Bob and Judy were born during the Second World War in Melbourne. Judy spent her first 20 years in Melbourne's outer semi-rural suburbs, while Bob grew up on three successive Victorian soft fruit, dairy and poultry farms.

Following his father's distinguished wartime service as an RAAF Beaufighter and weapons test pilot in Europe, Bob joined the RAAF in 1961 and qualified as a fighter pilot in 1963, marrying Judy and taking her to start a family in Malaysia in that year. Their subsequent life was quite adventurous, living in England twice and in every Australian mainland State, and raising two wonderful children who quickly became adept at making new friends! (Kerrie was born in Penang and went to kindergarten in England, while Geoffey learnt to walk on the six-week voyage to Southampton in 1967!)

Bob spent many years as a fast-jet experimental test pilot, and was actively involved in the operational development of the RAAF's Mirages, F/A-18 Hornets and F111Cs, flying 5500 hours in over 40 types from sailplanes to the F-16 and F/A-18. In his later career he specialised in strategic Defence planning (he was co-author of the 1994 Government White Paper on Defence) and in RAAF personnel management, finally spending several years as an air vice-marshal looking after RAAF personnel and budgetary resources and later Deputy Chief of Air Force. After part-time Reserve duty conducting a major review of the Defence Cadets organisation Bob finally retired from the RAAF in 2003.

Several of the Richardson’s 26 homes over 45 years were in the country, and during Bob's latter Air Force career he and Judy joined with his sister and brother-in-law in 1993 to buy a 2300 acre farm property near Canowindra NSW. They hired an experienced farm manager who lived with his family on one of the two properties, while the owners spent all their spare time living in the other old house. For the next six years they raised yearling beef from 100 Poll Hereford cows, wool from 3500 merinos, and progressively developed up to 350 acres of cropping paddocks where they harvested wheat, barley, canola, oats, hay and (once) Alvis lupens for export to Egypt.

Bob and Judy also paid $36,000 for their first two female alpacas in 1993, having been fascinated by these animals a few years earlier, just after the first shipment from South America to Australia in 1987/88.

Although 'the big farm' was a very valuable education and generally enjoyable experience for the four owners, the families concluded that the original plan to retire there was not practicable, so the property was sold in 1998. While driving past Yass each weekend from Canberra in 1997, Bob and Judy noticed a 120 acre property for sale near Yass, and decided this would be a more suitable semi-retirement venture, and also nearer to their son and daughter and grandchildren who had settled in Canberra.

So all went well with the transfer of Clearview Alpacas to "Argyle Park" in 1997, and they enjoyed an idyllic lifestyle until Judy contracted cancer in 2008. Despite a very brave battle over the next three years, Judy died in June 2010, thus ending an extremely happy 50 year partnership and marriage.

Bob now manages the farm alone, but with the generous help of family members and many friends, especially Rob and Kath of Jolirok Alpacas who are close by.

Bob and Judy always supported the need for both a regional and a national focus on the development of the alpaca's outstanding potential as a valuable fleece animal, believing that this camelid is even more suited to the commercial production of high quality natural fibre for the top-end apparel market than is the world famous Australian merino. So while remaining active on the AAA Southern NSW Region Committee, Bob was elected to the Alpaca Association National Committee in 1998, concentrating on improvement to governance, financial planning and administration and member communications. He was re-elected in 2000 and elected as Vice-President in 2001 and again in 2003. After his national Association responsibilities concluded Bob was appointed a Life Member of the AAA in 2010. He remains a foundation Board member of Australian Alpaca Fleece Ltd, Melbourne, since 2004 and collects, bales and ships alpaca fleece from Argyle Park to the Company.

 

 

Bob and Judy with alpaca herd sire Clancy

Bob and Judy with alpaca herd sire Clancy