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The Orpington Club of Australia
The Beginnings and Subsequent Progress.


Although the Orpington Fowl in it’s different colour varieties had been in Australia since the turn of the Twentieth Century, it’s popularity had risen and fallen following the appearance of more modern breeds, and changes in the ways that people kept their fowls. The giant Poultry industry had made such great strides into the consumer market that the vast majority of people no longer found the need to keep fowls themselves. This situation, coupled with increasingly stringent Council Regulations, meant that Orpingtons and other similar breeds found themselves consigned to the rural areas.

Because of the vastness of the rural countryside, it meant that fanciers of any particular breed of fowl needed to travel huge distances to experience competition of any kind. This of course brought a predictable outcome and with so few breeders residing in the same general area, finally a Meeting was called to discuss the formation of a Club specifically for the Orpington Breed. It was generally thought that the breed had reached a stalemate, and the only way to revive interest in Orpingtons was to stage exhibitions so that the overall quality could be raised. It was thought that the staging of regular shows would encourage breeders to spread stock around and hopefully, fortify any of the available gene pool.

Dubbo Poultry Club (North West N.S.W.) agreed to sponsor Orpingtons at their forthcoming 1985 Show and from there, an enthusiastic group of fanciers formed The Orpington Club of Australia. One of the prime movers behind the idea was Mr Jim Blatch, a veteran breeder from the Wellington area. He was elected the Club’s first President, with Mr. Robert Lavender as Secretary, a position which he held for many years.

The “Boom Years”
Orpingtons flourished immediately, so much that the Club’s Show at Wellington in 1988 drew an astonishing 298 entries, a record that stood for many years. In line with Club policy, the Annual Show was moved to various centres around the State, and including Maryborough in Victoria. Entries at the Annual Shows remained very healthy for the next decade during which time many of the older original Members passed on, or stopped showing poultry altogether. One noticeable feature was the appearance of some very typical Black bantams, followed soon after by Buffs, Blues and Whites of good standard. The Black Bantams, in particular, recorded several Best In Show awards, often defeating the Large Orpingtons. At Muswellbrook, in 1997, a Buff Bantam became the first of that breed to take out the top award.
Entries at the Club Shows continued to drop off during the 1990’s, largely for the reasons mentioned earlier. Large Blacks dominated the Major Awards and were by far the most numerous of the varieties.

They were also prominent in the Awards Lists of the Royal Shows, particularly at Adelaide.
A milestone for the Club was reached in 2000, when the Annual Show was staged as part of the First Canberra National Poultry Show. Orpington entries totalled just on 100 exhibits with Best In Show going to a Large Black pullet and Runner-Up to a Black Bantam cockerel. Foundation Club member, Gary Phillips had the honour of judging the Orpingtons. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons this show was to be the last for some time and the Club went into recess.

Following a Meeting called at Penrith in early 2002, an interim Secretary was appointed and the Club made plans for the next Annual Show to be held later that year at Penrith, hosted by The Langshan Club.
With the success of that venture, the Show was again staged at Penrith the following year, from where plans were initiated to stage Australia’s first National Orpington Show at Albury in 2005.

The first of the National Orpington Shows.
The Albury event resulted in the biggest display of Orpingtons ever seen in Australia with a record of 311 entries with well known all rounder judge Stuart Fraser (NSW) officiating. Champion Orpington in Show was a large Buff Pullet shown by Sean Ryan with Reserve Champion another large Buff Pullet from John Eccles shed.
The Show also featured the launch of the book 'The Complete Orpington' written for the Club by former Secretary & Life Member, Dallas Smith. Proceeds from the sale of this book continue to be a steady source of income for the Club, and it has been well received throughout the world of Orpingtons.

Best in Show 2007

The National Show returned to Albury in 2007, judged by the renowned Orpington breeder, Graeme Finlay. Best in Show again was a Black Bantam cockerel presented by Dallas and Wayne Smith, with a Large Blue Cockerel from Denis and Jayne Stannard in the Reserve spot. In 2008, the Club again held its National Show in conjunction with the Canberra National Poultry Show. Entries here totaled 200 with Best to a large Blue hen of Denis and Jayne Stannards. Moruya hosted the Fourth National Show in 2010, with the 240 entries topped by a Large Black pullet of Miss Rose Gibsons.

In 2011 the Club held its National show at Queanbeyan near Canberra in the ACT/NSW. A magnificent entry of 373 birds (200 Large Fowl and 73 Bantams) broke the previous Australian record posted at the 2005 National Show. A magnificent Large Blue Cockerel from Sonya Ford took out Best Bird in show with the Ch Large Black Cockerel of Miss Rose Gibson being Runner Up Bird in Show. Best bantam was a Blue Ck shown by Ernie and Wendy Coffee. Other highlights were a Large Black pullet class of 42 birds and a Large Buff Pullet Class of 38 Birds.

In 2012, there was no Orpington Club National show as it was the year of the Canberra Royal National.  An entry of 199 Orpingtons of exceptional quality was topped by a Large Black Ckl shown by Waninga Orpingtons. Reserve Orpington in show was awarded to Gold Feather Poultry’s Large Buff Pullet and Best Bantam was a Black Cockerel shown by Allen Morton.

The Northern Feature show was held a few weeks later which saw 176 Orpingtons on show. Champion Orpington was a Large Blue Cock bird of Chris Hardmans and Reserve Orpington was Waninga Orpingtons Large Black Cockerel. Best Bantam was a black hen owned by the Cuckoo Poultry Stud of Australia. Not to be outdone, the Southern Feature show was held on 28th July at Bacchus marsh in Victoria and 132 beirds were exhibited. Best in Show was Waninga Orpingtons Large Black Cockerel and Reserve Champion Orpington went to Denis and Jayne Stannards Large Blue Pullet. Best Bantam was awarded to a Buff Cockerel exhibited by Bill Patterson.

Champion Bantam Northern Feature

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