Warren Merino heartland

Warren Merino heartland

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Only three families - two of them linked by marriage - have held the Warren district property Pine Clump since it was first taken up in 1887.

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Only three families - two of them linked by marriage - have held the Warren district property Pine Clump since it was first taken up in 1887.

That was the year when Scottish-born James McCalman with his wife Isabella and their children moved from Victoria to select a portion of James Richmond's 109,265-hectare Haddon Rig run.

They called their selection Pine Clump, and it remained in McCalman family ownership - and later McKay ownership after a 1950 wedding united the two families - until 1998.

Along the way, it underwent a substantial reduction in size when resumptions in 1954 carved off nearly half of its then 9712-hectare area to provide six closer settlement blocks for returned servicemen.

But it wasn't until 1998 that Pine Clump itself actually changed hands, when it was bought by the local Wass family to become part of their Warrie Grazing pastoral company.

The family are now selling Pine Clump, while retaining Warrie at Gulargambone, Woodside (home of the eponymous Merino stud) and Wallaroy at Warren and The Lagoon at Bourke.

Pine Clump - today a still-substantial holding of 3477ha (8593ac) - has been listed by Landmark Wilson Russ of Warren for sale by expressions of interest, closing on September 25.

Situated 50 kilometres north of Warren in the highly regarded Bullagreen district, Pine Clump is a productive mixed farming property with a long history of successful Merino breeding.

Before the property was broken up, shearings of 20,000 sheep were commonplace, in the 10-stand shed erected in 1908 with new Wolseley machine gear.

Today Merino sheep are still the main game on Pine Clump, complemented by winter cash cropping and opportunity cattle agistment.

Comprising level and mostly open country of grey, self-mulching to chocolate soils, containing areas of soft red and sandy loams, Pine Clump is timbered by scattered myall, rosewood, grey box, belah and wilga.

Just under 2000ha has been previously cultivated and the present program sees around 1200-1400ha cropped annually in a planned rotation of wheat, barley, chickpeas and lupins.

This sees wheat yields typically averaging around 3.5 tonnes/ha.

The balance of the country is native pasture of annual grasses and herbage including crowsfoot and medics.

This supports the core sheep enterprise based in normal seasons on a self-replacing flock of 2500 to 3000 Woodside Merino ewes which are lambed in August-September after a July shearing.

Average rainfall is around 480-500mm and the property is watered by three bores equipped with electric submersible pumps, and 18 ground tanks.

The present shearing shed, built on the site of the original, is of steel construction with six stands on a raised board, floor space for 100 bales and cover for 1000 woolly sheep.

It is flanked by steel sheep yards with three-way draft and a covered dual timber drenching race.

Other infrastructure includes timber/steel cattle yards, four cone-bottomed 40-tonne Jetstream silos, a timber-framed machinery/grain shed and an 800-metre airstrip with hangar.

The older-type main homestead, occupied by Geoffrey Wass and his family, is of weatherboard and clad construction.

It features three bedrooms, split system air conditioning and a double garage.

There are also two cottages.

By PETER AUSTIN.

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