Robert Beggs grew up in a farming family outside of Ballarat. He knew that his life would involve working in agriculture, as had his father’s and his father’s before him. ‘Always, there was never any doubt’, he says, ‘never any doubt that what I would do would be come home and be on the family farm’.
Robert’s first experience with the Royal Melbourne Show was while he was still at school.
I was at school and it was the first Royal Show I think after the war. I remember saying to someone, ‘What's it like, this Royal Show? How big is it?’ They tried to describe it to me and I couldn't quite visualise it.
From that initial visit, Robert soon found himself a regular attendee at the Show with his father, showing cattle and sheep and spending weeks on site tending to the animals.
It was quite a sort of different adventure I suppose. We had lockers, and they were two storeys, and we slept in the above storey, then we had all our bits and pieces that we had to feed and so forth for the cattle in the bottom locker, and we slept in the top locker … it was quite an experience really.
As well as showing sheep and cattle, Robert was encouraged to become involved with the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV) Council. He joined in 1977 and went on to take up the role of Vice President and then President (1990–1993). As Robert remembers, ‘It was a bit formidable, I've got to say, being a younger member of the Council in those days.’ But Robert was ambitious and when the opportunity came to take up the role of President, he accepted readily.
Robert remained an active RASV councillor for just over 25 years before he accepted a life membership. For his dedication and service to primary industry, particularly through the wool industry and RASV, he was made a Member in the Order of Australia in 1992.