ONE OF Tasmania’s largest irrigated and dryland cropping aggregations Vaucluse has sold, reportedly for more than the initial asking price of $100 million.
The 4448ha property came to market in March as one of three aggregations listed by private equity firm Proterra Investment Partners.
Grain Central understands there was strong interest for Vaucluse from Tasmanian and mainland Australia and international buyers, and the buyer is a New Zealand superannuation fund.
The New Zealand Super Fund, which already owns high-value mixed-farming investments in eastern Australia through its joint venture with Palgrove, has advised Grain Central it was not the buyer.
LAWD agents Danny Thomas and Elizabeth Doyle handled the transaction.
The aggregation is located in Tasmania’s midlands on the South Esk River, close to the city of Launceston.
It features centre pivots which water 2151ha, plus hard-hose travelling irrigators that water a further 447ha.
The balance is dryland cropping and grazing land.
Vaucluse also comes with water entitlements totalling 15,273 megalitres, alongside a further 9000ML in storage capacity.
Proterra managing director Becs Willson said in a statement earlier this year that the firm has expanded Vaucluse’s grain production and storage capacity over its seven-year ownership.
“Operating a five-year crop rotation across the farm, we have established Vaucluse as a high-calibre, large-scale cereal producer to benefit from strong demand from the Tasmanian livestock and aquaculture industries in an operating environment where there is limited local production,” Ms Willson said.
“By investing heavily in water infrastructure and agronomics, we have significantly improved yields, while the construction of a 5424-tonne grain-storage facility has further allowed us to extract a premium price by holding grain on behalf of customers and delivering throughout the year to guarantee a consistent high-quality product.”
Other crops include: potatoes; poppies; carrots, and hemp.
Proterra purchased Vaucluse in 2015 from Michael and Susie Warner, who bought it in 1997 to relocate to Tasmania after a decade in Western Australia.
The Warners bought Vaucluse from the MacKinnon family, its owners for 80 years, who in 2016 sold Glen Esk and Avon Park to Proterra to add 1777ha to the Vaucluse aggregation.
The Vaucluse aggregation is home to several historic buildings, including the 10-bedroom Vaucluse Homestead, and the circa 1832 five-bedroom Glen Esk Homestead.
Strong Tasmanian market
The rarity of high-value agricultural land in Tasmania and water availability has helped keep the demand for properties in the state strong, despite a slowing economy and rising interest rates.
Ms Doyle said LAWD has got buyers lining up for land in Tasmania, but currently there is little on offer to meet that demand.
“Tasmania is such a special area because of its climate and its water availability as well,” Ms Doyle said.
“It is a very strong market, and we still have people ringing today inquiring for more properties in area which we don’t have to offer at the moment.”
Proterra future unclear
Proterra has delisted the other two aggregations offered for sale alongside Vaucluse in March.
The largest of these was the 23,594ha dryland and irrigated One Tree aggregation located on the Queensland-New South Wales border.
The other portfolio is Racecourse, a 14,425ha aggregation located in the Mackay region which is centred on sugarecane production.
It is believed that Proterra has continued to manage and farm these properties after taking them off the market.
It is unclear whether Proterra will relist the aggregations in the near future.
The three aggregations were expected to fetch over $400M and their sale would have been Proterra exit the Australian agricultural property market.
However, the company did indicate that it would continue to look for more agricultural land it can transform.
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