Bothwell, in Tasmania’s beautiful Central Highlands is situated seventy kilometres north west of Hobart at an elevation of 350 m. It is the southern gateway to our spectacular lake country.
This tiny town with a population of around 400 was established in the 1820’s by Scottish settlers. They named the settlement ‘Bothwell’ and named the river which runs through it the ‘Clyde’. It was previously known as the ‘Fat Doe’. The Scots brought with them the Aberdeen Black Angus cattle and many families worked the land. It is one of Australia’s oldest townships and is classified as an historic town.
Bothwell boasts a large number of well preserved historic buildings and homesteads, comprising of sandstone, brick and wood. Sandstone was quarried from the hills adjacent to the town and the bricks were made from local clay and the timber sourced from local sawyers. Significant properties include Strathbarton, Clifton Priory, Ratho, Nant, Wentworth House, Cluny, Llanberis, Dungrove, Sherwood and Montacute.
The township itself is home to around 100 buildings of architectural heritage interest, an extremely large number for such a small town. The oldest golf course in Tasmania, possibly Australia, is located at Ratho Farm and the Nant Whisky Distillery is producing a world class drop.
With agriculture being the primary industry in the area, it is not surprising that Bothwell is producing high quality crops of pharmaceutical poppies, wasabi plants, Angus Beef and, unique to the district, Cormo Wool.
The internationally accepted Cormo breed originated at Dungrove, near Bothwell, Tasmania. The flocks graze from 610 metres to 1000 metres above sea level and take dry, hot summers and cold, snowy winters in their stride. A ram-breeding nucleus and a commercial flock are both run all year under these natural environmental conditions.
In 1960 the owner of Dungrove, Ian Downie, was running a high quality flock of Superfine Saxon Merino. Commercial considerations led him to two conclusions:
- There was a need for a more fertile, higher wool producing and larger framed sheep.
- A trend would develop towards the purchases of wool according to objective measurement and a breeding programme should be instigated to meet this demand.
In seeking scientific help he learned of large scale breeding trials conducted at Trangie, New South Wales, Australia, by Dr Helen Newton-Turner, chief geneticist with the Division of Animal Genetics of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, in collaboration with Dr RB Dun and Dr F Morley.
The Senior Sheep and Wool Officer of Tasmania’s Department of Agriculture, Mr BC Jefferies, devised a breeding programme which was based on the Trangie experiments and designed to meet Mr Downie’s requirements.
Stud Corriedale rams were crossed with 1200 Superfine Saxon Merino ewes and those progeny which met rigid selection criteria, assessed by objective measurement, became the Cormo ram breeding nucleus. The word Cormo is derived from the letters from the names of the two parent breeds.
Scientific breeding has given the Cormo a remarkable range of commercial virtues, suited to both the wool and meat industries. These include:
- Long staple, white high yield wool (average fleece weight 5.5kg)
- Soft, dense fleece with exceptional consistency (90% within two microns of the average)
- Resistance to fleece rot and mycotic dermatitis
- Long and large carcasses with flock ewes averaging 55kg and export wethers averaging 60kg
- High fertility with over 110% of lambs weaned
- Open faces
- Easy management with no stalling or artificial feeding.
This page proudly sponsored by Ian and Anne Downie and Peter and Ann Downie of Dungrove Farm, Bothwell, Tasmania