DESPITE a slow down in transactions as a direct result of tougher seasonal conditions, Northern Australia’s rural property market continued to fire during 2018.
While the cattle herd is continuing to contract, the appetite for land, and particularly additional land, is driving an already historically strong market. Agents report fund managers and foreign investors including Chinese interests are also active in the market.
Topping the list was Gunn Agri Cattle Fund purchase of the Far North Queensland breeding property, Abingdon Downs, located 130km north of Georgetown for $50m-plus. The 484,000 hectare (1.2 million acre) property was sold by Keough Cattle Company with 27,400 high-quality grey Brahman cattle through Frawley Rural Services Australia.
In Queensland, Consolidated Pastoral Company’s 850,000ha (2.1m acre) Channel Country property Nockatunga, sold to the Harris family’s Cleveland Agriculture, Mungindi, for a figure believed to be around $45m. The purchase price included cattle, plant and equipment.
Nockatunga is the first of the CPC portfolio to sell. UK private equity firm, Terra Firma, announced it was selling its northern Australian and Indonesian cattle operations which span 16 properties over 5.5 million ha.
The business is being offered for sale as a whole or in parts through property agency Knight Frank and investment banking giant Goldman Sachs.
Significant sales included Portland Downs, Ilfacombe, for $23m through Landmark Harcourts. Offered by the Netherland-based investment company Salentein Australian’s operation GP Cattle, the 99,990ha (247,000 acre) aggregation was bought by North Australian Pastoral Company.
Duncan and Lesley Lawton’s Middleton property Brackenburgh sold for $22.25m at auction to John and Robyn Rodger, Hatcham Downs, Taroom. Located 170km west of Winton, Brackenburgh consists of 182,481ha and was offered with 5000 mixed cattle through Brodies Agencies, Winton,
The Butler family’s highly regarded Blackall property Athol generated plenty of interest, selling for $23.75m through Ruralco Property GDL Real Estate and Wally Cooper, RPL, in a deal struck before the scheduled auction. Athol covers 36,275 hectare (89,636 acre) and is estimated to run 3500 breeders with weaners or up to 6000 backgrounders.
One of the world’s largest rural properties is also understood to be under offer. Located in the far north-east corner of South Australia, the 16,500sq km (4 million acre) property Clifton Hills is being offered by Colliers International and Rural Property and Livestock. The four contiguous pastoral leases occupy a significant part of the Channel Country, which extends from Queensland into South Australia.
Another property creating plenty of interest is the Lindores family’s Darran aggregation in South West Queensland. The large-scale 12,096ha (29,890 acre) mixed farming enterprise at St George comprises of three contiguous landholdings: Darran, Beardie Lagoon and Brookdale. The aggregation consists of 4800ha of arable land, 512ha highly developed for flood irrigation and 6784ha of both improved and native grazing areas.
In the Northern Territory, a sale is understood to be in the pipeline for Legune Station. Seafarms Group is offering for sale the novation of the option to purchase the 285,270ha (704,918 acre) station. The $60m-plus offering includes 27,000 Brahman cattle. Approvals are also in place for a major prawn operation involving 10,000ha of production ponds.
Major interest is expected in the Australian Green Properties portfolio comprising of Murray Downs, Epenarra and Pine Hills. Listed with Landmark Harcourts, the 10,937sq km (2.7m acre) area is being offered with about 22,700 branded cattle.