BRENDON and Kate Martelli have seen plenty of the world – but they still reckon Meeniyan might be the best place they have lived and worked.
Having grown up on a New Zealand dairy farm, Brendon was far from home when he met Melbourne girl Kate in a London pub.
The young couple have since married, had two children and are successfully dairy farming in Meeniyan – the Legendairy Capital of Gippsland for 2015.
Coming from outside the tight-knit community, Brendon and Kate are well placed to judge the friendly spirit of the highly productive dairy town.
“The community in Meeniyan is amazing – it’s a brilliant place. Everyone is so friendly,” Brendon said.
Since arriving in the town in 2008, the young farmers have become involved in the local primary school, where seven year-old Holly is a student and at the kindergarten where Archie, four, is enrolled.
“Now we’re at kinder and school it’s an even stronger community link,” Kate said.
The 37 year-old neo-natal intensive care nurse grew up in Melbourne’s sprawling south eastern suburbs, which are only a 90 minute drive, but a world away from the small dairying community.
Kate said the little things like having to pick up the mail at the post office and having friendly neighbours has helped bring them closer to the local community.
“We found great neighbours; we just knocked on their door to say hi. They have kids about the same age as ours, so they can just drop by when they want. They’ve been great,” she said.
The couple share-farms with Brendon’s parents, who moved back to New Zealand a couple of years ago.
With 140 hectares to farm and 310 cows to look after, Brendon was appreciative of all the help he could get as he developed his farming skills.
Luckily for him, there are plenty of locals willing to share their knowledge and experience with their fellow dairy farmers.
“We have good discussion groups which have helped us a lot,” he said.
With the daily grind of big city life still a clear memory, Brendon and Kate couldn’t be happier with where they have ended up.
“Mum and Dad looked at a lot of farms and we were pretty pleased they ended up around this area,” Brendon said.
“It’s a great dairy area with a huge number of dairy farms… although I reckon with the quality of the land around here, there should be even more.”
The Legendairy spirit of Meeniyan can be seen through its many community organisations, including its kindergarten and school, numerous sporting and recreational clubs, a strong fire brigade, active church groups and much more.
Dairy Australia’s Legendairy Capital program celebrates and showcases Australia’s most vibrant, proud and resilient regional communities.
Meeniyan was awarded $2500 in Legendairy Capital funding this year to help build a community space where people can get off their farms and connect with family and friends.
To read more Legendairy stories, head to legendairy.com.au