Despite the continuing dry in the Central West, an upcoming auction of two Canowindra properties is drawing strong inquiry from local, Southern Tablelands and offshore interests.
On offer are Leneva and the nearby (but not adjoining) Leneva South, two highly regarded mixed farming properties owned by retired Melbourne-based businessman John Wheeler.
They are part of a wider property portfolio in the Canowindra/Gooloogong district that has been built up by Mr Wheeler over the past 10 years.
The properties are managed by John Wheeler's brother Reg (who lives on Leneva).
It's only due to Reg's impending retirement that the Canowindra properties are now for sale.
Leneva and Leneva South have been listed for sale with James P. Keady of Cowra and will go to auction in Cowra on February 26, unless sold before.
It represents a rich entry opportunity to top-drawer Central West farmland, currently managed as a commercial cropping and prime lamb operation, but well suited also to stud or more intensive uses.
Leneva, the larger of the two blocks, at 356 hectares (880ac) was previously owned for several years by another businessman, Dean Neville, and before that by the Traves family.
Situated just 2.7 kilometres west of Canowindra, Leneva is a highly productive property of well-drained red loam soils, 96 per cent arable and timbered originally with yellow and grey box and kurrajong.
The property has undergone substantial upgrading under the present ownership.
There has been major investment in three new pivots, shedding, fencing, silos, stock water, soil enhancement and house renovations.
Just under 100ha is developed for irrigation, with four pivots (each servicing 13ha) fed by underground mains with water from the Belubula River, backed by a 243 megalitre licence.
Average rainfall is 625mm and stock and domestic water is drawn from a new bore feeding a header tank and 20 troughs.
There are also three dams and a town water connection.
Working improvements include three machinery/hay sheds, 700 tonnes of bunker and silo grain storage, a two-stand shearing shed and steel sheep and cattle yards.
There is a five-bedroom pise homestead built in 1906 and renovated in 1960 with further renovations and extensions in 2005.
It is set in easy-care gardens on an elevated site with river views.
The homestead features a large, tiled family room with Arrow wood fire and split system air conditioning, modern kitchen/dining and a covered outdoor entertaining area with a saltwater pool.
The property is divided into 15 main paddocks serviced by a fenced laneway.
Leneva South, to be offered separately, is a property of 152ha (376ac) of similar-type red loam country situated 9km south of Canowindra and described as more than 90% arable.
Subdivided into six paddocks, the property has a new set of steel sheep yards and town water reticulated from a 22750-litre header tank to six new troughs, supplemented by three dams.
Currently running about 1800 first-cross ewes without hand-feeding, the properties have an estimated dryland carrying capacity in normal seasons of 10-12 DSE/ha.
This is augmented by cereal and legume cropping.
Bidding for Leneva is expected to top $5 million, while Leneva South is expected to sell in a range from $10,600/ha to $11,000/ha ($4300-$4500/ac). The irrigation licence will be negotiated separately.
By PETER AUSTIN.