A horse agistment property was the perfect stepping stone for young teachers Emily and Tom Blackburn to make their dream of farm ownership come true.
The couple has just purchased a 355-hectare grazing property near Dubbo and hope that when they sell their current property, Sunny Park, it will in turn help a horse lover, trainer or another young couple.
"It can appeal to the person like Tom and I who are just young people willing to work hard and want the extra passive income," Ms Blackburn said.
"We wouldn't be in the same position, buying a farm, if we hadn't had Sunny Park.
"It just ticked away and allowed us to save more money and get into a farm quicker than we had expected."
The Blackburns have managed to operate Sunny Park part time, fitting the agistment enterprise around teaching careers and caring for their new son, Wilfred.
Selling is bittersweet.
The pair even became engaged on the banks of the swiftly flowing Talbragar River, which runs along Sunny Park's boundary.
"All of those milestones at the very start of married life have been here but we're also really excited to step into ag because it's something we're both really passionate about," Ms Blackburn said.
"We've been trying and trying and trying for this last 12 months to buy a farm, and finally got there."
The couple offered agistment to racehorse trainers and other riders for about five years at Sunny Park, which is normally home to about 30 horses.
Just seven minutes from the centre of Dubbo, Sunny Park is something of a local icon, Ms Blackburn said, and clientele were all through word of mouth.
The 13.65 hectare (33.72 acre) property has all the horse infrastructure to support its strong local reputation.
There's a 10-box stable complex with tack, feed and storage rooms plus another 14 external stables, each with day yards.
A dozen spelling yards range in size from 1/4 to 1 acre and all the paddocks are accessed via a laneway.
For riding and training, there's a sand round yard, rolling yard and concrete wash bay.
Topping it all off is a full-sized Olympic dressage arena Mr Blackburn built as Emily's wedding gift.
The home front makes quite an impression, too. Sunny Park's double-storey, five-bedroom home with in-ground swimming pool is screened off for privacy and, at the same time, overlooks the entire property from its sweeping, elevated verandahs.
Outside, there's dozens of fruit trees and plenty of room for chickens and pets.
Ray White Rural Dubbo agent Brian McAneney said he expected buyer activity of over $1.35 million at the July 19 auction.
Call Mr McAneney on 0417 277 424.
Writing for farmers in the Stock & Land, The Land, Queensland Country Life, Stock Journal and FarmWeekly, farming in Gippsland.
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