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Pioneers of Snowtown, S.A.

Pastoral pioneers - 5


The Michaels of Snowtown


Hummocks Station has a great history that officially started off back in 1851 with sheep grazing and has been owned by some of Australia’s greatest pioneering families, Captain John Ellis and Robert Barr Smith.

  • Captain John Ellis held Lease 124 (later situated in the Hundreds of Cameron and Barunga) which contained 251 square miles.

Ellis arrived in SA in 1839 on the Buckinghamshire. Ellis was a speculator and pastoralist with great resources.

  • In 1851 he purchased freehold 50,000 acres (i.e. £50,000) near Port MacDonnell.

  • Ellis was a businessman and one of the first parliamentarians of South Australia in 1851 so he had managers on his properties.


Ellis returned to England as a very wealthy man, having sold the grazing lease of the Hummocks to the firm of Hope, Moorhouse and Co.

  • Dr Moorhouse lived in the properties' Homestead later known as Barunga Homestead, now Hummocks Station.


Hummocks Station was the first property to run sheep north of Adelaide after colonization and is the gateway to Australia’s southern outback.

  • Now the same Hummocks Ranges are dotted with Snowtown Wind Farm towers (illustrated at left)

Hummocks Country

The Hummocks Run was described by surveyor G W Goyder as follows in 1864:

The Run consists of ---

  • 9 square miles of salt lakes and lagoons

  • 26 (sq) miles of dense scrub with

    • mallee, pine, bushes and few herbs and black grass and a very little spinifex

  • 45 (sq) miles of fairly grassed plain and undulating lands (NB: possibly aboriginal landscaping)

    • and wattle, oak bushes, and a little salt bush, and polygonum in places

  • 87 (sq) miles of very fairly grassed hills and plains (NB: possibly aboriginal landscaping)

    • with oak, wattle and gums in large watercourses and very little salt bush

  • 66 (sq) miles of well grassed spurs and plains (NB: possibly aboriginal landscaping)

    • with oaks and wattle north of Broughton (river)

  • and 18 (sq) miles of very well grassed (land) south of the Broughton (river) (NB: possibly aboriginal landscaping)

  • and oak hills and spurs about the middle of the run.

    • Stock is watered from the River Broughton and from wells.

Hummocks Country
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1860 Mid North Pastoral Runs
  • By 1860 the two properties of Hummocks and Bumbunga covered 100 square miles or 64,000 acres. Leases 492, 467, above were also West of the Barunga Range.

Captain Ellis returned to England in 1867 after selling his (pastoral 14-year) lease of the Hummocks Station to a fim managed by Dr Matthew Moorhouse,

  • Dr. Moorhouse was an early and successful pastoralist in this colony and pioneer squatter in the north.

  • Also Moorhouse was the first protector of Aborigines in South Australia.


The lease was resumed by the Government in 1869 forcing Dr Moorhouse out.

1860-1863 - Barunga Homestead

Click images for larger views:

Hundred of Cameron

The northern Hummock Range occupies much of the western half of the area and now the Adelaide-Port Augusta railway line runs near and parallel to the eastern boundary.

It was named in 1869 by Governor James Ferguson for early pioneer Hugh Cameron.

1860-1863 - Barunga Homestead
  • The Barunga Homestead was described by the Surveyor General, Goyder in 1864 as a “substantial 9 roomed stone house and cellar, newly built”.

  • It was apparently built in the early 1860’s.


Hummocks Station has a great web site that gives a brief history and general information regarding the facilities on the Station.


An important venture on the part of the late Mr. John Hope was his purchase of the Hummocks Station in conjunction with the late Dr. Moorhouse.

  • Dr Matthew Moorhouse lived in the original homestead (which was named Barunga Homestead) on the Hummocks property


The first hundreds were proclaimed in 1846.


While the original meaning of the word 'Hundred' is a matter of historical argument,

  • Commissioner Bonney intended that a hundred should consist of "one hundred square miles, (up to) one-third more or one-third less".

  • Each hundred was given a name and divided into numbered sections.

  • By about 1860 it had become the general practice to sell and buy land only within "hundreds" and by section of about 80 acres each. (80 acres may have been enough to live on in England, but not enough to live on in SA.)

