Movement at the Station: Recent properties sold

Property editor Linda Rowley, 30/05/2018

Part of the 5500 head Angus herd running on SAF’s King Island Aggregation


THIS week’s property review includes this wrap up of recently completed sales, and a separate article on interesting recent listings across the country.

A year after being publicly listed, one of Australia’s largest agricultural portfolios has wrapped up, selling for a reported combined figure of $185m.

The Sustainable Agriculture Fund was founded in 2007 by Arthur Apted, a property and farm investment manager and Frank Delahunty, a Victorian rural business consultant, to give Australian financial institutions an opportunity to invest in Australian agriculture.

From 2009 to 2017, it was managed by AgCAP on behalf of Australian institutional investors including Australian Super, Australian Catholic Super, AMP Capital, Mine Wealth & Wellbeing (the former AUSCOAL Super), the University of Melbourne, Christian Super and private investor Mike Fitzpatrick (a retired AFL chairman).

In March 2017, CBRE was appointed to sell the portfolio of five aggregations (comprising 17 farms) spanning more than 24,000ha of farmland in three states. Here’s what was included, and some of their history:

North Star Aggregation – a 9710ha dryland cropping portfolio in northern NSW. Comprising Calrossie, Kirewa, Gil Gil, Marlow and Glenesk, the properties were purchased by SAF for more than $30m in 2009.

Darlington Point Aggregation – 4926ha irrigated and dryland cropping portfolio in the Murrumbidgee Valley in NSW. Comprising Tubbo Station and Huddersfield, the properties was purchased in 2010 for more than $10m.

Western Victoria Aggregation – 1445ha dryland cropping portfolio near Lake Bolac, Western Victoria. The main property, 607ha Fintry, was purchased for $13m in 2010.

King Island Aggregation – 6785ha cattle breeding and fattening portfolio on the island north of Tasmania (comprising 5500 Angus cows plus progeny and an extensive list of plant and equipment). Comprising Boongara, Dinibili, Longford and Reekara Park, the enterprise was purchased by SAF in 2010 for $27 million.

Cradle Coast Aggregation – 1145ha portfolio of dairy farms in Northern Tasmania. Comprising Blythe, Vale, Ashburton, Midlothian and Springvale, the properties were purchased in 2010.

In September last year, the first three portfolios – North Star, Darlington Point and the Western Victoria aggregations – were snapped up by TIAA-CREF Global Ag Properties (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America) for around $110m.

In December, the King Island Aggregation was purchased by Tim Roberts-Thomson’s TRT Pastoral Group for a reported $45m.

The last property to settle recently was the 1145ha dairy Cradle Coast Aggregation in northern Tasmania. It was purchased by New Zealand super group FarmRight – the investment platform for one of Canada’s largest pension investment managers, PSP Investments (Public Sector Pension Investment Board) for a reported $25m.

The sales were handled by CBRE Agribusiness’ agents Danny Thomas, Duncan McCulloch, James Beer and Col Medway.


Sold: New South Wales – $9m for Nowendoc’s Two Mile

Nowendoc’s blue-ribbon grazing enterprise The Two Mile has sold prior to auction for more than $9 million, to an Australian ex-patriate living in Europe.

The 1046ha property, boasting some of the best natural fattening country in Eastern Australia, is located on the eastern fall of the tightly-held New England region of northern NSW.

It features 10km frontage to the Nowendoc River, altitude, high rainfall (1000mm), pristine spring water, rich basalt and loam soils and temperate climate, together with its extensive pasture and top-dressing program and irrigation.

The Two Mile is a beef fattening factory estimated to carry 700 breeding cows or finish 800 steers averaging 600-650kg liveweight. It is owned by Peter Pickles, the founder of Pickles Auctions which specialises in auctions and valuations, and his wife Susan.

Chris Meares from Meares & Associates was unable to disclose the price or the buyer due to confidentiality clauses, but said purchase price included some plant and equipment and no livestock.

It is believed a premium was paid to secure The Two Mile, which was expected to achieve between $8.5m and $9m.

Nowendoc’s blue-ribbon grazing enterprise The Two Mile has sold prior to auction for more than $9m, to an Australian ex-patriate living in Europe.

Sold: Queensland      

Pre-auction offer secures Verastan

Verastan, located in the official geographic centre of Queensland, has sold just two weeks after being listed by Colliers International.

The 12,184ha cattle or sheep property, 28km north-west of Muttaburra and 120km north of Longreach, was offered to the market for the first time in 64 years by John and Joy Hardie, who are retiring.

This year it has received 225mm of rain, setting up the current season with a significant body of grass. The water infrastructure is also impressive with two flowing bores and poly pipe network that services the entire property.

Collier’s Ben Forrest said Verastan sold prior to auction to a local Western Queensland producer, primarily for grass. While refusing to disclose the sale price, Mr Forrest said the value reflected recent sale prices in the area.

Last month, Muttaburra’s 11,857ha Stockholm Station sold at auction for $3.85m bare, or $324/ha.

Verastan, a 12,184ha cattle or sheep property northwest of Muttaburra sold prior to auction this week.

$15.7m secures Comanche for RFS group

The Canberra-based and ASX-listed property trust, Rural Funds Group, has paid $15.7m for the high quality Central Queensland grazing property Comanche.

The 7600ha breeding and backgrounding operation is located at Glenroy, 86km west of Rockhampton. With a 9km frontage to the Fitzroy River, Comanche offers an 864mg water allocation, 170ha established to leucaena, as well as a ten-pen feedlot.

The vendors, Geoff and Dalrae Shaw, recently purchased the 2500ha fattening and breeding block, Bayfield near Biloela for $5.6m in a bid to downsize.

Rural Funds Group, which owns a diversified portfolio of high quality Australian agricultural assets, said Comanche offered opportunities for productivity enhancements similar to those proven on 17,500ha Rewan, Rolleston, a well-developed, central Queensland backgrounding and finishing property acquired by RFF in July 2016.

The group also owns the breeding properties – 390,00ha Natal Aggregation (comprising Natal Downs, Longton and Narellan), Charters Towers; the 140,300ha Mutton Hole, Carpentaria and; 85,500ha Oakland Park, Croydon.


+$8m buys Roma’s Stratton

A cattle family from New South Wales’ north-west has secured the highly-developed, 8381ha Roma beef enterprise Stratton for more than $8m.

Suitable for breeding or fattening, Stratton is currently operating as a successful backgrounding property.

It has a 10km double frontage to Muckadilla Creek and is well watered by bores, dams and permanent and semi-permanent holes and features sweet grazing country with a mix of soil types.

Stratton failed to sell at auction last month, however Daven Vohland from Elders sold the property to the Walgett family chasing grass and expansion, for an undisclosed price – but believed to be well in excess of $8m.

Vendors Bill and Kellie McLean are selling the property for the first time in 50 years because they own country elsewhere and are wanting to consolidate.


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