Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


A breed of their ownWinds Of Change

The timeless landscape of “Gundowringa” belies the innovative nature of the Prell family

Story and photos Freda Nicholls

Driving through the recent drought-stained landscape around Crookwell in southern New South Wales, a bright yellow autumn canopy of golden elm trees breaks the monotony. Golden leaves rustle in the breeze along the road to “Gundowringa”, beckoning the traveller further along the meandering driveway into an area renowned for its sheep, wool and cold winter winds.

For 100 years, the Prell family has been on Gundowringa. Over five generations, family members have lived through the boom and bust cycles of life on the land. From the highs of skyrocketing wool prices in the 1950s, and the stability of running a reputable Corriedale sheep stud for more than 80 years, to the disaster of being quarantined with Ovine Johne’s Disease (OJD) in 2000, followed by a third year of drought in this, their centenary year.

A breed of their ownA wasting disease in sheep, OJD caused panic with government authorities when it was first detected in Australia. Sheep with symptoms were destroyed and affected properties immediately quarantined for an indefinite period. The only sheep sales allowed were directly to slaughter, and no help was given to cover financial losses. A gate in the sheep yards holds stud ear tags removed from culled sheep dating back to the 1960s.

The profusion of tags from the 2000 OJD cull is a sad sight to behold.
The Prells have vaccinated all of their remaining sheep against the disease, with all lambs treated at marking. As of July this year, the Prells were again able to sell their sheep for stud stock. “We’re looking forward to selling our stud rams again later this year,” Jeff Prell, 73, says with determined satisfaction. Jeff’s grandfather moved to Gundowringa from Queensland’s Gulf Country in 1904, and started what is now the oldest Corriedale stud on mainland Australia in 1916. “We’re still here after 100 years of challenges,” Jeff says. “We’ve just had to change with the times.” Story end

Full story OUTBACK Issue 36 Aug/Sept 2004

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