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TAS Country : September 30th 2010
ST PROGRAM, Friday, April 25, 2010 17 Derwent Valley property Cawood looks much the same now as it did in 1835 when John Glover painted Cawood on the Ouse River. But much has transpired in the intervening 175 years. FROM LEFT: Sign at the entrance, old petrol pump and Neil and Julie Williams at the main door. ishman Thomas Marzetti leaned towards his Italian heritage when he built the mansion on the property in 1824. Pictures: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES to ap e ''I joined those ewe lambs this year as lambs and at the moment they're putting little lambs on the ground for me. I put them back to the Dohne as well, so they're putting second-cross Dohne on the ground as we speak.'' Neil bought a small flock of second-cross from a neighbour down the road at Gretna. He has bought another two Dohne rams and is eager to buy another four to six Dohne rams to get the numbers up as fast as he can. Neil said he was a bit sceptical about the Dohnes at first. ''A sheep's a sheep, it'll find a way to die,'' he said. ''They're not known for their smarts.'' The survivability of the breed clearly impressed him. He has lost only one of the first lot of lambs from lamb-marking to turning one-year-old. ''They just do so well,'' Neil said. ''Their survival rate is unbelievable.'' Cawood encompasses 140ha on Kings and Smedleys, two soldier settlement dairy blocks that were part of the Lawrenny Water Trust. Neil has 90 cows with calves on Kings and Smedleys. He used to grow onions, seed cabbage and potatoes on Cawood but the escalating cost of growing intensive crops has changed that. ''It has blown right through the roof,'' Neil said. ''The company said no more onions, we persevered with cabbages for a few more years until the costs totally blew out. ''We were growing wonderful crops of potatoes only to get punished by McCains and they are still doing it, they're still punishing their growers.'' He grew poppies until last year. ''You can only be hit so many times and you give up,'' Neil said. ''Mother nature has been against us for the last few years. ''The amount of work, time and money you put into them and get virtually a peanut back it's not worth it.'' Sheep, cows and between 700 and 800 prime lambs are the main farm business. Neil has phased out of other crops and gone back to cereal crops. ''Cereal crops are simple, straightforward, and low-cost,'' he said. ''It's not a failure because even with a bad crop of barley, wheat or oats you can put stock on it to eat it out, you can't do that with poppies.'' Neil uses the dairy farm next door as a local market for his cereals. ''It's as easy for us to take barley off the paddock straight to their silo as what it is for our silo,'' he said. ''They take the straw, they take everything I've got that's surplus. They'll take whatever I can grow.'' An irrigation upgrade is the next thing planned for Cawood. ''I'd like to see a pivot go up,'' Neil said. ''One single pivot could go 300m long, that's a 600m diameter and a circle that would cover about 80ha in one hit.'' Water is a sore issue for many Ouse River farmers, who are frustrated about protracted negotiations with Hydro, Neil said. ''We're trying to get through to Hydro we need water for future growth,'' he said. ''All they want to talk about is historical water use. ''Forget about historically, we want to know what we can have available to us in five, 10, even 15 and 20 years' time.'' Environmental flows are another sore issue for Neil and the farmers. ''All of a sudden there's a big rain, and Hydro will divert it and there will be a big flood,'' he said. Flood irrigation is used on Cawood plus five travelling irrigators, one of which is spraying a new crop of fennel. Neil said he believed flood irrigation days are numbered. ''Farming's going to become more intensive,'' he said. ''Flood irrigation is finished, it's uneconomical, it leaches everything. To get one megalitre in the ground you've got to put 10 megalitres on it and all the nutrients go back into the river system.'' The Cawood mansion was built by Thomas Marzetti, an Englishman of Italian extraction, when he was granted the land title in 1824. Marzetti lost the property, which grew over the decades to a large holding of almost 30,500ha that stretched from Bronte Park to Lawrenny. Cawood is now back to its original title. There is a holding cell on the property where the coaches would stop and put up the prisoners for the night. The great sandstone barn is still intact and has narrow musket slits set into the wall to allow soldiers to defend it from within. Coachhouses, dairies, kitchens and workers huts sit on the river banks just as they did almost 200 years ago. Julie manages the farmstay accommodation on Cawood and has documented much of its history. The workers cottage accommodation is popular with Tasmanians and people from all over the world. ''We've had them from everywhere,'' Julie said. ''Cyclists, motor bikes, horses, they all come down that road.'' A small group of horseriders who ride the Tasmanian Trail comes every year to Cawood. ''They know they can have their horses in the paddock,'' Julie said. ''English, Swiss, Vietnamese, Japanese, they love it, they walk into the cottage and they say, 'Is this all for us'?'' Feature Farm Cawood
September 23rd 2010
October 7th 2010