Rodney and his sons Charlie and Billy

Rodney’s career as a Master Farrier often sees him travelling all over New South Wales, shoeing horses at racetracks and rural locations. As a specialist in equine hoof care, his work is incredibly hands-on, and it doesn’t end when gets home. Before he can hang up his boots for the day, he has maintenance to run on his own 25-acre property – animals to care for, fencing to fix up and training exercises to run with his campdraft horses. It’s a hell of an undertaking, but one that he hopes will inspire a spirit of hard work in his two young sons, Charlie and Billy: “I was lucky to have a father who taught me all these things on the farm, and now I have to show them all that he showed me and more. I hope one day that they can look up to me the way I looked up to him.” 

Growing from a young “larrikin and a rogue” into a father has been a learning curve for Rodney too, realising the impact he has on the boys. “It’s made me conscious of being a role model and scrutinising my own actions as they pick up on everything I do,” he notes. And the family resemblance runs deeps – beyond physical similarities and a penchant for putting in the work, Rodney can recognise elements of his own playful spirit in Charlie and Billy’s rural upbringing: “I look at them a lot like I was – rather cheeky and naughty but barrels of fun, playing and fighting on the grassy hills.” 

A strong sense of purpose and care for one another is also something Rodney hopes to pass down to the kids when he thinks of their future. “I hope to instil the importance of kindness, courage and resilience, and to have strong principles and values. I love watching them grow each year, from babies into boys and hopefully, I get to watch them grow into men.” 

Phil and his daughter Sheridan

The bond between oyster farmers Phil and Sheridan extends beyond family – it’s a matter of business, too. The formidable father/daughter duo have worked tirelessly together to build their family oyster farm from passion project into a thriving business, running tours and events out of their Hawkesbury region base. Born from a multi-generational interest in the unique mariculture practice, the business has become a personal and professional home for their family. 

Phill recalls, “the kids had come home from school having heard a lecture about oyster disease, after which they wanted to see a real oyster farm. I introduced them to our neighbour - and fellow farmer – Robbie, who said the industry needs young people like you. So that’s how we got into it; the whole family joined in and Sheridan has worked very hard to build the farm up to what it is today.” 

“My grandfather also had an oyster farm,” Sheridan adds, “so it all really took off because Dad had that romanticism attached to oyster farming. His father had loved the job so much too.”

Despite the many challenges that the farm has faced, including fires and floods in recent years, the venture has flourished under their leadership into a business that’s proudly “family owned, run and fought over.” Both Phil and Sheridan put this down to a strong work ethic, passed down through generations. Sheridan adds, “Dad taught me by example to be resilient, to work hard and to feel comfortable being uncomfortable. We’ve had to figure a lot of things out on our feet.”

For Phil, the success of the business comes secondary to his greatest achievement: building something beautiful with his family. “Raising the children and working with them has been the most rewarding aspect of my life.”

Marty and his children India Rose and Michelangelo

Model Marty is a familiar face here at R.M.Williams, having starred in many a wild expedition for our seasonal campaigns, and his real life is even more adventurous. As a father of four young children, he made the unprecedented call to uproot his family to a secluded island in Nicaragua for a chance to live amongst “the nature of beauty, away from the ‘real world’.” He explains, “we wanted to create something truly special with our children – a pristine, good life with nature as a foundation. We lived simply there, built a villa on the island and home schooled the kids.” 

The experience had a profound impact on his now adult kids (including fifth and youngest child Michelangelo) and their propensity to dream big, with his daughter India Rose noting, “we lived without any outside influence, disconnected from real life. What I admire most about my father is the ability to make these things happen – a lot of people would think that’s a cool thing to do as a passing thought but wouldn’t actually think to do it. He will commit and make these crazy, once-in-a-lifetime experiences happen.”

In the years since, the family’s strong connection has prevailed through a (literal) change of sea with a return to city life in Sydney, where India Rose and Michelangelo have followed in their father’s footsteps to pursue a career in modelling. Meeting weekly to catch up over dinner or a movie, their care for one another is unwavering. Michelangelo puts this down to shared family qualities – “we’ve all been brought up to be respectful, loving and nurturing” – but Marty also thinks their closeness is rooted in their shared love of adventure: “I’m bowled over by how much support my children have for me. I’m so grateful that they appreciate my craziness and our dream making – it’s been an exciting ride with them.”