Victorian community grieves farmer who died trying to save his cows from wild storm

Victorian community grieves farmer who died trying to save his cows from wild storm

Fifty-year-old dairy farmer Bruce Manintveld, who died on Tuesday during wild storms at Mirboo North in Gippsland, is being remembered as a farmer at the top of his game, generous to many around him. 

The dairy farmer was bringing cows in for milking when the storm hit. 

It is believed the strong winds tore apart a nearby shed, with a large piece of flying debris striking the farmer. 

His wife, Fiona Baker, described Bruce as “a man who loved his cows”.

She posted on Mr Manintveld’s social media account on X, the site formerly known as Twitter.

“He was racing the storm to bring the cows in. He rolled the dice and lost. That’s farming … you roll the dice — he normally won. Not this time.” 

Mr Manintveld had posted hours before on Twitter about the storm.

Storm went off ‘like a bomb’

The storm, which hit Tuesday evening, extensively damaged 16 homes in the South Gippsland community, with Mr Manintveld the sole death.

Nearby dairy farmer Colin Wientjens expressed disbelief at Mr Manintveld’s death. He said many dairy farmers were bringing in their cows at the same time.

Mr Wientjens said the trail of destruction from the storms was unlike anything he had seen.

“From our place through to Mirboo North, it was like a bomb went off,” he said. 

“There’s rubbish everywhere, trees down, snapped off 20 foot in the air, and it’s just a mess.”

The Mirboo North Football Club has a lot of cleaning ahead of them.(ABC News: Natasha Schapova)

Mr Wientjens remembers Mr Manintveld as “one of the best farmers I know”.

“He has been good for a lot of us younger guys coming through,” he said.

“[We’ve] bounced ideas off him, asked questions like what do you think about this, what do we do, etc. With someone at the top of the game like him, you’re going to learn a lot.

“It’s shattering.”

Hallston, near Mirboo North, was hit especially hard during the storms on Tuesday.(Supplied: Stephen Riley)

Community stepping in to support each other

Craig Dwyer farms on the other side of the state at Bullaharre and travelled to Mirboo North to help with the clean-up. He also expressed his condolences.

“He was a ripping bloke, always had something to offer and stuck to his guns on the farm,” Mr Dwyer said.

“Nobody has anything bad to say about him, and he and Fiona were at the top of the game on the dairy side of things.” 

Fellow dairy farmer Brian Corr has been coordinating the community’s clean-up effort. 

“The local community has been great,” he said.

“We stayed at Fiona’s and there is food everywhere and they’ve rallied behind her.”

Mr Dwyer said there was a massive clean-up still to do of “tonnes” of steel blown off sheds up to 300 metres away, trees that had  snapped and fences torn apart. 

At 7:30am on Monday, 5,882 properties remained without power across the state since last week’s storms.

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