Rarely does a property hit the market that can claim an unbroken chain of family ownership from the Free Selection era of the 1860s, but Gilgal at Cootamundra does precisely that. The property was taken up then by Samuel Ward and his wife Elizabeth, who had headed inland to find land less prone to floods than their original farm near Camden, on the Nepean plains. And now, five generations and 150-odd years on, the Ward family is reluctantly selling Gilgal as part of succession planning, presenting a rich and rare opening for investors in a prime mixed farming location. Inglis Rural Property has been engaged to sell Gilgal which is being offered by expressions of interest as a 3618 hectare (8941ac) aggregation, or in its three component parts. These are the original Gilgal homestead portion of 1553ha and the two adjoining blocks, Winona (1725ha) and O'Connors (340ha) which were added in 1997 and 1987 respectively. Situated about 10 kilometres south-west of Cootamundra straddling the Olympic Highway, Gilgal comprises gently undulating farming country of heavy red loam, rising to granite hills and plateaus. About 60 per cent of the Gilgal and O'Connors portions are arable, and 30pc of Winona (which takes in the granite escarpment country at the southern end). Of the total area, about 1160ha is sown to phalaris/clover-based perennial pastures which are regularly top dressed. An ongoing program sees 120ha of new pasture established each year. That's in addition to the 620ha under crop, currently a mix of dual-purpose wheat, oats and canola, all showing good potential. With estimated carrying capacity of 34,000 to 38,000 DSE, the aggregation in normal seasons carries 8000 composite ewes producing 10,000-12,000 prime lambs, and 350 Angus breeders. Numbers were reduced last year as the season tightened, and today the property is carrying about 6000 freshly-lambed ewes, 220 cows now calving and 90 weaner cattle. Average rainfall is 600mm and the property's 71 paddocks are amply watered by a mix of 86 dams, two bores feeding header tanks, several creeks and connection to town water. Working improvements reflect the scale of the operation and include two four-stand, raised-board shearing sheds, one with new under-cover Proway sheep yards, three sets of cattle yards, eight machinery sheds, hayshed, workshops and silos. A feature of the property is the historic Gilgal homestead, incorporating the original 1870 pise construction of Samuel Ward with tastefully executed renovations. Set in established gardens with mature deciduous trees, the five-bedroom home is flanked by an in-ground pool and tennis court, and the original timber stables now restored and incorporating a five-car garage, museum and coolroom. Winona also comes with a substantial home, a four-bedroom brick residence with pool and tennis court.