Home' The Great Southern Star : June 21st 2016 Contents “THE STAR” Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - PAGE 43
MAX Jelbart had many adventures in
life but always it came back to farm and
Born on April 13, 1949 to Lloyd and Dorothea,
Max’s sister Trish Jelbart recalled him being an easy
going child with boundless energy he dedicated to farm
By age three he fed 20 calves by himself, built a
table at five and at seven made breakfast for his siblings
while the cows were being milked.
He was often sent alone on horseback to 400 acres
of bush block three miles away to round up the cattle
with his younger brother, Donald.
Max was sent to school in the Melbourne suburb of
Ivanhoe and only recently revealed he had no idea what
was going on for the whole year, the experience being
so different to his previous norm.
He returned to the farm and attended Tarwin Lower
State School for four years before returning to the city,
attending Mentone Grammar for two years, boarding in
a house nearby, and finally Scotch College, where he
excelled at rowing. He leapt from the sevenths to the
firsts, winning the Head of the River in 1966, culminat-
ing in being the captain of boats and winning in the
Despite attending top academic schools, outdoor
life was always for Max. He bought a truck before he
finished school and started a hay-carting business over
the summer with some rowing friends and his siblings.
He returned to the farm to live and worked on
neighbouring farms while expanding his trucking busi-
ness to two trucks.
After two years on the farm, Max seized an oppor-
tunity to operate big machinery in the Dillingham mines
in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, in 1970, where he
helped slice the top off a mountain to mine copper.
After a few months at home he was then off to Na-
mibia in Africa to the diamond mines to drive more
machinery. This led to a 4000 mile journey north up
through Africa from Cape Town and then helping drive
a Land Rover 4000 miles south again.
He had become a traveller and went on to Europe to
work in a London pub and for Contiki Travel.
In 1973, Max returned to the farm and leased land,
borrowed money and bought cattle for $160/head just
before the beef prices crashed in 1974. He sold these
cattle for $70/head.
Owing lots of money and not wanting to be de-
clared bankrupt, he headed to Melbourne in late 1974
to live at Ivanhoe and found a job at the Southern Cross
Hotel as a waiter.
He supplemented this with modelling work and
fulltime shift work on the underground tunnel. The
company offered to make him supervisor of the shift
after just a few weeks of working there.
His mind soon turned to real estate where he could
work many hours at the one job and get regular sleep.
Max started in Blackburn and soon moved to work
with Phillip Wooldridge in Doubledays, while restoring
the farm he was leasing back to a dairy farm.
At the same time, he started going to night school to
gain his real estate licence.
Max met Barbara in 1975 and they married in 1979.
They finally decided to work the dairy themselves and
so moved into the fibro shack that preceded their future
house at Leongatha South when their son Will was a
baby. Sons George and Tim followed.
Max rose at 4.30am and worked through into the
night seven days per week. After buying the farm, Willy
Willy, in 1984, he and Barbe’s father Frank converted
the milking shed to a herringbone and did the first reno-
vation on the house.
Through hard work, good management and inno-
vative farming practices, the farm grew to become the
beautiful property it is today, with a rotary dairy built
in 1993, inspired by Max’s overseas Nuffield scholar-
ship in 1991.
He had repeated Year 12 but turned out to be wise,
intelligent, humble, successful and hard working.
“Dad was famous for his 10-minute power naps,”
Will said at Max’s funeral.
“We have some amazing photos of Dad sleeping at
various locations. One night at McCartins Hotel in Le-
ongatha we had had dinner and Dad decided to lie on
the floor of the bistro to have a 10-minute power nap.”
“A few minutes later one of the wait staff saw him
lying on the floor, panicked went and got another staff
member, and I’m pretty sure she was trying to start
CPR on him when he woke up. We sat there in fits of
Max was involved in farm discussion and working
groups, was a voluntary director at Ellinbank Research
Farm and involved with Landcare and the Grasslands
He supported the Victorian Department of Agricul-
ture Target 10 program and hosted visiting farmers, stu-
dents and Department of Agriculture staff on his farm.
Many considered his pasture development and sus-
tainability of his farm outstanding, with field days at-
tracting many farmers.
His environmental management was revolution-
ary with native vegetation planted along strategically
planned fence lines to enhance the environment.
After being awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholar-
ship in 1991, Max studied the dairy industry in USA,
Canada, United Kingdom and Western Europe, looking
at conservation, and the use of silage and concentrate
feeding to enhance the efficient use of this feed and
Max was involved in the Pound Creek CFA, Leon-
gatha Football Club and Tarwin Lower Tennis Club, as
well as The Cardinal Club, supporting the Scotch Col-
lege Boat Club. His support enabled George to repre-
sent Australia in rowing at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
Max has served on numerous agricultural and
knowledge sharing organisations. Since 1991 he has
been involved with the Nuffield Farmers Scholars
organisation on the executive committee as a board
member and treasurer. He was also an inaugural board
member in 1999.
