Sydney Seminar and get together March 2015.
By Len Vanderlinde
A fellow fancier once said to me; “one day we will electronically clock-in our birds; that the clocking-in time will be automatically relayed to a central point and the result produced without the need for any of us to go down to the clubhouse anymore” (and I guess that option has arrived in some places). My response was; “that will be the day I give pigeon racing away”! “But why!” he exclaimed? Because I said if I can no longer go to the club to socialise and to congratulate the winners, to listen to the many stories of why someone or another could get there bird in, to have drink and laugh with fellow fanciers who understand what pigeon racing is all about, then for me there is nothing left.
We don’t have enough socialising in this sport, not nearly enough opportunities to get together and share our thoughts on pigeon racing with people who understand what we are talking about!
This is why I made the effort to travel down from Brisbane to attend the annual Pigeon Seminar and social weekend put on by Anthony Agius, Graham Aston (although Graham had a break this year) and friends in Sydney. This event, which has been run for the last few years, is a great opportunity to meet other fanciers; to listen to speakers on a number of different pigeon related topics, to attend a loft tour and checkout the lofts of some of Australia’s best fanciers.
I arrived in Sydney and on Friday afternoon we drove to the Moorebank Tavern to meet Jason Stig for lunch. After which we followed Jason to his residence to collect the youngster he was donating to the auction that is always held in conjunction with the seminar. Jason’s race lofts and his birds looked a picture. Unfortunately he and a number of others fanciers could not make the seminar due to a prior wedding engagement, so we headed off with Jason’s youngster back to the Eastern suburbs to get ready for the seminar.
Friday night and we all piled into the St George RSL for the seminar. The room was a little cramped until Anthony arrived and sorted out the opening of another section, we spread out and the auctions birds were setup in their crates. Out came the Chinese food, beautifully freshly cooked and it was delicious, although some of the bigger eaters could have done with a little more, the quality was first class.
The first speaker was Paul Gibbs from the Central Cumberland Federation, who gave us a run down on the Louis van Loon pigeons and their contribution to the sport here in Australia. A lot of research must have been required to gather all the information that Paul presented on the night.
Stephen Saywell from the South Coast Federation followed with a well presented talk on racing pigeons, their conformation, eye signs and some very interesting thoughts on fast and slow wings and how to identify these.
The auction followed, with Jason Stig’s Hereman Ceusters/Staf van Reet youngster fetching $400, as did another Hereman Ceusters from the Ponderosa Stud. In all about $1,400 was collected for the auction birds which was a little down on what was expected but it helps to pay for the function.
Sunday saw a hired bus collect various fanciers for a loft tour out west Sydney. As usual Anthony did all the running around for us, firstly collecting the hire bus, which it itself turned out to be a problem, with the hire company changing their location recently. Some desperate phones were made; given that it was early Sunday morning and nothing else was open. Finally the hire company’s new location was found and the bus was on its way. Anthony did the driving while Syd Gard sat in the passenger seat, no doubt distracting our driver along the way!
There were some interesting conversations in the bus on many different racing pigeon topics, with champion fancier Graham Davison willingly providing antidotes from his vast wealth of experience at winning pigeon races over many years. Everything from feeding to loft design and how long pigeons can survive without food and water, when inadvertently left in crates were discussed.
Our first stop was at the home of Daniel Graham, where we collected another couple of fanciers for the loft tour.
After that it was on to the home of Warren Schofield.
We had quite a bit of trouble finding the place and crisscrossed the same roads a number of times before a couple of phone calls got us there.
I think he lives in Rooty Hill or Mt Druitt, it was hard to tell with all the backwards and forwards we did.
Warren showed us his newly constructed race loft, which certainly looked the part and its occupants also looked in fine fettle.
Warren and his wife put on a tremendous morning tea for all us and we couldn’t thank them enough for their wonderful hospitality. Very nice people. Ray Reid made a small presentation to show our gratitude before we piled back into the bus and headed off in the direction of the Sienkiewicz residence. Already some of us had a thirst up and couple of coldies went down well on the way!
It was quite some distance to the Sienkiewicz home but this time we had no trouble finding the place and what a residence it is! Set on acres of manicured grounds with a beautiful mansion of a house with matching lofts, the Sienkiewicz family are certainly not short of funds.
Luke Sienkiewicz met us and showed us around the family property.
A number of their champion stock birds were handled and a very good lot they were, with a mixture of the old Australia bloodlines and some of the newer imports as well.
Very favourable reports from all that handled them but really hard to remember each and every one of them, given the sheer number of top stock they
Finally it was back into the bus for trip back to Daniel Graham’s home for a late BBQ lunch. I don’t think I was the only one nodding-off after a couple of more coldies out of the mandatory esky along the way.
Back at Daniels and he couldn’t help himself with his hospitality, I don’t think we could have eaten all the food he cooked even if we had the South’s NRL Rabbitos team with us.
Sausages, spicy rissoles (my favourite) and at least half a cow’s worth of steak, I reckon!
Daniel has built a new race loft and it was being painted by a fellow fancier when we arrived. The loft is over-hung by a huge Jacaranda tree. Daniel is keen to get rid of the tree, but as Amanda, his wife said to their young daughter Ivy, if it’s a choice between the tree and Daddy, the tree stays! I think I saw Ivy nodding as she swung backwards and forwards on the home made swing that hangs from the very tree in question! You’ve got a problem there Danny Boy!
A couple of more beers, a good look through Daniel’s new race loft and it was time to head off, the time really does fly when you are having fun.
We said our goodbyes to some of the group and climbed aboard the bus for the trip back to the Eastern suburbs and Syd Gard’s loft.
A couple of the guys stayed for a while, not wanting the day to end, but all headed off eventually. Syd and I enjoyed a couple more beers while watching the cricket before heading off to a well-earned sleep and back to Brisbane for me the next day.
A very enjoyable weekend, many thanks to all those who helped to organise the event, please keep it going!
In the words of Arnie “I’ll be back”.