The power to persuade politicians and the public
IN 23 years in Australia, Bruce Knowles has been many things – man of the land, fighter for a fairer go, battler against the political and bureaucratic elites and a fierce advocate for his industry – but one thing stands out about the Tyrendarra dairy farmer.
That’s his no-nonsense approach to the task at hand.
It’s been evident in a lot of his battles – the (still ongoing) fight for three-phase power, trying to better the lot of dairy farmers, his views on the industry itself.
So where did it all start?
Mr Knowles was born and raised in the Taranaki province in the North Island of New Zealand – a dairying heartland and the origin of Portlandraised AFL star Rowan Marshall, whose family also moved to south west Victoria to continue in the industry.
Mr Knowles farmed about 500 acres (200ha) milking about 400 cows in the shadows of the 2500m Mount Taranaki.
But along with late wife Lyn and their four primary school-aged children – son Kerry, daughter Sophie and twins Martin and Katie – they decided to make the move to Australia in 1996.
“The place I had was good but the opportunities where I was to expand were limited,” Mr Knowles said.
He had a possible opportunity to head to the South Island of New Zealand, where dairy farming opportunities were beginning to open up, but was swayed by a travelling roadshow from Victoria.
“They were promoting the dairy scene here and I went along to it,” Mr Knowles said.
“That’s where I got interested, put the farm on the market and came over here.”