Sommariva Station was originally founded by the Calcino brothers in 1909. They named the property after the birthplace of their father in Italy, a name which means "On top of a hill or rise". For many years, Sommariva Station was the end of the rail line, before it was extended onto Charleville, Quilpie and Cunnamulla. The railway siding had large gangs that lived and worked on site with their families and the settlement consisted of several houses and a public phone box, all of which have since been removed. Interestingly, in Italy, there is also a railway station named 'Sommariva siding'.
In 1993, Bill and Karen McLennan purchased the 23,000 acre property. At the time Sommariva was very badly run down and the only source of income from the previous owners was from 2,800 head of fly blown sheep. The McLennans set about the huge task of rebuilding the property from ground up, including destroying the original homestead which was infested with white ants. They retained three landmarks from the past at the old home site and these where the old meat hut, the iconic bouganvilla plant that grew at the front of the homestead and the old stone wall built by swaggies in the great depression. The McLennans transported a house from Stafford in Brisbane in 1994 that would become the new homestead. After many years of back breaking hard work the McLennans had the property back on track and they were looking for ways to diversify.
The Italian history of Sommariva was rediscovered when relatives of the McLennans toured Italy. They found that the climatic landscape of Italy was similar to that of Sommariva in Australia, and made the suggestion that the McLennans try their hand at growing olive trees. After looking into the viability of an olive plantation, the McLennan's planted their first olive tree in 1996. The first grove, consisting of 1,200 trees, was planted as a trial block to see which varieties where best suited to the region. The varieties were chosen for quality, popularity and hardiness. The harsh arid environment of Sommariva compliments the olive tree perfectly and all varieties’ thrived with a second grove currently being planted.
The Calcino family
Photos of the Sommariva homestead as it was when the McLennan's purchased the property in 1993.
Above and below are photos of the Sommariva homestead as it stands today.
This house was transported from Stafford in Brisbane in 1994.