Property development – Introduction

On the land now known as Knockalong there are two residences, but there also exists the remnants of five other house sites, today only raised mounds of earth and rubble. These are the remnants of the original settlers that occupied the area. They worked as Sheppard’s and squatters for larger landholders as well as some being landholders themselves.

This property, Knockalong, was founded prior to the First World War by my grandfather, Edgar Percy Wright (1891-1979) who bought some land here before going to fight in Europe.

On his return from the war (1917) he applied for and received a Soldier Settlement Block adjoining the land he already owned. He later bought some very “wild” non-cleared country from one of his neighbours bringing the total area of the property to 880 hectares.

He was one of ten children and was the manager of the family property, Tombong Estate up until the late 1950’s.

My father Rix Wright (1930-2009), worked with his father on the property where they began clearing trees from the land in the late 1950’s.  Initially they heaped the trees in long contoured rows across the steep hillside with 20 meters between rows.  The heaps were then burned and the land ploughed, sewn with grass seed and fertilised. Tree re-growth developed along the lines of burnt heaps as tree seed was germinated by this burning process.  Today the lines of trees form shelter for both pastures and stock.

My father became interested in the process of land development known as “Keyline”. This concept was devised and practices by PA Yeomans.  The ongoing clearing of trees over the whole property was done using those principals where tree belts 10-15 meters wide were left on the contour to provide shelter. Rix bought an additional 320 hectares of adjoining land in the 1950’s to practice his hand at Keyline incorporating water into the plan.

He built a large dam with earth channels leading from pipes through the base of the dam to transfer the water to specially pattern cultivated land where the ploughed pattern enabled a high degree of control over the flow of water across the hillside.

Since those early years, four more large dams and multiple earth channels have been built for the storage and transfer of water enabling the water to be transferred from one side of the property to the other, a distance of five kilometers. An additional 275 hectares of adjoining land was purchased in the late 1980’s bringing the total area of the property to 1600 hectares.

Today some new channels have been built to take the water from the original water system to more fertile soils where labour input will bring the greatest returns. Additional channels have also been used to divert water flows from gullies to dry ridges where the establishment of shelter trees have been effective to varying degrees of success.Early days - cutting fire wood