The story that’s Yarrawonga and Waco
Two studs, two brothers unite annually to offer top quality seedstock at their on-property sale in September.
The largest and most successful Santa Gertrudis operations in Australia.
Situated outside Wallumbilla and Mungallala in Queensland, the Bassingthwaighte family’s operations have become hallmark names in the Australian and global seedstock circles. From humble beginnings, they have grown and expanded to take the Santa Gertrudis message to all corners of the country and overseas.
Show ring and sale success are one thing however, the two prefixes have always embraced the practical, commercial and economical realities of the beef industry. Crucial to the entire operation is the large scale commercial operation run in conjunction with the stud herd. This arm of the enterprise allows the family continual assessment of bloodlines, data analysis and monitoring of their cattle and genetics. This strong commercially focused connection keeps the Bassingthwaighte family fully aware of current market demands and trends, a vital link and necessity in this world.
Showing and exhibiting cattle remains an integral part of the fabric of this family owned business. There’s a long and illustrious legacy associated with the studs continued support of the showing, carcase and prime cattle arenas.
The stud’s prowess in the showring is legendary and their cattle and the end product has seen over 400 broad ribbon wins at Sydney and Brisbane Royal shows over a 45-year period.
Over five decades and under international and national adjudication, at regional, Royal and Feature Show level, at World and International Congresses the feats that the two prefixes have achieved is at an elevation where they would have few equals.
Beef cattle have to perform. The herds are reared and grow on a variety of native and improved pastures, mostly without supplementation, through all seasons and environs. Particular attention is paid to the constitution of our cattle, they grow and develop in grazing systems with only the easy doing, manageable and productive cattle retained.
The breeding herds are only given access to supplementation during droughts. Weight and the ability to gain weight is also paramount and a key economic factor. Males with superior or high weight gains are utilised thus ensuring this heritable trait and benefit is passed on.
Adherence to selection criteria of survival, high weight gain, constitution and doing ability has meant the development of the herd of cattle that excels in both favourable seasons and feedlot conditions. These policies have been vindicated and verified in numerous feedlot trials and competitions where both heifers and steers exhibited by Yarrawonga and Waco have topped the weight gain and feed conversion areas of those competitions.
The management systems undertaken by the operations also deliver another benefit, longevity. First and foremost, visual appraisal is paramount as a selection tool. Backed by performance data, visual appraisal parameters including size, body capacity, structural soundness, desirable muscle pattern and disposition.
Fertility is another very important factor and is monitored closely. Bulls are semen tested before joining. Heifers are joined at 15 months and all females are pregnancy tested annually. After decades of diligence and utilising systems and methodology we believe that we have increased the genetic strength of the Yarrawonga and Waco herds of Santa Gertrudis considerably. We’re confident that our future generations of cattle and their replacements, either stud or commercial have that genetic edge and the quality needed for advancement……. they’re backed by over five decades of breeding.
Yarrawonga Santa Gertrudis, Stud No: 28 was founded by the late David and Mary Bassingthwaighte in 1956. Management of the stud was taken over by Alastair and Louise Bassingthwaighte in the mid-1970s and then by Andrew and Fiona Bassingthwaighte and their children, Addison, Jack and Raphael in 2012 where the stud operation rests at ‘Yarrawonga’ Wallumbilla, Qld.
The Waco prefix, Stud No: 114 was founded by Alastair Bassingthwaighte in 1965. Management of the stud and commercial operation was taken over by David and Suzanne Bassingthwaighte and their children, Olivia, Howy, Tom, Drew and Pip in 2012. A change of location was seen where the family along with the entire Waco Stud herd moved to ‘Muldoon’ Mungallala, Qld to join the commercial operation. A select line of bulls are trucked to ‘Yarrawonga’ each September to join force with the Yarrawonga draft to present their annual production sale.
Decades of Dedication
Dave Bassingthwaighte lays the foundations of the stud and introduces Brahmans into Shorthorn females. The first Santa Gertrudis bull (KRAR Associate) purchased for 800 guineas enters the herd followed by Risdon Banjo purchased at the King Ranch Sale.
Late in the decade Dave Bassingthwaighte draws the 13,634ha, Muldoon Station north of Mungallala. At the same time the family stages its first Yarrawonga Sale, in the Wallumbilla yards where 34 first-cross bulls averaged 212 guineas selling to a top of 405 guineas.
