A visit with Tim Thompson

Posted by John Pickard on

The internet is littered with videos peddling all sorts of advice, reviews and information on fencing. But like everything on the internet, it's a case of "use with care". So how do you separate the wheat from the chaff, or more apposite, how do you separate the sheep from the goats?

One solution is to head to the Australian web site of Tim Thompson (https://timthompson.ag/).

Who is Tim Thompson?

Tim has spent over 20 years teaching agriculture including setting up small farm operations in high schools to engage the kids, get their hands dirty, and to teach them first-hand a range of farming skills.

Wanting to reach a wider audience, Tim began producing videos explaining various techniques, and more importantly, reviewing a range of fence-related products: posts, post drivers, end assemblies, clips for holding wires, the whole gamut. Tim's videos are a solid source of factual information delivered with a great sense of humour.

My visit with Tim

I had been meaning to catch up with Tim for a while, and once my book Australian Wire Strainers was published, Tim wanted to talk with me about strainers, the history of Australian rural fences, the meaning of life, and everything in between. And he wanted to make a video starring me. Who could resist an offer like that?

The opportunity came up in December 2022, and after wandering around the verdant hills close to the Dandenong Ranges on the outskirts of Melbourne, I finally met him. And we had a ball.

I watched Tim videoing his review of some clips for fastening wires to posts, and then helped him test some ground anchors for bracing strainer posts. 

Tim Thompson about to test the holding power of a ground anchor with his vintage Fergie tractor.

Do you know steel posts?

Among other things that intrigued Tim was the history of steel posts used in Australian rural fences. Not just the now-ubiquitous Waratah (R) Star (R) Posts, but the many that preceded it.

One of particular interest is the spiral Corkscrew Post invented by Kiwi engineer George David Watson in 1925. Although most people don't notice, this post comes in both right-hand and left-hand spirals. Why?

The first machine invented by Watson twisted a pair of posts at a time, one right-hand, the other left-hand. But there are markedly fewer left-hand posts. The reason is simple, as I have explained in an earlier blog (Corkscrew Fence Posts and a persistent rural myth).

And speaking of the Waratah (R) Star (R) Post, I described to Tim how this Aussie icon was actually invented by two American rolling mill engineers employed by Rylands Brothers (Australia) Ltd in the 1920s to upgrade their rolling mill operations.

After a bit of editing, Tim posted the video interview on his website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdJIgsmZGTI

I'm the handsome bloke in the fluoro shirt, and Tim's the one wearing his signature daggy hat.

If you are a fencer or a farmer and are looking for solid reviews of Australian fencing bits and pieces, and advice on how to do it, then Tim's web site is the place to start. 


Rylands Brothers (Australia) Limited Improvements in steel posts and droppers for wire fences. Australian patent 4,058. 1 October 1926.

The patent specification can be found on the IP Australia web site (https://pericles.ipaustralia.gov.au/ols/auspat/quickSearch.do) by searching for patent number 1926004058.


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