QUEENSLAND integrated beef supply chain and processor, Australian Country Choice, has paid a district record price of just under $1000/ha ($400/acre) bare to secure the quality large-scale Augathella district grazing aggregation, Gladys Downs.
The deal, completed just before Christmas, was worth $20 million bare, making the sale easily the highest for the Augathella district on a per-hectare basis.
Located just north of Augathella, the highly improved 20,000ha (50,000ac) Grazing Homestead Perpetual Lease is estimated to carry 3000 to 5000 mixed cattle in an average season. The carrying capacity value in the sale equated to around $4000 per adult equivalent.
A small number of cattle held on the property were negotiated separately.
Marketing agent Darryl Langton from Landmark Harcourts said the sale represented a record per-hectare price for the Augathella area. Previous high-points achieved last year included Laguna, sold around the middle of 2019 for $360/ac bare, and a sale in March 2018 around $320/ac. Laguna was worth considerably more when measured on an adult equivalent price, however.
Mr Langton said there was strong interest in the asset from right throughout Central and Western Queensland, as well as southern Queensland and northern NSW. Most were substantial private operators, including large family grazing operations. Eleven inspections were conducted during the marketing phase.
A large portion of the holding is well-developed gidgee, brigalow and bottletree scrub, well established to buffel, plus large areas of Mitchell and Flinders grass on semi-open downs country.
Gladys Downs was presented with a very good body of feed, as a result of earlier rain in March 2019.
Feed was a factor in some pre-sale interest, but the underlying quality of the country and improvements, and its location, were what drove the process, Mr Langton said. “The grass was an added bonus, rather than the main feature,” he said.
‘Sweet spot’ for efficiency
Gladys Downs was utilised by the previous owners for breeding and growing purposes, and ACC chief executive David Foote said its future role would be in growing and backgrounding young cattle from ACC’s and Australian Cattle and Beef Holdings’ (ACBH) extensive breeding operations.
“It has been a long-held, and beautifully managed property, carefully developed,” Mr Foote said.
“The property is a strategic fit for our backgrounding operations, to support either (or both) our northern breeding operations or western breeding operations – or the transfer of purchased cattle from north to south into clean (non ticky) country.”
Having the benefit of long-term cattle management operations in the region, Mr Foote said ACC had learned that properties around this size (50,000ac), in well-located Augathella region brigalow country represented a ‘sweet spot’ in terms of management efficiency, and staff numbers per cattle run.
“We actually think it is about the most efficient region we have identified. Basically, one and a half employees can handle 5000 cattle,” he said.
ACC already controls a significant footprint of country in the Augathella area, but none adjoins the new Gladys Downs acquisition. Existing nearby blocks include Dungowan, Babbilora and other holdings east of Augathella, originally bought from colourful grazier Sinclair Hill.
Gladys Downs was offered to the market last August for offers above $20.5m by vendors Kelvin Schmidt, a former Brisbane lawyer, and his sister Judith Bowles, whose family has owned the property for 80 years or more.
The property is extremely well-watered with nine bores and eight dams, plus seasonal and semi-permanent waterholes in the Nive River and Parrattamow and Tuncooey Creeks.
Fencing is mostly five-barb on steel posts with steel end assemblies. About 90 percent of the internal fencing has been constructed within the past 20 years. There are some 36km of laneways with water squares and traps for efficient cattle collection and transfer. A 34km exclusion fence has been erected predominantly along the western boundary. A total of 31 paddocks have been created on Gladys Downs, plus Tuncooey and Fairview portions.
The fully renovated original homestead has polished floors and is set in beautiful gardens and lawns, featuring an elevated rear deck. There is also a renovated three bedroom cottage used as permanent workers’ accommodation, a vehicle shed with workshop, and a hay and machinery shed.