Alastair Bassingthwaighte draws the 4371ha Brigalow block, Waco just 95kms from Yarrawonga. This was a significant milestone as it was in close proximity to Yarrawonga and lent itself to a stud cattle operation. The name Waco was chosen for the property and the prefix for the Taroom district property and Alastair moved into his tent ‘homestead’ and began clearing Brigalow.
First royal broad ribbon was won by Yarrawonga Cavalier at the 1969 Sydney Royal Show.
Alastair marries Louise Cameron and they set up the newly formed Waco Stud. In this period, the operations commenced purchasing top line sires like the $27,000 King Ranch Poseidon and the $23,000 Pampoola K141. Another important selection was the purchase of the immortal, Elgin Downs A25 by Dave and Alastair Bassingthwaighte.
During this period of great change Dave and Mary retired to Brisbane and the two studs were then managed by Alastair and Louise.
Alastair and Louise welcomed their three children, Wendy, David and Andrew into the world, all born within three years.
This decade saw the beef depression where many descriptions of livestock were worthless. Even in these lean times the Yarrawonga and Waco cattle were still able to be sold. To give you an idea, in the depression time 140 bulls grossed $379,850 for an average of $2,713. Showing faith in the industry the family purchased the Taroom district aggregation, ‘Kiah’, neighbouring ‘Waco’.
Huge steps were taken in the profiles of the two studs in both the show and sale arenas. For two years in succession Elgin Downs A25 was named Santa Gertrudis Sire Of The Year. Alastair and Louise undertook overseas trips to familiarise themselves with global breeding trends. With the effects of the beef depression well and truly behind the industry and recovery evident in many sectors, the 1988 annual Yarrawonga and Waco bull sale broke through the $1 million barrier, a first for an Australian Santa Gertrudis Breeder.
Breed stalwart and founder, David Bassingthwaighte passes away at age 76.
Further breed confidence was highly apparent when at the 1989 anniversary sale, Yarrawonga Zupert sells for the then breed record $70,000.
Bold moves were undertaken in the early part of the decade and international attention swung the way of the two prefixes when Yarrawonga Xmas collected the World Championship Trophy at the World Santa Gertrudis Congress, Johannesburg, South Africa.
The two studs travelled extensively in this period, promoting their product and the breed in many regional centres across Australia and attended and exhibited cattle at the Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane Royal Shows.
Waco Freeman was just one of those many high-profile bulls that the studs produced in that period. Freeman became the most influential bull the studs and breed have seen, producing cattle with excellent breed character, performance and structural correctness and genetics are still prominent throughout the breed today.
The family and its operation were rapidly expanding. Property acquisitions followed with the purchase of ‘Kywong’ near Wandoan.
During this decade two of the children, Wendy and David both married.
Wendy married Scott Ferguson and made ‘Glenview’ Nobby their home and at the latter stage of the decade and early years of the next, welcomed their children, Phoebe, Sophie and Lilly.
David married Suzanne Nobbs and settled at 'Kiah' Taroom. Olivia was born in the last year of this decade followed very closely by 4 siblings, Howy, Tom and twins, Drew and Pip in the early 2000s.
Confidence in the operations seedstock continued to climb. At the 2001 sale 184 bulls plus two semen packages grossed $1,223,000 to average $6,575. With that confidence came another property acquisition, ‘Stockade’, located outside Tambo.
In 2008, Andrew married Fiona Edwards and settled at ‘Yarrawonga’ Wallumbilla.
In this period, the operation underwent major changes with a succession plan in place whereby David and Suzanne and their family would take over management of the Waco prefix in 2012. Properties ‘Kiah’ and ‘Kywong’ were sold and the family and entire Waco Stud herd moved to ‘Muldoon’ Mungallala to join the commercial operation. This is now where all Waco bulls are bred and a select line are trucked to ‘Yarrawonga’ each September to join forces with Yarrawonga’s draft of bulls for their on property seedstock sale.
Andrew and Fiona assume the running of the Yarrawonga stud. The Yarrawonga stud cows are run on property ‘Waco’, Taroom and they also retained ‘Stockade’, Tambo for their commercial operation. This decade also saw Andrew and Fiona welcome their three children, Addison, Jack and Raffaelle.