SCADDAN Merino and Poll Merino breeders Dave and Katherine Vandenberghe extended a weekend visit to Perth with son Liam to watch part of the historic 50th wool clip off their Riverland property go to auction last week.
The 5670 hectare mixed sheep and cropping enterprise north of Esperance, also home to the Wattle Dale Merino stud, was started by Mr Vandenberghe's parents Wally and Margaret in 1963.
Dave and Katherine took over running the enterprise 20 years ago and have sold their clip through Westcoast Wools for the past 12 seasons.
The 50th clip was the first full shearing carried out in a new shearing shed officially opened with a party at Riverland last August.
The shearing of the Riverland flock of 5500 head, including 1500 stud ewes, in the middle of March produced 180 bales of fine wool.
Westcoast Wools auctioned 30 bales of Riverland wool in five lots at the Western Wool Centre (WWC) three weeks ago, just before the market peaked, for an average of 694 cents per kilogram greasy and a top price of 799c/kg.
Another 54 bales in five lines of wool from their weaners and the start of their stud ewes went under the hammer at the WWC on Wednesday last week with the Vandenberghes watching from the viewing room.
"We were up in Perth for the weekend and thought it was worth staying a few extra days to see part of the 50th clip sold," Mr Vandenberghe said.
The lines offered last week averaged 18 microns, 100 millimetres staple length and 36N/kt staple strength.
With a market softer than two weeks ago, but recovering from the previous Thursday's correction, four of the lines sold at an average of 703c/kg with a top of 765.
One lot was passed in at 660c/kg.
Mr Vandenberghe said he was happy with the result.
"The wool was presented well and it has been a very good market," he said.
"The lots today all went for 20 to 50 cents above the quote.
"We work in cents per kilogram clean, and even on today's greasy prices, that's still above 1400c/kg."
The remainder of the Riverland clip was to go to auction this week.
Mr Vandenberghe said he hoped to be able to shear an extra 1000 sheep next year with the family having recently completed the purchase of another 1800-hectare property near Scaddan.
Liam, 20, who is completing an agribusiness degree at Curtin University, said he hoped to be the third generation Vandenberghe running Riverland.