Their name is synonymous with the rolling hills and rich farming land of Keyneton, but the time has come for fifth generation farmer, Graham Keynes and wife, Melanie of Karinya Station to seek greener, and perhaps slightly less hilly, pastures.
After 35 years in partnership with brother, Joe, Graham has decided to sell his half of the original Keynes landholding, known as Red Creek, as well as their jointly owned Moculta property, Karinya Station, which Graham and Melanie have called home for the past 31 years.
It’s an emotional time for the Keynes’, who have invested their lives in the land and raised their three children, Benjamin, 33; Alexander, 31; and Annabel, 29; in the 101 year old Karinya homestead.
But now aged in their 60s, the couple are looking to down-size their enterprise in order to enjoy more time doing other things they love and reduce stress later in life.
“It’s been a beautiful place to bring up our family, I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s going to be hard to leave,” said Melanie, who enjoyed a successful career in the wine industry parallel to Graham’s farming.
“But we don’t want to have to do this at 70 or 80.”
Renowned for producing Merino wool, Angus cattle and crossbred lambs, Graham said he is most proud of being associated with high quality wool production, and the effort he and Joe have put into taking care of the special land they have been custodians of.
“I think that’s a really important part of the way that we’ve operated is to be able to realise that the land needs rest and needs to recover,” said Graham.
“So that’s my legacy and Joe’s as well, which he’s carrying on, and hopefully somebody else will be able to do that too going forward, with a lot more energy perhaps than I’ve got at this point of my life!”
While Graham and Melanie’s son, Alexander works with his father on the property, none of their children have decided to move into Karinya and succeed their parents in running the two adjoining properties, which cover an area of 4596 hectares.
The couple said they have never put any pressure on their children to take over the farm.
“It’s their right to choose their life,” said Melanie.
“We think to be farming like this on this kind of scale, you’ve got to be passionate about it. They all have a love for the land, but I would never dictate to somebody else how they should live their life.”
Benjamin currently lives and works as an artist in Melbourne with his partner, Caitlin and five year old daughter, Frida, while Annabel is studying to be an occupational therapist.
Alexander may continue to work alongside his father in his next venture, which will still include sheep and cattle as Graham is by no means ready to hang up his Akubra.
“We joke that I must have not read the fine print in the marriage contract that at 61 he wants to buy another property,” laughed Melanie.
“He doesn’t want to retire, he loves the work, he loves farming so he wants to continue but it just needs to be on a smaller scale than what we have here.”
The couple aren’t yet sure where they will go next but are thinking somewhere towards the Adelaide Hills may be a good fit.
“Somewhere a little bit more accessible to things, and maybe some flatter country,” laughed Graham.
But there will be tears shed nonetheless when the time comes to say goodbye to Graham’s ancestral homeland.
“We really love it here and it’s been such a great thing for us to grow up and be part of Keyneton and the Barossa. Making our home here has been wonderful,” said Graham.
“You pinch yourself and say, it’s been a pretty good office.”
Joe’s half of the Keynes’ estate, Keyneton Station, which includes the original homestead built by the brothers’ great-great- grandfather, Joseph Keynes will continue to be owned and farmed by Joe and his wife, Sally and daughter, Georgie.