Dying wish saves rare breeds

National Trust interpretation and learning manager Martin Green at Nehill Brothers Farm at South Purrumbete.

SOUTH PURRUMBETE’S Jim Phillips says hard work has fulfilled his friend’s dream of showcasing the region’s farming heritage.

Mr Phillips’ neighbour Alex Nehill detailed the vision in his will, leaving his family farm to the National Trust of Australia when he died about four years ago.

The dream became a reality when Victorian Governor and National Trust patron Alex Chernov officially launched the Nehill Brothers Farm living history reserve.

The farm will feature rare breeds of farm animals, such as black pigs, sussex sheep and clydesdale horses.

But Mr Phillips, who has lived at South Purrumbete for the past 25 years and worked for 12 years as Mr Nehill’s farmhand, said his friend’s dream came as a surprise.

“Myself and my wife were probably closest to him in the end, he never mentioned the National Trust to me, and we did a lot of talking,” Mr Phillips said.

“I think it does make sense, he was very keen on the rare breeds, especially the black pigs, he wanted them to come back into use and it looks like that’s what’s happening,” he said.

“He wanted this thing built, it was supposed to be based on an education thing for young people – he wanted younger people to know how the older people did the farming: the hard way.”

National Trust of Australia’s Victorian chief executive officer Martin Purslow said the trust had made a “six-figure investment” in the site for new animal enclosures, a new roof for Mr Nehill’s house, restoration of an orchard and interpretive signs.

The signs include “quick response” codes that visitors can scan with their mobile phones to receive background information.

“Sunday will mark a significant milestone in the realisation of the Nehill family’s vision, but also our vision for our farming properties to be alive, active and intriguing,” Mr Purslow said last week.

Mr Phillips said Mr Nehill had about 100 black pigs at the farm’s peak, and a litter of 10 was now on the farm.

He has looked after the farm since Mr Nehill’s death.

“At the moment there’s five breeds, but I think they’ll increase it,” he said of the rare animals at the farm.

“The trust has done more than what we wished, we’re really pleased and hopefully it’ll get used.

“We’re pretty happy we’ve got all his wishes covered with what we’ve built.”

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