He was a board member of the Australian Dairy
Farmers organisation for five years, and served seven
years on the board for the United Dairy Farmers of
Max also acted as a board advisor to Warakiri Dair-
ies, which provides specialist investment vehicles to
meet the needs of charitable, professional and institu-
tional investors across Australia.
He helped advance agriculture as a director of the
prestigious Marcus Oldham College since 1997, and
hosted autumn tours for its students when required.
In 2005 he and Barbe bought Caldermeade Farm
and Café, the tourist attraction and dairy farm at Cal-
dermeade, which was run by Will and Sarah Jelbart for
Since 2012, Max served as a director of Australia’s
largest dairy cooperative, Murray Goulburn, until his
resignation in May due to ill health.
MG chairman Phil Tracy described Max as “a bold
and courageous leader”, and an “absolute team player.
His collegiate and conciliatory nature made him the
perfect board member”.
When Max’s wife Barbe passed away from cancer
in February 2014, he was rocked by this loss but re-
ceived much support from family and friends during
this time. Later the same year he was also diagnosed
He received an Order of Australia Medal during the
Australia Day honours this year in recognition of his
contribution to dairying and the community.
His battle with cancer ended on May 27, 2016. He
will be missed by many.
Family man: the late Max Jelbart (second from left) with his sons, from left, George, Tim
Max shaped the dairy industry he loved
THE last Snake Island cat-
tle muster was completed
recently, with just over 20
cattle brought back to the
mainland after grazing on
Twenty two horse riders,
including Snake Island Cattle-
men’s Association members, lo-
cal riders and some riders from
as far away as Echuca, took part
in the muster.
They left Port Welshpool at
5.15am on Monday, June 6 to
cross the channel at low tide,
which takes around 90 minutes.
The group returned with the
cattle at around 11.30am on
Wednesday, June 8.
The pilot, or leader of the
ride was Stephen MacKenzie
As this was the last muster for
the year, there are no cattle left
on the island at the moment. The
cattle will return to Snake Island
in the summer months.
For more than 100 years, lo-
cal farmers have been grazing
cattle on Snake Island. Cattle
are driven to the island across
the tidal shallows for both sum-
mer and winter agistment.
In 1909, the dairy farmers
in the hill districts above Toora
and Welshpool were granted
access to winter agistment on
Snake Island by the Victorian
The Snake Island Cattle-
men’s Association was formed
to administer the agistment of
cattle and in conjunction with
Parks Victoria as the principle
land manager, continue these
traditional practises to ensure
the sustainable management of
A bailiff was appointed to
oversee the scheme and collect
a fee from each farmer, while
the farmers chose a pilot who
took responsibility for safely
guiding the cows on the sea
crossing to the island.
The use of the term pilot
was linked to the dangers of the
crossing, where sand-worms
made all but a narrow path like
quicksand for the cows.
Right, Great experience:
16 year old Skye LeBlanc
from Robertsons Beach and
her horse Skip on her second
trip over to Snake Island on
horseback. This photo was
taken on Little Snake Island
on the way to huts looking
back towards the mainland.
Island cattlemen round up for the last time
A FULL list of our term three program
can be found on our website milpara-
Our Mandala Art course starts on July 26 and
runs for six weeks. The word mandala is an an-
cient Sanskrit word that means both circle and
Creating a symmetrical or organic design
within a circle can be a meditative process and
creates a sense of calm and focus. Mandalas are
fun to create and beautiful to look at. Mandala art
can be used for self-expression, spiritual trans-
formation, and healing and personal growth.
Enjoy our Meditation for Beginners Course
over five weeks, commencing July 21. Learn tra-
ditional and practical techniques of how to bring
meditation into your daily life to create mindful-
ness, relaxation, reduce stress, improve sleep and
find inner balance. Host Louise can be contacted
for further information on 0433 288 847.
During the school holidays our Centrelink
Agent will still be available on Tuesdays be-
tween 10 am and 2pm and Wednesdays and
Thursdays between 10 am and 1pm.
Agency staff are available for lodging forms,
helping with application forms, certifying docu-
ments and general assistance which includes
faxing, phoning and use of internet for Cen-
Milpara will open on Monday, July 11.
Coming home: the last muster of cattle off Snake Island was completed recently, with the
help of 22 horse riders.
Milpara Community House news
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