The third generation of the Wilson family is stepping up to the challenge of shepherding the vast Victorian Western District holdings that make up Murdeduke Station.

Story By Genevieve Barlow

Here in the Western District of Victoria, near Winchelsea, where modern money has chomped up most of yesteryear’s vast holdings and squattocracies, rendering them mere fractions of their former size, the Wilsons’ 77-year ownership and gradual expansion of Murdeduke is unusual. Bruce Wilson’s father, James William Primrose Wilson, bought the place in 1937. It was then 1214 hectares (3000 acres), had “six paddocks, low equity and a horrendous interest rate”. Now it’s nearly 4000ha and the Wilsons lease a further 1600ha.
Three key factors have enabled it to grow. The first was demand for wool and flax during the Korean War. “Dad certainly wasn’t rushing around smoking £10 notes, but it got him established,” Bruce says. The second and more contemporaneous boost was the expansion in the late 1990s into cropping on a larger scale, aided by the discovery that crops could flourish in the high rainfall area on raised soils or beds.
The third thing that’s really helped is shrewd buying of neighbouring properties in land-price downturns. When the global financial crisis (GFC) of 2008 dried up city money, Lachie bought nearby land at almost half its pre-GFC price.
Today, Murdeduke is vastly changed from the property that Bruce’s father established. Sheep are grazed for meat, not wool. Canola, wheat, barley and lucerne long ago usurped flax in the cropping game, and Murdeduke Angus stud, established 21 years ago, is moving up the nation’s stud rankings.

This story excerpt is from Issue #94

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2014