PGA award recognises Fossil Downs legacy

23 Sep, 2015 02:00 AM
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Award sponsors Wellard Group's Giovanna (left) and Mauro Balzarini with the 2015 Rural Achievers of the Year John and Annette Henwood and Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Tony Seabrook.
Award sponsors Wellard Group's Giovanna (left) and Mauro Balzarini with the 2015 Rural Achievers of the Year John and Annette Henwood and Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Tony Seabrook.

RENOWNED northern pastoralists John and Annette Henwood have been named the Rural Achievers of the Year by the Pastoralists and Graziers Association.

The Henwoods were awarded the trophy at the PGA gala dinner at the Perth Crown Hotel last Thursday, for their contribution to the WA pastoral industry, cattle industry and the PGA.

The Henwoods have been lifelong PGA members.

Ms Henwood was the treasurer for 13 years until December and helped raise the profile of the PGA in WA.

Alongside her husband John, they have run the iconic Kimberley cattle station Fossil Downs for more than 30 years.

The station has been in Ms Henwood's family for 133 years.

The Henwoods are preparing to hand over the reins to Gina Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting, which acquired the station in July.

They will continue to run Fossil Downs until at least November, when Hancock Prospecting is expected to finalise the purchase.

"We are very honoured to have this achievement," Mr Henwood said.

"We don't think we did anything outstanding, we are pastoralists and did what we could."

The Henwoods said they would continue to support the association from the sidelines.

Mr Seabrook said the couple were selected as Rural Achievers of the Year, sponsored by Wellard Group, because they encompass the very best of the PGA, but also regional WA.

"This award has been handed out for about 30 years," Mr Seabrook said.

"It recognised the valuable contribution made by a member of the association to the rural community.

"These people are an outstanding couple, and are so deserving of this award.

"They have had a long history with the Kimberley pastoral division."

Fossil Downs started when Ms Henwood's grandfather Donald MacDonald rode from Derby in the tracks of Alexander Forrest to inspect the land and negotiated a lease in 1882.

Mr Henwood's brother William and Charles undertook the longest cattle drive in Australian history, which was about 5600km from near Goulburn, New South Wales, through the outback and across the Top End to the Kimberley.

"It has been said to me on more than one occasion that Fossil Down sets the standard of which all others are judged," Mr Seabrook said.

He said they hosted many PGA events at the station, including the PGA Centenary Ball and the Year of the Outback Ball, which raised a lot of money for the lobby group.

"During the suspension of live cattle exports in 2011, Annette was involved in organising rallies and funds for a website that supported pastoralists affected by the ban," Mr Seabrook said.

"It was fitting that John and Annette be recognised with their outstanding contributions to the WA pastoral industry, cattle industry and membership of the PGA."

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