A test of values is looming for top-level blacksoil country on the famed Liverpool Plains with the scheduled auction next month of “Duraba” at Curlewis.
The 1228 hectare (3034 acres) mixed farming property is being offered for sale by Ruralco Davidson Cameron Real Estate on behalf of its expatriate Englishman owner, James Weston.
Mr Weston and his wife Jackie left a farm in Bedfordshire in search of broader acres in Australia in 2004, and they found what they were looking for in “Duraba”, then owned by Brian Riordan.
Earlier, the property was held for many years by the Cramer family, who ran it as a mixed farming enterprise including substantial numbers of sheep.
The present owners operated “Duraba” initially as a graingrowing venture, but more recently have switched to cattle trading with supplementary cropping.
By making and conserving silage from home-grown crops, they are able to buy young cattle at times of the year when the peak of the “grass market” has subsided and prices are often more favourable.
Annual turnover is around 2000 head, with cattle generally being bought as weaners at 220-280 kilograms and grown out on sub-tropical pastures supplemented with silage before wintering on forage oats.
The cattle are resold after gaining 200-250kg in weight, either to feedlotters or to processors including Woolworths and Teys.
Despite the success and profitability of the enterprise, the Westons are selling now with some reluctance to return to the “Old Dart” for family reasons, and the property is for genuine sale.
It is expected to appeal to both established farming interests and investors, thanks to its prime location, natural endowments and quality improvements.
Situated 30 kilometres south-west of Gunnedah and 18km south-east of Mullaley, “Duraba” is a property of heavy basalt soils of which about 800ha is cultivated, gently sloping plains country recently contoured.
Of this, about 120ha is sown to tropical pastures and the balance is fallowed for the coming winter crop.
The remainder of the property is natural pastures, lightly timbered and used for grazing.
Average rainfall is 625mm and the property is watered by two equipped bores, one supplying a 100,000 litre concrete tank reticulating to 25 paddock troughs, and five dams.
The property is fenced into 21 main paddocks, much of it with new fencing, and five smaller paddocks suitable for feedlotting.
A near-new set of steel cattle yards with capacity for about 500 head has a crush with fitted scales and a covered work area with concrete pad and laid-on water.
Other working improvements include a large machinery shed, silo complex with roller mill and bulk grain shed.
A feature of “Duraba” is the homestead, which is built of concrete slabs and set into the side of a hill (giving natural insulation against heat and cold).
It has established gardens with a beautiful elevated view overlooking the Liverpool Plains.
The four-bedroom home has generous living areas and a modern kitchen with two walk-in pantries and a five-burner gas stove cooktop, opening to a large alfresco entertaining area.
“Duraba” will go to auction in Gunnedah on March 7, with price expectations originally of $5.5-$6 million, although the level of early interest in the property suggests this might prove conservative.