As soon as you pass through the magnificent avenue of trees at Gundowringa at Crookwell you realise you have arrived at a farm steeped in heritage
Charlie Prell inspired by the visionaries who came before him
On your left is the 160-year-old woolshed that in its heyday accommodated 16,000 sheep and the stone shearer’s quarters built in 1916
Today it sleeps up to 18 to supplement the farm’s income through fly fishing and farmstay opportunities
On your right is a stone cottage of the same era and to the right of the stone cottage stands the pavilion that once overlooked the cricket oval
But the pièce de résistance is the homestead. Everything else is a reminder of when the country rode on the sheep’s back. The homestead underpins why the family is so committed to making farming work for them and the generations to come in the 21st Century
Chas E Prell – the first of 5 generations of the Prell family on Gundowringa
The gardens were laid out while the house was being built. There are some very impressive large trees, some now over 100 years old. Including what is believed to be the oldest and largest Linden grown in this country. Other breathtaking species include an evergreen example of the liquid amber family the Liquidamber festerii
It was the rose garden and the horizontal elm, with the flattened canopy designed to allow you to walk under that caught my eye.
The house has maid’s quarters and when first built visitors were greeted at the door by a butler. At the height of the wool boom the property supported thirty jobs
The homestead was adapted to use as farmstay accommodation in 2000 by Charlie’s parents Jeff and Jess Prell until Jess death in 2008
Jeff Prell – a man with every right to be proud of what his family has achieved and the perfect host to share his family heritage past
Jeff has found love again and married local artist Margaret Shepherd whose studio and artworks bring a new vibrancy to the homestead
The current generation have a lot to inspire them and inspired they are. Inspired to adapt and move with the times. Inspired to respect the landscape and work in partnership with it
Jeff and Charlie Prell marching into the future
Like his great grandfather and his namesake Charlie Prell knows that pioneers who advocate and help drive change are often initially perceived as being radical in the extreme particularly by people entrenched in the past
Charlie Prell – a bright future relies on innovation and making the most of the ssets you have
What we often forget is what traditionally sets people like Charlie and his great grandfather apart is their commitment to the greater good. Charlie Prell has leased part of Gundowringa to a company who will install a wind farm. He is also helping farmers across Australia find alternate fresh income streams from renewable energy technology.
The site of the future Gundowringa Windfarm
Charlie is using part of his new stream of passive income to reinvigorate and drought proof the farm and embrace the opportunities that the combination of the diverse income streams of renewable energy, tourism and food and fibre production offer to sustaining generations of Prell family members as long as they wish to remain there.
Nobody will ever be able to say that Charlie Prell is a victim of the disconnect between reality of the vargaries of farming and the idealism of the view that food and fibre production alone will keep Australian farming families in business for the long haul in the 21st Century
Today it’s hard to believe that the now acknowledged visionary Chas E Prell the man who epitomised the “producing more with less’ ethos and pioneered pasture improvement utilising superphosphate fertiliser was in his time considered a maverick who didn’t follow convention. Its a reminder that its important not to forget the past. What’s even more important is to learn from it.
I recently heard some-one say the jobs available in ten years’ time to young people currently in primary school wont have been heard of today. My greatest hope is that agriculture becomes a visionary in learning from its past and embracing the opportunities a partnership between farmers and nature offers