IN the heart of the Great Southern, Hartville Downs represents exceptional dedication to developing a property from that was mainly bushland to being a highly productive farm.
Regarded by locals as one of the best presented properties in the region, Hartville Downs, Frankland River, offers the discerning buyer a great opportunity to pursue a viable farming enterprise which has been well set-up and maintained.
The extensive work that has been done across Hartville Downs since it was purchased in 1974 is a testament to the owners Richie and Katie Clapin, with their daughters Rachael (26) and Harriet (23), and before them, Richie’s parents John and Anna and brother Jock, who farmed at Ballochmyle near Cranbrook.
When John and Anna Clapin purchased the main block of Hartville Downs about 43 years ago, half of it was bushland with a lot of ringbarked country.
The Clapins ran wethers on the property until Richie came back to the farm after finishing a year of jackerooing and two years at the Orange Agricultural Institute in 1979.
With Jock’s help, Richie and Katie started to develop Hartville Downs to what it is today.
Since Hartville Downs was taken over by Richie and Katie 35 years ago, it has mainly been operated by the pair alone, with Richie running the farm and Katie managing the finances.
While reflecting on the years spent developing the property, Richie said overcoming challenges and working with his passion for livestock have been a highlight.
“We have mainly been wool and sheep farmers all our lives – we have seen other things come and go but wool and sheep have always been good to us,” Richie said.
After a very challenging start to the 2018 season, the Frankland River area showed its true colours, with a fantastic spring finish with prime lambs in good condition and crops finishing with above yield potential.
“When we pull something off that we originally thought was not going to turn out that well, it is the best feeling,’’ Ritchie said.
“Our lambs this year are an example of that after a rugged start to the growing season.
“I have really enjoyed improving the farm, working with all forms of livestock, growing crops and the hard working people we have met along the way.
“Katie and I have really appreciated all the shearers, truckies, agents, contractors and workers who have been a vital part of our farming operation.”
Hartville Downs has always been a family-run operation and Katie, Rachael and Harriet all contributed to mustering, sheep and cattle work and harvesting.
“Working with Katie and our kids has been great as both Rachael and Harriet have been involved since they were old enough to do things like mustering, sheep and cattle work, driving chaser bins, headers and helping with just about anything else that cropped up on the farm,” Ritchie said.
Both Richie and Katie said they gained immense satisfaction growing quality crops, livestock and wool.
Driving around Hartville Downs, the 2183 hectares of beautiful undulating country is encompassed with wide open paddocks, all of which have been cleared of dead trees and rocks, making for a smooth mixed farming enterprise, as well as being pleasing on the eye.
Over the years the property has always had a strong focus on sheep which has continued to the present day.
Hartville Downs is operated on a 60 per cent sheep basis for wool and prime lamb production, with the remaining 40pc being cropping.
The property runs a breeding flock of 6000 ewes with about half being mated to Merino rams and the balance to Suffolk rams.
The livestock carrying capacity is estimated by the owners to be about 10,000 plus sheep at peak.
With a shortage of quality livestock in the market, there is an opportunity for the buyer to purchase the entire breeding flock (Pooginook, Nepowie and Walkindyer bloodlines) to continue the viable wool growing and prime lamb production, which the owners are happy to negotiate.
The versatility of this productive country is also evident in its history of a 200-head cattle herd, including a feedlot, which operated for about 20 years and ceased about five years ago.
With soils of heavy red granite loams to duplex gravelly loams and original vegetation being red gum, flooded gum, wandoo and jarrah, the productivity of this country is indicative of the quality of the region.
It is divided into 27 main paddocks.
The fences are in good condition, being seven-line Ringlock on steel and timber posts and a plain top wire that can be electrified.
The maintenance throughout the property is to the highest standard, as all the creeklines have been fenced off to be utilised as laneways and seasonal feed areas.
The paddocks have been purposely enlarged for the scale of stock management and for optimal efficiency of cropping.
As all the paddocks have all-weather roads and laneways, during harvest the grain trucks can drive right out to the paddock to be filled which has proved to save a great deal of time.
