Old Roller shows history of Riverina farming ingenuity

Published: 29 May 2018 3:24pm

Old Roller shows history of Riverina farming ingenuity -  27 June 2016

The Hepburn and Lovett Sheepskin Roller might not garner the recognition of the Sunshine harvester, but this locally-invented machine boosted crop production across the Riverina. Its story will be captured in an exciting museum project.

The Museum of the Riverina is reaching across generations with Talking Machines, a film project that fires up old machines and captures the stories of the people who used them. In rusted metal frames and once sharp blades, the memories of generations of Australian men and women who farmed an unforgiving landscape are coming to life.

Having conducted interviews and footage of the machines in action right across the Riverina area, the project now turns its attention to two important machines in the museum of the Riverina’s collection in Wagga Wagga.

Diana Lovett is the daughter of the man who invented the Sheepskin roller, and will be reunited with the machine at the Museum of the Riverina’s Botanic Gardens Site, recalling her memories of its invention and use.

The Hepburn and Lovett Sheepskin Roller was invented in Wagga Wagga in the 1950s by John Hepburn and John Lovett. A drum wrapped in sheepskin was rolled across raked earth to harvest the burrs of clover, which could then be cleaned and sewn to improve soil fertility.

Over the course of the 1950s, clover was used to increase the soil nitrogen levels across the Riverina area and to overcome the skeleton weed which had taken hold and ravaged production. Farmers reported dramatic increases in wheat yields that followed three seasons of clover growth.

Photo Opportunity: Diana Lovett and an original Hepburn and Lovett Sheepskin Roller

When: Wed June 29, 10:00 – 11:30am

Where: Museum of the Riverina, Botanic Gardens Site, Lord Baden Powell Drive Wagga Wagga.

Media Contact: Rachael Vincent, Curator, Museum of the Riverina: 0405773770