The Collinsville tradition began in 1889, when John Collins purchased 50,000 acres of rugged, inhospitable pastoral country 26 miles north-east of Mount Byran, in the mid-north of South Australia.
Within a year, John Collins had introduced his first Merinos and launched the Collinsville Stud. The enterprise was officially registered in 1895 after he purchased a draft of ewes from the Koonoona Stud, near Burra. These sheep were sent from a relatively mild climate to the harsh terrain of Collinsville Station, at the beginning of what was to be Australia’s severest drought. After eight years on limited rations of saltbush, bluebush and herbage, the surviving sheep emerged as an outstanding foundation flock.
Art Collins, John Collins’ sixth son, took over the stud in 1918 and spent his life building an unmatched reputation among wool-growing nations. Remembered as the most influential Merino breeder of the 20th Century, Art was committed to building a large-framed, heavy fleeced sheep able to withstand the most rigorous of conditions and still achieve a high lambing percentage. He succeeded in developing an animal that has had more influence on the national flock than any other bloodline.
Art’s dedication saw Collinsville achieve the unequalled feat of winning the awards for both the grand champion ewe and ram at every capital city show in the country. Collinsville exhibited sheep at all the main shows in Australia, and established a thriving market for its sale stock both at home and overseas.
When Art died in 1969 after an impressive 45 years at the helm, the Collinsville tradition lived on in Tom Padbury. As the first “outsider” to join the Collinsville family, he stayed on as studmaster until the mid 1990s.
In 1985, Collinsville was purchased by Neil Garnett. Despite a great respect for tradition, Garnett was a different breed of studmaster; he understood what new genetic technologies could offer the livestock industry. The world record sale price for a Merino was broken six times under Garnett’s ownership, and still currently stands at $450,000 for a three quarter share in a ram sold at the Royal Adelaide Sales in 1989.
In 1995 Collinsville changed hands again, after financial woes sent the business into receivership in 1991. Paddy Handbury—nephew of Rupert Murdoch and a man with extensive rural interests—bought Collinsville, helping to ensure its survival as one of the nation’s great suppliers of superior merino genetics.
In this trying period Collinsville had many studmasters working under Handbury, but it wasn’t until experienced Livestock Manager and respected show judge Tim Dalla was appointed in 2008 that the business really began to regain traction.
Returning to the Royal Adelaide Ram Sale in 2010 was a huge step forward for the stud: topping the event’s sales with a Poll Merino ram worth $39,000. Collinsville went on to achieve this feat again in 2013 and 2014, celebrating bigger wins each time.
In 2014, the business was returned to SA ownership when Handbury sold Collinsville (and the original station country east of Hallett) to Sophie and George Millington. Already a renowned Adelaide entrepreneur as the founder of Monjava Coffee and a majority owner of APD Parcel Delivery, Mr Millington is committed to delivering world standard, high performing rams at exceptional value. Under the thumb of an innovative pastoralist and run by one of Australia’s best young breeder teams, Collinsville remains steady at the forefront of South Australia’s thriving Merino industry.
Firmly on track to becoming once again one of the largest Merino Studs in Australia, Collinsville are proud to serve the interests of both inner and outer country. Based on our progressive farming methods, as well as consistent results from a century of unrivalled genetics, we have every confidence that Collinsville’s breeding and sale success will continue long into the future.