The end of an era: Colly Farms (Twynam) goes under the hammer.

Hi, everyone.

This is not even close to my usual blog. This is me farewelling the end of an era. It is a somewhat nostalgiac moment for me and many others, too.

Coming is a series of images from an auction of the late and famous Colly Farms Pty Ltd. If you know what that means, you will definitely read on. If not - you might be bored!?

For those who aren’t aware - I grew up at this place featured here: one of Australia’s most prestigious and extraordinarily advanced cotton producing enterprises. Sadly the shots are only of the Auction Day and not of the place in its former glory.

It has changed names a few times; and is now going to be run by a local fellow called Billy Zell. But before that Twynam owned it. And before that, Colly Farms owned it. Those were the boom times.

It was, as mentioned, the biggest cotton enterprise of its time (and is since) and was something awesome to behold.

And my very beloved Dad, Bucky Rowlands, gave 20 odd years of his life and his blood, sweat, and tears to this farm — as the ‘big boss’ when it was known affectionately as just “Colly.”

I recall my father was pretty much always up at around three am, and off to do ‘the rounds’ across this mammoth series of properties, and I missed him terribly in my childhood.

I often wonder whether the powers-that-be had any clue as to just how much of this amazing man they got, cheap at half the price. I doubt it. I also wonder if they realise that a bloke from Africa who arrived in his mid-thirties with a family and $200 -who started off as a labourer - would ever achieve what he did. I doubt that too.

Proud? Yes I am. My Dad is a legend.

The story is: after Colly was purchased by Twynam, that in increments, it was sold out and sold off. And for those of us who knew nothing but this way of life, there were mixed feelings. Stupidly emotional? Possibly. Happy to admit it!

It was where I spent the longest period of my life. And that is saying something for a Gypsy.

It all went down in a very remote area near the now almost-barren town of Collarenebri. Where the cotton industry was sent to dizzy heights and fortunes were made and lost. Where dozens of families formed a close-knit community. Where the workmen’s quarters were packed to maximum capacity, and where social tennis and other shennanigans ran at least twice a week. Where marriages were made, and lost, and where kids were born. Where I got horribly drunk for the first time (sorry, Dad) and where I rode one horse (and the other four followed) to the lagoon every day. Where I honestly have some precious memories. It was my childhood.

And so it was with VERY mixed feelings that I ventured to the Pickles Auction last Saturday to see everything sold up.

I shall now steer away from my own emotional take on things and just share some images of the day that did, in fact, see the end of an almighty era.

It began with a stunning sunrise. My husband, who now looks after the gin site nearby, told me I should definitely get this shot. Bless him.

Things kicked off with an auction of the old Colly homestead furniture and items. Being a bit new to the auctioneering process I was totally spastic and missed out on everything. DANG! Ladies I knew said they were beside themselves with the bargains on offer. Double Dang.

 Back out to the old machinery pads - and the crowds amassed.

Here I am with the Marshall kids. Their Dad, Dougie, was my earliest childhood mate, from Mallawa. These kids are seriously awesome.

 More crowds gathering.

 Alternative view, in black and white. 

 Timbo chats with Megs Marshall about the prices.

 And little Mad features :-)

 Looking a the tractors on offer here.

 Talking shop.

Jimmy Wiggan (left) from Pickles Auctions put in a HUGE day. Apparently of the 900 lots on offer, most things sold. The lads were still there at 8.30pm sorting things into vehicles.

When I asked him whether he’d earned a beer, he answered that they were too tired for even that. Don’t doubt it. 

 In the Twynam ute. Selling.

 An arty angle.

 Stew Denston has a look.

 My husband Tim chats with Stew about the state of affairs.

 Myself, perched on an old disc plough. Had to fake a smile!

 Tim Whan and Dougie Marshall discuss values.

 And again.

 And again. 

 Some strangers in the crowd early in the day’s proceedings.

 An old fellow looks on.

 More of the crowd.

 Dougie Marshall, black and white.

 I am not sure but I THINK this is ‘Streaker’- Dad’s old workshop foreman ??

 Another great old cowboy.

 The big green letters that spelled the end. 

And that, my friends, is a very short trip down memory lane.

Sorry if this one’s a little more emotional than usual - - but as you might guess, it’s pretty close to my heart - - and that of many others.

I am just so thankful that a local bloke is taking this giant on.

At least it’s not the Chinese.

Yours truly,

Shanna Rowlands

(aka Shanna Bananna) XXX


''Shanna K Whan is a Narrabri-based photographer, and the pioneer behind documentary-styled imagery who's been telling stories through her lens and her heart for a decade. Her passion is for rural people, their children, and their pets. Her work has been published internationally and nationally. Long ago she established herself as the industry leader and marker for this natural style, and her business thrives on word-of-mouth and reputation alone for her ability to immerse herself into the lives of those she photographs and falls in love with along the way.'' - for more about Shan, visit