A substantial mixed farming property in the Southern Monaro had its present ownership origins in the early 1870s, when the periodic phenomenon of Halley’s Comet was in the news.
This event inspired Ralph Liddle to name his selection of land “Cometville”, and the name still attaches to one of the two homesteads on the property now for sale as “Weewalla”.
Liddle had emigrated to the colony from his native Yorkshire to try his hand at the gold diggings, and took part in the Eureka Stockade uprising, before abandoning mining to try his hand at farming.
The land he selected, just north of the Victorian border, was adjacent to Delegate Station, taken up by Robert Campbell in 1836 as an outstation of his “Duntroon” estate near present-day Canberra.
Later subdivisions and annexations to Liddle’s original selection have resulted in the “Weewalla” property of 1100 hectares (2719ac) now offered for sale for the first time since settlement.
It is being sold to allow for the retirement of the present owner, John Turner, whose wife Stephanie – a Liddle descendant – died in 2015.
The property has been listed for sale by auction in Delegate on July 25 by Tim Schofield of Elders and Shannon Fergusson of Fergusson Real Estate and Property, both of Cooma.
Situated five kilometres from Delegate and 130km south of Cooma, “Weewalla” is a property of mostly gently undulating grey loam country ranging from timbered ridges to open Monaro plains.
About half the total area is pasture improved (sown species include cocksfoot, phalaris, fescue and ryegrass) and topdressed annually, of which about 50ha is cropped each year for fodder hay and grain.
Much of the country is arable and well suited to pasture improvement (of which Delegate Station was one of the pioneers, in the 1920s), offering scope for further investment and higher production.
During Mr Turner’s watch the property has been managed conservatively, with modest stocking of Merino sheep and cattle augmented by seasonal agistment or opportunity trading.
Carrying capacity in normal seasons is estimated at 5-6.2 DSE/ha (2-2.5 DSE/ac) but the present modest stocking comprises 2140 sheep including 800 breeding ewes, and 80 cows.
Average rainfall is 630mm and the property is well watered by spring-fed creeks and 18 dams.
The property is subdivided into 21 main paddocks, with most of the fencing described as “new to excellent” in condition, following a 15-year program of replacement and renewal.
Working improvements include a three-stand shearing shed (with shed room for 1100 woollies), renovated shearers’ quarters and two sets of sheep yards.
There are steel cattle yards, machinery and hay sheds and silos.
The main homestead, built around 1920 for John Liddle (one of Ralph’s two sons), is of timber construction, recently renovated.
Set in established gardens, it has three bedrooms and a modern kitchen/dining area.
It also has a spacious lounge with wood heater, a sunroom and outdoor entertaining area.
Built around the same time, to replace an original dwelling, the “Cometville” homestead (now rented) is of double-brick construction with three bedrooms and generous living areas.
Recent sales of comparable land in the area indicate a likely bidding range of $3.4-$3.6 million when “Weewalla” goes under the hammer next month.