Anlaby near Kapunda in the Mid North of South Australia is rolling sheep country and home to one of the oldest continuously operating Merino studs in Australia and the oldest in the state.
It maintains a genetic line that started more than 175 years ago in 1839 when 5,000 sheep owned by Mr F. H. Dutton were driven overland from the Colony of New South Wales to South Australia in an epic droving venture that lasted from May to December. The first shipment of wool to be sold in London from South Australia included wool from Anlaby.
In 2004 Andrew Morphett and Peter Hayward took over the ownership of Anlaby and in 2006 purchased the woolshed and stud, both of which had been subdivided off in the 1970s.
As well as growing wool, they have also diversified their income by going into tourism, taking advantage of the property’s unique part in the country’s rich rural heritage.
“Anlaby resembles a historic Victorian village rather than a farm, with its collection of cottages and houses built around “the quadrangle” – the village square – for the 70 staff including butlers, maids, 12 gardeners, coachmen, kennel masters and farm workers and their families that used to live and work here,” Mr Morphett says.
“The property was built on the sale of Merino wool back when the whole country was being built on the sheep’s back. The sheer size of the historic Anlaby woolshed – it had 32 stands – says a lot about those days. In its heyday about 70,000 sheep were shorn here each year. They were shearing for nine months.”
During the October long weekend visitors wandered the gardens and historic buildings at leisure and enjoyed a wide range of exhibits and activities including an International Woolmark Prize exhibition. Around 35 looks ranging from the 2012 to 2015 collections were exhibited at Anlaby Station.
The International Woolmark Prize is an incarnation of over sixty years of history in supporting emerging global talent in fashion by the Australian wool industry. It is an award that highlights the use of Merino wool by the most important rising designers globally.
As well as October’s Open Garden Weekend – the second time the event has been held – Mr Morphett and Mr Hayward also host weddings and other functions at Anlaby, give group tours of the property and provide Bed & Breakfast accommodation.
They also sell online their own range of Merino wool product (throws, blankets etc) which are woven exclusively from wool shorn from the Anlaby flock.