Martin and Karen Sullivan have created something of an agricultural fortress on Queensland's border with NSW.
The couple have developed Tooroora, their 6677-hectare (16,498-acre) property near Dirranbandi, into a practically drought-proof operation that grows cotton, fodder, grain, beef, wool and lamb. It's not something that's likely to be repeated.
"You can't develop anymore, you've got to buy in now because that's just the way it is with water licences in the lower Balonne catchment," Mr Sullivan said.
Sitting on the floodplains of the Culgoa and Balonne Rivers, Tooroora is one of the first south of St George to extract regulated and harvesting water in any flood event.
At Tooroora's heart is 780ha of protected irrigation, divided into nine fields. Right now, the Sullivans are growing 530ha of cotton and 250ha of mung beans, which are included in the sale.
There are, in fact, almost two farms in one.
Surrounding the irrigated area is the 4028ha (9953 acres) of dryland country, which Mr Sullivan said predominantly grew wheat and barley and chickpeas in the winter and was allowed to fallow through the summer.
The district has 450 millimetres of annual average rainfall but a couple of floods a year normally replenished the deep grey silty loams.
Right now, there was already a full moisture profile, ready to establish the 2022 winter crop.
Whoever bought the property would get a run-up start, Mr Sullivan said.
"The cotton and mung beans will be ready to pick and harvest about a week or 10 days after the auction date, so whoever buys it will be straight into production," he said.
"They'll be planting wheat a week or 10 days after it as well. Every acre has a choc-a-block moisture profile. It's just a bit of a lay-down misere to get an absolute cracker of a wheat crop this year."
If that wasn't enough, there's a livestock arm to the business as well. The family trades around 1200 steers plus 5000-6000 lambs a year.
"I try to background cattle, predominantly on agistment if I can," Mr Sullivan said, "then I bring them in about July and put them onto oats or forage and send them off as feed-on steers.
"It's exactly the same process with the sheep."
Cattle bunkers and a sheep feedlot allow the operation to continue during drought.
"There's enough fodder on farm to keep the operation moving forward, rather than just pulling up because it's dry," Mr Sullivan said.
"When we get a rotten dry time, we still process the same amount of stock to keep the cashflow rolling."
Even then, Mr Sullivan is not satisfied simply to take the lamb. There's more.
"I love wool so I tend to pick the Merinos because they give you a bit of a backstop if the lamb market goes down," he said.
To that end, Tooroora has its own five-stand shearing shed. There are sheep and cattle yards to match, too, with the latest in computerised drafting and weighing technology that Mr Sullivan said has cut the staffing requirements in half and made a dramatic difference to the stock.
"My wife and I drafted 800 steers the other day by ourselves and hardly even spoke to each other - the machinery did it all for us," he said.
"It's a happier workplace and the stock reflected it too, we've lifted our weight gains with automation by at least 100 grams a day."
Creature comforts are also laid on at the five-bedroom homestead on the river banks, which has sweeping enclosed verandahs, modern open-plan kitchen with butler's pantry, extensive lawns and gardens, floodlit tennis court and swimming pool.
Even though the Sullivans have been running Tooroora with a team of four, there is enough accommodation for a wealth of workers or visitors.
Another two timber homes, each with three bedrooms and offices, are also set on the banks of the river.
There's fully self-contained five-bedroom air-conditioned shearers quarters and five-bedroom air-conditioned donga-style accommodation with kitchen.
A 64x9m hay shed is matched with a silage pit storing approximately 1850t of barley silage and a second 100x20m pad with white rock.
The main machinery shed or workshop is 41x24m. The total silo capacity is 1210t plus a bulk grain storage shed with a capacity of 4000t.
Contact Nutrien Harcourts agent Andrew Jakins on 0427 374 441 or Dirranbandi Pastoral Agency's Stephen Burnett on 0428 258 241.
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