The Department of Defence has agreed to buy cattle baron Peter Camm's Glenprairie Station, north of Rockhampton, for as much as $45 million.
The deal sets a high benchmark for cattle station acquisitions in 2017 and also brings heightened attention to Australia's military strategy along its coastline.
The purchase is part of the Australian-Singapore Defence relationship which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said last year would see the Singapore government invest up to $2.25 billion in the expansion of two "of our most important military training facilities" including the Shoalwater Bay training area.
Mr Camm will do well out of the deal after purchasing the historical property for $28 million just three years ago from respected grazier Sir Graham McCamley.
At the time the market suggested Mr Camm paid too much for the prized 27,000-hectare station once owned by the Holmes à Court family's Heytesbury Cattle Co.
"Everything is about timing," Mr Camm told the Australian Financial Review after confirming a deal with the military had been agreed.
"I needed Glenprairie during the drought and it saved me and it's been a very good place."
Mr Camm made his mark on the cattle station industry when he sold his Welltree/LaBelle station in the Northern Territory for a then single cattle station record of $72 million, to R. M. Williams Agricultural Holdings – a company that has since gone into receivership.
His Glenprairie Station is one of the most highly regarded cattle properties along the Queensland coast. The blue-ribbon property, whose previous owners also include Greek shipping tycoon Gregory Hadjieleftheriadis, has frontage to Herbert Creek and will be integral to the Department of Defence's ambitions to expand the major Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area.
The federal government already has a long-term agreement with the United States to use Shoalwater Bay for military training purposes. The Shoalwater Bay training area is set over 450,000 hectares, consisting of 270,000 hectares of land and about 180,000 hectares of sea. It is the largest coastal wilderness between Nadgee in southern NSW and the Cape Melville area on Cape York Peninsula.
Mr Camm said that he would lease back the property from the department for another three years with 12-month increments and a six months' notice period to leave the property.
Following the sale of the property Mr Camm will still have substantial cattle station holdings across Australia including Chudleigh Park, Goldsborough and Lolworth cattle stations in Queensland covering 244,000 hectares. He also owns Brooking Springs Station – a pastoral lease that operates as a cattle station in Western Australia and whose neighbouring owners include mining magnate Gina Rinehart.
Mr Camm said his decision to sell came down to succession planning.
"How do I break Glenprairie up among five kids? It's difficult so I sold it. It was on the market for people to buy."
His deal sets a high benchmark for cattle station values. This time last year billionaire retail king Brett Blundy kicked off a huge year in the rural property market by purchasing the Walhallow cattle station aggregation in the Northern Territory for $100 million in what was the largest single cattle station deal in Australian history.
This story, Military triggers Camm's $45m Glenprairie cattle station, first appeared on The Australian Financial Review.