When you meet Lance Kilner, he has a gentle presence and the charm of an Aussie bushman who can tell you story after story about life on the land, and from the back of a horse. This man knows all too well about the toll of physical labour, having been a shearer for 51 years. Add to that a cattle dealer, drover, horse broker and farmer.
“People reckon Armidale was built on the Uni, but that’s bull. Armidale has one of the largest sheep industries in Australia”, says Lance, who’s been actively involved in the sheep and wool industry his whole life.
Lance grew up in Glen Innes and “always liked living in the bush”. His father was a drover before the introduction of cattle trucks in the 1950s. He’s been horse riding since he was six years old, so naturally, horseback is his preferred method of travel. Lance would rather be on the back of a horse than anywhere else. He swears that “a motorbike will kick you quicker than a horse”.
A man of many talents, Lance is still a highly skilled whip cracker. When he was a child he used to watch the Tex Morton ‘Wild West Show’ where they would crack cigarettes in half from people’s mouths.
Lance continued his family tradition of farm life in the New England, although narrowly missed being conscripted into the Australian Army to serve in the Vietnam War, due to the shearer shortage in Australia at the time.
He humorously recalls a story from back in the early 1950s set about 50 miles north of Moree, where they spent days mustering 2000 kangaroos to try and get them into a paddock to be filmed for a scene in a movie. His days of living in the bush were never dull.
Lance and his partner Christine met 11 years ago at a horse event. Their courtship was every romantic’s dream — consisting of horseback riding through the countryside. Christine is originally a Guyra girl and had just moved to Armidale around that time.
Lance is pretty lucky to be alive today after a near fatal horse riding accident a few years ago put him in a coma that lasted for four months. He was flown to the Tamworth Base hospital and sadly, his horse had to be put down the following day after the accident. Lance now lives with a moderate brain injury.
Life for Lance and Christine changed dramatically. He has no recollection of that day or the four months afterwards. Christine certainly does, and she relied heavily on support from family and friends.
Determined not to move into town or give up their life on the land, they signed up with Home Nursing Group to help Lance regain his independence and active social life. This also gave Christine a break from her caring responsibilities so she could continue with her work.
Home Nursing Group provides Lance with social support services. His carers come twice a week and take him into town so he can go out for lunch, watch the horse and dog races, and complete other general errands.
Lance has many passions in life including horses, racing, reading and living in the New England countryside. He loves Australian history and bush poetry and could happily recite you many beautiful verses on cue.
Home Nursing Group assisted Lance and Christine to continue to live their life, in their home. The couple continue to enjoy the peace and serenity of country life and have returned as close as possible to their normal, everyday lives.
This Aussie picture wouldn’t be complete without Lance’s best mate, Twistie the kelpie. Lance also manages to throw his leg over his trusty steed, Patchy who he promises to be “bomb proof”.