CQ Gemfields Portfolio sells for $65M

Emma Alsop, March 6, 2023

The Gemfields Portfolio featured macadamia, cotton, cereal and cattle grazing enterprises. Photo: LAWD

CENTRAL Queensland irrigated cropping, macadamia and cattle-grazing property, Gemfields Portfolio, has sold for $65M to two buyers.

The multi-generation family-owned 4386ha holding is an aggregation of two non-contiguous properties, Gemfields (779ha) and Cypress and Bauhinias (3607ha).

A high-profile Emerald-based grower is believed to have purchased the Cypress and Bauhinias holding, which has previously been developed to grow cotton and cereal crops as well as run cattle

Grain Central understands Canadian-based investment firm, Manulife, bought the Gemfields holding, an operation focused on producing macadamias.

LAWD senior director Danny Thomas and directors Simon Cudmore and Erica Semmens handled the transaction in conjunction with Ray White Bundaberg agent Jim Mullett.

The aggregation came to market in June, with expressions of interest closing August 4.

Mr Thomas said a key feature of the Gemfields aggregation was its extensive water infrastructure development and availability.

He said the holdings featured 728ha of laser-levelled flood irrigation and 125ha of centre-pivot irrigation.

The system was fed by the main river system, under the Nogoa Mackenzie Supply Scheme which provides water from Lake Maraboon/Fairbairn Dam.

“There is the potential to transform the undeveloped land to permanent horticulture trees – macadamia, pecan, citrus – or table grapes, or cotton production,” Mr Thomas said.

“The future owner could also expand the portfolio’s flood-irrigation area for the purpose of growing cotton.”

A portion of the Cypress and Bauhinias property has been developed for cotton production. Photo: LAWD

Mr Mullett said the high water availability and agricultural diversity of Central Queensland made it an attractive investment opportunity for national and international corporate buyers.

“The fact that we have extreme water security in our area allows for a lot of confidence in buyers to spend,” Mr Mullett said.

“We are such a diverse area, and we can farm nearly everything and have a beautiful climate away from the major cyclone regions.

“We’ve certainly become the flavour for investment.”

Strong prices, interest

Mr Mullett said he has never seen this level of interest from overseas buyers in agricultural properties in his area.

“We have another three companies, two overseas companies and an Australian partnership, coming to our area that has never bought [here].

“The demand for high-end, high-quality properties has never been so great and the prices have never been so high.”

Mr Mullett said the high prices and changing demographics in the area has also contributed to a decent supply of sizable agricultural properties coming on the market.

He said this range includes everything from vegetables and horticulture to cotton and sugarcane operations.

“There’s a lot of farmers in our area who are at what you consider retirement age, and their properties have gone up around 50pc in value in a short period of time.”

Mr Mullett said according to recent data from Real Estate Australia, the Valuer General and Ray White’s long-term predictions, the demand and price for all properties in the area was predicted to stay strong for at least five years.

Evergreen Farms sale

The Gemfields Portfolio transaction was not LAWD’s only recent sale in the Emerald region, with large-scale irrigated horticultural holding, Evergreen Farms, changing hands last month.

Brisbane-based agricultural investment firm, Argyle Capital Partners, purchased the 3793ha property in a transaction worth reportedly $50M.

Evergreen Farms has been developed to produce table grapes and lychees, with another 352ha which could support permanent plantings, such as citrus, nuts, avocados or berries.

Like Gemfields, the holding features extensive irrigation infrastructure and entitlements including 382ML of high priority and 5961ML of medium priority water, multiple storages and direct access to the Nogoa River.


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