While many young people are fascinated by fast cars or boats, 23-year-old farmer Hugh Macague is passionate about collecting and restoring Australian made headers.
- Hugh Macague collects and restores vintage Australian headers
- The 23-year-old’s passion started as a teenager when he joined a vintage machinery club
- The Rochester farmer has 10 headers in his Australian collection
The machines are often seen in paddocks helping to strip crops during harvest.
“In Australia, they get left behind to rot away in the shed or out in the open,” he said.
“I really want to keep them functional so people can see how the old boys did it.”
“They’re not too bad to restore, but they are a labour of love.”
Hugh Macague’s fascination with the machines started as a teenager when he joined the Echuca Vintage Machinery Club.
His dad Bruce has fond memories of seeing his son’s interest grow.
“So that’s how he ended up with a lot of stuff in the first place. People just gave him stuff because they thought wow there’s a young guy interested.”
A young farmer ‘heading’ in the right direction
So far, Hugh has 10 Australian vintage headers in his collection stored in a shed at his father’s Rochester farm.
His oldest is a 1927 Sunshine Auto while his favourite is a 1974 Connor Shea auto header — only 350 were ever made.
“They just rust away so easily in the paddock, and they’re getting pulled out of sheds more and more,” he said.
He has found the majority of them with help from the “old bush telegraph”.
“A couple of them have come from out of state, but most in Victoria and by word of mouth. They send me a few photos, and I’m there.”
The hobby has given the young farmer plenty of adventures travelling along country roads to collect his prized machinery.
“He’d drive around with his mates and they’d see an old farm and spot some old machinery,” Bruce said.
“They would drive up and knocks on the door. Then the old guy would come out and say, ‘Oh you’re interested in my old header?’ Next thing you know three hours have gone by and Hugh is getting a tour around his sheds and all his old machinery.”
When he was 18, a tip-off about a vintage header from the librarian at his agricultural college, saw Hugh travel 268km from Rochester to Hopetoun, in Victoria’s north-west.
Passion for Australian machinery
Hugh has also become a social media sensation with farmers around the globe tuning into his YouTube channel ‘Hugh Magoo’ to see his latest projects.
But his artistic pursuits have created some challenges.
“I did fly the drone trying to drive one of these old things and crashed it because there’s no auto-steer.
“But I just love getting the camera out, it gives you something a bit extra to do in the day.”
He is now searching for the final two headers to complete his Australian collection. After that, he plans on searching for American and Canadian ones to add to his shed.
“I just love their simple mechanics. They’re a pretty cool machine.”