WHAT is regarded as the world’s second largest cattle property – holding a special place in the Australian beef industry – has come on the market.
Historic Clifton Hills Station established in 1878 on the Birdsville Track in the far northeast corner of South Australia, is being offered on a walk-in, walk-out basis with about 18,000 branded cattle.
Colliers International and Rural Property and Livestock (RPL) will manage the sale process, through international expressions of interest.
At around 16,500sq km (more than four million acres) in four contiguous pastoral leases, Clifton Hills is second only to Anna Creek in size in the Australian cattle industry, and probably the world. It covers an area more than half the size of Belgium in the fabled Channel Country, extending from Queensland into South Australia.
The Georgina River, Cooper Creek and the Diamantina River all flow across the property. Rainfall in their catchment areas waters large areas of Clifton Hills through beneficial flooding, creating some of the best cattle fattening country on the continent. The Diamantina system is currently in moderate flood, following March rains.
The four pastoral leases – two for Clifton Hills, Goyder Lagoon and Kanowana – currently support an estimated 18,000 head of Certified Organic cattle, made up a variety of breeds. Most of the finished cattle are turned off as grassfed bullocks or feeders into Queensland or South Australian Certified Organic supply chains.
The property is owned by four families – mostly Adelaide based – who can trace their family connections to the property back more than 60 years.
Clifton Hills Pastoral Co managing partner Dave Harvey suggested the property had three main strengths that set it apart from most other cattle stations in Australia.
“There are three distinct and equally balanced land types – Gibber plains with creeks, soft sand hill country, and inland river floodplains,” Mr Harvey said.
The Diamantina River effectively terminates in a delta floodplain on Clifton Hills, giving a consistent 1500sq km of flood area per annum, and making it a very fertile area.
“The property has excellent scale, with a stock rating of 21,500 head on the pastoral lease. The scale on Clifton Hills is achieved without massive infrastructure – the secret is the large land area which allows cattle to be well spread-out,” Mr Harvey said.
Clifton Hills comprises three main country types:
- One third of the country is sandhill country (suited to seasonal winter rain and which responds well from as little as an inch of rainfall)
- One third is flood country (Diamantina, Cooper and Georgina, which flourishes from beneficial flooding further upstream); and
- One third stony red country, which acts as a ‘tin shed’ but also contains sweet country in places.
The great advantage of this diversity and scale over comparable enterprises is that Clifton Hills Station is largely self-sustaining and can maintain a core herd during periods of drought.
Marketing agents anticipate interest from around $1550 per beast area, based on the present pastoral board maximum of 21,500 head, plus cattle. That suggests Clifton Hills may represent possibly the largest Organically-certified property sale seen in Australia.
Agents emphasised the appealing opportunity for investors to acquire a substantial cattle herd, without the costs associated with freight and the complexities involved in purchasing new stock.
Colliers Ben Forrest said a beef industry asset as special as Clifton Hills Station ‘sat in a market of its own’, and would attract a premium price.
The infrastructure comprises a central homestead hub, formed roadways, airstrips, 24 sets of steel trucking yards, six flowing bores, and valuable plant and equipment. The Birdsville Track crosses the property giving access to both northern and southern markets.
Wally Cooper from Rural Property and Livestock (RPL) knows this country well.
“The beauty of Clifton Hills is not only the amazing flow of water it receives from the north but all rain that falls on the property stays on the property. The internal gibber country acts like an enormous roof which fills numerous creeks and swamps generating growth of fantastic feed all from an inch of rain.”
Strong demand from investors (both domestic and international investors) and institutions has had a significant impact on cattle property sales across extensive grazing areas of Australia over the past year.
- Contacts are Ben Forrest, Jesse Manuel and Nick Dean from Colliers, and Wally Cooper from Rural Property and Livestock (RPL).
WHAT PRICE ARE THEY ASKING FOR THE ENTIRE PLACE?