The Robertson Agricultural and Horticultural Show Society Inc. had its humble beginnings in 1878, with the founding of the Burrawang Farmers Club by the farmers in the Robertson, Burrawang, Kangaloon and Wildes Meadow districts. The Club acted as a community support group in the absence of local government bodies and lobbied for proper roads, a police force and a rail link for the growing farming community,
The club met on a Thursday night closest to the full moon enabling members to travel through the bush on horseback with the benefit of moonlight. One marvels at their tenacity when we find it hard to attend meetings in the middle of winter in our warm, weatherproof four-wheel drives! How did they cope on the nights when the moon was obscured by clouds, fog, or rain (or all three as happens often here!)?
In 1879 the idea was mooted to conduct an agricultural show, the club changed its name to Burrawang and West Camden Agricultural Society and plans were made to hold the first show on Wednesday 21st & Thursday 22nd of April 1880. The show was held on a flat piece of land in Dale Street Burrawang and rain fell (nothing changes!) on the first day with attendances estimated at 1600 & 2000 respectively.
The fifth show held in March 1884 at Burrawang was held over three days and prize money was offered for the first time. £45/8/- (equivalent to $90.80) was divided between horses £20/16/-, Cattle £14/16/-, £butter £10, school exhibits £5/1/6 and plain and fancy work £4/4/6.
There have been many shows held since then but there were years when the show was cancelled. The 1919 Show was cancelled because of the disastrous influenza epidemic and in 1942 & 1943 the Robertson Showground was occupied by Army units resulting in no shows for those years.
These interesting facts and many more, pertaining not just to the Show Society but to the history of our district and community are to be found in the Show Society’s book “The Winds of Change”.
Robertson Show is the Premier Show of our “Circuit”, not necessarily in size but certainly in the way we have used a relatively small ground and budget to entertain and educate patrons.
We have managed to retain all the elements of the original Robertson show of 1880, which makes Robertson one of the last true country shows, catering for young and old.
Sections like the Pavilion, which stages a stunning display of homemade and homegrown delights, even in this age of modern technology. Cattle, both Dairy and Beef are featured and are well supported by exhibitors and spectators alike. We stage a feature dog show, which is a must on this busy circuit for exhibitors and great entertainment for spectators. The Horse events, including show jumping and sporting events on Saturday afternoon, are all proudly displayed and are expanding year after year as people increasingly flock to the “Robbo Show”.
Not so long ago the first Night Show was introduced on the Saturday Night, this follows on to entertain the crowd after the Great Australian Potato Race, which is one of the main high lights of our Saturday program. This race brings competitors together from all over the district and now attracts attention from near and abroad, all taking up the challenge to carry those spuds for the coveted title of “Champion”.
The night show was an instant hit and continues to break crowd attendance records each year, with legendary commentary from our very own Bruce, Paddy and Colin! This afternoon and evening of easy, fun entertainment has quickly become the biggest part of our show. The cornerstone of our show program has been what we term “homegrown” events like the Ute Pull, egg and gumboot throwing. Dog Jumping, Hay Stacking, and Demolition Derby are just a few of the items we run and crowd participation is well sort after from all ages and greatly received.
The committee realises that the community is looking for something “extra” in the way of show entertainment and it’s time to introduce some professional acts in conjunction with our old favourite novelty events to take our show to the next level, without losing the great country fun feeling the Robertson show offers everyone who attends.
The Robertson Show is a not-for-profit organisation, run by volunteers and relies on the generosity of the community and organisations. If you would like to sponsor the show or donate to the show please email us
The Australian Championship Potato race
The annual potato race was founded with a 1968 meeting resolution to run a potato carrying race at the 1969 show and restricted to residents of the Berrima District. The event’s success led to the competition becoming open to all Australians. Many entrants came from the Sydney Markets, but a special $50 prize was introduced for the best performance by a Berrima District Resident.
Mr Stan Hunt, from the Sydney markets, was a great supporter of the Potato Race for many years, and Mrs Terry Hunt has carried on the tradition. In recognition, the Womens’ race was named the Stan Hunt Memorial Ladies Potato Race.
The Potato Race quickly became a popular attraction at the show, with widespread interest and the 1972 race was won by a competitor from Orange. By 1975 the prize money had increased to $245, with contestants competing from many parts of the state. The 1976 show went ahead under Robertson’s seemingly normal rain and fog conditions making it a tough race for the 15 entrants. Ron Thomas of Albion Park won, ahead of Wilf Whatman from Mittagong.
The 1992 potato-race book ‘The Winds of Change’, which only goes as far as 1979, is in our archives. Ladies and Juniors races were introduced during these years, and prize money grew to today’s levels.
Shane Whatman from Mittagong was a notable potato “racer” with six straight wins from 1996 to 2001, then in 2003 and second to Ian Hindmarsh in 2004. The fastest men’s time on record was from Ricky Garrard, 1.20.24, but even faster was Sally Vaughan with a blistering 1.20.00, although slightly less handicapped carrying a weight of 12.5kgs as opposed to 50kgs for the men.