End of a farming era at Anna Bay as Tom and Joan Frost sell up

LAST FRONTIER: Tom and Joan Frost with framed photos of some of their successful pacers out the front of their Frost Road home.

LAST FRONTIER: Tom and Joan Frost with framed photos of some of their successful pacers out the front of their Frost Road home.

It was the end of an era when the iconic Frost family of Anna Bay sold up their vast rural property last week, closing the gate on the last remaining operating farm on the Tomaree peninsula.

The 86-hectare property bought by Tom and Joan Frost in 1955 - which was initially worked as a dairy farm and in latter years for cattle and training pacers - was sold prior to auction.

Included in the sale are the two family homes, however the 80 head of cattle that remain would be sold separately.

Possibly the Port's 'last frontiers' - Tom, aged 89, and Joan, 87 - say they have themselves resigned to walking away after 64 years on the land due to their advancing years and the changing landscape of the peninsula from rural to urban.

"We have lots of fond memories here and it will be sad to be leaving, but at the same time we are very excited to be making our new home at the Salamander Haven complex," said Joan.

"We have both accepted the fact that it is time to leave the land after almost seven decades and settle back in retirement. We have been very fortunate that both the management and residents at Salamander Haven have made things easier for us. We have friends there and we are looking forward to the relaxed lifestyle it offers."

The Frosts bought the Anna Bay farm for 2,500 pounds in 1955, two years after they were married and following the shutdown of Swansea coalmine where Tom had worked.

"Following the closure of the mine Tom bought the mail run to Nelson Bay and once that contract finished we started the dairy at Anna Bay," said Joan.

The Frosts continued to operate the milk run until 1983 before shifting to cattle farming. Later, Tom would take up a new hobby training pacers on the sprawling property.

"In all I trained 12 pacers and every one has enjoyed some success ... I'm proud to say that every pacer I've trained has won at least one race."

The family - which includes four children, six grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren - has endured its share of adversity.

"We had a devastating house fire in 1962 where we lost everything and had to rebuild the family home and virtually start all over again."

There have been other mishaps and close calls, including in the 1989 Newcastle earthquake where Tom was lucky to escape injury while on a tractor at the Newcastle showgrounds, and about 18 months ago the family had to undertake a huge clean-up after the property was hit by a mini cyclone.

But the good times have far outweighed the challenges and the ageing Frosts are sure to leave an indelible legacy behind as they transition from farmers to urban retirees.

They say that they have already met some of the residents at their new residence and are looking forward to participating in the many activities available at the relatively new Salamander Bay retreat. "We can't thank the management enough."

The hard working couple have contributed to their local community over the years on a number of fronts, not the least with the Anna Bay drainage union, while Joan - the sister of former world snooker champion Eddie Charlton - is a life member of the Nelson Bay Golf Club and was Port Stephens Woman of the Year (International Women's Day) in 2006.

Most significantly, the Frost name will be etched forever in Port Stephens history though the naming of Frost Road which was built to access the family property many years ago.