From a small parcel of land drawn in a ballot in the 1870s to a conglomeration boasting one of the best Angus studs in the country, Rennylea in southern NSW has been built up by the Corrigan family into the productive enterprise it is today.

Story + Photos Cormac Hanrahan

On a crisp autumn morning in Bowna, on the south-western slopes of the Great Dividing Range 30km south of Holbrook in southern NSW, an Angus bull bends his head to the ground and crops a mouthful of dew-soaked pasture. At the sound of approaching footsteps, he lifts his head and sees the familiar figure of Bryan Corrigan regarding him with intense scrutiny.

For a while the two simply gaze at each other, until the bull edges closer, sniffs the air, lowers and raises his broad head and half-heartedly scrapes and prods at the ground beneath his front hooves. Bryan smiles and holds out a hand. The bull stretches out to touch it with his wet nose, jerks backward in fright, and then returns quietly to his breakfast. “We select for a lot of things, of course, and one of the most important is temperament,” Bryan says.

Further up the granite boulder-strewn slopes, Bryan shields his eyes from the rising sun and follows the thin line of Wagra Creek down the Wymah Valley to where the Hume Weir catches its first rays of sun for the day. In the foreground, the lean and energised figure of Bryan’s wife, Lucinda, followed by a plump but no less enthusiastic chocolate brown labrador, strides up the slope to greet him and the new day.

The pair survey the scene, content with what they see. They know they’ve got the feed, facilities and scale to keep their herd intact when the seasons fail, and they know that after 34 years of marriage they have succeeded in making Rennylea one of the most highly regarded Angus studs in Australia. But, most of all, they know the next generation is ready to lead into the future.

The Corrigans’ connection to their land began in the 1870s with a small parcel of virgin country drawn in a government ballot by a young couple, newly arrived from Ireland and hopeful of a fresh start. Francis and Bridget Corrigan, Bryan’s great-great-great grandparents, built a house on Wagra Creek, ran sheep through the bush, and pieced together 100 acres (40ha), calling it Rennylea. “I feel privileged to be here,” Bryan says. “They had nothing when they came out; I think they were very brave people.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #132

Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2020