Gordon reflects on farming life in the Lockyer
GORDON Niebling has been a farmer, truck driver, school bus driver and a dedicated volunteer for more than 20 years in the Lockyer Valley.
Though the newest resident of Laidley's Tabeel Lutheran Home said surviving the devastating floods which tore through the Fassifern Valley in 1954 nearly spelled the end of his farming career, before it had even begun.
"I had just purchased my first farm in Charlwood, below Moogerah Dam when those floods came though in '54," Mr Niebling said.
"It just about broke me - I couldn't borrow money but luckily I had a produce agent in Brisbane who helped me and put me back on my feet - that was good of him."
Twenty years later Mr Niebling decided to make the move with his wife and three children to the Lockyer Valley, and in 1974 he purchased a farm in Thornton. He began with beef cattle then began to grow clover (for cow feed) and eventually lucerne, pumpkins, onions and carrots.
"I found it was much easier farming over here than in the Fassifern Valley," he said.
"My farm in Charlwood was a very sandy farm and had everlasting irrigating. And over here I didn't have to have water half as much... there's much better black soil here.
Soon after moving into the Thornton farm, the 1974 floods tore through the Lockyer Valley.
"It was a lot of hard work to stay afloat but we got there," he said.
"The next floods in 2011 and 2013, I was living in town, luckily."
Born and bred in the Fassifern Valley, Mr Niebling came into the world on September 16, 1930, at Boonah Private Hospital.
"My father was a farmer too, he had dairy and pig then went into potato, pumpkins and lucerne.
"I left school on my 14th birthday to help my father on the farm. I I loved farming."
He went on to meet his wife, Valma, at a 21st birthday party in Aratula, but it wasn't love at first sight for the pair.
"I courted her for a while and then the romance started and we went on to have three children, a boy and two daughters."
Mr Niebling was recently awarded the Lockyer Valley Volunteer of the Year for his many years of selfless volunteering in the region.
"Since being out here I've volunteered at bowls clubs at the Laidley Show Society and the tennis club and for the Lockyer Aged and Handicapped. I've done a lot for the Lockyer Aged and Handicapped...I drove the pick-up bus for them for 22 years."