The thought that has been put into presenting Hartville Downs in its current condition is second to none and is evidence of the quality farming practices that the Clapins have applied over the years.
For decades there has been a strong focus on pasture improvement and management with cropping paddocks being specifically targeted to improve pasture and consequently some paddocks haven’t been cropped for up to 10 years.
“Pasture is the engine room for the whole operation,” Richie said.
“Good pasture grows good sheep and crops.”
Due to the late break at the start of the season, paddocks that were earmarked for cropping were left as pasture to support the livestock.
Those paddocks were limed and spray-topped for canola which would make for a good canola crop for the growing season.
The normal cropping program involved about 450ha planted to barley and 250ha sown to canola.
The farm program works on a four-year rotation of canola for one year, barley for two and then pasture.
Applications of fertiliser on pastures and crops has been consistent and applied as required.
Richie said operating the property as a mixed farming enterprise had enabled them to spread their risk and diversifying had also proved positive for the property as livestock and commodity prices fluctuated over the years.
Hartville Downs receives reliable average annual rainfall of 550 millimetres to 600mm.
The property’s strong water supply has been developed over the years to support both sheep and cattle enterprises and is essentially drought-proof with a total of 35 dams, many of which are strategically placed to feed others and have been cleaned out and enlarged.
The homestead is a prime example of quality craftsmanship which complements the natural materials used.
Positioned to take advantage of the spectacular views, the four-bedroom, two-bathroom homestead, which was built in 1990, is constructed of rammed earth and timber with an aluminium roof.
Complementing the homestead are wide surrounding verandahs, reticulated gardens and a tennis court between the main house and the self-contained two-bedroom, one-bathroom guest house.
The impressive infrastructure continues across the farm with two sets of outbuildings at either side of the property.
The outbuildings include three steel machinery sheds of 25 metres x 20m with concrete flooring, a farm office with nbn connection, a 22m x 11m x 7m drive through shed with the other measuring 20m x 12m; as well as three fertiliser sheds with concrete and thick timber walls, sliding roofs with a combined capacity of 150 tonnes; two five-stand shearing sheds, one with a workshop attached and the other has a lean-to for machinery and wool; a small lockable chemical shed with self-filling fresh water; a steel framed 6m x 6m general purpose shed and horse stables with a dressage arena.
Grain and feed storage is catered for with six Moylan cone-bottom silos with a total capacity of about 300t.
Stockyards comprise two sets of sheep yards each with a working capacity of 1500-2000 head – one set is steel and has a covered working area and is in very good condition, while the other set is wooden with a covered working area and is in good condition.
There is also a set of timber cattle yards with a working capacity of 100 head and a covered vet area presented in good condition.
Tank storage consists of four concrete tanks for spraying and domestic use, with three being 45,000 litres and one 90,000L; there is also a 22,000L plastic tank for spraying and two 22,000L Flexi-N tanks.
All of the infrastructure is in good to very good condition across the outbuildings, silos, stockyards and tanks.
Situated on 3529 Yeriminup Road, Frankland River, Hartville Downs is 15 kilometres from the Frankland River township, 52km to Kojonup, 93km from Katanning, 125km to Albany.
The closest CBH receival site at Cranbrook is about 37km away.
The property is close to schooling with pre and primary schools at Frankland River and high schools at Kojonup and Mt Barker.
The school bus route runs along Shamrock Road, which is about 1km from the property’s front gate.
It’s understandable that the prospect of having to let go of Hartville Downs will be difficult for the Clapin family, especially given the hard work they have put into developing the property to its current standard.
“It will feel sad to leave because of all the memories created over the years, so hopefully someone else can take it to another level, but we are excited about what will come next,” Richie said.
As Rachael and Harriet have expressed their desires to pursue their own lives and adventures, Richie and Katie decided it was time to wind down from such a busy operation.
“I will always be a farmer at heart but while we (Katie and I) are young enough, we want to get started on new projects,” Richie said.
Hartville Downs is listed by David Jannings, Landmark Harcourts and Michael Batchelor, Ray White Rural WA for a sale price of $9.95 million.
- More information, contact David Jannings on 0429 332 245 or Michael Batchelor on 0427 948 447.