It is often claimed by selling agents, more lyrically than truthfully, that “seldom does an opportunity arise to buy (a particular property)”, but in the case of Jemalong Station, few would argue, Peter Austin writes.
The well-known Lachlan Valley property, whose name is shared by the adjacent mountain range, weir and irrigation scheme, is one of the undoubted prized pastoral gems of the Central West.
Rich in history, and combining scale, prime location and versatility of production, it’s the sort of property that rarely hits the market.
It’s for sale now by expressions of interest, together with the “Jemalong Citrus” orchard property alongside, as part of a phased downsizing by its owner of nearly 40 years, Twynam Agricultural Group.
Also included in the sale package, as reported in The Land last week, is Twynam’s “Merrowie” irrigation farm at Hillston, and offers will be considered for all three as a package, or individually.
The marketing of Twynam’s Lachlan properties is being handled by Gary Johnston of Johnston Rural Group, Forbes, with Bruce Gunning of Ray White Rural Sydney, with a closing date of March 12.
Rich in history...(Jemalong Station is) the sort of property that rarely hits the market.
Situated 35 kilometres west of Forbes fronting the Lachlan Valley Way and the Lachlan River, Jemalong Station is today a property of 13,387 hectares (33,065 acreas), making it one of the few true “station-scale” properties remaining in the region.
It was purchased by John Kahlbetzer’s Twynam in 1979 as one of a rich parcel of station properties formerly owned by British Tobacco (Australia) under the trading name of Naroo Pastoral Company.
British Tobacco had acquired the property in 1961 from Australian Estates, which in turn had taken over the property – at first as manager, later as owner – in 1925 from the Gatenby family.
Norman Gatenby, who died in 1923, had pioneered irrigation with lucerne on “Jemalong” in the 1890s, making national headlines for demonstrating that 200ac (80ha) of lucerne could sustain 15,000 sheep for four months.
By 1897 Gatenby was carrying 31,000 sheep on “Jemalong” with 681 head of cattle.
While Naroo in the 1960s was carrying similar numbers, despite the resumption of 3178ha of the station in 1949 for soldier settlement.
But today the big 14-stand shearing shed on “Jemalong” sits silent, as the production focus in recent years has shifted to cattle, dryland and irrigated cropping, utilising the country’s rich loam soils.
About 2384ha of country is developed for flood, pivot or linear move irrigation while a further 10,845ha is dryland cultivation, much of it now used for grazing.
Cattle numbers since 2011 have ranged from 2642 head to the present 5666 head, the latter figure including 3131 breeders and the Twynam Angus stud herd, all of which could be purchased if desired.
An estimated 3000-4000ha of land is considered suitable for cotton growing, underpinned by 8885 megalitres of Jemalong Irrigation river water and 3107ML of groundwater entitlements.
Structural improvements are extensive, as befits the station’s long and diverse history, and includes the original station homestead, now reserved for the use of the Kahlbetzer family.
Set amid lawns and river gums beside the Lachlan, the sprawling nine-bedroom homestead began as a pise structure in the 1860s although most of it dates from the Gatenby era in the late 1880s.
A second “Dowra” homestead, now the residence of station manager Bryan Goldsmith, is on a section of the property earlier held by Tooth and Company, who had planned an intensive dairy.
Working structures include three sets of cattle yards, the aforementioned woolshed and yards, cottages and quarters, machinery sheds, workshops, horse facilities and 1100 tonnes of silo storage.
The 360ha (891ac) property now for sale as “Jemalong Citrus” was hived off the main station for development as a separate orchard venture in 2005, and now boasts 170,000 citrus trees.
Set on alluvial floodplain and red clay loam country adjacent to the river, the property comprises 215ha of established drip-irrigated orchard, backed by 1750ML of river and groundwater entitlements.
Fruit is despatched to Leeton for juicing under a supply contract, with production this year expected to reach 10,416 tonnes, rising to a peak of 11,925t when full production is reached in 2021-22.
Structural improvements on “Jemalong Citrus” include a four-bedroom homestead, a cottage, office, workshop and sheds.