After what has been the toughest two years of their lives, NSW South Coast farmers had something to smile about this week after a near clean sweep of the Sydney Royal Easter Show prize pool.
It was an emotional result for the Salway family, of Cobargo, who tragically lost two family members in the black summer fires.
Dylan Salway made the trek up to show the bull Sir Robert in honour of his late grandfather who died alongside his uncle Patrick in the fires.
Proud Dad Tim Salway said Dylan was passionate about helping with 'Grandma's stud of cattle'.
"With Dad passing away it's something he wants to do, he loves it - we're very proud of what he's done, it's a real achievement and he's just a good young fella," Tim said.
"Sir Robert was born after the fires when Pop actually died, so it's a big thing to our family this bull, it just helps us carry on his name and memory," Dylan told WIN News.
"I just wanted to fulfil Pop's dream ... just try and make him proud I reckon and Grandma as well."
"I finished second with Sir Robert and we got a 2nd with Cauliflower a heifer.
"I was pretty stoked to be honest and I think Grandma was pretty happy as well."
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Aaron and Emma Salway also shared in the success, taking out the Illawarra Champion with Wilgo Empire Ruth, while their jersey heifer Queenie came home with second in her class.
Aaron said it was the first time in more than a decade they had showed at Royal Sydney, but he took two cows both he and his late father had been eyeing off as future winners.
"It's a big thing for us, my father just adored this Illawarra cow - we knew she would be in form and wanted to do it for him," Aaron said.
"Dad and myself, we knew they'd be good showers in the future and we've sort of fulfilled that dream I suppose."
Aaron said fellow Cobargo farmer Charles Lucas had an intermediate Illawarra champion finish and along with young Dylan's results and those of the Allens it was a win all-over for Cobargo.
"Well and truly this was a big thing for Cobargo, it will hopefully lift the spirits of people a bit."
More than a year on from the Black Summer fires, Aaron said there was still fencing work to be done, but the Royal Sydney results were a clear indicator that Bega Valley dairy farms were bouncing back to show-topping results.
"We've still got fencing to do, but we made a point of going to the show to take our minds off it and the results are absolutely a good indicator of the work going in," he said.
"We've done it for Cobargo to lift spirits and we're just trying to move forward and move on."
The success was shared by another prominent Cobargo dairy family with Tony and Rocky Allen securing Champion Cow with Galba DB Janette entered for her first showing.
Janette was the Senior champion and best senior udder of the show out of a strong field of 42 Holsteins - which also placed her as Champion Cow for the show.
The win came on the back of Janette's posture and 'sensational udder' judge Matt Templeton said, making her a 'clear winner'.
For Rocky Allen, Janette's result comes after a 16-year wait to reclaim the champion result.
"We won champion cow back in 2005 so it's been 16 years since we tasted big success," Rocky said.
"We're a small farming community here in Cobargo and an even smaller showing group, so it's a big effort to enjoy such success over some of the biggest farming regions across all of NSW and Victoria."
He said showing was a family passion for the Allens and Sydney Royal had given them a bit of a "getaway and welcome relief" from the daily grind and challenges of the last 18 months or so.
His daughter Alexis was also named the winning Dairy Handler in her age division.
Rocky said it was also nice to chat to Sydney-siders who were eager to discuss the Bega Valley and ongoing recovery after fires and floods that destroyed so much in the area.
"They know the Bega Cheese brand and Cobargo because of the situation you've gone through and they really feel for us -they couldn't stop talking and it was very heart-warming," he said.
"I call them our city cousins and I just wanted to thank them as they put hands in pockets to help us through the fires and floods so the Show was also a way to say thanks for all they did for us."
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