One of the most esteemed farming properties in the tightly-held Narromine district is looking for a new owner after 137 years and five generations of the one family.
“Raeburn” is the 1847 hectare (4565ac) property of James and Julie Rae, who also own other country further east and are selling “Raeburn” as part of an enterprise restructure.
They have listed the property for sale by expressions of interest with Ashleigh McGilchrist of Landmark Wilson Russ at Warren, and a sale is expected to be concluded on the high side of $6 million.
Situated 28 kilometres south of Narromine, “Raeburn” is being offered either as a whole, or in two parts: one section of 931ha with most of the infrastructure, and another of 916ha with a grain shed.
Although managed now as a highly productive dryland farming operation, “Raeburn” has done just about everything in its time, since taken up as a wooded block of 2350 acres in 1880 by Walter Rae.
A Victorian by birth, Rae settled in Narromine as a bullock teamster, carting goods to and from Sydney and Newcastle before settling on the property he named “Raeburn” (after marrying a Burns lady).
The property was lightly cleared and managed as a sheep station. More country was added, and by the late 1940s “Raeburn” was shearing 8000 sheep.
Last year’s harvest included fababeans yielding four tonnes/ha, Lancer wheat at seven tonnes/ha and chickpeas at three tonnes/ha.
Its development as a farming property began in the 1950s after the present owner’s father, Wal, took over the reins, began serious clearing and discovered the land’s rich cropping potential.
He went out of sheep, ran Hereford cattle, and when irrigation water became available from Burrendong Dam in the 1960s, he acquired three licences and began growing irrigated grain and oilseed crops.
The irrigation development was taken a step further after his sons, James and Mathew, joined him in partnership in the 1980s. By the 1990s they were growing up to 600ha of cotton on laser levelled fields.
The family later went back into sheep, breeding first-cross lambs for the annual Narromine breeders’ sales, and in 2013 sold their water licences back to the government and returned to dryland farming.
Under the current program, wheat, lupins (2015 crop pictured), fababeans and chickpeas are grown in rotation on the 1720ha of arable country, in conjunction with an Angus herd of 250 breeders.
Last year’s harvest included paddocks of fababeans yielding four tonnes/ha, Lancer wheat at seven tonnes/ha and chickpeas at three tonnes/ha.
The results attest to the richness of the heavy, self-mulching, black and grey loam soils, noted for their moisture-retaining capability.
Another feature is water security, thanks to a stock and domestic supply from the Narromine irrigation system, and a 250ML on-farm storage dam filled by overland flows.
The attractive, six-bedroom brick homestead, built in 1962 for Wal and Dorothy Rae, has undergone a major updating in the past three years.