PANDURRA Station's Bruce Nutt is the fourth-generation owner of the 100,000-hectare pastoral property, which began when his great-grandfather, Henry Lloyd Nutt, bought the first parcel of land in 1894.
He describes the beginnings of Pandurra as a "bit of the Sydney Kidman story".
"Henry went droving when he was a young fella, and that's how he got his start," Bruce said.
"He started trading in livestock and walking them around on the chain roads, fattening them up and that sort of thing, and put them on the market to get a bit of money together.
"He finally got enough together to buy a bit of land, and the first bit of land he bought out this side was Pandurra."
The land has been passed down through the family ever since, with Bruce taking over the reins about 38 years ago.
The sheep station's 120th year was honoured in a low-key fashion, with 40 shearers posing for a photograph – they were given a copy each.
"Getting 40-odd people to look the same way at the same time is not so easy," Bruce said.
Shearing had not changed much during his time at the helm – an aspect of the industry that also hinders it.
"Compare the wool harvesting industry to, say, the mining industry," Bruce said.
"40 years ago, one man could shift 1000 cubic metres a day. Now one man could probably shift a million cubic metres, or something like that. I don't know.
"The point is, the mining machinery is much more efficient now."
In wool harvesting, there has been no dramatic increases to the number of sheep shorn in a day.
"It still takes one man x amount of time to shear a sheep and it takes so many shedhands to look after it," Bruce said.
While the efficiency of property operations at large could be improved, not much could be done inside the shearing shed.
"The actual shearing is very much the same as it was 120 years ago, except that there's loud music now," Bruce said.
"And the cost of harvesting is enormous in the industry, particularly because we've gotta pay Australian wage rates and that makes it very hard to compete."
Bruce deliberately wanted to keep celebrations low key this year because the landmark anniversary also came at a sad time for Pandurra.
Along with four other stations in the region, Bruce has been forced to hand over a significant portion of his land to the Australian Defence Force – about 20,000 hectares – so it can expand its Cultana Military Base.
"I'm very disappointed that it's going to happen," he said.
"20,000ha is about half the original Pandurra, but we've joined probably four properties together now, to make our total property just over 100,000ha.
"We used to run about 25,000 sheep but it's going to be brought back to about 18,000 to 20,000 after we lose the bottom end of our property."
Bruce is proud of Pandurra's history and its 120-year achievement but says 2013 represents its last big year of shearing.
"It's going to be very hard to look over the road and see that section of land is not ours any more," he said.
"We can see it from the kitchen, but we don't own it any more and it's going to be very hard to accept that."
*Full report in Stock Journal, April 11 issue, 2013.