PHOTO 1 & 2: Red Cliffs citrus farmer Tony Calvi celebrates his first Father’s Day with four-month-old baby Rocky. Photo: Paul Mensch PHOTO 3: Ouyen’s John Gilchrist with one of nine his grandchildren, 18-year-old Kaitlin Latta, with her Lions Club Australia Day Junior Citizenship Award. PHOTO 4: Henry Milne from Nangiloc, now Red Cliffs, is dad to five, grandfather to 12, and great-grandfather to four.

Fathers will be the centre of attention for their special day on Sunday. The Weekly’s Esther MacIntyre caught up with three Dads ahead of their day.

First-time father Tony Calvi, Red Cliffs

CITRUS grower Tony Calvi is surrounded by oranges … the apple of his eye is rosy-cheeked Rocky.

Tony has been “Dad” for just four months but he has a bit of advice for fathers-to-be.

“Be actively involved. Take time to bond with your baby. And don’t doubt yourself!” he said.

Beaming alongside wife Domenica, Tony is looking forward to his first Father’s Day on Sunday.

“I’m pretty excited. If we can spend a day at home with the family, it will be good. I’m looking forward to it.

“Fatherhood has been very surprising. It’s very joyful, there’s just constantly new surprises and things that you don’t expect until they happen.”

Of course, the global pandemic has added more stress for these first-time parents.

“At the start it was very hard. When Domenica had Rocky, we only had certain visitation times when I could see her and the baby.

“It was hard because she had to do a lot of stuff by herself, until she actually came home.”

Like most new parents this year, the couple still have family who haven’t met Rocky.

“It was a bit difficult because you can’t get family and everyone to come over and meet him, or try and help out, so we had to do a lot at the start by ourselves.

“But it’s getting a lot easier as he gets older.”

Becoming a dad was a lifelong goal of Tony’s. “I’ve always wanted to be a father, absolutely. Now I’ve got a little son first off the rank, and hopefully if he can follow in our footsteps, that’d be great.

“His decisions are totally up to him at the time, but it would be nice to see something we’ve done, that one of my kids gets to take over.

“This is the first day on the farm for him and he’s loving it, we can tell.”

John Gilchrist, Ouyen – Pop to his family

TO THE Ouyen community, John Gilchrist is a well known character.

He’s been heavily involved in the Ouyen Farmer’s Festival, Ouyen Show, Lions Club, Men’s Shed, you name it. But to his family he’s simply known as ‘Pop’.

Proud father to three adult daughters, including twins, John has fond memories of being spoiled on Father’s Day.

“It was always special times, they loved giving me little presents when they were small.

“We always celebrated like with birthdays and anniversaries, it was pretty important for them, and for the memories” he said.

John remembers finding out his wife Sue was expecting twins.

“I was freaked out, actually!” he laughed.

“All I could imagine was three car seats across the back seat of the car. And that’s what we had. But yes, that was a pretty special time.” He now boasts nine grandchildren aged seven to 18, but no more twins.

His advice for fathers in 2020?

“Enjoy your children and grandchildren while they are young, and give them memories to look back on.”

“It’s an unusual year that we hope is to never be repeated. I just hope people are safe and well, on Father’s Day and every other day,” John said.

Henry Milne – four generations, Nangiloc

CITRUS runs in the blood of the Milne family from Nangiloc, as 84-year-old Henry Milne remembers well.

“We were at Nangiloc for over 60 years.”

“We were trying to grow oranges. Well, we were trying to sell oranges,” he laughed.

“It’s easy to grow ‘em, the trick is to sell them at a profit, and get paid.”

Henry and his wife Lyn moved to Red Cliffs seven years ago, but still have their old farmhouse at Nangiloc next to sons, Doug and Brett.

Known as the family historian, one of Henry’s pastimes these days is sifting through his collection of family photo albums.

It now boasts his five children, 12 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Henry was born in “the Cooee guesthouse”, then Red Cliffs hospital, in January 1936.

“I went to school at Cardross, and later the Mildura High School.”

He was the youngest of six children, the baby of the family.

“And I’m the last one left of that lot,” he said.

Having now seen generations of Father’s Days, Henry reminisced on his first.

“I would have been on my father’s hip at one year old,” he said.

His advice to fathers in 2020 is simple.

“Spend time with the kids. Because you’ve only got ‘em once.”

Happy Father’s Day to the Dads across Sunraysia.