IRREPRESSIBLE: Woodenbong cattleman Kevin Ellevsen.
IRREPRESSIBLE: Woodenbong cattleman Kevin Ellevsen. Toni Somes

Cattleman aims to leave the world a better place

HE'S been a teacher, a cattleman, a water diviner, a father, an art collector and a bloke committed to sharing knowledge with the next generation in an attempt to improve the bush.

Meet Woodenbong beef producer Kevin Ellevsen.

In truth it would be more straight forward to chronicle what this down-to-earth bushie hasn't done in his life than what he has.

Yet he has never wanted accolades or even financial reward.

He's just wanted to do his bit to make the world a better place.

"I've never been mad about money. I'm just not that way," he said.

It is family that has been central to life for this philosopher from just over the Southern Downs' border.

Kevin and his twin brother Raymond, who is 20 minutes younger, run Ideal Santa Gertrudis stud on the property their grandfather settled close to a century ago.

Their operation is one of the oldest Santa studs in New South Wales.

These days Kevin's son Nigel has also joined the family cattle business launching his own breeding operation, Woodleigh.

When the Bush Tele caught up with the trio, they were shopping for quality females as well as bulls at the annual Santa Central Sale, near Clifton.

"We like Santas for their tropical content," Kevin explained.

"They can handle the ticks and the buffalo fly.

"We like to plan two or three years ahead when it comes to looking at cattle."

The Ellevsens have 400 hectares (1000 acres) of grazing country where they run 250 joining age females.

"We have always been interested in cattle, in particular genetics," Kevin explained.

"Even if you don't have a million dollars, the best thing you can do is invest in the best genetics you can afford."

While cattle remains the brothers' primary interest it is by no means their sole one.

Kevin has been a water diviner for 30 years, travelling the far reaches of western Queensland and into New South Wales to find underground water.

Using divining rods he can differentiate between fresh and salt water and plies his craft without cost to those, who seek his help.

"I don't charge people, never have," he said.

"When the droughts were on I'd just turn up and give people a hand and, if I got a cup of tea while I was there, I was happy."

In the weeks before he spoke with the Bush Tele he'd been in Brisbane helping John Paul College find water so they could sink four bores to green up the school ovals.

"The water we found was good and the bores pump 6000 gallons an hour," he said.

It's hardly surprising water has been a primary focus on the brothers' home property.

When the Bush Tele caught up with them recently, they were looking for rain but admitted a well-developed water management program, complemented by spring fed dams and grazing controls, ensured moisture levels were still relatively high.

"There is terrific underground water in our region and coal seam gas exploration up our way has found significant supplies," Kevin explained.

"Some of these bores were capable of up to 40,000 gallons an hour, but all have been capped over."

He said water concerns, coupled with landholder anxiety about mining's potential to impact on production, were now major issues for our region's primary producers.

"There is huge interest, but people are really guessing at the impact," Kevin said.

"From a water perspective there could be positives, but there are also concerns for the environment."

With mining and water increasingly topical issues for the rural sector, the Woodenbong landholder is organising an information day for his region's landholders.

His aim is to provide hands-on information to producers so they can make informed choices.

"Raymond and I personally have adopted a lot of Peter Andrew's practices and we are sure some of our neighbours probably think those Ellevsen boys have gone mad," Kevin said.

"Anyway we now have a lot of water on the property.

"We have had some of the spring water tested and it is so rich in elements and minerals that using it as stock water reduces the need to supplement cattle."

He said proactive moves like long-term spelling of pasture country, fertiliser programs that promoted soil's water holding capacity and strategic grazing management could improve land health.

"If you enhance the water holding capacity of your soils then you don't need rainfall to get more production," Kevin said.

"What we have always wanted and worked towards is low budget ideas that work and have a healing effect on our environment."

  • The Ellevsen brothers plan to hold an information day on their Mt Lindesay Rd property at Woodenbong before the end of the year.

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