided vivid recollections of life in the early days of Melbourne, Geelong and rural Victoria, the challenges they all faced as they established their businesses in regions where towns and roads were yet to be formed, and the risks they took in making a life for them and their often large families.
"It was the early pioneers like my great grandfather who opened up and settled much of outback Australia, their legacy creating a wool industry which for the best part of 150 years was Australia's number one export industry," Mr Guthrie said.
"As the saying went 'Australia rode on the sheep's back'."
This book is a valuable historical record of a pastoral family's involvement in rural Australia.
It is available at the Grampians Estate Cellar Door or at www.grampiansestate.com.au