Brian William Brooker, ‘Main Camp’ Rouchel near Aberdeen
The Rouchel community in the Upper Hunter has lost one of it’s great characters with the passing of Brian Brooker but his legacy will live on, particularly through his Main Camp Angus and Australian Stock Horse (ASH) bloodlines, and his ability and willingness to share his astute livestock knowledge with younger people.
Brian was a truly wonderful Hunter Valley cattleman and horseman who loved nothing better than showing visitors to ‘Main Camp’ his Angus herd, attending hoof and hook competitions or if it wasn’t cattle then it was riding and training his horses and watching his children riding competitively especially on the polocrosse field.
As a McMullin family descendant (his mother was Eva Mary McMullin) Rouchel, its families, its history and environment shaped Brian’s life. He was always ready to lend a hand when it came to his local community and keen to see its history treasured and preserved.
A childhood at ‘Main Camp’ was typical of that time except Brian only had a short walk across the paddock to attend Rouchel Public School which meant he could come home for lunch or enjoy that meal with the teacher’s wife.
For high school he first went to Morpeth Boys Grammar where he spent most of his time droving for George McDonald. So a decision was made for Brian to attend Scots College in Sydney – meaning no chance of any extracurricular cattle droving activities.
After school Brian returned home to help his father Norman at ‘Main Camp’. But it wasn’t all work as he enjoyed a social whirl within the Rouchel community, tennis and the Bachelor and Spinsters Balls.
In 1956 he met his future wife Margaret at a B & S Ball in Scone. They married 1958 and were together for 58 years with all but nine of those spent at ‘Main Camp’. They had three children James, Christine and Fiona.
It was through his Angus cattle and horses that Brian met and made many friends from outside the Hunter Valley.
His father had bought the family’s first Angus in the 1920s with Rossgole, Edenglassie and Belltrees bloodlines added during the formative years of the herd.
Angus cattle at this time, were not the favour of the month like they are today, but Brian stuck with them despite this fact believing they were the breed best suited to his operation.
He also concentrated on breeding well muscled cattle when other people were chasing other attributes in their stock.
During the 1980s the NSW Department of Agriculture was conducting experiments in muscling and feeding and Main Camp breed steers went to the Trangie Research Station for feed trials.
Through these trials and other research work involving Main Camp Angus Brian developed a great friendship with the late Bill McKiernan, a local district beef cattle officer, who like him was keen to see cattle have better carcase attributes. The pair wanted people to know muscle meant more meat.
And their opinion would eventually be supported by the Department’s research and Main Camp’s great success at hoof and hook competitions including the Sydney Royal.
On the horse front Brian often loaned them to people wanting to ride in competitions no matter their level of expertise or age. A highlight of his horse breeding career was a mare ‘Main Camp Amanda’ which won best Ladies ASH at three polocrosse nationals.
In his spare time Brian bred birds, collected stamps, did a bit of knitting, completed three tapestries and was an active member of the Rouchel Uniting Church and the RFS.
Brian was a life member of the Rouchel Bushman’s Carnival Association, in 2012 when he was awarded Honorary Life Membership of the ASH Association and was a member of the Angus Society for 50 years.
He was farewelled at a funeral service held at St Phillips United Church on July 14 where the congregation not only filled the church and the churchyard but spilled onto the roadway.
He is survived by his wife Margaret and children James, Christine and Fiona.