In 1994, Glenquarry dairy farmers Bruce and Rhonda Churchill and their son Scott made a move that many of their Southern Highlands counterparts had already made, since the 1970s.
They upped stumps and headed west, using the money from the sale of their valuable highlands farm to expand into more hectares, and swapping their daily milking round for a more extensive enterprise.
Skipping past the Southern Tablelands, the Churchills headed into the South West Slopes and found what they were looking for at Bethungra, in the Cootamundra district.
At that time Chris Murphy, the flamboyant former manager of rock group INXS, was winding up his holdings in the area (which included the historic Bethungra Park).
From the wash-up of Murphy’s properties, the Churchills secured the 526-hectare Oakhill (which they renamed Tondara, after the former larger holding from whence it came) and the adjoining 466ha Trelawney.
They took up residence in November 1994.
The original Tondara had earlier been held by broadacre farming innovator Dr Allan Bond (along with Kiacatoo at Condobolin).
Before that it had been held by the Holt family, who took the Tondara name with them as the prefix to their Hereford stud when they relocated to Coonong at Urana in 1972.
In 2002, the Churchills were able to annex another adjoining property, the 416ha Nova Scotia.
They had been leasing the property for the previous three years.
This took the expanded holding to 1408ha (3480ac), and with the family now scaling down, it has hit the market as Trelawney Aggregation, representing a rare opening in this tightly-held area.
The property has been listed for sale by expressions of interest by Miller and James Real Estate of Temora.
Offers are invited by March 12 for the aggregation as a whole or as separate blocks.
Recent sales of comparable land in the area suggest a bidding range on the high side of $10,500/ha ($3500/ac), judging by the present level of interest.
Situated 10 kilometres north of Bethungra with the Bethungra Range as a backdrop, Trelawney Aggregation is a property of undulating and nearly all arable rich red loam country.
Under present ownership the property is managed principally as a cattle breeding enterprise, with a herd of 650 Angus breeders raising calves to feeder weights.
It is supplemented by cash and fodder cropping.
About 600ha of country is cropped every year for grain and forage, in rotation with lucerne pasture phases and an ongoing lime program.
However, the country is also well suited to a sheep/winter cropping mix, and the area has long been renowned for its prime lambs.
Average rainfall is 600mm and the properties are watered variously by town water connections, bores and dams reticulating to paddock troughs.
A fenced laneway runs along the length of the property.
As a whole, the property is ideal for extended family occupation.
Each of the three blocks have a quality homestead, including the classic Trelawney homestead, built in 1906 with modern extensions.
Working improvements include two sets of steel cattle yards (one with covered work area), machinery and hay sheds, a new workshop, 830 tonnes of silo capacity and two disused woolsheds.
By PETER AUSTIN