1869 - Hummocks lease 'resumed'

In the north of South Australia, as a result of a crippling drought in some places lasting from 1863 until 1866, the 1860s were a crushing experience with many pastoralists losing up to ninety per cent of their stock.

  • As more land was wanted for farming, leases were systematically resumed by the Government and the lessees paid compensation.

  • Graziers did nor like having their runs cut up into farms, but "at least a man knew that either he had a pastoral lease or he did not".


The pastoral leases on the Hummocks were resumed by the Government in 1869, after giving notice,

  • to enable closer settlement and

  • to enable the rapid establishment of railway lines and local townships,

  • thus ushering in the new practice of farming the country for grain, not just for the pastoral interest of sheep grazing. (However wool was still fetching high prices!)

The Hummocks had an area of 251 square miles and a grazing capacity of 51,500 sheep. The old rental and assessment of £491 10/-, and Goyder’s 1864-5 valuation was £4,055 per annum, deducting improvements valued at £4,843.

  • The leases of Koolunga and the Hummocks were purchased in 1870 from the estate of the late Mr. John Hope, father of Mr. R.E.H. Hope, of Wolta Wolta, Clare.


The Hundred of Cameron around Lochiel and Lake Bumbunga was named after Hugh Cameron and declared in 1869.

The Hundred of Barunga was mainly made up of leased lands from the Hummocks and Barunga runs.

  • It was named in 1869 by Governor James Fergusson after an indigenous term meaning gap in the range.

  • The Hummocks leasehold land was reduced to thirteen square miles mainly to the west of the Hummock Ranges (Lease 467 towards Mundoora on the map above)

1869 - Hummocks lease resumed

Above left: Survey of Cameron, mallee areas left out. Above: Plan of the Hundred of Barunga, 1964


The Hundred of Barunga is located in the Mid North of South Australia on the approximate area of the Barunga Range and adjoins the Hundred of Cameron on the Southern border. The Town of Snowtown lies in the south-eastern corner.

1870 - New Owners of the Hummocks

The two major buyers of land in the Hundreds of Cameron and Barunga were Robert Barr Smith and John Maslin.

  • In total they bought about 95 or so sections of land mainly in 1870 and 1871 which they ran in partnership until:

  • The partnership was dissolved in 1886 and Barr Smith retained the Hummocks runs while Maslin took the Bundaleer run near Clare, which had higher rainfall.


Hummocks station became the 30,000 acre freehold Hummocks run with some leasehold lands west of the Hummock Ranges. (Most of these sections contained 100 to 300 acres or more).

1870 - New Owners of the Hummocks
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The Michael's purchase property near Snowtown

The demand for arable farming land during the 1860s resulted in major land reform legislation. This became the decade of "Kill the Squatter".
"The hon. member accused the Government of killing the goose that laid the golden eggs, in forcing land into the market for sale, and so killing the squatters."

  • Enabling prospective farmers to buy land on credit,

  • the Waste Lands Amendment (or Strangways) Act (1869) transformed sheep runs in to small wheat farms,

  • while other runs became forest reserves for the propagation of exotic softwoods and native hardwoods.

The Michael's purchase property near Snowtown


One of the original families that purchased land around the Hummocks Range (in 1873) was Mr. John Michael.

  • He selected land along the Barunga ranges south west of Snowtown in 1873 on the foothills of the Barunga Ranges which was part of Hummocks Station.

  • The original farm was 250ha and three Kilometers south of Snowtown.
  • Mr John Michael was prominent in the push for a railway line from Barunga Gap to Wallaroo, so that farming produce could be directly exported from shipping at Wallaroo.
  • Around the homestead animals were watered and grazed during the shearing of up to 34500 sheep in the 1800’s.


Visit to Mr Michael's at Barunga Gap

"The absurdity of the scheme to take the railway line (from Kadina) to Green's Plains can plainly be seen from Mr. John Michael's residence.

  • "The smoke from the Wallaroo Smelting Works was plainly discernible, and on a fine day the houses in Kadina may be seen;

  • also Green's Plains can readily be recognised.

    • The visitors standing at Mr. Michael's seemed to themselves to be at one corner of a triangle,

    • Green's Plains to be at another, and

    • Kadina and the natural port of the district to be at another."

