Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


Bold new era for Haddon Rig

Story Peter Austin
Photos Tom Keating

ImageThe weathered Boomanulla ram shed, where countless teams of sale-topping Merino rams were selected and prepared by generations of Haddon Rig sheep men, still stands where it always has by the bank of the Macquarie River.

Built early this century from hand-adzed pine, the historic shed was once a popular backdrop for photos of Haddon Rig's show teams which graced many a rural newspaper front cover, or wool-house calendar.

No less prized by long-gone cameramen were the huge river red gums that still tower over the shed, and probably were already full-grown when explorer John Oxley passed this way in 1818 on the first European foray into the north-west plains.

But today the shed no longer resounds to the clattering of rams' hooves. It serves a new purpose for the station's Falkiner family owners, as a riverside lodge for barbecues and private station use.

A newer ram shed at an off-river location, built higher for added coolness and greater ease of removing manure, fulfils the function of the original shed. Boomanulla, on which the original ram shed stands, was bought by an earlier generation of the Falkiner family for its river access and consequent suitability as a base for growing and preparing sale rams.

Image But these days, when irrigation channels and bore-fed polythene pipe criss-cross the Macquarie Valley landscape, proximity to river water is no longer the imperative for sheep movement that it once was.

A few hundred metres upstream from where the superannuated ram shed sits, hoarding its memories of long-gone champions, a newer installation signals the changing times on Boomanulla - and indeed, at Haddon Rig.

Two axial flow electric pumps draw 120 megalitres a day out from the river to water cotton now grown on 500 hectares developed for irrigation. In fact, the 1800ha property doesn't carry any sheep, its heavy river soils more suited to cotton, wheat and cattle.

Haddon Rig today is a bit like that: the old and new in juxtaposition - history alongside progress; tradition alongside innovation; cherished memories alongside visions for the future.

It's a potent mix that has been a part of Haddon Rig - the famous sheep station near Warren in north-west NSW - since this branch of the pastoral Falkiner family first established their sub-dynasty there in 1916. Story end

Full story: Issue 22, April/ May 2002

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