Robyn grew up on a sheep and cattle property “Ashgrove” in the midlands of Tasmania, and evidently could ride before she could walk! Ponies, pony club, stock work, rodeos, shows, one day events and competitions were all a very important part of her early years. In early 70’s her mother started a stock horse and thoroughbred stud so Robyn grew up assisting with foalings, matings and yearling preparation. She also loved sheep and cattle and her favourite job was assisting her Dad with mustering, and tending to the ewes at lambing time.
Robyn was educated at boarding school in Hobart but travelled home most weekends to be with her animals and ride could ride her horses and assist on the farm. After school she had a year working on the family farm, and spent 3 months on the ‘show circuit’ in Victoria. She then attended University in Launceston and graduated with a Bachelor of Education. In 1983 Robyn married Denis Whishaw and quickly became part of the Armidale Team involved with running the farm and horse stud. It didn’t take long for them to produce their own Armidale colt – David, soon after followed by Camilla and William. Robyn has always taken great pride in caring for the large garden and grounds at Armidale. In her spare time she enjoys watching Armidale bred horses win races, listening to music, reading and writing poetry, acting in local theatre productions, bushwalking with friends, taking photographs of animals, people and nature, and drinking the odd sav blanc.
“Denis and I had the most wonderful marriage and partnership – we shared common interests and values, and spent many many happy years working on Armidale together. Our ultimate aim was to breed a Group 1 winner – and we have gone very close with both Weasel Will and Lady Lynette placing 2nd at Group 1 level – I continue to strive towards this goal. We also worked hard to improve Armidale and hoped that we would leave the farm a better place for the next generation of Whishaw farmers! To this end we have planted many trees, improved drainage, removed willows from the rivers and fenced off banks, worked on halting some of the more severe river erosion and worked on eradicating weeds and improving pastures. We always saw ourselves as ‘caretakers’ of Armidale, and felt a strong responsibility to farm in a sustainable manner.
Breeding superior horses is one of our main passions and I think we have been very successful in this area. At the end of May Armidale was placed 9th nationally as a leading breeder of stakeswinners in Australia, ahead of many much larger studs. This is an achievement of which we are very proud – I think it indicates that we must be on the ‘right track’ rearing our horses.
A farm is only as good as the people who work on it, and here at Armidale we are working hard to employ people who are just as passionate as we are about the land and the animals, and who strive to do their very best all the time. It’s all about team work and enjoying what you do – this is very important to us. We want our staff to love their work, to take pride in our achievements and to enjoy “Armidale’ as much as we do.”
- Farm Manager
David was born in 1984 and he too was riding around on Robyn’s old stock horse Bartie, well before he could walk! David attended Hagley Farm School until Grade 6 when he started at Scotch Oakburn College.
David worked for 2 years post school at Becks Home Hardware and also assisted his parents on Armidale in any spare time. He then went to the University of Tasmania and completed a four year Bachelor Of Agricultural Science. David has been home at Armidale working since completing his studies.
David has always been passionate about agriculture and farming and has worked hard to improve pasture quality and productivity at Armidale. The new irrigation systems in place at Armidale are the result of David’s research and enthusiasm. He is also passionate about racing and breeding superior horses, and spent 3 weeks working for Newhaven Park Stud at the 2008 Magic Millions Yearling Sale to further his knowledge in this area.
With 10 years plus of foaling experience behind him already David is the one the night watch girls ring when assistance is needed with a difficult foaling. He’s a veteran at turning upside down foals, and is pretty good at correcting most mal presentations – in fact our vet Michael Morris knows that if David and Jen can’t fix it, then he’s got his work cut out!
Michael is the Armidale Veterinarian and visits the farm at least 3 times a week to assist in caring for the health and well being of our horses. Michael is a Victorian by birth but has been resident in Tasmania for over 30 years. He lives in nearby Longford from where he runs the Longford Equine Clinic with fellow equine vet Chris Cornes. Michael too is passionate about horses, and here at Armidale we feel very fortunate indeed to have such an experienced and competent vet close at hand. When we have a difficult foaling in the middle of the night it is wonderfully comforting to know that help from the ‘Doc’ is only 10 minutes away. On his visits to Armidale . Michael is always accompanied by his beloved dog JESS. In his spare time he enjoys exploring Tasmania’s wilderness on his motor bike or sailing around the island in his yacht.
- Yard Manager
Harriet is 21 and grew up riding ponies and attending the West Tamar Pony Club. Harriet always dreamed of working with horses and in Grade 10 she spent a week at Armidale Stud on work experience. She came back the next school holidays to assist with yearling preparation and quickly become ‘hooked’ on stud life. Harriet started at Armidale full time in 2010, and she is just about to complete her Certificate 3 in Agriculture – specializing in horses (surprise, surprise!!).
