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Barrett, James Noel (1903–1958)

As was briefly reported in these columns last month, Mr. James Noel Barrett, of Yera, Edgeroi, and Maida Vale, Ebor, N.S.W., died on 6th July from drowning in the Clarence River.

Mr. Barrett, who was 54, was a son of the late Sir James Barrett and received his early education at the Melbourne Grammar School. He then went on to Trinity College, Melbourne University, where he graduated B.Agr. Sc. in 1925, and two years later purchased Yera. Immediately he commenced wheat growing on a large scale and used his inquiring, practical mind to develop improved methods of farming. Not only did he pay attention to modern practices of soil conservation, but was also keenly interested in mechanisation to increase production and efficiency. He had a good deal to do with the introduction to Australian farming of such items of equipment as pick-up balers, rubber tyred tractors, and other implements, the coupe utility motor vehicle, and harvesting machinery for small seeds. He was probably the first person to harvest Mitchell grass seed in commercial quantities and for many years sold it throughout the Commonwealth. He also successfully established large areas of dry land lucerne on Yera, and at the time of his death was preparing plans to irrigate the whole of the property over the next ten years. When this scheme was completed he estimated it would represent an investment in the order of about £200,000, but he believed the results would be "colossal" and would make his property "one of the best and safest in Australia."

With typical imagination and drive, Mr. Barrett bought Maida Vale, a small run-down property in the Ebor district of New South Wales, after the war and immediately set about reconditioning the pastures. His story of the success of this developmental work was told in a series of articles published in the Review a couple of years ago. About the same time he explained how the Hernani Dog Proof Fence was erected on a co-operative basis to protect stock on several properties in the Ebor district, and earlier he had told about the organisation for a community bus service. In all these things he was a leader with outstanding ability, and during the war he served as adviser to the Minister for Agriculture in connection with farm mechanisation and pools for machinery.

Although not particularly interested in livestock, except as a necessary sideline to his farming operations, Mr. Barrett decided recently to establish a Merino stud on Yera. With his usual thoroughness, he spent many months studying breeding methods and trends before acquiring foundation stock from the Rossmore stud, Burren Junction.

A good Australian who gave his best to his country, Mr. Barrett will be greatly missed by the primary industries, and particularly by his wide circle of friends. On their behalf we express sympathy to his widow who before her marriage was Miss Nancy Mair, of Colly Creek Station, Quirindi, N.S.W., and their five children.

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'Barrett, James Noel (1903–1958)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/barrett-james-noel-9441/text28242, accessed 23 April 2018.

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