Acting in co-operation with the Department of Agriculture, a “Better Farming Train” was organised and operated firstly in 1927 to make available to farmers and graziers the results of works carried out by the Department of Agriculture.
The train was made up of a bogie sheep wagon, 14 louvre vans, a dining car, a sleeping car, a water tank and a brake van.
The cattle wagon was altered to provide eight mangers whilst a sheep van had its upper decked removed and was divided into compartments with a passage along on side.
Twelve of the vans devoted space to pasture improvement, types of grasses, fungi and bacterial control and methods of increasing butter, cheese and cream production. In fact all aspects of dairying and agriculture were covered.
The general arrangements were similar to the “Great White Train” as regards films and general lighting, but the “Better Farming Train” had in addition a car fitted out as a lecture hall.
Seating for 36 people were provided as well as a raised platform with stove, sinks, tables and blackboards.
The train was also fitted with a wireless and lectures were broadcast throughout the State.
In addition the train included sleeping and dining for the staff and water and store cars.
The Premier stated that the Department of Agriculture making had really created an agriculture college on wheels, where lectures, instructions and advice would be absolutely free to those who wished to attend.
Expert assistance was to be given in the solution of farming problems and the use of suitable agriculture equipment. The train had a movie projector which showed pictures illustrating rural activities.
The main part of the train was designed to enable the staff to demonstrate in a practical manner as possible the best methods of growing and handling crops, of breeding, feeding and managing livestock and controlling insects and fungus diseases.
On the train the Department of Public Health furnished an exhibit and made available a lecturer on maternal and baby welfare.
Also the train contained a number of valuable and interesting exhibits and subjects, including sheep and poultry.
The object was to assist farmers and graziers to increase production and to deal satisfactorily with pests and diseases which the men on the land had to contend with.
When the Better Farming Train reached a schedule station, providing there was suitable nearby vacant land a large marquee was erected.
Here interesting lectures were given, supported with lantern slides. The train and the marquee were opened for inspection at 9.30am in the morning until 9pm at night – free for all.
There was nothing to sell. The whole purpose was a means of educating the visitors. During the visit of the train a refreshment booth was conducted at the railway station. All profits were donated to the local hospital.
The train visited Mudgee on September 19,1927, Gulgong on September 20, Dunedoo September 21, Binnaway September 22 and then moved onto Coonabarabran, Baradine and later to the Liverpool Plains to call at Premier and Spring Ridge.
Ald A E Marsh, Mayor of Mudgee, welcomed the staff of the Train to Mudgee. H C Stenning on behalf of the train crew returned thanks.
In the whole of its tours during 1927-29 the train travelled 8734 miles, visiting 146 towns.
Lecture and demonstrations to the number of 609 were given.
It was estimated that 629,146 people visited the train. The exhibits were staged by the Department of Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Dairying, Insects, Plant Diseases, Fruit Growing, Grasses and Weeds, Wool, Sheep, Cattle, Poultry, Pubications and Cinema.
Roy Cameron OAM