Woolbrook's graceful grazing history

Tablelands grazier lifestyle with history and scope

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Treechangers have completed the transformation of a sprawling historic homestead and its scenic grazing land on NSW's Southern Tablelands but an unexpected life changing event means they must sell their dream-come-true property.

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A pair of self-confessed townies have made a success of farming 929 hectares of scenic grazing land in NSW's Southern Tablelands while breathing new life into the property's sprawling historic homestead.

Built in 1853, Woolbrook was the centrepiece of a vast holding established by the Clements family at Bigga, and it shows.

The expansive proportions of the four-bedroom homestead are set off with exquisite pressed-metal ceilings and ornate fireplaces.

The beauty of the landscape, the opportunity to realise a lifelong dream to live on the land and the grandeur of the homestead brought Murray and Katrina Gregory to Woolbrook four years ago.

"It's always been a childhood dream of mine to get out of Sydney ever since I was a young fellow because I used to go on holiday in the country around Yass with my cousins," Mr Gregory said.

"Finally, once we got the kids through school and university, we decided to make the move."

Aside from those school holidays, the pair had no farming experience. Mr Gregory did have the advantage of being a builder by trade and Ms Gregory, a keen eye for aesthetics.

They fully expected Woolbrook would be their 'forever' home. It nearly was.

"We saw this house had the most amazing bones," Ms Gregory said.

"A lot of things had been done but we've been able to do a lot more to make this house just so much better."

Together, they removed walls and added creature comforts to the homestead like central heating and battery-backed solar, built a new kitchen and renovated the house paddock cottage.

Mr Gregory also used his skills to revitalise farm infrastructure. After plenty of consultation with shearers on the design, a whole new three-stand raised-board shearing shed and machinery workshop with concrete flooring were built under the skin of the existing shedding.

The roof's even insulated to keep the shed cool in summer - seven degrees cooler - and to eliminate condensation in winter.

Mr Gregory and his daughter installed new metal sheep yards with a holding capacity of 1500 and working capacity of 900 with serpentine drafting race, double drenching race, with guillotine gates.

The couple learnt about everything from dung beetles to fish emulsion along the way, significantly boosting the productivity of the native pastures.

There's 3 kilometres of double creek frontage and plenty of lambing paddocks sheltered by Kurrajong trees.

A century of rainfall records reveal an 813 millimetre annual average fairly evenly distributed through the year.

It's about 50 minutes from Crookwell but, at a lower altitude, is warmer.

"Woolbrook is 300 metres lower than Crookwell, which means you actually get about another six to eight weeks of growing season than Crookwell," Mr Gregory said.

The farm currently runs 2000 head of Merino wethers and Mr Gregory said there was ample opportunity to run at least another thousand.

With Woolbrook's homestead and farm infrastructure now all set up, that would have been the next step.

"But, unfortunately, we're not going to be able to spend another 15 years enjoying it, we have to move on because the silly old man has bad ankles," Ms Gregory said wryly.

Ankle surgery has gifted Mr Gregory a pair of titanium prosthetic joints, which have made movement painless but slower. The Gregorys will relocate to a smaller property closer to family.

"I've got to look for a slightly less rigorous life," Mr Gregory said.

Ray White Emms Mooney agent Stewart Murphy said Woolbrook was expected to make "north of $2.5 million" when it goes to auction on November 19. For inspections, contact Mr Murphy on 0427 363 118 or Josh Keefe on 0439 269 449.

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