For the second time in as many months, the Crookwell Services Club in two weeks’ time will host the relatively rare event of an auction of a local property of 400-plus hectares.
Last month it was the long-held Cummins family property, “Weedalga”, that went under the hammer, its $4.3 million sale price bearing testimony to its rich basalt soils and prime location.
This month buyers will be able to compete for “Maidstone Downs”, a 446ha (1102ac) grazing property being marketed by Elders. Situated in lighter-type, semi-timbered country between Binda and Laggan, “Maidstone Downs” is being promoted as a lifestyle property with a grazing dimension and scope for development.
The property is owned by Jo-Anne and Ian Dickson, who bought it in 1987 following an earlier move to an adjoining property, “Chain-of-Ponds”, by Mrs Dickson’s late father, Alan Webb.
Mr Webb was one of a number of former dairy farmers from the Southern Highlands who sold their high-priced farms and moved to broader acres in the Crookwell district in the 1960s and ‘70s.
The present owners, who are selling to move to Victoria for family reasons, both have professional careers which they combine with their chosen rural lifestyle as wool and beef producers. Sally Carson of Elders Crookwell has listed the property for May 25 auction, where it is expected to attract interest from “tree-changers” and young couples seeking an entry-level property with upside.
Situated six kilometres from the village of Binda and 15km from Crookwell, “Maidstone Downs” is described as undulating to hilly country of slate/shale formation with some alluvial flats and quartz outcrops. About 90ha of the property is retained natural timber, leaving about 80 per cent of the property clear for grazing.
Average rainfall is a generous 995mm and pastures are a mix of natural grasses and areas of improved pastures established under cover crops and topdressed.
The country as such is well suited to finewool production (the main fleece line from the last shearing fetched 1581c/kg) and the present owners run a Merino flock with Poll Hereford cows.
In its present condition the property is considered capable of running up to 1500 sheep or 100 breeding cows, while providing a low-stress, private and “green” residential environment.
When the present owners took over the property more than half the area was still green timber and the only structure was a shearing shed.
Working with government agencies, they cleared approved areas, fenced off the permanent creek that runs along the southern boundary, identified sites for the 26 dams and established native shelter belts.
A two-bedroom, log-cabin-style home was built in 1987 and later extended with Besser blocks to incorporate spacious formal and family living areas.
Adjacent to the homestead is a separate and self-contained studio, guest accommodation or granny flat, also of Besser block. Other structural improvements since 1987 include extensions to the original woolshed, steel and timber sheep yards, cattle yards to handle 80 head, hay shed and lockable workshop with concrete floor.