By Shelby Brooks

A LOT can change in a century, but not for the McNally family in Poowong.

In 1920, three brothers – Fred, Alf and Bill McNally – bought land on what is now known as McNally Road.

A century later, Fred’s son Bill and his wife Nancy are still running the farm.

The bachelor brothers arrived from Notting Hill in Melbourne to find a farm overrun with bracken fern.

Bill and Nancy McNally have lived on the McNally farm for over 50 years.

“I remember Fred saying they had been there a while before they actually found some of the fences in amongst the bracken fern,” Nancy said.

“It was a long journey for them back then and a whole new set up for them too.”

It had been cleared and farmed for a number of years before the brothers bought the land, but it had come under disrepair.

“It was quite a challenge I think,” Nancy said.

Bill has worked on the farm since he left school, and eventually he and Nancy bought the farm from Fred in 1968.

The McNally brothers ran it as a dairy, but about 20 years ago Bill and Nancy changed to beef.

“We’ve cleared up a lot and put up a lot of fencing, so we’ve worked it so we can run cattle,” Nancy said.

Bill McNally with his sisters Jean (Thorpe), Margaret (Aeschlimann) and Heather (Grant).

Nancy and Bill raised the third generation of McNallys on the farm, four sons and a daughter and will celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary later this year.

Bill and Nancy said it was Poowong’s community spirit that had kept the McNallys in Poowong all those years.

“The close-knit community and the support of friends who have been there for us whenever we have needed them has been fantastic,” Nancy said.

“And great schooling, the facilities of the local community and the friends we’ve made.”

In March, the extended McNally clan from as far as Queensland and London visited the farm for a 100-year family celebration.

“We were very fortunate to get that celebration in before this all started,” Nancy said of COVID-19.

The three original McNally brothers brought their mother to the farm for a visit, so when Nancy and Bill’s great-granddaughter visited for the family reunion, that made it six generations.

“She becomes the sixth generation of McNallys to have come into this home because when the three bachelor brothers were here, their mother came here to live for a while too,” Nancy said.

“There is so much to be thankful for in a hundred years.”

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