IN OUR final weekly property review for 2017, we present a state-by-state snapshot of the defining grazing property sales across southern and northern Australia, as reported over the past 12 months.
This is not a definitive list, as other significant properties have sold in off-market deals. It is however interesting to look back over the past year at the prices and size of the more significant cattle properties that have changed hands.
- Topping the list in WA was the $70m sale of Western Australia’s East Kimberley cattle aggregation owned by Harold Mitchell. After two years on the market, the 356,000ha Yougawalla, 273,000ha Bulkaand 214,000ha Margaret River Stations sold to Chinese billionaire Hui Wing Mau. The sale included more than 45,000 head of cattle and four additional sub-leased pastoral leases – the 161,000ha Louisa Downs, the 141,000ha Bohemia Downs, the 80,000ha Carranya Station and the 182,000ha Lamboo Station.
- The 171,000ha Northern Territory cattle breeding property Willeroo Station sold to Australia’s richest woman Gina Rinehart for $33.05m WIWO (or $16m excluding stock, plant and equipment). Located 120km west of Katherine, Willeroo straddles both the Victoria and the Buntine Highways. The sale included 21,000 branded Brahman cattle and a full working plant.
- Gina Rinehart also added the 147,000ha Aroona Station, near Katherine, to her beef cattle empire, paying $24m WIWO (or $13.5m land only). The sale included 15,000 head of cattle.
- Listed property trust Rural Funds Group paid $53m for Camm Agriculture Group’s three adjoining North Queensland grazing properties – Natal Downs, Longton and Narellan – covering 390,000ha. The sale did not include cattle.
- The 125,000ha Clover Downs Aggregation, located in Cunnamulla in south-west Queensland’s productive ‘salad bowl’ sold for $27m to well-known Narrabri (NSW) cattleman, Bill Zell. The sale included plant; the stock was sold separately.
New South Wales
- In what could be the biggest transaction in the tightly-held Ebor district in northern NSW, the Western Australia-based Stone Axe Pastoral Co paid a reported $17.5m for 2145ha grazing property Glen Alvie.
- The highly-regarded 2200ha beef cattle operation Abingdon Station was purchased by the Shaw Family from Darlington Point. The grazing property boasts 5.5km frontage to the renowned Murrumbidgee River.
- A Melbourne family paid more than $10m for Barwon Heights, the 410ha picturesque, grazing and cropping property near Winchelsea, 65 mins from Melbourne. The sale was described as the highest price ever paid for a large rural holding near Geelong and almost double the next highest price paid in the area.
- Rifa Salutary, the Australian arm of Chinese company, Zhejiang RIFA Holding Group, purchased the mixed farming Wycheproof properties, Kulwin Park and McNicholl’s, covering 4534ha, for around $9m (including some additional livestock and machinery).
- Representing one of SA’s largest-ever agribusiness deals, Thomas Foods International’s Thomas family purchased the 2870ha Mount Gambier showcase cattle and sheep property Mt Schanck for more than $50 million on a walk-in, walk-out basis, including stock and plant.
- The historic 154,000ha Beltana Station in South Australia’s picturesque Flinders Ranges exceeded expectations, selling for $8.4m to far north SA pastoralist Andrew Doman of Yadlamalka Station. The sale included extensive plant and equipment, a 700 head Angus cattle herd and a 6000 head Dorper sheep flock.
New England, southwest Qld prove 2017 hot spots
In terms of regions, the New England region of NSW was a standout, with consistent sales and prices.
- April – 563ha Elderbury $5.6m – Situated midway between Armidale and Glen Innes, was purchased by Wagyu operator Wally Rae from the Overflow, Marlborough, Central Queensland. Mr Rae also owns blue ribbon properties -Stonehenge Station and Blairmore – in Glen Innes. The record price equates to $9950/ha.
