ONE of Australia's biggest farmers has been forced to sell his two farms west of Dalby.
With a reported $30 million debt, the properties owned by grain grower Rowell Walton were put up for auction just days before Christmas.
His beloved Mount Pleasant and Wyola farms, west of Toowoomba and Dalby, were listed by Ray White.
Ray White agent Roger Lyne said the Wyola property, located 13km north of Meandarra, sold under the hammer for $1.7 million, to the Keys Family, Condamine.
The 2059ha (5088 acre) property on two freehold titles, has 1840ha of cultivation and 219ha of grazing country. The sale equates to about $826/ha ($334/acre). There is an equipped bore and an three dams.
Mount Pleasant, located 20 kilometres north-east of Meandarra, was passed in at auction for $2.14m but placed under contract about an hour later.
The 2059ha (4709 acre) property has 1349ha of cultivation and 557ha of grazing country. There is also a home, sheds, silos and yards.
"The majority of the country on Wyola is undulating scrub plains, melonhole country, with moderate gilgai, brigalow in the east and west, with grey, brown clay soils," the Ray White ad said.
"The central section of Wyola is made up of easy sloping box country, with 570 hectares of red brown duplex soils."
Mr Walton was evicted from his Darling Downs farm in May, after receiver KordaMentha stepped in during 2013.
Four of his farms were placed in receivership, with two sold at auction earlier this year. Mount Pleasant and Wyola were sold after being placed on the market for a second time.
The properties are being sold through ANZ, a week after the major bank announced a 12-month freeze on repossessing farms.
An ANZ spokesman said the 12-month moratorium only covered drought affected areas in northern and western Queensland, as well as northwest NSW.
"We understand the difficulties facing Mr Walton, however, this is a long-standing matter, related to the viability of his agricultural investments, rather than impacts of the recent drought," the spokesman said.
"Taking possession of a farm is always the last option after all other avenues, including farm debt mediation, have been exhausted and we work with customers over several years to try and resolve their financial situation."
Mr Walton is well liked among the local farming community.
He has previously worked as chairman of the national Rural Debt Roundtable working group, and is a former Queensland Nationals vice-president.
He also stood as a candidate for the Katter's Australian Party last year.
Receiver Mark Mentha, of KordaMentha, confirmed Mr Walton owed $30 million.
He said Mr Walton had unfortunately bought two farms at the peak of the market, in 2007.
"He paid quite large sums of money. Several years later, those properties are worth 40 per cent of what he paid, due to changing market conditions," Mr Mentha said.
"Money is owed in the community as well, in excess of $1 million."
He said Mr Walton spent a lot of money converting the land into a cropping farm area.
"Things got more desperate due to those practices and the debts increased over a period of five years," he said.