Family expansion soaks up southern NSW offerings

Liz Wells, March 31, 2021

Clarendon at Downside sold at auction on Friday. Photo: Ray White Rural Wagga

DRYLAND and irrigated cropping and mixed-farming country is being snapped up by family operations as low interest rates encourage expansion.

Driving the push are families setting up for succession planning, and looking to add more area for the next generation.

Contributing is a lending environment which has regained fluidity in the wake of the Banking Royal Commission, and strong commodity prices.

Ray White Rural Wagga Wagga agent Geoff Palmer said interest was strong for add-on blocks, including two which the agency sold under the hammer on Friday.

“We had an average of four bidders for both, and Clarendon made $13,422 a hectare, which is a new record for the district.”

The 84ha block north of Wagga Wagga in the Downside district sold to a local farmer looking for an add-on opportunity.

“There’s definitely a supply issue.

“With good water allocations, and commodity prices where they are, it makes sense not to sell.

“Post COVID, there’s been a big relaxation around credit to get us charging along and get the economy charging rates.”

Mr Palmer said the market for land keeps climbing.

“You’ve got to ask:  Where is it going to end?

“We’re very bullish on the medium to longer term.

“Balance sheets are looking fantastic, and mixed farming is a good place to be.”

While northern and parts of central NSW suffered some flooding earlier this month, southern NSW was blessed with gentle and soaking rain which is helping early planted winter crops along, and will have most farmers flat strap with planting next month.

“We’ve had a fantastic season followed by a fantastic start to the season.”

Mr Palmer said productivity and prosperity were encouraging families to get their succession plans moving, and this was also prompting some call for additional area.

“An amount of succession is going on, and farms are being handed on to next family member.”

Mr Palmer said he felt the lease market would always be strong, particularly for country where the lessee is assured of the first right of refusal should the block or farm be listed.

“But it does get to a point where interest rates are so cheap that it makes sense to buy land and pay it off.”

However, expensive land, even with low interest rates, meant most farms were expanding with small rather than large holdings.

“People are still trying to source value and… averaging land into their existing asset is the way to go as farmers achieve greater efficiencies with scale and bigger gear.

“Buying another 300-400 acres is something they can easily factor in.”

Listings move quickly

Among the recent sales is Rick Mailler’s outstanding property Whiporie Park, a versatile 1537-hectare holding 35 kilometres north-east of Deniliquin at Conargo.

Nutrien Harcourts Deniliquin agent James Sides reports Whiporie Park is due to settle on 30 April, and came to the market to enable Mr Mailler to retire.

“At 80, he felt the time was right,” Mr Sides said.
“The buyer came from Albury and has existing agri investments in the local region.
“I sold the property in two inspections with both parties aggressively competing for this magnificent property.
“The purchaser intends to initially crop with a transition to a mixed cropping and livestock operation.”

Running sheep and growing corn, cotton and rice over summer as well as winter cropping, it has irrigation access to the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers.

Its improvements include a homestead, quarters and garden with fruit and nut orchards, as well as a large-scale machinery shed, a grain shed, and a new ProWay woolshed plus an extensive laneway system leading to sheep yards.

Its water entitlement totals 4415 megalitres, and the property has 1400ha of laser-levelled irrigation.

Whiporie Park at Conargo north of Deniliquin has sold after a short EOI campaign. Photo: Nutrien Harcourts Deniliquin

Going to auction on 21 April is Cascade.

Located 50km north-east of Hillston, it has 11km of Lachlan River frontage, and is listed with Nutrien Harcourts Griffith.

Cascade covers 2460ha of Western Lands Lease country, and has run cattle, sheep and seasonal goats.

It has 340ha sprayed out and ready for dryland cropping over winter, plus 142ha laid out for border-check irrigation.

Improvements include a house, two cottages and shedding, with good watering points for stock.

Following the auction of Cascade, licence for 316ML of permanent general-security Lower Lachlan water will be auctioned in two parcels, with some carryover water included.

“There’s not too much on the market, and what is is making good money,” Nutrien Harcourts Hillston agent Matt Taylor said.

“Cropping is good, and the livestock game just keeps getting stronger.”

Cascade is being sold to restructure a family partnership, and Mr Taylor said it was attracting strong local interest.

“It’s a unique property because it’s got five neighbours.”

“The property market is certainly a bit tight, and we’re seeing a lot of young blokes coming back to the property.

“People are looking for more country than is available.”

Euglo south of Condobolin is under offer. Photo: Miller and James

Further up the Lachlan Valley is the Worner family’s Euglo, a 4155ha holding 35km south of Condobolin, which agent Miller and James reports is under offer.

Euglo has been running 3000 composite ewes plus progeny, and last year grew 500ha of canola alone which averaged 3 tonnes per hectare.

Soils are a mix of red loams and red and grey self-mulching clays.

The property has frontage to Humbug Creek, and accesses Lachlan River water through the Euglo Water Scheme.

Around half the property is ready to winter crop, and much of the balance is sown to lucerne pastures.



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