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Joe Viner made the trip to Hereford, Argentina
2:00pm Friday 16th May 2014 in News
IT is tricky to find on some maps, has treacherous roads, roaming cattle and is called Hereford.
But this Hereford is not on the Welsh border but in deepest Argentina.
Joe Viner made the long – and less than straightforward – trip to the South American Hereford and found the place shared some things in common with its English namesake.
ON a map of South America, Hereford doesn’t stand out.
Made up of a tiny cattle farm, lost somewhere in the vast sprawl of central Argentina, is about as remote a backwater as you could expect to find on the continent.
But when a couple of friends and I were idly scanning the map spread across my kitchen table back in October, the familiar name of our home city leapt out, and finding it, first merely a fanciful suggestion, soon became a full-on pilgrimage.
From San Antonio de Areco, the gaucho town two hours west of Buenos Aires, we managed to catch the daily bus that left at 6am to nearby San Antonio de Giles.
Here we were stranded for a day before our delayed coach eventually pulled up, took us six or seven hours further west through miles of featureless pasture, before dumping us in the slightly drab rural settlement of Ameghino.
From there, one can follow a dirt road that snakes off into the distance and disappears between the encroaching conifers.
After 30 kilometres, the traveller finds a smattering of rustic farm buildings, some grazing livestock and a decrepit old train station. Welcome to Hereford, Buenos Aires province, Argentina.
Here, in the powerful sun of the Argentine Pampa, Hereford cattle have been raised for more than 100 years.
Mary Goodall, who is 76 and lives on the farm, believes Hereford could have grown significantly had the railway not fallen into disrepair in the 1950s.
Mary’s late husband was the grandson of the original proprietor of the property, Arthur Richard Yeomans, born in 1860, who first brought Hereford cattle over from England.
Arthur was a Herefordian, raised in Whitecross. When he first came out to Argentina in 1885, Ameghino probably did not even exist.
It is now a pleasant little town with a few restaurants and a polo club. On arrival, we asked a few locals at the bus station about Hereford’s whereabouts; most had not heard of the place, and the ones who had told us the only way there was on foot.
But our luck soon turned.
After pleading for a while in a DIY shop, the kind assistant took us in his Jeep to the house of a local lady, who had several useful contacts including a farm administrator called Javier.
He told us he would drive us to Hereford the next afternoon.
In the luscious, sun-drenched plains of central Argentina, Hereford doesn’t take you by surprise.
A few tall palm trees and a large, low building with a corrugated iron roof materialised on the horizon 15 kilometres away, and, as we pulled closer, a few ranchers on horses sloped out of their pens.
Javier introduced us to Mary Goodall, who had grown up in Hereford (Argentina) but was brought up speaking the language of her English ancestors.
Mrs Goodall told us ‘Estancia Hereford’ was bought by Arthur Yeomans in 1903, but was not put on the map until the British Railways sought permission to build a station on his property several years later, which he granted on the condition the station be named after his home town back in England – and mine.
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