We catch up with brothers Richard and Robert Harrison about their new venture – Geraldine 4WD Park –2,250 hectares of undulating 4WD paradise.
> Where do you live, and how long have you been in the region?
We both consider Geraldine to be our home place. Richard lives 40 kilometres away and I residing on the property. It has been a family property for the past 55 years.
> Tell us about your family …
We’re brothers. We have run the family farming business together with our parents for the past 25 years.
After the death of our father Joe, our mother Pam retired to Walcha, leaving the running of the farm to me and my wife Suzanne, with Richard and his wife Donna. Together Suzanne and I, Richard and Donna will be continuing to run both the property and 4WD park.
> Describe your property …
Geraldine is an amalgamation of three purchased properties that together are 2,250 ha. The country is undulating, where the edge of the Northern Tablelands meets the North West slopes. The property runs super fine merinos and beef cattle. Geraldine is 40 km south west of Walcha on the Western fall of the Tablelands.
The lower altitude and being nearer to Tamworth means that it is warmer in the winter than Walcha and not as hot as Tamworth in the summer; this means that it is a pleasant climate year round to visit.
The property has a few hilltops that have a 360 degree view. The small number of neighbours means that star gazing is excellent, with limited artificial light to take away from the stars’ brightness. It has an abundance of wildlife: Red Deer, Fallow Deer, Wedge Tailed Eagles, kangaroos, wallabies, foxes and possums.
> Have you and your family always been 4WD enthusiasts?
Richard and and I both take pride in or 4WDs looking ‘right’. They’re used every day during the running of the farm, and for Richard it is his main vehicle when touring. Richard has been 4wding for the past 15 years. Recently he has been going as a spectator to winch challenges.
> How did the idea of a 4WD park begin, and who is involved?
During the recent drought times and with the reduction of stock numbers on Geraldine and the continuing worsening of drought conditions, it became apparent that we needed a different source of income from our existing land asset that was not reliant on the weather or commodity price fluctuations.
We decided to look into other options for the property, and the idea of a 4WD park was born. We knew the location and type of country would be attractive to 4wders, and it would make a perfect four wheel drivers’ playground. The land has water crossings, dry river crossings, steep hills, timbered areas, ridges and open country that can all be used by 4WD vehicles. The location is also a bonus, because it is not too far from the Newcastle area or Tamworth, both of whom have active 4WD clubs.
> Tell us about your new 4WD park?
Geraldine 4WD Park is a place where people can come to use their four wheel drives as they were made for. From the city people who just want to get into 4WD for the first time to the extreme four wheel drive enthusiast who want to winch out of steep areas and over rocky crossings. We are aiming to cater to all.
Currently we have approximately 60 km of tracks in place, with just a single loop around the outskirts taking approximately 6 hours. Of course, all these tracks are interlinked, so you don’t need to drive the whole track. We are also providing campsites for those who wish to stay. We have a cabin which has a shower and toilet and a few powered sites adjacent to the shearing shed.
The 3 other campsites have been set up around the property as primitive sites. We can also offer 4WD training onsite. We aim to improve the park constantly by improving facilities as needed, increasing tracks and track difficulty, and installing dams for fishing.
> How will the Walcha district benefit from the park?
Walcha is the nearest town to our park. Participants will need fuel and supplies before coming to Geraldine. If people are travelling from Newcastle, the nearest fuel would be Nowendoc and as a smaller local community, the benefits could be great.
We are hoping to encourage people to stop, look about and then revisit Walcha and the region when they come.
> Thank you guys.