Federation fighter’s Riverina stronghold

Federation fighter’s Riverina stronghold


Property
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One of the landmark properties of the Southern Riverina is back in play for the second time in a decade, following the listing for sale of historic “Nangunia” at Berrigan.

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One of the landmark properties of the Southern Riverina is back in play for the second time in a decade, following the listing for sale of historic “Nangunia” at Berrigan.

The 1819 hectare (4495ac) mixed farming property is owned by Simon and Emma Steel, who are selling to pursue their other interests – Simon as an agricultural contractor and Emma as a racehorse trainer. They have listed “Nangunia” for sale by expressions of interest with Matt Horne of Elders Deniliquin, and offers of around $5.5 million (plus crops) are expected when bids close on October 4.

The Steels, who hailed from Geelong in Victoria, bought “Nangunia” in November 2009 from former Queenslanders Warwick and Helen Ashby, highlighting the property’s nationwide appeal.

Its interstate ownership succession would no doubt have appealed to the property’s illustrious earlier owner, Emmanuel James Gorman, who was a prominent late-1800s advocate for federation. Gorman, also an early activist for water conservation in the Murray Valley, bought “Nangunia” with partners in 1898 as a largely unimproved grazing run of just over 27,000 acres (10,800ha).

Recognising the farming potential of the property, he promptly sold off some 6500ha in subdivision, and on the balance he ran 12,000 sheep and cropped some 1200ha. Before selling the property and moving to Sydney in 1921, he left a lasting memorial in the shape of the magnificent “Nangunia” homestead, which remains a key selling point.

The mixed farming formula introduced by Gorman on “Nangunia” persists to this day, with the present owners typically cropping 1220ha in winter rotations alongside a Merino flock of 1600 breeding ewes. Situated six kilometres south-east of Berrigan and 117km north-west of Albury, “Nangunia” comprises level to gently undulating country  of self-mulching grey soils, red sandy loam and granite rises.

Timbered originally by yellow and grey box, bull oak and Murray pine, the property retains strategically situated shade and shelter belts and also incorporates the 390ha Nangunia Wetland. This year’s cropping program comprises 1090ha of wheat, canola and barley which at last report was “hanging in” and showing harvest potential given reasonable spring rain.

Average rainfall is 450mm and the property is watered by dams and a piped stock and domestic supply from Murray Irrigation via the Mulwala Canal. The property also grows rice when water is available, and comes with five West Corurgan water entitlements and 238ha of irrigation country (some still under development) with potential to increase. The impressive “Nangunia” homestead, built in 1907 by John Ford and faithfully preserved by later owners, combines a unique blend of Victorian and Edwardian influences.

Built using bricks made on the property and Murray pine flooring, the five-bedroom home features wide verandahs, imported pressed-metal ceilings, stained glass windows and 10 ornate fireplaces. It is set in landscaped gardens with computerised watering system, and flanked by a 15-metre solar-heated in-ground pool and accompanying pool-house and bar area. A renovated two-bedroom cottage provides additional accommodation. Working infrastructure includes a five-stand (four equipped) woolshed restumped in 2008, sheep yards with five-way draft, machinery shed, drive-through workshop, a 550-tonne grain shed and nearly 6000 tonnes of silo storage.

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