“My grandfather came here in the mid-1940s because he saw it as an opportunity to settle on some very productive country that had good surety of rainfall. By having a good business and good cash flow, we’ve now developed it to the stage where we’re running one of the largest seed stock operations in Australia, supplying genetics to four different states including Tasmania. We sell in excess of 650 rams a year, of which many are offered at arguably the largest single vendor sale in Victoria; Greater Hamilton’s central location provides the perfect base for on-farm sales.
One of the real assets of this district is our ongoing average rainfall; it certainly makes it a lot easier from a cash flow point of view, not having those seasonal ups and downs. The land itself is also very arable, so we are able to fertilise it and get new pasture species growing, which in effect is the engine room of our operation.”
“Before 1996, we were in Gippsland, and we basically came to this area because it was affordable, high-rainfall, reliable farming country. We started with 520 hectares and we’re now made up of 13 farms covering nearly 7000 hectares. We’re known for our biodiversity and agroforestry offsets, but we also run nearly 90,000 DSC of stock and dry sheep equivalents.
It’s important for us to have access to markets, so a lot of our lambs either go to Warrnambool or Geelong or to Melbourne to Coles, and all of our wool runs out of Portland, so that’s a significant advantage for us from a transport point of view. A similar thing will happen with the sawlog timber long-term; we have planted about 1.2 million trees, and will be able to run the timber out through Portland as well.”
“There are many opportunities here to do a whole range of different types of farming, and that’s why land is so highly sought after. Whether you’re into cattle, sheep, dairying or cropping, we have such reliable rainfall here, with different soil types and a really nice climate for growing many different crops.
The Greater Hamilton area is certainly renowned as one of the best flax growing areas in Australia. We went to organic status, and now we’re also going mainstream into flaxseed products for the local region and for export, which is great for a lot of other local farmers in the district. We’ve got about 30 growers, now, and most of the linseed and flaxseed is processed here, and then vertically integrated into an ingredient.
To remain viable and sustainable in the farming game, you just value-add through the chain where you can, and we’re actually in a position where we are not able to supply enough product.”
“Raised beds were brought in about 15 years ago, and they revolutionised grain production in the area, making this one of the most rapidly expanding grain growing areas in Australia. The raised beds drain excess water off the crops, and when we started doing that, we really increased yields and really started to build a business.
The other thing that’s happening now is that high-rainfall wheat, canola and barley varieties are being bred particularly to suit to this area, so there’s been some amazing steps in the last couple of years with varieties.
My brother and I are third generation farmers here, and we have built the family farm up from about 600 hectares to more than 2300 hectares – there’s certainly good investment land in this area. Originally, when this was a small sheep and cropping farm run by my grandfather, the size of production would probably have been able to fit on three to four truckloads to market, but now with what we’re doing – producing 6000 tonnes of wheat, canola and barley and selling 3500 sheep & lambs – it’s incredible.
Our export grain goes overseas via the Port of Portland, which is about an hour’s drive away.
We also have a large local market for feed grain with a really competitive freight rate; a lot ends up with dairy farmers and feed mills around Warrnambool, Simpson, Ballarat and Melbourne. And as far as our sheep and lambs go, we’re 10 minutes drive away from the Hamilton Regional Livestock Exchange, so it’s an incredibly well positioned area.”
HG & KJ Nagorcka
“Up in the redgum country, the gently rolling slopes are great for rosemary, which, being a Mediterranean herb, likes fairly gravelly sort of soil, a warmish climate and good water. In total we’ve got about 25 hectares under plantation, with about 6000 bushes per hectare. We believe that we are the largest grower of rosemary in the southern hemisphere; we would have at least 50 per cent market share of rosemary and we certainly are the biggest grower in Australia.
We’re predominantly supplying to the culinary market, and fortunately, we’ve got a great set-up where our product is picked up on farm, delivered down to Warrnambool, and then it’s freighted to Melbourne, Sydney and beyond.”
Glenelg River Herbs
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SUBHEADING CAPTURING THE ESSENCE OF LIVING IN GREATER HAMILTON IN ONE OR TWO SENTENCES.
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