Dolgelly dynasty wind-up

Dolgelly dynasty wind-up

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A substantial property in prime North West farming country has hit the market for the first time to wind up nearly 140 years of extended one-family ownership.

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A substantial property in prime North West farming country has hit the market for the first time to wind up nearly 140 years of extended one-family ownership.

Dolgelly Station is the Moree district property of brothers John, Ken and Peter Todd.

It trades under the name of Keens Estates, perpetuating the name of the property's free-selector founders.

These were John and Ada Keen and three of their sons - Herbert (known as Bruce), Cecil and John.

They arrived in the area after moving from the Hunter Valley to take up the resumed Dolgelly section of Tulloona Station in 1882.

The story of how the Todd family came into the picture is worth telling.

In 1944, towards the end of the war in Europe, an RAF Wellington bomber piloted by Bruce Keen from Dolgelly was shot down over Austria.

Its five-man aircrew became prisoners of war.

Among them was Aussie navigator Ken Todd, a peacetime schoolteacher.

It was at a postwar reunion in Sydney hosted by Bruce, who was Ken's pilot, where Ken came to meet Jean.

Bruce had returned from the war married to Pearl Enid (nee Cooke) and took over the running of the farm until 1983, when Bruce died.

Bruce had two sisters, Lynda and Jean.

Lynda never married, but Jean, Bruce's younger sister, married Ken Todd.

Bruce and Ken had not only served in the same aircraft, but had also been prisoners of war in the same camp for 12 months.

In the early days Dolgelly was the site of a pub and also a sports ground where an annual carnival of athletics and horse-racing events consistently drew big crowds.

The original holding of more than 12140 hectares (30000 acres) has been whittled down by subdivision over the years.

The homestead portion - still a substantial block of 5089 hectares (12,570ac) - has remained in Keen family hands.

This is the property now listed by Moree Real Estate for sale by expressions of interest.

It has been listed to allow the fourth-generation co-owners to pursue their individual directions.

Offers close on December 12.

Situated 75 kilometres north of Moree and 44km north-west of Garah, Dolgelly is a property of mostly level coolibah/belah country of black, self-mulching soils.

It is interspersed with areas of red ridge and some sandy soils.

The property sits in a regional nest of well-developed broadacre farms, renowned for their year-round cropping productivity in normal seasons.

Just over 2900ha of Dolgelly Station has been cultivated.

Before the drought intervened, Dolgelly Station supported a rotational cropping program of winter cereals, sorghum and chickpeas.

Dryland cotton has also been grown successfully.

The cropping program was typically supplemented by a self-replacing Merino flock of 5000 ewes and 300 Angus cattle.

In keeping with the present seasonal realities, all cattle have now been sold off and a reduced flock of in-lamb ewes is being hand-fed.

Average rainfall is 500mm and the property is watered by four capped and piped bore schemes, feeding 22 tanks and 53 paddock troughs.

The original timber-framed woolshed where up to 20000 sheep were being shorn in the 1940s now has six equipped stands.

The main sheep yards adjoining the shed are supplemented by a second outlying set of yards.

Other working improvements include steel cattle yards, machinery shed and workshop, two grain sheds and six cone-bottom silos of 280t total capacity.

The main homestead, built around 1900, has three bedrooms.

It also features separate lounge and dining rooms, verandahs and in-ground pool, and is complemented by two cottages dating from the 1920s.


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