Just a few valleys out of Dungog rises the hills above Sugarloaf Creek, and one family has called this land theirs for just shy of 160 years. The Tickles are now into their sixth generation on this farm, since their forebears settled it in 1857.
The farm is now home to Jim and Sally and their children Ben and Becky. “Back in the 1850s, John Tickle was originally granted 80 acres, and they lived here with their 17 children, three of which died in infancy. Most of their children moved away across the country and the remaining son Richard was also granted an adjoining 80 acres and each generation since then has added land to the farm, says Jim.
The paddocks have changed size and shape over the years, but the Tickles currently run two thousand acres of undulating hills, with double frontage to the Sugarloaf Creek. “We know we’re lucky to have it, it’s so close to town, but it’s just far enough away from town too, it feels like a hidden valley,” enthuses Jim. “You know the land in the early days mustn’t have been worth much, because my great grandfather swapped a draft horse for another 80 acre paddock, so that just shows you how cheap the land was back then, or I suppose how valuable draft horses were,” says Jim.
“Since John Tickle we have all added bits here and there adjoining us, we have been pretty lucky that way to get the different lots that came along next to us, in recent times it’s probably been an extra 600 acres…
Story and Images Penny Evans.