"After arrival, a very excellent lunch, kindly provided by Mr. and Mrs. Michael, was partaken of by all the gentlemen present,

  • and then it was resolved to visit the Gap, which was about a mile away."

- Adelaide Observer (SA) Sat 6 May 1876  Page 10  VISIT TO BARUNGA GAP.

Visit to Mr Michael's at Barunga Gap
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sheep grazing in SA.webp
  • Mr Michael's stone barn was used for entertainment for Percyton. e.g. Sat 26 Sep 1885 Page 13

  • Sept 1919 - Mr. A. Morrell has sold Meroo farm to Messrs. Michael Bros. of Barunga Gap.

Vote of thanks re visit 6 May 1876.jpg
Barunga Gap and Percyton
Rural Notes Rain At W R Michaels 23 Jun
Michael Family Headstone, Barunga
Hummocks Homestead
Barunga Gap and Percyton


Percyton was named by Governor Jervois probably after a friend of his John Percy, a military officer.

  • The town was surveyed and gazetted in January 1880 with 195 building lots.

  • In 1881 when a SA census was held Percyton had only a few residents.

  • The town was divided by the Bute to Snowtown railway and railway reserve.

W R Michael homestead.jpg
Hummocks Estate sub-division.jpg
The Hummocks Estate sold off
Trooper Wheaton buys Hummocks Station

Above Right: The Diggers' gazette : (S A Branch) Vol. 2, no. 10 (7th April, 1921)

'The Hummocks Estate'

Observer (Adelaide, SA)  Sat 4 Sep 1920 Page 29 

The Minister of Repatriation (Mr. Laffer) told Sir Richard Butler in the Assembly on Tuesday that the revenue from the Hummocke Estate for the two years ended June 30 1920 had been £6,835 and £14,775 respectively, and that the comparative expenditure there was £11,125 and £6,939.

Trooper Wheaton buys Hummocks Station

Trooper Phillip Wheaton of the Third Light Horse Regiment purchased 904 acres including the old Hummocks station homestead, outbuildings, shearers’ quarters etc for £5,130 in 1921.

  • His descendants farmed this property until 1997.

  • Today Leahcim is the home of one of the world’s most advanced sheep breeding flocks.

GumFarm of Michael Family
Mrs W R Michael 8 Aug 1929.jpg
Mr W R Michael 1.jpg
Mr W R Michael 2.jpg
Michael Stud Clydesdale 1905.jpg
GumPark Michael Farm 16 Feb  1933 -1.jpg
GumPark Michael Farm 16 Feb  1933 -2.jpg
GumPark Michael Farm 16 Feb  1933 -3.jpg
GumPark Michael Farm 16 Feb  1933 -4.jpg
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Michaels' Leahcim company

Leahcim is the Snowtown Michael family’s farm, stud or bloodstock name that has been used for many years.

We pronounce it as Leah-cim and it is simply Michael backwards.

Alex Michael had a race horse Leahcim that was extremely successful back in 1950 winning the Port Adelaide cup and many other group one races and was really the start of the Leahcim name.


The Michael family first purchased land and farmed at Snowtown in 1873 on the foothills of the Barunga Ranges which was part of Hummocks Station.

  • For the last 45 years Leahcim have focused on breeding sheep both merinos and terminal or meat producing sheep.

  • Sheep and wool production now makes up 80% of the income derived at Leahcim whereas 20 years age it would have been 20% of our income.

Death of W R Michael
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Mr W R Michael 2.jpg
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Leahcim Farming

Leahcim Farming

Andrew (L) and Rosemary (R) Michael.jpg

Andrew and Alistair Michael, Leahcim, Snowtown, South Australia, buyers Paul and Jen Goering, Lukin Springs, Boyup Brook and Rosemary Michael.

With succession planning and changeover Leahcim now run a large percentage of the business under Leahcim Farming -

which is Luke, Stewart and Alistair’s and families trading partnership.


Over the last 20 years since changing our business structure we have been able to increase and diversify our land holding from our original farm which was 250ha three Kilometers south of Snowtown.

Within the last 20 years we have purchased

  • Nolan’s a pastoral property 50 kilometers east of Burra,

  • Panlatinga at Willalooka in the south east,

  • Bankowner the property adjacent to Leahcim and

  • in December 2016 we purchased Hummocks Station.
    All of these properties play a different role within the Business.

