Let’s begin at the beginning;
It is important for me that we first acknowledge those previous caretakers of this land.
I would like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gain our prosperity today. I would like to pay my respects to the Bidwell people, to the Elders past and present. I respect their spiritual relationship with this country.
It has always intrigued me as to the past histories of this land. The numerous discoveries of stone artefacts from past cultures found on the lands surface and I wonder what became of these people who lived here? Today we might think these artefacts are from distant civilisations, the “Stone Age”, but these items may have been left here just 200 years ago as part of a stable society that nurtured this land.
Today we count the five generations of our forebears and think that this is a basis to a claim for this land, through their hard work and sacrifice, “the battlers of the past”.
What about the tens of thousands of years before?
We have our recent histories to give comfort to our claims that we have earnt that right of “ownership”. Our time line reference, our unit of measure is one human generation and beyond that the historical waters become a little muddy. We have inherited the physical with little regard for the spiritual.
So I think of the people of the past and their symbiosis with nature, their spiritual connection to the land. This is something we need to embody into the management of the land today and to see ourselves as custodians for future generations to come.
I would hope that the people of the present, who manage the land, and the people who visit this land as guests, can acknowledge its resource, its beauty and spirituality and acknowledge the past generation of people who have maintained those attributes.
Knockalong in Brief
‘Knockalong’ is a 1600 Ha grazing property in the Tombong valley near Delegate in the southern Monaro region of NSW.
Approximately 15% of the property’s area is native eucalyptus forest (excluding tree belts). The land form is undulating and there are generous areas of trees to provide shade and shelter.
The property has a long-term average annual rainfall of 600mm. It is sited on a shale derived soil and lies in altitude between 800 to 1000m above sea level. The soils, if not cared for, are easily erodible which is why the carrying capacity, averaged at 3100 DSE will vary depending on the seasonal conditions.
The natural environment
We pride ourselves in the management of the native fauna and flora found on the property. We aim to support the extensive natural biodiversity that is the cornerstone of sustainable production in our sheep/wool enterprise. As custodians of this heritage we manage the land to attain a natural resilience to cope our varying environmental conditions. This is a national heritage that must be preserved for future generations. This balance of production and conservation is a lifestyle that offers rewards beyond the property’s financial gains.
The main objectives of Knockalong is as a business to produce medium grade merino wool. Because of the prolonged drought conditions in recent years ( to 2010 ) the property has been stocked conservatively to preserve ground cover. This, and the varying economic pressures have required a change in property management whereby all breeding stock has been sold to create a less labour intensive wether-replacement flock. The current stocking rate of 1880 wethers is well short of the estimated carrying capacity of 3100 dse for reasons of land rehabilitation.
Roads/tracks are serviced with 26 stock grids comfortable access throughout the majority of the property. Two sets of timber sheep yards exist and one set of cattle yards. The 4-stand woolshed has a plunge dip adjoining and can house 700 head of full wool sheep. A further 290 + 250 full wool sheep can be housed at a shelter shed at the second set of sheep yards and a machinery shed.
A gravity-fed water irrigation system is based on the principals of Keyline and has a water storage capacity of approximately 100 mega liters on tap. The watering process from earth channels enables prepared country to be watered with the effect of extending the growing season. Water storage dams for stock are abundant and many can be filled from the major reservoirs.
The majority of the pastures on the property consist of predominantly native grasses, the most abundant being Microlaena, Spear grass, Kangaroo grass , Wallaby grass and Poa tussock in the gullies. There are remnants of previously sown Cocksfoot and Phalaris plants with a good representation of Subterranean clover in areas with a fertiliser history.
In the last eight years a great deal of our resources have been invested in rehabilitation work on the property. 2300 native trees and shrubs have been planted and efforts to restore degraded erosion sites have been ongoing. It is intended that ground cover is never less than 80-85% so as to optimise water retention and avoid erosion.
The Purple Patch Project made possible the construction of 12 km of subdivision fencing as well as water infrastructure. This was done to facilitate rotational grazing as a method of improving the medium to high quality native pasture being dominant throughout the property. The farm now consists of 32 major paddocks with variations in fencing quality (incl. 10 km of 7-wire electric fencing).
‘Knockalong’ has an active program for weed control. In the past 10 years the predominant problem weeds have been reduced by 95%. Weeds are managed seasonally in combination with rotational grazing of stock.
The sheep are crutched in April and shorn in October. Worm test are done prior to these two musterings so the correct drenches (if any) can be administered at that time. Any additional worm tests are carried out relative to seasonal variations.
Previous breeding stock management
The breeding program was based on local bloodlines to maintain the main flock. It was able to maintain all replacement ewes and 75% of replacement wethers. Ewes culled for age were often joined to Dorset rams to produce a cross-bred store lamb.