A Central West grazing property with a difference has been listed for sale by CBRE, presenting an entry opportunity for a buyer keen to adopt proven sustainable farming practices.
Gilgai Farms is an aggregation of five contiguous properties situated in choice mixed farming country 10 kilometres north of Geurie, midway between Dubbo and Wellington.
The aggregation is owned by Singapore-based businesswoman Rhonda Willson and managed by her brother Eric Harvey, who has overseen its development since the first purchase in 2000.
It is only his impending retirement that has brought the property onto the market, and offers are invited for the property as a whole or in its component parts (provided all are sold) by the October 3 closing date.
Under Mr Harvey's stewardship, Gilgai Farms has gained a wide reputation as an exemplar of regenerative farming, using ecologically sound systems to promote biodiversity, soil health and sustainability.
The property carries organic certification, and since 2004 it has been operated on holistic resource management principles, using cell grazing to improve landscape condition while lifting productivity.
Various university, government department and environmental organisations have tapped Gilgai Farms as a research resource and the property's responses to management changes are well documented.
Comprising 2183 hectares (5392ac), Gilgai Farms is described as level to gently undulating country of sandy clay and clay loams.
Much of it is managed as grassy woodland with retained scattered timber of white, yellow and grey box, pine, ironbark and kurrajong.
Native and introduced grasses are interspersed with sub-clover, trefoil and lucerne.
The productivity of the sward is being enhanced by applications of an organically compliant compost 'tea' until 2008, after which soil tests showed no further applications were warranted.
An estimated two-thirds of the property is arable, and while not farmed in recent years, crops for fodder were grown in the past by the present owner using the no-till 'pasture cropping' technique.
Before the drought, and since the adoption of cell grazing, the property carried a Simmental cattle herd of 200-400 breeders and a self-replacing flock of Grathlyn Merinos based on 2500-3000 ewes.
A small, direct-to-customer meat business was developed as a vertical extension of the farm operation, supplying organically certified, grass-fed beef and Merino lamb to a specialty market segment.
Now destocked in readiness for sale, the property has a covering of dry feed and is poised to respond to the next rain event.
Average rainfall is 615mm and as well as more than 70 dams, the property boasts a reticulation system delivering stock water from a solar bore and surface sources to 66 paddock troughs.
The main Gilgai homestead is a two-story brick veneer residence of five bedrooms built in the 1950s, renovated in 2004 and featuring an open-plan kitchen/family area, formal lounge and dining rooms, reverse-cycle air conditioning and under-floor heating.
It is complemented by an early-1900s brick homestead of four bedrooms on the Glenara block.
There is also a one-bedroom cottage on Murga Ridge.
Working improvements include three shearing sheds, cattle yards, machinery and hay sheds and workshop.
The main four-stand shearing shed on Gilgai is flanked by steel yards with an undercover work area and V-handler.
By PETER AUSTIN.