The origins of human habitation on the land that is now Highfield goes back at least 50,000 years.
A scared tree used to make a coolamon.
An ancient ring tree on Highfield Farm.
RESPECTING THE GENERATIONS BEFORE US
Highfield Farm and Woodland is situated on the ancestral lands of the Wiradjuri Nation.
The Wiradjuri are the largest Aboriginal group in central New South Wales by area and population. The people of the Wiradjuri country are known as “people of three rivers” being the Macquarie River (Wambool), Lachlan River (Kalari) and the Murrumbidgee River (Murrumbidjeri), which border their lands.
For hundreds of generations, this land that is now Highfield Farm was skillfully managed and cherished under traditional Wiradjuri law and custom, and there’s ample evidence of this former custodianship.
In recent years, Wiradjuri Elders and Cultural Heritage Officers have surveyed the property and identified a number of significant cultural artefacts, including stone tools and ‘modified trees’.
There are some ancient trees on the property with scars denoting evidence of managed burning, canoe making and coolamon production.
A coolamon is a carrying bowl made from the bark of certain trees.
There are also two ‘ring trees’, where a branch of the young tree was tied back and spliced to the main trunk to form a ‘ring’ or ‘window’.
These ring trees are believed to mark areas of significance, including boundaries between groups.
All items have been registered with the Office of Environment and Heritage, which ensures their protection.
We are certain that there are more cultural artifacts to be found on Highfield, and we look forward to ensuring they are registered and kept safe for generations to come.
European influence in this district began in the 1830s as Wiradjuri land was seized and occupied by well-resourced settlers known as ‘squatters’. Initially, Highfield was part of a large squatter’s ‘run’ called Yabtree, which stretched all the way to the Murrumbidgee River. In the late 1800s, it became part of a ‘selector’s’ property known as Hazeldell, which ran up and over the Ellerslie Range to near Tarcutta. Subsequently, around the 1920s, Hazeldell was sold to the owners of the adjacent property Ellerslie Station.
Our Kestrel Nest EcoHut now stands on the site of the original hut on Highfield, formerly known as ‘Hazeldell Hut’, which was a stockman’s outpost for Ellerslie Station. It must have been an important outpost as a telephone line once connected Hazeldell to the main Ellerslie Homestead about 15km away.
In 1948, shortly after the end of World War II, Ellerslie Station was divided into more than 30 separate farm lots under a Government scheme known as War Service Land Settlement, often referred to as ‘soldier settlements’. The block of land that was to become Highfield was held back for release until 1951, perhaps due to the lack of good road access.
A local farmer and shearer bought the block in 1951 and subsequently built a shearing shed and yards on the western side of the property when better road access became available.
In the 1980s, the property was owned by a local school teacher, who built a new cottage on the site of the current farmhouse.
In 2010, the property was purchased by the Nature Conservation Trust of NSW (subsequently taken over by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and their Biodiversity Conservation Trust to establish a conservation covenant on the remnant box-gum woodland that covered two-thirds of the property. Funding for this came from the NSW State Government as an ‘offset’ for the woodland that was destroyed to make way for the Tarcutta By-Pass on the Hume Highway.
In November 2012, Highfield became our home. To acknowledge the critically endangered habitat protected here, we re-named the property Highfield Farm and Woodland.
OUR SUSTAINABILITY PROMISE
Two-thirds of Highfield protects Box Gum Grassy Woodland – a critically endangered habitat. This habitat now only exists in 5% of its former range. The remaining one-third of Highfield is largely native grass pasture. Disturbingly native temperate grasslands only exist in 1% of their former range and yet are not protected. These statistics have resulted in us considering the whole of Highfield as a site for environmental repair.
This is our purpose, our motivation.
At Highfield, everything we do is aimed at addressing the climate and extinction crisis, increasing biodiversity, protecting our soils and improving the health of our waterways.