Harry has a wonderfully cheerful disposition and a real ‘can do’ attitude to her work. She seems to enjoy all aspects of stud work, but really thrives on preparing yearlings for sale. Here she is pictured with one of her favourites from the 2011 Draft – A Tough Speed filly from the mare Almighty Buzz – a full sister to two year old winner last season BUZZING ALONG. Harry’s gorgeous smile says it all!
Harry likes to keep fit and runs regularly and also enjoys Zumba and has recently become a qualified konga instructor! This year Harry completed the Burnie 10 – well done Harry.
Barry grew up locally and has been surrounded by horses for as long as he can remember. Over the years he has worked for both George Blacker, and then son John as foreman. In more recent years Barry and his capable wife Kylie have run their own breaking and training establishment. One of their more successful horses has been the son of TOUGH SPEED – LYELL which they trained for Alan Howard and Debbie Thompson.
- Farm Mechanic
Charles is renowned for his love of Toyota Landcruisers and enjoys nothing more than exploring the wilderness in his four wheel drive. The steeper and rougher the tracks the bigger the grin on Charlie’s face! Charles is based at the Armidale workshop and is our Mr Fix it. However he can easily turn his hand to any farm job including ploughing and moving irrigators. Charles is a fitness fanatic and covers many kilometres each week running and keeping fit. He has represented the State on many occassions, and has even run in the Three Peaks Race. Charles has recently announced his engagement to local Hagley lass Helene Mitchelson and they have purchased a house and land on the outskirts of Launceston. Helene has completed a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at Tas Uni and is going to work for Rabo Bank in Launceston in 2012.
- Night Watch
Jen has been doing Night Watch (amongst other things!) for well over 30 years so she would have to rate as one of the most experienced Night Watch supervisors in Australia! Each year Jen looks forward to August and delivering foals in the wee small hours of the morning.
Jen has been totally ‘horse mad’ for as long as she can remember clambering onto any thing with four legs that neighed from her earliest years whenever and wherever she could! Jen’s family have told us that Jen’s first (second and third ) words were HORSE! Surprise, surprise.
After completing her HSC Jen took off to the big island and ended up at Muresk Agricultural College in Western Australis, studying (you guessed it) Equine Management. She graduated with a Diploma in Equine Stud management and spent several years working for interstate studs including Rockleer Stud at Bathurst, Glen Appin in Victoria and Hagley House in Tasmania. During this time Jen prepared yearlings for most of the major Australian Sales including Sydney Easter and the Magic Milliions Gold Coast sale.
Jen has been working at Armidale for 30 years this year! (think a party is called for, or at least a couple of bottles of really good Sav Blanc!).
Jen keeps threatening to ‘retire’ from the rigours of night watch, but each July she enquires as to when our first foals are due, and when she will be starting night watch! Good on you Jen – you really are a star and a wonderful example of someone who is truly passionate about her work. Each year Jen takes the time to teach other young horse enthusiasts about delivering foals at Armidale.
Jen has a small band of 6 broodmares from which she breeds, and her Tassie Sale Draft yearlings are always immaculately presented. Just recently Jen bred a Malaysian Group 1 winner – a wonderful achievement!
- Night Watch
Di is a competent horsewoman who started her career riding show jumpers then turned her hand to training a small team of horses from her property on Pateena Road. Di has had good success on the racetrack and also breeding. She is noted for her love of GREYS!
Di (in her spare time!) runs REMUS RUGS – and makes top quality rugs for many of the studs and trainers in Tasmania. You won’t find a better fitting rug than a REMUS RUG – and Di only uses top quality fabrics. All the Armidale yearlings and stallions wear REMUS RUGS.
Di is an important part of the Night Watch team – allowing Jen a couple of nights sleep to recharge her batteries. Di has been doing night watch at Armidale for well over 10 years and enjoys assisting with the delivery of our future racetrack stars!
- Night Watch – Yearlings
Bek is new to Tassie, having been lured to the Apple Isle by a certain Deloraine Dairy Farmer! Bek completed a University Degree in Victoria before heading south with her gorgeous border collie puppy and 2 horses. Bek’s Dad is a farrier and her step mother is a Horse Vet so its hardly surprising that she’s a competent rider having represented Australia at Junior Level Show Jumping competitions.
Genevieve has come to Armidale over Summer to assist with yearling preparation. Genevieve comes from a very horsey family with her father Larry a trainer and her mum Marion a most capable horsewoman. Genevieve has a great sense of humour and a natural way with horses. She is proving to be a real asset to our team.
Lauren has grown up with horses and completed a Degree in Equine Science and Management when she left school. She is a quiet, thoughtful young lady who obviously loves her animals and especially horses. We are really enjoying having Lauren at Armidale.
This is Nick’s third Armidale yearling prep – he seems to keep coming back for more ! Nick is a big strong boy (6 foot 4 inches!) with an unflappable disposition and a real way with horses. Nick can turn his hand to just about anything but seems to be really enjoying spending some time working with the young thoroughbreds. He’s even bought his three year old stock horse to Armidale to spend any ‘spare’ time he has educating him.