MHPF lists NSW irrigation, dryland asset

Linda Rowley, April 14, 2023

Mourabie Aggregation includes six on-farm water storages with a total capacity of 15,942 megalitres. Photo: LAWD

MORE than $34 million is anticipated for an institutional-scale irrigated and dryland cropping investment in New South Wales’ north-west held by MH Premium Farms.

The 8111ha Mourabie Aggregation comprises the 4327ha Mourabie and 3784ha Bynia (located within a 3km radius of each other), 40km west of Walgett and 150km east of Bourke.

MHPF is owned by Lord Michael Hintze, a British-Australian billionaire businessman and philanthropist based in the United Kingdom.

According to its website, the private landholder of Australian agricultural assets operates 17 properties over 70,000 hectares across eastern Australia, strategically located over several climatic regions.

LAWD director Col Medway has been appointed to sell the Mourabie Aggregation, and said MH Premium Farms was s looking to rebalance its portfolio, which is not unusual for multi asset groups.

“The company is heavily invested in the high-rainfall areas of southern New South Wales and will redeploy this capital back into agriculture,” Mr Medway said.

“It is already looking at permanent plantings (macadamias) in Queensland, as well as other opportunities.”

Mr Medway said he expected the going concern will attract strong interest from existing domestic and international players.

“Mourabie boasts scale, efficiencies, high crop yields and a tremendous water supply.

“It has finished irrigating and has 6000 megalitres of water in storage, which is a reasonable start to the coming season.”

The productive grey cracking clay soils are suitable for a wide range of row crops, and the aggregation is currently growing cotton and wheat in rotation with chickpeas.

Cotton, wheat and chickpeas are the main crops produced on the Mourabie Aggregation. Photo: LAWD

Featuring extensive frontages to the Barwon River (19km), Womat Creek (11km) and the Castlereagh River (5km), the Mourabie Aggregation has first-class irrigation development and significant water entitlements.

There are 1932ha of flood irrigation and 3327ha of dryland cropping, with the balance suitable for grazing.

Livestock has not been part of the current enterprise mix, but the 2852ha of open native grassland and more heavily timbered areas along the river systems and associated drainage lines could run cattle and sheep.

High-quality irrigation infrastructure supports the Mourabie Aggregation and includes six on-farm water storages with a total capacity of 15,942 megalitres.

Additional water is underpinned by A, B and C class unregulated entitlements from the Barwon, Darling and Castlereagh Rivers, as well as floodplain harvesting.

Mr Medway described the infrastructure as excellent.

“The vendor has enhanced operational efficiencies, staff amenity and accommodation, machinery and chemical shedding and grain storage.”

“Despite the sale, the long-term capital investment program is continuing, with an $800,000 upgrade of the Mourabie storage pump site already underway.”

Mourabie was one of the first farms in the Walgett district to be accredited under myBMP guidelines, a voluntary farm and environmental management system which ensures cotton is grown to best practice.

This accreditation also allows for the cotton to be marketed as certified Better Cotton, under the global Better Cotton Initiative (BCI).

The Mourabie Aggregation is serviced by grain handling and receivals at Narrabri, Moree and Goondiwindi and cotton gins at Bourke, Moree, Narrabri and Goondiwindi.

It is being offered for sale by invitational expressions of interest closing on May 24.

MH Premium Farms recent sales and purchases:

Last month, MHPF listed the large-scale New England grazing operation Warrane in northern NSW. Anticipated to make mid-$30M, the 7690ha beef cattle, prime lamb and Merino wool enterprise is rated to run 58,000 dry sheep equivalents. LAWD is also handling the sale via an EOI campaign closing May 12.

In December 2021, MHPF sold the 12,343ha grazing and dryland cropping platform Marshmead Aggregation, 10km south of Walgett, as two separate assets to two local families for between $25M-$30M.

Two years ago, MHPF paid around $100M for South Callandoon fronting the Macintyre River, 20km west of Goondiwindi on the Queensland-NSW border. The 12,168ha holding produces cotton, grain and pulses and runs cattle.


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