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Tamworth Observer - 30 March 1912

About 70 gentlemen representing the town and district, yesterday, at the invitation of Mr. Thomas Bowling, paid a visit of inspection to his Arrawatta estate, which has been divided into several dairy farms, and a cheese factory erected.

The visitors were met at the cheese factory by Mr. Bowling and Mr. Alexander (manager), and after luncheon they were
shown over the property, inspecting the cheese factory first, where the process of cheese-making In its various stages was watched with interest. Th factory contains three 800 -gallon vats, but owing to the dryness of the season only one Is being utilised. Mr. Bowling hopes in the spring to have the three vats going, when the daily output of cheese will be about a ton.


Ayrshires, Shorthorns and Jerseys are used on the estate, the herds being kept distinct from each other. At present close on 500 cows are being milked, but this number will be considerably augmented in the spring. About 2000 acres are under lucerne, which should give an ample supply of feed all the year round. Mr. Bowling has, how
ever, made provisions for droughty times, in as much as he has 14 silos erected on the estate with an average capacity of 120 tons.


A tour of inspection was made during the afternoon to the various farms and piggeries, etc., and a most instructive and interesting time was spent. What strikes the visitor to Arrawatta is the absolute cleanliness which is apparent everywhere, not only in the cheese factory, where it is essential, but in the sheds, yards, and even In the piggeries cleanliness is the order of the day. Afternoon tea was provided, and the visitors left for their respective homes much Impressed with the result of their visit.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 - 1954)  Thu 20 Feb 1930  Page 9  

Arrawatta, once famous as a show place of the Inverell district, Is a thing of the past. When Mr. Tom Bowling took the place over in 1908 he set about converting. It from a sheep walk into one of the most up to date dairying centres in the Commonwealth. He spared no expense in the erection of homesteads, silos, elaborate milking yards, feeding sheds, milking machines, the provision of water, and everything necessary for perfect dairying. Nine farms were laid out, and a central factory built and equipped for the manufacture of cheese. He got together one of the finest dairy herds in Australia.

The Arrawatta cheese was a well known and favourite brand. It could be scarcely anything else, turned out by highly skilled labour, with the most up to date machinery procurable. But the glory has departed; the machinery is silent; silos are crumbling to ruin; windmills have been blown down; roofs of sheds and bails torn off and not replaced.
No blame can be attributed to the spirited one time proprietor, whose energies now find an outlet in the successful running of a stud of Corriedale sheep In the Glen Innes district. During his regime at Arrawatta employment for 50 or 60 people existed; a school had to be built for the rising generation, and £10,000a year was distributed by the cheese industry. Now that the place has reverted to a sheep area, only a handful of people occupy it.


The change began when some eight years ago the Government took the place over on a five years' lease as a training farm for migrants. The herd was broken up and sold, and the cheese factory closed down. No repairs to buildings were carried out, burrs were not even cut. When they were in the way of the sheep being taken to the woolshed for shearing, the seed was threshed off with sticks! Sheep were crowded on to pay the rent and expenses were cut to the bone. The manager was not to blame. He did the best with the raw material; and his youthful migrants, after a few months on Arrawatta, were in much demand by neighbouring farmers in the district.


As far as the property was concerned, one item to the credit of the Government was the planting of 300 acres of lucerne. This has done well, and might be taken as a setoff against the neglect to keeping fair repair the improvements on the property.


Since the Government's occupation, terminated by the Lang Administration, part of the place has been sold, the homestead to Mr. L. Dangar, of Yallaroi, the farms on the western side of the river to Mr. Belfield Bone, Dairy Vale farm to Mr. Col. Goldman. These places changed hands at less than half what the improvements cost. The remaining area three farms on the eastern side of the road, about 1000 acres in all is available to anyone who wants it, at 50 per cent, off the valuation placed on it 10 years ago by an expert valuator, representing one of the biggest financial institutions in the State.


It may have been that Mr. Bowling was unduly optimistic during the Initial outlay that his great faith in the richness of the land and the ultimate result of his venture led him on to expend more money than was necessary. Despite the tragedy of Arrawatta, his belief in the wealth of Inverell land has been amply vindicated. This year Inverell butter has graded 98 per cent., and whilst many districts had wheat crop failures, the Inverell district, with yields as high as 20 bags to the acre grown without fertilisers, created a record for the Commonwealth.

Arrawatta Station’s dairy roots
The Land, June 6 2016
Jessie Davies

Fed by 10 kilometres of frontage to the McIntyre River, the pasture-rich property consists of gentle undulating rich chocolate and basalt soils and can support approximately 550 breeding cattle.

AFTER 60 years of ownership the Mitchell family’s Arrawatta Station is going under the hammer.

The 1335 hectare (3,300 acre) property was taken up by sheep graziers Alan and Elizabeth Mitchell in 1950 and was later purchased by their youngest son Andrew and his wife Rosemary Mitchell.


Fed by 10 kilometres of frontage to the McIntyre River, the pasture-rich property consists of gentle undulating rich chocolate and basalt soils and can support approximately 550 breeding cattle.

