The McGregor family has carved a prime cattle and sheep property out of scrubby desert on South Australia’s Limestone Coast.

Story By Gretel Sneath

It has been the wettest winter at Willalooka Pastoral Company since 1992. Late rains have left the roads awash and water from the wetlands is flowing over the spillways. Black swans are nesting on their own small island sanctuary, and thousands of tiny red-gum saplings growing along the banks of the Big Reedy Swamp fight for rays of dappled sunlight in the shadow of their forebears. Nature is breathing new life into this Limestone Coast property in the upper south-east corner of South Australia, but so, too, is the young family that took up residence here eight years ago.
Thyne and Kate McGregor and their children Archie, 4, Digby, 2, and Missy, 1, are the next generations of overseers. Thyne’s family purchased the property in 1958, when it was 2000 hectares of partially developed desert country. It was one of several McGregor pastoral holdings; the portfolio also included interests in cattle stations in the Alice Springs region and a substantial property on the Nullarbor Plain. Growing up in the Adelaide Hills, Thyne, now 37, could see his father Alan’s passion for Willalooka in particular.
“It essentially started off as a predominantly scrub block, but he always saw it as good breeding country with lots of great shelter,” Thyne says. Working closely with on-site manager Malcolm Macdonald, Alan developed the initial investment into a productive 10,000ha aggregation of six properties supporting the nation’s then top-performing Angus Murray Grey stud, a leading South Australian fine wool merino stud, and more recently, in response to changing market demand, a pure-bred Angus herd.

This story excerpt is from Issue #92

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2014