This week’s property review showcases a state-by-state snapshot of the defining property sales across Australia, as reported over the past 12 months.
The inclusions below are not necessarily the largest in each region, but properties that performed considerably above local expectations.
The list is not definitive, as other significant properties have sold in off-market deals during the year that are harder to quantify. It is however interesting to look back over the past year at the prices and size of the more significant grazing properties that have changed hands.
2020 has certainly been an interesting year for rural property sales. While COVID-19 disrupted some servicing the agricultural industry, and limited inspection opportunities in some cases, it was business as usual for most property transactions and those involved in the deals. In fact, the strong cattle market and underlying confidence provided the stimulus for many prospective vendors to sell up.
Unusually, in the lead up to Christmas, there are a number of significant properties still to be auctioned.
In terms of price, the year’s largest single property transaction was Central Queensland’s 134,744ha Mantuan Downs, which sold to the North Australian Pastoral Co for $92.6 million including 12,000 cattle, or $79.6m bare ($595/ha).
The Springsure backgrounding operation was offered as part of Clark & Tait’s portfolio divestment.
Clark & Tait announced in August last year that it would call time after 121 years of pastoral operations with the sale of its seven showcase central western Queensland grazing properties. Collectively, the properties made $220m on a walk-in walk-out basis including 25,000 cattle and 35,000 sheep.
Here’s a state-by-state breakdown of other significant 2020 sales:
In November, McMillan Pastoral Co paid in excess of $40 million bare of stock for the 423,500ha well-regarded north west Queensland channel country aggregation Roxborough Downs and Mudgerebar Station.
The adjoining, large-scale cattle growing properties are located in a tightly held region, with a carrying capacity of around 16,000 adult equivalents.
Two of the most talked about sales in Queensland this year were Nardoo and Prospect Park.
In September, Nardoo, the 97,500ha tightly held Gulf breeding and fattening property, 280km north west of Cloncurry, sold to Sam Daniels from one of the Gulf region’s biggest cattle producing families, for $35 million (WIWO including 5500 cattle and plant).
At the Ray White Rural auction, there were a record 12 bidders, demonstrating the strength in demand for good quality northern breeding assets.
Agents across Queensland described Nardoo as outstanding and the benchmark sale in terms of quality, the number of inquiries and the price.
Roger Hill, Herron Todd White’s north and northwest Queensland regional property valuer, described Nardoo as a ‘big impact’ sale.
“The auction certainly drove home a positive message. It was the culmination of hard work, capital investment and good land condition management by the vendors over ten years. The market rewarded the vendors for their decisions.”
Mr Hill said whenever there is an auction that appears to get the big money, there are consistent themes – good fencing, good water, good land condition and appropriate structures.
In July, Prospect Park, 1558ha standout breeder block at Moura, in the heart of blue-ribbon Bauhinia district, sold at a Hourn & Bishop Qld auction for 20 percent above expectations.
Local grazing families lined up to bid, but it was Stewart, Stephanie and Tom Nobbs from the Yoman Brahman Stud who secured the property, paying $8.6 million ($5517/ha bare) – a district grazing record.
Per hectare basis
South east Queensland’s 1230ha Glenapp achieved the state’s biggest sale on a per hectare basis.
In November, the highly productive grazing and irrigation Beaudesert property sold at auction for $17 million bare or a record $13,821/ha.
Set up for cattle and fodder production, Glenapp has historically run 1200 breeders and progeny up to 350kg. There is also a license to operate a 250 head feedlot. There was tremendous interest, with the successful bidder a producer from Surat seeking expansion, water security and higher rainfall.
In February, the 560,000ha Tanumbirini and Forrest Hill Stations, located near Daly Waters, 600km southeast of Darwin, were purchased by the Langenhoven family for $70 million.
In April, the 4814sq km Wollogorang and Wentworth Stations, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, were purchased by Cloncurry’s McMillan Pastoral Co for $53 million. The family owns the adjoining Calvert Hills Station.
New South Wales
In November, an Australian living overseas paid around $50 million on a walk-in walk-out basis (including between 3300 to 3400 head of cattle) for Rifa Salutary’s 8613ha Middlebrook Station in northern New South Wales. The large-scale cattle breeding and finishing aggregation, situated 36km from Tamworth, comprises the 4049ha Middlebrook Park and the 4564ha Kooroon-Keeva.
In February, Palgrove purchased Gilgal as its first property in southern New South Wales to supplement the capabilities of its Queensland and northern NSW holdings. The 3619ha Cootamundra grazing aggregation, with a 38,000 DSE carrying capacity, produces prime lambs and cattle, as well as annual cash and dual-purpose fodder crops. It achieved between $29m and $32m.
On a per hectare basis
One of the highest prices paid on a per hectare basis in NSW this year was a small prime cattle property in the Eastern Riverina district.
