Our people

Throughout the anniversary year we will celebrate the students, staff, industry partners, friends and the wider community who have made Tocal College what it is today. This is a snapshot of some of the people who have helped shape the college, which we will continue to build on throughout the anniversary year.

  • Staff
  • Industry partners
  • Students

Tocal College celebrates staff and ex-staff who have been remarkable leaders since the college took on its first group of students.

Our principals


Colin Ford BSc. 1963-1967

Colin Ford BSc. was the first Principal of Tocal appointed by EA Hunt. His term in office was a difficult one. There was the difficulty of having to work on a campus where buildings were under construction and where facilities were often primitive; there was the responsibility of appointing and directing new members of staff; the pressing need to design and implement curriculum.

But the most pressing problem was having to administer a large enterprise where monies were allocated to capital expenditure rather than running costs. As a mark of appreciation for his services, the students commissioned a studio portrait of their Principal to be donated to the College.

Read Colin Ford full profile



George McFarlane OAM 1967-1981

George McFarlane was appointed Deputy Principal and founding staff member in 1965. In 1967 he was appointed Acting Principal and later confirmed as Principal. He served the College in this capacity for 14 years until his retirement in 1981. He took the reins of Tocal at a turbulent time in its history and successfully oversaw the transition of the College from the Presbyterian Church to the NSW Department of Agriculture.

During his tenure as Principal, he won the respect of staff and students and was visionary in his outlook, producing a strategic plan for the college that was ahead of its time. George McFarlane died unexpectedly at Coffs Harbour in 2013 aged 89. He recalled those formative years at Tocal: "We were a small band of people setting out on the adventure of a lifetime."

Read George McFarlane full profile




John Drinan PhD 1981-1987

John Drinan first joined the staff at the newly formed CB Alexander Agricultural College as a visiting lecturer. He then set off for a career in sheep and cattle research at Trangie Research Station before undertaking a PhD at Macquarie University. He was appointed senior lecturer and agricultural course coordinator at Hawkesbury Agricultural College. Working for seven years under Head of School, Professor Richard Bawden's 'brave new world' of experiential learning, John returned to Tocal to take up the role as Principal.

John didn't dictate change, but by circulating questions among all staff he challenged current thinking and approaches and stimulated debate. He embodied the concept of experiential learning. 

Read John Drinan full profile



Cameron Archer PSM AM PhD 1987-2015

After losing his home in the devastation of Cyclone Tracy in 1974, Cameron visited Tocal and applied for the position of Agronomy Lecturer. He held this position until being appointed Senior Lecturer in 1981, then Deputy Principal in 1985. With the departure of Principal John Drinan in 1987, Cameron was the natural successor. 

During his career, Cameron has been widely recognised for his significant service to agricultural education, and to heritage management and conservation. He was awarded the Medal in the Order of Australia in 2013. The list of awards, board and industry memberships and publications produced during his tenure shows that he works at a frenetic pace, but always with a firm influence on the culture, events and developments of the College.

Read Cameron Archer full profile

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Tocal College would not be where it is today without the strong support of industry partners and the wider community. We celebrate their support.

Industry Partners



Ian Halliday, Managing Director, Dairy Australia

Dairy Australia have partnered with Tocal College in the National Centre for Dairy Education and value their commitment to ensuring dairy education is available to people working in the dairy industry, or who are aspiring to.



 Charles Lamb, Director, Telford College, NZ

I would like to take this opportunity to wish Tocal College and staff all the best for the Tocal Golden Jubilee this year. I believe that the potential that exists between Tocal and Telford, not only for collaboration in training, research and extension, but also to jointly develop strategies for longer term growth in many areas, is considerable.


Animal Health Australia

Animal Health Australia (AHA) would like to congratulate Tocal College on delivering 50 years of leading agricultural and conservation land management education.

AHA has a longstanding relationship with Tocal College, with the two organisations partnering to facilitate and deliver a range of emergency animal disease (EAD) training and biosecurity programs under the Australian Qualifications Training Framework.




Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges

It is my pleasure on behalf of Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges, Emerald Agricultural College and Longreach Pastoral College to congratulate Tocal on reaching 50 years of agricultural education in New South Wales.

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Throughout this year we will build profiles on some ex-students who have helped shape Tocal College and gone on to outstanding careers in agriculture.

Our students


Margo Duncan - 1973/74

It's been an unusual but successful career path for Hunter Valley beef cattle producer, business woman and explosives expert, Margo Duncan. For Margo and her husband Bruce, their focus of the past 40 years has not waivered.

View Margo Duncan full profile


Mark Hodgson - 1976/77

It was while working in the gulf country as a ringer following two years at Tocal Agricultural College that Mark Hodgson had a "brain wave", to pursue a career flying helicopters. The initial idea sprang from a plan to aerially improve pastures on the family's Barraba farm. 

View Mark Hodgson full profile



David Hart - 1976/77

Glowing recommendations from family who were Tocal College ex-students influenced young adventurous Tasmanian, Dave Hart to head north to Tocal College in 1976. Dave's link with Tocal has continued as he has embarked on a 30 year career in agricultural education.

View David Hart full profile 




Graham Forbes - 1979/80

Tocal College opened the door to an ongoing network of personal and industry contacts for successful Gloucester dairy farmer, Graham Forbes

View Graham Forbes full profile


Lisa Nies - 1980/81

Graduating from Tocal College in 1981, Lisa Nies has since worked all over the state in every branch of agriculture imaginable. It's not surprising with her impressive skill base and education that she is now a highly experienced agricultural researcher and analyst.  

View Lisa Nies full profile



Luke Cheviot - 1993/94

The leap from agriculture to aquaculture was not as large as it first appeared for Tocal College graduate, Luke Cheviot: the unexpected career change has proven the right move and he continues to make a splash in fisheries reseaeh and production.

View Luke Cheviot full profile



Roger Moore 

Fulfilling a lifelong ambition, Tocal College ex-student Roger Moore has established his own family stock and station agency business, RM Property & Livestock, servicing clients from across the Upper Hunter from his Merriwa farm-base.

View Roger Moore full profile


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