A good test of Macquarie Valley mixed farming values will take place in Warren next month when two McKay family properties, “Nangarah” and “Yuronah”, go under the auctioneer’s hammer.
The two properties, both with Macquarie River frontages, will be offered for separate sale on February 14 by Dubbo agents, Ray White Rural and Redden and Hansen.
They offer a rich entry or “add-on” opportunity to a favoured region of the Macquarie Valley, offering scope for irrigated and dryland farming and low-cost grazing.
Situated 21 and 27 kilometres respectively east of Warren, the properties are owned variously by Ian McKay Jnr and his wife Meryl, who are scaling down after years of expansion and enterprise shifts.
It was Ian’s grandfather, James McKay, who established the present family dynasty with the purchase of “Kulkine” from the Kater family in 1925.
“Nangarah”, which adjoined “Kulkine”, was one of three soldier settler blocks resumed in the mid 1950s from Wambianna Station, and it was acquired by Ian’s father, Ian McKay Snr, in 1985 to accommodate an expansion into irrigated cotton.
The two other soldiers’ blocks, “Wilona”, and “Yuronah”, were likewise acquired in the late 1990s – just in time for the “noughties” drought which saw water allocations plummet for the next decade.
A tough decision was taken in 2008 to sell “Wilona” and “Yuronah” (although the latter has since been repurchased by Meryl) and also the farms’ irrigation water entitlements.
The “Nangarah” property now for sale was formed in 2012 when Ian and Meryl bought a parcel of land from the family comprising 60 per cent of the “Kulkine” country along with the “Nangarah” block.
It’s now a holding of 1068 hectares (2639ac) consisting of level to gently sloping country of heavy alluvial grey loams and brown and red loams, between the river and the Ewenmar Creek.
Of the total area, about 380ha is developed for irrigation and a further 250ha for dryland cropping. Recent crops have included winter cereals and oilseeds, chickpeas, cotton, sorghum and lucerne.
Water can be pumped from the river, when available or affordable, into a channel that runs along an easement to the 5000 megalitre on-farm reservoir.
Opportunities also occur to harvest overland flows, such as the 2016 event that enabled the reservoir to be filled to 70pc, providing irrigation water for last season’s 215ha sorghum crop.
In addition to the irrigation and dryland farming operations, the property has 300ha of natural grazing country with lucerne where a base breeding herd is run, supplemented by seasonal agistment cattle.
The original soldier settler’s “Nangarah” homestead has been extensively renovated and extended and is now a comfortable three-bedroom home set in established lawns with in-ground pool.
Working structures include a machinery shed/workshop with concrete floor and mezzanine level, a hay shed, transportable office and cattle yards with four-way pound to handle 200 head. Just 4.6km up-river from “Nangarah” is the “Yuronah” block of 547ha (1352ac), which also offers water harvesting opportunities, and storage in a 500ML reservoir.
The property has 354ha of developed irrigation and 67ha of dryland cultivation, and comes with a readily rentable older-type homestead of four bedrooms situated on the river bank.