Deloraine is a picturesque little hamlet in Central Northern Tasmania.The Meander River gently flows through the centre of the town, which is flanked by rich farming land.
Travel to the outskirts of this picture of tranquility and you’ll come across a four-dairy farm; a 1350-cow business which has the latest in technology and is hailed as the world’s first commercial robotic rotary dairy.
This is Dornauf territory.
Lochie Dornauf must be Deloraine’s greatest ‘Salesman’. Talk with him for a few minutes about his old home town and he makes you feel you should include it in your next holiday destination.
Three generations of his family have milked cows on the farm -‘Gala’- since his grandparents decided 50 years ago, that they’d had enough of working behind a desk and pursued a life on the land.
Lochie and his 3 older brothers grew up on the farm and played footy with Deloraine.The youngest Dornauf played 70-odd games with the ‘Roos after beginning in the Under 16’s.
His time with Deloraine was interspersed with a brief stint at South Launceston, but when it was time to further his studies, he decided to head to the mainland.
He began a Health Sciences degree at Latrobe University in 2011 and played with the Uni team in the Amateur competition. Starring in the mid-field he scooped up the Best and Fairest award.
Lochie travelled to the bush to play with Heathcote the following year and enjoyed another terrific season,this time sharing the B & F and leaving a big impression on those around the Bendigo area.
He’s a breezy personality; one of those types who make a footy club spark and draws introverts out of their shells.Blokes like him are the lifeblood of the place.
And he’s certainly not lacking in confidence.
You wouldn’t want to be if you decided to accept a coaching appointment at the age of 20.
He applied for – and won – the coaching job at Watsonia last year,taking over a club that had won just 3 games in the previous two Northern.F.L (Division 3) seasons.
It was a club that was on the ropes and didn’t boast the best of cultures,but within a couple of months Lochie had transformed the place.
He lured a few of his Uni mates and other acquaintances .Youthful exuberance played a part and the mood within the club changed .Watsonia stormed up the ladder.
With the coach performing brilliantly during the season,they went all the way and squared off against Panton Hill in the Grand Final .In a dramatic game of fluctuating fortunes, they fell short of the flag by one point.
It was an incredible turnaround. Dornauf received some compensation ,however,when he took out the League Medal,ten votes clear of his nearest rival.He had been voted best-afield in seven games.
Heading into the final year of his Uni course,Lochie decided that he didn’t need the pressures of coaching .And with good mate Frazer Elliott urging him to have a crack at O & M footy,he was recruited to the Hawks.
The first impressions that he created were positive.Arriving alongside the Rovers three former AFL recruits who were all 190cm-plus and boasting sizeable reputations ,he was not so much the focus of attention.
But his chirpy personality soon won the playing group over and in no time he was ‘just one of the boys’.
And Rovers supporters have been delighted with the ‘little man who plays a big man’s game’.He has been a consistent performer,rotating through the mid-field and providing plenty of impetus up forward.
Apart from a couple of ‘brain fades’,of course.He took strong marks in the goal-square in a couple of matches.Instead of going back and converting,he played on,hitting the post against Wangaratta and being tackled at Lavington.
But he can be excused for the occasional ‘rush of blood’ and a bit of a ‘knock’ on his kicking out of defence.
Because he’s the ultimate hard worker. One minute he’s having a shot for goal;the next he’s mopping up in the back line.
His performance in the match against the Raiders a couple of weeks ago was probably his best for the Hawks.He kicked three goals and racked up over 30 possessions,which included more than a dozen strong marks.It prompted the boys from 2AY to remark that he is the best mark for his size in the League.
This was just before he reached over the top of ‘man mountains’ Dean Limbach and Tyson Hartwig to take a ‘screamer’ in the last line of defence.Someone around me said at the time………”Gee,this bloke’s got telescopic arms.”
I took notice of the baby-faced number 9 as the boys warmed up before a recent game.Yapping incessantly,flipping a football between his hands or bouncing it against the wall,he was perpetual motion. His enthusiasm was contagious.
If the Rovers season is to continue to build,the boy from Deloraine will have a fair part to play in it.