Read more:

Michael boys take charge

KARINA NATT5 Jul 2015,


ANDREW and Rosemary Michael, Leahcim stud, Snowtown, have seen other farmers encounter difficulties when it was time to hand the farm over and wanted to ensure their family did not have any problems.

  • Mr Michael, 59, and Mrs Michael, 56, have discovered early succession planning has stimulated enthusiasm and increased motivation in their sons, Luke, 34, Stewart, 29, and Alistair, 25.

  • They have set up a structure which allows the boys to work their own interests into the business and take ownership of the operation.


"We have been reasonably successful in what we have done and I didn't want the boys to think they had to follow on with what we had done exactly," Mr Michael said.

  • "Luke did his wool-classing certificate and then came home. He was born to be a farmer.

  • "Stewart is a mad-keen pilot and would like to have a part of that in the business

  • and Alistair worked with Landmark for four years and is into the technology side with data and the sheep.

Below: Rosemary, Andrew, Stewart, Hazel, Jemma and Alistair Michael from Leahcim stud, Snowtown

Rosemary, Andrew, Stewart, Hazel, Jemma

The farm comprises

  • the 1618-hectare original home farm at Snowtown,

  • a 6677ha station property between Burra and Morgan,

  • and 647ha at Willalooka in the South East.


The land is being signed over to the siblings and they will take over the partnership.

  • Their ownership of our business will increase each year and they know today exactly what they are entitled to if we are hit by a bus tomorrow.

  • The sons are the fifth generation to take over the Snowtown farm, which was a small operation when Mr Michael and his brother inherited it after his father died.
2011 -Hummocks Homestead Sold
Leahcim buys Hummocks Homestead

Hummocks Station offered for Sale in 2011


"This unique, affordable rural retreat, Hummocks Station provides multiple opportunities, limited only by the imagination of an astute purchaser."

Hummocks Station - Affordable Lifestyle Property on 13.87 Ha

Property ID 646292

Bidding Price Guide $470,000 - $510,000
SOLD at Auction 2pm Friday Sept 2nd 2011


A truly unique opportunity - The award winning Hummocks Station with the original homestead and renovated shearing shed and quarters was offered for sale.

  • The property comprises the lovingly restored 1860's character homestead of 8 main rooms plus the original shearing shed and shearers quarters (C 1880).

  • The charming stone homestead, set in a peaceful rural garden setting, offers four spacious bedrooms, a wonderful living room with French doors to the old red brick verandah, a formal dining room adjoining the large upgraded farm kitchen, lovely renovated bathroom and a large dry cellar.

Just some of the character features of the homestead include

  • 13ft high ceilings, wide full length hallway with oak timber flooring, mini orb ceilings and open fireplaces.

  • The transformation of the original homestead is a credit to the present owners.

The renovated shearing shed and quarters comprises 6 large bedrooms (two with en-suites) all opening to a gorgeous outdoor setting.

  • Two character filled function rooms, gallery, large commercial kitchen, fully equipped guest kitchen and lounge.

  • The function rooms are fitted with slow combustion heating and ducted evaporative cooling.

Also including additional character stone outbuildings including the

  • Trap shed, the Blacksmiths shop and grocery store

  • plus a large machinery shed and aircraft hangar.

  • The buildings have been sympathetically restored to capture the imagination of a bygone era.

Leachim logo.jpg
Leahcim buys Hummocks Homestead

In 2018 Andrew and Rosemary Michael and family purchased the 15 acres around the homestead to run it as an accommodation and function centre.

  • Leahcim has added Hummocks Station to its business for a number of reasons:

  1. one of the main reasons is to restore it to its former glory and

  2. to make it a centerpiece to show off our area and

  3. to show the history of sheep on the Station from 1851 to today.


The home farm at Leahcim was originally part of Hummocks Station

  • Within the last 20 years the Michael family have purchased:
    • Nolan’s a pastoral property 50 kilometers east of Burra,

    • Panlatinga at Willalooka in the south east,

    • Bankowner the property adjacent to Leahcim and

    • in December 2016 we purchased Hummocks Station.

  • Six generations of the Michael family have farmed and are still farming on land that was part of the original Hummocks Station.

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