Barragunda Estate is located in Cape Schanck on the Mornington Peninsula. The Morris Family have been custodians of this land since 1999.

The name Barragunda was a word used by the Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin nation, the traditional custodians of this land, said to mean ‘thunderous roar of the sea’, reflecting the property’s location on the wild southern coast of Victoria.

The property is 444 hectares, which includes pastures for the grazing of cattle and sheep, a mixed fruit orchard, market garden and an (upcoming) 40-seat restaurant that will serve farm to table meals.

Approximately one-quarter of the property remains as native vegetation, and we are continuing to revegetate the landscape to protect the fragile ecosystem from coastal erosion and a long history of colonial grazing management.

History

Barragunda is a historical patrol property and homestead in Cape Schanck, Victoria. The original homestead dates back to the 1860s is built from limestone quarried on the property.

Prior to European settlement, the region of Point Nepean was inhabited by the Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin nation. Archaeologists have found evidence that dates aboriginal settlements here between 14,000-18,500 years ago, however the traditional owners today know their ancestors have been custodians of this land for over 35,000 years. Cape Schanck was known as a special women’s place, a place women went for birthing, women’s ceremony, and initiation of the younger women. Like many of the stories of white settlement, there is also story of conflict and sadness. In this region, many (often prominent) local indigenous women (and sometimes children) were abducted and taken to places like Bass Straight Island and even Western Australia. These abductions were well documented at the time by journalists.

In 1838, the original pastoral run, called Cape Schanck, was taken up by Charles Campbell from Sydney. Not long after, pastoralist John Baker and his brother Edward Baker held the property from 1840 to 1884 when it was sub-divided and sold to J.B Were and Dr Godfrey Howitt. The original homestead was built c. 1866 by Howitt as a wedding gift for his daughter Edith, who married Robert Anderson, a worker from a nearby farm.

The homestead is thought to have been designed by Edward La Trobe Bateman who also designed Heronswood, located in nearby Arthurs Seat. The homestead is a picturesque example of Gothic revival design, a style rarely used for domestic architecture in Australia. Despite some major alterations to the homestead up until the 1970s, the homestead retains important historic features including slate roof, decorated bell-cast towers, corbelled chimneys, Dutch gables and a walled garden.

When Edith died from a stroke, her husband inherited the property which he owned until his retirement in 1908 when the property (at the time 7000 acres) was sold to Sir Marcus Whiting and his merchant brother, John Whiting. The property was subdivided into five parts with the portion containing the homestead sold to tar distiller John Munckton in 1920. Munckton owned the property for a little over and year, selling to George Turnbull Bell. The property was then passed to his children, James, Constance and Margaret. The Bells sold the property in 1954 and since changed hands a number of times before the Morris Family purchased in 1999.

Sources: Peninsula Essence  

Philosophy

Our philosophy and approach to farming is best described using the term regenerative agriculture.

Regenerative agriculture is a system of principles and practices that generates agricultural products, sequesters carbon, and enhances biodiversity at the farm scale.

We believe, as farmers, we are custodians of this land and therefore strive to use agriculture as a way to restore this landscape, rather than trying to control it. We are not perfect. There is a huge amount of trial and error, observing and adapting. We therefore consider ourselves students of this land, and we are continuously learning about the best ways to manage it.

Barragunda aims to be a real life demonstration of what we advocate for through the organisations we have been involved in establishing including Sustainable Table and Ripe for Change, and those we support philanthropically through the Morris Family Foundation.

The Six Principles of Regenerative Agriculture

  1. Minimise Disturbance: No/low till, no/reduced chemicals, less compaction
  2. Living Roots: Maximize photosynthesis, continue pumping liquid carbon sugars into the ground to feed microbes
  3. Soil Armor: Keep the soil covered with living plants or crop residue, wood chips, or mulch. Bare soil gets much hotter at midday and is more vulnerable to wind/water erosion
  4. Animal Integration: Animals big and small play a pivotal role in nutrient cycling and regenerating landscapes
  5. Increased Biodiversity: Biodiversity of plants increases beneficial biodiversity above and below ground as well as increasing the functionality and resilience of the ecosystem
  6. Context: No two farms are alike. From brittle environments to more moist ones, from different crops to livestock, from no funds to extensive funds, context is key. How you will go about regenerating land will vary and depend on many key components. A holistic framework is necessary to successfully transition to regenerative.

Source: Kiss the Ground

Jobs & Training

One of the big challenges in agriculture in Australia, and around the world, is that the average age of a farmer is over 60 years, whilst young farmers are struggling to get onto land due to extremely high land prices. In our region on the Mornington Peninsula, this problem is exuberated with increasing demand for land by Melburnians setting up as hobby farmers. Therefore, our challenge is finding ways for young and aspiring regenerative farmers to access land and learn.

To overcome this challenge in a small way we will be offering internships to young farmers, or aspiring farmers, who want to give farming a go. Training options can include a focus on an area of the farm that is of most interest (e.g orchard, market garden, grazing) or a whole farm approach.

If you would like to express interest in an internship, please get in touch.

We often require extra help on the farm in busy periods including harvest, if you would like to express interest in casual work, please get in touch.