AA Co extends footprint into Kimberley region

Jon Condon, 05/10/2012


Subject to heads of agreement negotiations being finalised, the Australian Agricultural Co will extend its geographic grazing footprint into the Kimberley region of WA, and pick up an additional 30,000 Brahman cross cattle in coming months.

Under agreements with the local Bunuba Indigenous community, AA Co will purchase the cattle off Brooking Springs, Leopold and Fairfield Stations, not far from Fitzroy Crossing in the State’s East Kimberley region.

The Bunuba people are understood to be in the process of settlement to buy Brooking Springs, which adjoins their existing Leopold and Fairfield Stations, from the estate of the late Jill Jenyns. Ms Jenyns died in a helicopter crash on the property last year.

Together with buying the cattle outright off all three holdings, AA Co under the proposed agreements will lease the properties, totalling about 500,000ha. The herds to be purchased include about 15,000 breeders, comprising reasonable quality Brahman type cattle.

Most of the turnoff from the properties to this point has gone into live export trades out of Wyndham and Darwin – either the Middle Eastern bull and weaner markets, or Indonesia.    

WA has tight ownership laws governing corporate possession of grazing land in the region, making the long-term lease proposal a convenient solution for AA Co to establish a presence in the region.    

In much earlier eras, AA Co itself owned country in the Kimberley region, operating Mount House and Glenroy Stations further west. That purchase happened at the same time as Brunette Downs was purchased from King Ranch in 1979. Both properties were on-sold 18 months later.

Separately, AA Co also owned Auvergne and Newry in the Kimberley many years ago, before consolidating back into the modern day footprint confined to Queensland and the NT. They were sold about 20 years ago.

While no formals structures have been discussed, AA Co has offered a commitment to provide employment and training to the local Bunuba people as part of the business relationship.

A similar process applies at Brunette Downs, where the local Corella people have been set up as mustering contractors, with plant and equipment provided by the company and paid-back over time. AA Co also recently held a breeder herd management workshop at Brunette, including local Indigenous Land Corporation station managers in the process.

Not only does the company’s footprint extension into the East Kimberley provide another climatic zone to mitigate drought risk, but it also has implications for the supply of stock to AA Co’s proposed Darwin abattoir, which CEO David Farley recently said could see construction start sometime this month.     

According to a report in yesterday’s The Australian, Brooking Springs was believed to have been sold to the Bunuba People for about $18 million, described by the newspaper as a “40 percent discount to the price it would have fetched before the live cattle export ban last year.”

  • In other sad Kimberley news yesterday, the brother of Louisa Jones, and brother in law of Milton Jones from Coolibah, was killed in a helicopter mustering accident on Louisa Downs in the northern Kimberley region.


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