- May – 1171ha Glenfield $2.75m – sold to two buyers who will subdivide the property. The Glenfield component of the aggregation was purchased by local graziers Stuart and Bronwyn Grills and the Rosebank portion to Josh Frazer who owns an adjoining property. Glenfield is carrying a bulk of feed and is suited to running both cattle and sheep.
- June – 2145ha Glen Alvie $17.5m – The Western Australia-based Stone Axe Pastoral Company paid a reported $17.5m for the property – in what could be the biggest transaction in the tightly-held Ebor district in northern New South Wales. Stone Axe was chasing high performance grass country, in a high rainfall and high elevation area in its pursuit to develop the world’s largest vertically integrated full-blood Wagyu enterprise.
- June – 162ha Inverell Station Homestead – $2.75m. The landmark district property, featuring a magnificent homestead, boasts highly productive country, Macintyre River frontage, picturesque countryside and views. It was purchased by Bill and Margaret Fanning who own Inverell Station.
- July – 2216ha Achill West – reportedly $8 to $8.5m. Located 38km east of Armidale, the cattle grazing property was sold on a walk in, walk out basis to local beef producers Marengo Pastoral Co.
- August – 806ha Dungarvon $3.1m. Featuring red and black basalt soils, the grazing property, 22km east of Inverell, was sold to local graziers David and Tracey Schneider.
- September – 480ha Bellbrook $2.975m. Located 20km from Armidale, the versatile and highly productive property suitable for a range of breeding or fattening enterprises, sold to a well-known Walcha producer expanding his grazing interests.
- November – 577ha Otterbourne $4.04m. The well-appointed property, 16km from Armidale, had extra real estate value because it had multiple lots. It was purchased by a syndicate of three buyers who split the contract in two. Neighbours Nick and Yvonne Rice bought 405ha adjoining their existing country and neighbours David and Diane Paull secured 172ha together with Phillip Bolton from Tamworth.
- November – 342ha Kingsford $4.65m and 371ha Sun Valley $4.025m. The adjoining grazing properties, 9km south of Armidale, were purchased by Sarah Pease from Sylvania Park, Enmore via Uralla.
- December – 385ha Earlstoun $4m. The tightly-held Guyra grazing asset, sold under the hammer for $4m. It was purchased by a local grazing family from Mullaley for expansion.
Despite the seasonal conditions and a lack of properties, Dick Allpass from Elders Rural Queensland reports south-west Queensland experienced strong sales to the tune of $120m during 2017.
He said it might come as a surprise to some that local, interstate and foreign interests had the confidence to expand and buy.
Mr Allpass said 28 properties in the region settled during the year, covering more than two million hectares, stretching from St George, Dirranbandi, Bollon, Cunnamulla, Eulo, Thargomindah, Charleville, Quilpie, Eromanga to the Channel Country.
The sales included:
- 720,000ha Nappa Merrie – $16m bare
- 635,035ha Mt Margaret and Kihee – $20m
- 50,670ha Gunnadorah – more than $3m
- 52,325ha Victo and Murrumbah – undisclosed sum
As reported above, the biggest sale in Queensland’s south-west was the iconic large-scale freehold aggregation, Clover Downs, sold by Colliers International.
A quick calculation of 2017 cattle property sales reported by Beef Central shows:
- Numerous properties selling in the sub $5m bracket
- 23 properties reported sold between $5m-$10m
- 10 properties reported sold between $10m-$15m
- 13 properties achieved above $15m
Herron Todd White rural director Tim Lane said the lower the value threshold, the more activity there was.
“There are not as many big properties as there are medium and smaller scale assets. Those smaller properties represent a good expansion for an operator,” he said.
Andrew Adcock from Elders Rural Queensland said across the board, there were different price points for the ‘add-on’ block.
“Every area has a different price-point as far as an ‘add-on’ and that is what we’re seeing – the locals going back in. For some areas, that price-point is $1.5m, in others it is $3m, and in the stronger beef country, the price-point is $5m to $6m. The $10m-$15m price bracket is stretching some families and $15m plus usually becomes the corporate buy or add-on.”