Members of the Hordern and Myer department store dynasties have restored the Yulgilbar castle and developed a leading Santa Gertrudis stud on this spectacular Clarence Riverfront property.

Story By John Dunn

It's the annual sale day at “Yulgilbar”, one of Australia’s most historic and well-known cattle stations, and about 450 buyers and supporters of Santa Gertrudis have gathered to purchase some of the best breeding bulls and cows in the land. Here, high up in the headwaters of the mighty Clarence River in northern New South Wales at Baryulgil – between Grafton and Casino and not far from the Queensland border – a strong, subtropical sun shines through the ironbarks and river red gums. Rich, rust coloured hides glisten as the cacophony of brisk bidding shatters the usual silence of the bush between the Gibraltar and Richmond Ranges, which form part of the Great Divide.

The 300 cattle being offered today are the pick of the 5000 or so that have been lovingly cared for among the steep hills and along the fertile river flats of this 14,164-hectare property, which has impressive permanent water systems including a 40-kilometre double frontage to the Clarence and to the Washpool Creek, one of its tributaries.
This renowned, heritage-listed property, which is Santa Gertrudis Stud 13, fetches big prices for its cattle. It is the largest in New South Wales and the third oldest in Australia, dating back to 1953 when Samuel Hordern, as first president of King Ranch Australia, which is Stud 1, introduced the breed into the Devon-Durham herd at Yulgilbar.
On the first Friday of each September, Yulgilbar shows and sells its stock and this year a tented ‘town’ has grown on the banks of the Clarence. There are tents for administration and food and the largest of them is a marquee seating 200. It comprises a substantial steel-framed pen where the cattle are circled as onlookers appraise while consulting detailed statistical sheets and illustrated booklets.

One of the introductory speakers, David Scarrabelotti, of Green mountain Pastoral Company in Casino, sets the tone: “We run a mixed herd of Charbray, Droughtmaster and Brahman-cross cows joined to Yulgilbar Santa Gertrudis bulls. The progeny are always consistent in temperament, confirmation and colour. They do well on our coastal or New England properties and are suited to all markets.” He then backs up his words by purchasing seven bulls.

At the end of the afternoon the highest price is $13,000 for ‘Yulgilbar Enrique’, an 800-kilogram two-year-old bull bought by the Linlands and Santa Park studs near Toowoomba, Qld. Buyers come from as far north as Cloncurry, Qld, and from Berry on the south coast of New South Wales. The David family from Bundarra, NSW, bought six bulls and Mark Packer from Roma, Qld, took five. Sales totalled $584,940.

This story excerpt is from Issue #79

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2011