To Ancret Shipton, a crushing sorrow was accompanied by a sadness of losing the love of her life just 10 weeks after a shock cancer diagnosis.
Within the new COVID-19 limitations in New South Wales she was required to pick the 100 guests that could attend the funeral of her husband Michael.
“It was awful to have to pick and choose,” she said.
“Michael comes from a really big family, so close family took more than half the spots; there were so many people I’d love to be able to come and they just couldn’t.”
Instead, hundreds of mourners—friends, farmers and old schoolmates—held yellow flowers as they formed an honour guard on the 57-kilometer journey from the Shiptons’ farm near Candelo to Cobargo’s cemetery.
Mr Shipton was a respected dairy farmer who grew up in Verona near Cobargo, on his parents’ farm.
Since returning to the Bega Valley in 2014, he worked as a farm manager in central-west NSW and as a share farmer in Victoria, fulfilling his vision of owning his own farm since turning 40.
His death at 45 came as a shock from the summer bushfires to his family , friends, and the local community.
“Ancret has felt this really heavily,” said Wandella dairy farmer June Tarlinton, who knew Mr Shipton since he was a child.
“To have to actually select who was to come to the funeral was so hard on her.”
Ms Tarlinton’s father, Ross Rixon, died in January from burns suffered in the savage bushfire that engulfed Cobargo on New Year’s Eve.
“Five-hundred people came to my father’s funeral. It was such a comfort that so many people respected him and came to honour him,” she said.