Family's mixed aggregation held since 1880s with water and scale

Marian Macdonald
By Marian Macdonald
Updated January 24 2022 - 4:45am, first published 7:30pm

Ilkadoon, home to the descendants of Thomas Campbell for 136 years, is on the market. For the first time ever.

In fact, the historic property is one of three in western NSW the Campbell clan have listed, as three brothers, Russell, Max and Brian, with their cousin Jenny, near retirement.



It's clearly going to be a wrench for Brian and his family, even though he and wife Jan are looking forward to exploring Australia.

A dedicated farmer, Mr Campbell said he'd barely left the region all his life but, once he'd driven out the gates for the last time, it would be extremely hard ever to return.

"It sort of tears on the old heartstrings a little bit," he said.

Thomas or "T.I." Campbell selected the patch of pine-covered land. A pioneer of the district, he was also a pioneer of both The Land and the NSW Farmers & Settlers Association.

That's not lost on Brian, who said the decision to sell Ilkadoon for the first time ever was "very emotional".

Roughly a 30-minute drive west of Griffith at Goolgowi, the 2333-hectare Ilkadoon with its 1925 era, 37-square homestead and showpiece gardens has been the pride of the Campbell clan since 1885.

At Gunbar 25 kilometres down the road is the dryland and arable 3250ha Paradise, which the family acquired in about 1935.

In between them, with 647ha, is Tarnook, which added large water entitlements to the aggregation but has been operated as a dryland farming block and could be rapidly converted into a spray irrigation operation.

It all adds up to 6230ha and 6500 megalitres of water, available as a whole or as individual blocks.

The three Campbell brothers have used that water to grow cotton, corn, soybeans and sunflowers while grazing sheep on the dryland portions of their holding since they left school in the 1970s.

With 5254ML of delivery entitlements and 820ha under irrigation, Ilkadoon has the most water.

"The irrigation is all first class, most of it is bankless channel and we use syphons for cotton," Mr Campbell said.

Even so, he said there was scope for more irrigation development on the property.

"There's three major irrigation channels running through Ilkadoon, so there's good access to water on the Murrumbidgee irrigation scheme," Mr Campbell said.

They're running about 350 Dorpers on the timbered section of Ilkadoon now but Mr Campbell said there was no reason why it couldn't support Merinos or cattle.

In fact, one of Ilkadoon's neighbours is a 30,000-head cattle feedlot.

There are other options, too, with a large walnut plantation across the road from the front gate.



"Ilkadoon goes from red sandy loam to grey self-mulching soils," Mr Campbell said.

"Tarnook is red, sandy loam and a bit of clay in some of it, but the country out of Paradise is red sandy-loam.

"Five thousand acres of Paradise has never been cultivated and it's all native pastures, it's good sheep and cattle country."

Paradise is currently only stocked with about 600 Dorper ewes at the moment, following a recent cull, Mr Campbell said.

It does have its own four-stand shearing shed and steel sheep yards with a capacity of at least 2000 ewes. That's how many ewes with progeny Mr Campbell thought Paradise can comfortably carry, too.

There are six grazing and four arable paddocks, three-quarters of them newly fenced.



"They're all very open with very little timber on most of them, so it's all pretty straightforward farming country," he said.

Depending on the year, he said, Tarnook could stock 600-800 ewes and progeny.

As you would expect of a holding that has been in one family for so long, Ilkadoon is well set up. There's not one, but five, homes on the property.

Aside from the period homestead, there's a home with airy verandahs built in 2018, a three-bedroom cottage, a four-bedroom house with several outbuildings, and a three-to-four-bedroom brick residence.

The main machinery shed is a substantial 30x30 metres, there's about 200 tonnes of grain and 50t of fertiliser storage, a four-stand shearing shed with 1500-head yards, a 1500m airstrip and even two quarries - one for concrete-quality sand and the other, road base - currently leased out for five years.

Spencer & Bennett agent Wayne Spencer said the price guide for Ilkadoon was $3398-$3645/ha (or $1375-$1475 an acre), Tarnook was $3015-$3311/ha ($1220-$1340/ac) and Paradise was $1458-$1606/ha (or $590-$650/ac).



Expressions of interest close on February 16, 2022. Contact Spencer & Bennett agent Wayne Spencer on 0427 566 688.

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Marian Macdonald

Marian Macdonald

National rural property writer

Writing for farmers in the Stock & Land, The Land, Queensland Country Life, Stock Journal and FarmWeekly, farming in Gippsland.

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