The Dundee property “Finlarig” being marketed in the New England had its origins as a soldiers’ block.
“Finlarig” – a Gaelic word meaning “fair park” – was one of nine blocks thrown open to soldier settlement in 1952 from Rangers Valley Station.
It was drawn in the 1952 ballot by Hugh Stevenson, and now, 66 years later, and a decade since his death, the property is being sold by his family to wind up the estate.
The 696 hectare (1720ac) grazing property has been listed for sale by Jim Ritchie of Landmark Harcourts and Craig Thomas of Col Say and Company, both of Glen Innes, and will go to auction on December 7.
It’s an offering likely to appeal to local families seeking pastoral expansion or to graziers further west wanting a high-rainfall breeding base with fodder-cropping capability.
Situated 32 kilometres north of Glen Innes, “Finlarig” is a gently undulating property of loamy blue granite soils ideally suited to improved pasture establishment.
About 400ha of the total area is considered arable, of which more than half has been cropped over the years for forage or silage before being sown to an improved pasture mix of fescues, clovers and ryegrass.
Average rainfall is a summer-dominant 839mm and the property is watered by dams – some spring-fed - and several creeks.
The property is fenced into 24 main paddocks with well-maintained internal and boundary fencing, and remnant shade trees of box, apple and gum have been complemented by planted shelter belts.
Calves bred on “Finlarig” are fattened on winter crops of oats, and millet is often grown for summer grazing.
Corn has also been grown in the past, and the proximity of the property to the Rangers Valley Feedlot means a ready market is on hand for surplus fodder.
A program of annual topdressing has maintained pasture productivity and thereby underpinned an above-local-average stocking rate estimated by the owner at about 7.5 DSE/ha (3 DSE/ac), with scope to ramp up production with further investment in improved pasture.
Like many hard-working World War II soldier settlers, Hugh Stevenson made a success of his block, where he and his wife Dal built a home and raised a family of four children.
During his watch, the property typically carried some 2000 Merino sheep (of Rossmore blood) producing heavy fleeces of clean, medium wool, and 50 cows.
Since 2006 the property has been operated under a leasing arrangement by his son Doug, in conjunction with two adjoining blocks which Doug will retain.
He has carried on his late father’s Merino breeding program, while adding a prime lamb dimension by mating a proportion of his ewes to meat sires.
The original 1950s four bedroom timber homestead has undergone some renovation over the years and is currently tenanted. It is set in extensive gardens with tennis court (not in use).
Working improvements include a four-stand shearing shed and sheep yards, a weather shed for 1000 woolly sheep and a set of timber and steel cattle yards.