The 432ha Arthurs sold at auction for $9.55 million – a Culcairn district record of $22,106/ha. The block was highly sought after due to its excellent combination of location, soils and reliable rainfall. It was secured by Rennylea Angus, owned by the neighbouring Corrigan family.
In October, the 8200ha Victorian Western District cropping and livestock holding Banongill Station, 8km from Skipton and 45 minutes from Ballarat, was sold to a consortium of local farming families for around $80 million bare ($9756/ha).
During August, the 5071ha Yaloak Estate at Ballan, 60km from Melbourne, operating as a highly productive cropping and grazing enterprise, was purchased by Chinese company Harvest Agriculture for around $60 million (about $10m above expectations) bare or $11,832/ha.
In July, Australian businessman Robert Champion de Crespigny paid around $20 million for Maylands, one of South Australia’s prized grazing aggregations. Located 90km from Adelaide, Maylands is one of the largest contiguous holdings in the Fleurieu Peninsula. Spanning 1500ha, it consists of Callawonga, Maylands and Bramleys, and was offered with extensive water catchment rights.
In December, between $18 million and $20 million was paid for the 4299ha Calgara Station at Tintinara in the state’s Upper South East. The holding, comprising the 2578ha Calgara, 1010ha Illawong and 711ha Fullwoods and Barratts, consistently produces quality yearling cattle, lambs and wool. Both the price and the buyer were undisclosed.
During July, 221,408ha Jubilee Downs and Quanbun Downs, 90km from Fitzroy Crossing, was purchased by Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest for more than $30 million, including 11,500 Droughtmaster cattle.
The property has almost 90km of river access, with some huge pools of permanent water. The country features the unique Alexander Island, formed where the Fitzroy river splits into two creating a 40,500ha flood plain of rich dark self-mulching alluvial loam (reminiscent of the best QLD plains country).
Best performing grazing region
In terms of grazing regions, it is difficult to choose which performed the most consistently in 2020. Herron Todd White rural director Tim Lane said grazing assets had set new records in just about every location in Australia.
“It is just by a matter of how far. It would be pretty difficult to find a place that has gone nowhere this year,” he said.
Most active buyers
As described separately above, Anthony and Jane McMillan, whose large McMillan Pastoral Co cattle operation is based at Corella Park near Cloncurry, paid $93m for two large scale northern Australia properties during the year.
Those involved in the McMillan Pastoral business are Harold and Cathy McMillan (based at Mt Roseby) and their sons and daughters-in-law, Mark and Chelsea (Carsland, Cloncurry), Tom and Penny (Jessievale, Cloncurry) and William and Amanda (Wollogorang, Burketown).
In May, the family secured the 4814sq km Gulf Country breeding stations Wollogorang and Wentworth for $53m, including 30,000 Brahman cattle.
Last month, they also purchased the well-regarded north west Queensland channel country growing and finishing aggregation Roxborough Downs and Mudgerebar Station for more than $40m bare. The adjoining 208,494ha Roxborough Downs and 215,000ha Mudgerebar were offloaded by Boulia beef producers John and Kate McLoughlin due to succession planning.
It is understood the McMillans negotiated to purchase the stock separately.
Newcomer to the rural property space
On June 1, LAWD – a specialist valuation and transaction firm focused on agribusiness and the peri-urban development markets – joined the rural property space.
It was put together by Yass-based Col Medway who previously headed CBRE Agribusiness in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
The team is chaired by seasoned rural executive John McKillop who stood down from chairing CBRE’s Pacific Agribusiness group. Other directors include Ian Robertson and former CBRE employees, Tim Corcoran and Josh Ledingham.
In the space of seven months, LAWD has sold 43 properties (19 broadacre that averaged 564ha and 24 lifestyle) worth almost $117m spanning more than 11,000 hectares.
In 2020, disclosed cattle property sales reported in detail by Beef Central show
- 31 properties sold in the sub $5m bracket
- 19 properties sold in the $5m-$10m range
- 12 properties sold in the $10m-$15m range
- 22 properties achieved above $15m
In May, the rural property market in southern Queensland witnessed a spike in the number of listings on the back of much needed rain. This triggered many vendors, who had been positioning themselves to sell, to start marketing their properties. This largely accounts for the higher number of sales in the sub $10m bracket this year.
Comparisons with earlier years:
- 17 properties sold in the sub $5m bracket
- 14 properties sold in $5m-$10m
- 18 properties sold in $10m-$15m
- 22 properties achieved above $15m
- 31 properties sold in the sub $5m bracket
- 17 properties sold in $5m-$10m
- 12 properties sold in $10m-$15m
- 14 properties achieved above $15m
- 40 properties sold in the sub $5m bracket
- 23 properties sold in $5m-$10m
- 10 properties sold in $10m-$15m
- 13 properties achieved above $15m
In next week’s final property review for 2020, property industry experts will share their thoughts on the year that has been and what could be expected over the coming 12 months.