Duaringa sale underlines strength of demand for quality CQ grazing country

Jon Condon, 10/12/2015
Well developed buffel paddocks on Kooralbyn

Well developed buffel paddocks on Kooralbyn


ANOTHER significant grazing property in Central Queensland’s ‘dress circle’ buffel grass country has changed hands, underlining the growing confidence in the local cattle property market as the year draws to a close.

Duaringa district cattle breeding and finishing property Kooralbyn, 7468 ha, has been sold privately on a WIWO basis including about 1200 head of mixed cattle.

No price was disclosed, but depending on the land area involved, similar well developed scrub country in the region has this year been selling for around $1750/ha ($800/ac). That represents a breeder (or bullock) area equivalent value of about $5000.

For larger areas of quality developed brigalow country in Central Queensland like the Kooralbyn example, the market has risen perhaps 20 percent in value this year, after slumping 30-35pc at its low-point following the 2007 market peak.

In the case of ‘really special’ developed brigalow blocks in the area, the $/ha price is now within sight of the market highs seen almost a decade ago, local property sources suggest.

New owner of Kooralbyn is the Howard and Leahy families, who are large-scale premium grassfed ox producers based out of the Biloela district. The acquisition adds to an already impressive property portfolio owned and operated by the Howard family’s Burleigh Estates, including Mountain View, Beldeen, Greycliffe and two substantial fattening properties in the Banana district.

Apart from Kooralbyn’s obvious quality, location and productivity features, one of the motivating factors in the purchase was the relatively easy conversion it offered to EU-accreditation. Much of the Burleigh Estates operation is based on EU HGP-free production systems.

Situated about 40km southwest of Duaringa, Kooralbyn includes 5817 ha of freehold country covered by a PMAV and 1651 ha of timbered forestry lease.

About 4300ha of the freehold country is well-grassed developed brigalow and softwood scrub, alongside sheltered areas of blackbutt and rosewood. The property is watered by a bore and 13 dams and is fenced into 17 main paddocks with laneways to three sets of cattle yards.

Improvements included two good family homes and several well-built sheds with concreted floors and power connected.

The late Keith Edmistone and his wife Edith purchased Kooralbyn as a larger virgin brigalow block in 1954 and set about developing the property into one of best Hereford Studs in the region. In later years the homestead block, totalling 7,468 ha was owned and managed by their daughter Lynette.

Strong local demand

Marketing agent handling the sale, John Crerar, rural property consultant with Moura’s Hourn & Bishop, said quality developed scrub properties had been in high demand this year, primarily from well-established local family enterprise buyers.

Hourn & Bishop Qld had had two examples recently, including Kooralbyn and another nearby grazing holding (details for which will be forthcoming later) which were “not on the market long enough to be advertised,” Mr Crerar said.

Due to a lack of high quality listings and the lead up to Christmas, enquiries have slowed a little over the past couple of weeks, but there has been very strong demand evident throughout this year among well-established Central Queensland cattle producers wanting to expand.

Mr Crerar identified three things that had driven that demand: cattle prices, interest rates and the realisation by everybody that the bottom of the market had now passed, and prices were on the march.

“We have seen a remarkable turnaround in confidence which is great to see,” he said.

While well-developed scrub country in Central Queensland has been mentioned in some property circles as among the most expensive country in the state on which to produce a kilo of beef, Mr Crerar rejected the suggestion, for a host of reasons.

“Location is a critical factor. Kooralbyn is an hour and a quarter from Rockhampton, with two large export meatworks, boarding schools and a host of other facilities, as well as the low running costs. The cost of running places in the west is high, and weightgains here are far superior. The productivity difference is enormous. There are properties here that never have to supplementary feed.”

At the end of the day, local producers who have recently bought additional country, like the McDonald family from Springsure who bought Wildhorse, the Nobbs family’s earlier purchase of Rangeview and the Howard and Leahy family’s recent purchase of Kooralbyn, were about buyers still seeing value in higher-priced Central Queensland premium grazing country.

There was no mine relocation money involved in any of those acquisitions, Mr Crerar said.

“Those buyers had the wherewithal to buy country anywhere in Queensland or across Australia, but chose to expand here, because they value this country for what it can deliver.”

“Astute established grazing families in this region understand the benefits of reliable seasons, and quality developed scrub country that has the ability to breed, grow or fatten.”


$100m buys Walhallow and Cresswell

Meanwhile in other property news this week, a price has been confirmed for the sale of Paraway Pastoral Co’s Walhallow/Cresswell aggregation in the Northern Territory, bought by retail magnate Brett Blundy for $100 million.

The walk-in, walk-out deal included 48,000 head of cattle, valued at around $40 million, leaving a land component worth $56 million. The aggregation covers just under one million hectares, due north of Brunette Downs on the Barkly Tableland.

The sale rivals that of Australian Agricultural Co’s purchase of Anthony Lagoon and Eva Downs, bought partly stocked for $97 million in 2006, as the largest aggregated property purchase in Australian history.

The acquisition was made through Brett Blundy Retail Capital’s Beef Division. Since 2010, BBRC has acquired 1.4 million ha of NT pastoral land, through the purchase of Beetaloo, Mungabroom OT Downs and Amungee Mungee.

Beef Central first reported on the sale in this detailed article back in October.



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