Under Andrew’s ownership three 40 acre centre pivot irrigation systems were established to underpin a beef cattle enterprise but the property once supported an extensive dairy operation. 

According to historian Elizabeth Wiedemann the dairy at Arrawatta Station was owned by Englishman Thomas Bowling. He purchased the property in 1903 and quickly set about developing an irrigation scheme. By 1907 nine individual dairy farms were in operation with silage transported to each by a light tramway.

In a few short years Mr Bowling’s business had escalated and a cheese factory was built on the place. For years he supplied local businesses with his award-winning cheese but ultimately the venture was a financial failure. Remnants of the factory remain on the property today.  

Later, the property was leased to the government and served as a teaching ground for young British men to learn to farm. The men were trained under the Dreadnought scheme. 

The original homestead on Arrawatta Station is in line with the property’s historic roots. Set in a large garden, the six-bedroom home features a formal dining/smoking room and a large kitchen with breezeway and maids room. There is a second home, too, which is a large weatherboard stucco with original (and renovated) shearers quarters attached. 

Farm infrastructure includes a large timber post and rail cattle yards, large hay and machinery sheds.

The property consists of 30 paddocks each with excellent fencing and reliable water. Annual rainfall is 790 millimetres on top of a 452 megalitre river licence. 

Feed ranges from lucerne, natural pasture, clover, phalaris and rye. The vendors have regularly cropped barley, oats and oats.

The Mitchell family have made regular use of the Inverell Regional Livestock Exchange which holds weekly cattle sales. The exchange also holds sheep sales fortnightly.

The property is being sold by Elders agents Annabelle Gleeson, Inverell, and Frank Spilsbury, Armidale.

Ms Gleeson said Arrawatta is considered one of the best cropping, stock fattening and breeding properties in the Inverell district. 

“Properties of this quality are not often on the market,” she said.

“Arrawatta is an extremely profitable enterprise and with supering the performance and carrying capacity could be lifted significantly.”

She said the place had subdivision potential.

Rosemary Mitchell and her son James have managed the family property since Andrew Mitchell died in 2010. James and his wife Liv and their three children have since called Arrawatta home. Rosemary’s other children are named Douglas, Anthony and Olivia.

Expressions of interest close June 30. 

Cheesy history on the Macintyre River
The Land, April 30 2017
Peter Austin

Arrawatta - The Land 2017.jpg

A northern NSW mixed farming property that was once the scene of a visionary Englishman’s bold agricultural experiment will go under the hammer in Inverell next week.

Arrawatta Station is today a diverse 1335 hectare (3300ac) farming, grazing and irrigation property on the Macintyre River, held for more than 60 years by the Mitchell family. It was somewhat smaller when purchased in 1950 by Alan and Betty Mitchell, at which time it was operated principally as a grazing property, carrying sheep and cattle.


Their son Andrew took over the management in 1983 with his wife Rosemary and they subsequently acquired an adjoining block of about 280ha, bringing “Arrawatta” to its present size. Following Andrew’s death, Rosemary Mitchell has carried on the management of the property and last year she submitted it to auction without result.

Now she is keen to retire and the property has been listed for sale again, this time with CBRE, and it will go to auction in Inverell on May 4, when bidding is expected to top $6 million. 

The auction has attracted keen local interest, not least because of the property’s colourful history, which goes back to the early years of last century when it was bought by the English-born Thomas Bowling.

At that time (1903) it encompassed some 8500 acres (3400ha) owned by Merewether Brothers and ran more than 11,000 sheep, but Bowling saw it as a potential dairy estate. He subdivided the property into eight tenanted dairy farms, each fully equipped, and built a cheese factory to which the milk from 450 top-grade Dairy Shorthorn cows was being delivered by 1912. 

But over-capitalisation and ill-timed drought brought the venture undone, and in 1923 Bowling leased “Arrawatta” to the NSW government for use as a training farm for migrants. It later played a part as one of several farms in NSW used to train disadvantaged boys from English cities for Australian farm work, under the so-called Dreadnought scheme founded in 1911.


The modern-day “Arrawatta” combines lucerne hay production with cereal cropping and cattle grazing. 

Situated 14 kilometres north of Inverell fronting the Macintyre River, the property rises from alluvial river flats to arable basalt slopes and low hills of open or lightly timbered grazing country. A centre pivot irrigator services three circles totalling about 51ha on the river flats, growing lucerne for hay or grazing, backed by a 452 megalitre river licence.

On the arable dryland country, just under 500ha is now cropped to winter cereals under a leasing arrangement, with scope to expand the cultivation area to 600ha if desired.

The balance of the country is lightly stocked with 120 cows and 180 weaner, yearling and trade cattle. 

Average rainfall is about 800 millimetres and the property is watered by its 8.5 kilometres river frontage and 32 dams. 

Improvements include the weatherboard Federation-era homestead of six bedrooms with a brick courtyard, another six-bedroom residence, cattle yards, hay and grain sheds and an old four-stand shearing shed.

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