The decision by the Underwood family to dispose of their iconic Victoria River District properties Riveren and Inverway will set an important precedent for northern Australian cattle land values in coming months.
Offering a total of 40,000 good quality mixed Brahman cattle and 5550sq km of country, the combined sale of both properties represents probably the biggest public auction of land in the NT in the past seven or eight years, sole marketing agents Ray White Rural said yesterday.
In the band of country between Katherine and Tennant Creek, only six grazing properties have been sold in the past two and a half years, meaning the dispersal could provide a valuable barometer of values in northern Australian grazing country when they are put before the market on July 6.
The VRD has had a late, but solid wet season and the properties will be presented in great order, with a big body of feed, setting them up well for the next 12 months.
Both Inverway and Riveren are widely respected as excellent examples of good quality, well managed VRD country, nurtured by the Underwood family over three decades.
Located in the southern part of the VRD, the adjoining properties are currently run individually, but would also lend themselves to being operated as an aggregation.
Inverway (2538 sq km) will be offered WIWO with a herd of 17,000 mixed Brahman cattle and full working station plant, while Riveren (3016 sq km) will include 23,000 mixed Brahman cattle and full plant. Attributing a conservative arbitrary value of $450 a head (true commercial value could be higher) on the herd would value the cattle component alone at $18 million.
Inverway was the original home of the Underwood family when they moved to the NT in 1956, and was purchased by the John and Terry Underwood family from John’s sister six years ago to add to their Riveren Station holding.
Inverway was bought for $17.65 million in July 2007, around the peak of the rural property market cycle. That sale included a smaller herd size, around 12,000 head. The properties have been listed privately for the past 18 months.
The sale is being held to allow the Underwood family to restructure its family business.
Both Riveren and Inverway feature a balance of open black soil plains carrying Mitchell, Queensland blue, silky brown top with soft spinifex grass in the red country. The balance in the country and the abundant natural water combined with 47 bores makes it virtually drought-proof. Further potential for water development exists. Improvements have been designed and implemented for ease of management over many years.
Investment in superior Brahman genetics and close herd management over many years is evident in the quality of the breeding herd on both properties.
The Northern Territory tenure system gives security of title with its Perpetual Pastoral Lease, which is unique in parcels of land of this size.
One of the indicators to possible interest in large properties like this in the NT can often be neighbours and near-neighbours. Nearby landholders include Heytesbury (Birrindudu, on the edge of the desert country to the south); Colin Ross, HSE Mining from Central Queensland (Limbunya, to the north); Western Grazing (Wave Hill and Cattle Creek, to the East); and John’s brother, Reg Underwood (Bunda, to the west). Consolidated Pastoral Co also owns land nearby (Kirkimbie).
Given its scale, location and state of development, the aggregation could well attract offshore buyer interest, and discussions with an overseas interested party are due to take place later this week.