Lower Lachlan River cotton powerhouse

Lower Lachlan River cotton powerhouse


Twynam Pastoral Company’s Kahlbetzer family joined a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of illustrious former owners when they bought the Hillston property, “Merrowie”, in 1991.


Twynam Pastoral Company’s Kahlbetzer family joined a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ of illustrious former owners when they bought the Hillston property, “Merrowie”, in 1991.

“Merrowie”, which is now for sale along with Jemalong Station and Jemalong Citrus at Forbes (previewed here last week) in a major sell-up of Twynam’s Lachlan River holdings, has a rich history.

In 1911, it became part of the vast pastoral empire of the Yass-based land and sheep dealer, A.B. Triggs, only to be sold five years later to a partnership of T.A. Field Ltd and Vickery Brothers.

A partnership split in 1932 resulted in T.A. Field (a meat and pastoral company owned by brothers Thomas and Herbert Field) taking “Merrowie”, while the Vickerys took the former partners’ adjoining station, “Willandra”.

Two years later a Field family asset division saw Herbert take “Merrowie” (along with “Red Hill”, “Widgiewa” and “Giro”), and it remained a Herbert Field Pty Ltd property until the late 1960s.

It was home to a Merino flock of about 20,000 sheep including the Merrowie Merino stud which he established in 1947.

After being sold by Fields, “Merrowie” entered a new era of irrigation development, first under the ownership of Dr E.J. Gazzard and later, the Benson family, before Twynam’s arrival in 1991.

Since then, it has been revved up into an irrigated cotton-growing powerhouse augmented by dryland cropping, sheep breeding and cattle trading, making a rich prize for a serious investor.

As with the Forbes properties, “Merrowie” is being marketed jointly by Johnston Rural Group in Forbes and Bruce Gunning of Ray White Rural Sydney, with expressions of interest closing on March 12.

A modest 12,000 hectares when bought by Twynam in 1991, “Merrowie” now encompasses 32,730 hectares (80,843 acres) following the later additions of “Rivernook”, “Myalla”, “Hazelwood”, part “Ballatherie”, part “Brooklyn” and “Mooral”.

Situated 15 kilometres west of Hillston fronting the Lachlan River, “Merrowie” is a property of mostly red loam soils with areas of chocolate grey soils and sandy loam.

Of the total area, just under 10,000ha has been developed for irrigation (flood furrow, linear move, border check or drip) with a further 1785ha of dryland cultivation.

Average rainfall is 370mm and irrigation water is sourced from the Lachlan River, under a 6689 megalitre general security licence, and bores, backed by a 10,528ML groundwater licence.

The property was among the first at Hillston to grow cotton, and since 2001 its irrigated cotton plantings have ranged from 1187ha to 4264ha (currently 2405ha) yielding typically 11.5-12.5 bales/ha.

Winter cropping – mostly dryland wheat, but also including at times canola, safflower or chickpeas – has ranged during the same period from 3600ha to 7800ha (last season 5141ha).

The remaining 20,000ha of natural grazing country supports a Merino flock of around 10,000 ewes joined to terminal sires, and seasonal cattle trading.

Residential improvements include the main “Merrowie” homestead of five bedrooms, set in attractive gardens, plus two other homesteads, a cottage and 10-room shearers’ quarters. Working improvements include the original woolshed built by Triggs in 1912 and now with seven equipped stands, sheep and cattle yards, machinery shed, hangar, workshop and silos.


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