North, south interest lifts Mallee market

Liz Wells and Emma Alsop, August 17, 2022

Tyenna is located between Tempy and Nandaly in the Victorian Mallee, and is for sale by EOI. Photo: Nutrien Harcourts Mildura

BLOCKS and farms in the Victorian Mallee are selling at ever-increasing prices as investors and growers from within and beyond the area look to diversify or expand in one of eastern Australia’s most affordable farming districts.

Recent sales include the Merriwa Pastoral Company cropping portfolio, comprising three blocks which sources say sold for a rumoured $8600 per hectare to three separate growers already established in the district.

That represents a lift of around 10 per cent on comparable sales made early this year.

Located 15 kilometres from Kerang at Normanville, the Merriwa blocks cover 1484ha in total, and were offered through an expressions-of-interest (EOI) campaign with Colliers agents Duncan McCulloch and James Beer.

While the agents declined to comment on any aspect of the sale, Mr McCulloch said the region is attracting strong interest from buyers to the south of the Mallee, and also from growers based in New South Wales.

“They’ve had significant capital appreciation, and they’re looking to buy land elsewhere,” Mr McCulloch said.

Growers based in mostly central and northern NSW are also seeing the relative stability of Mallee seasons in recent years as appealing.

“They’ve had some more challenging conditions to deal with.”

For some growers in NSW, that meant little or no crop in the drought years of 2017-2019, a bumper 2020, a wet harvest last year, and a very wet growing season to date this year.

The Mallee, which has certainly had its share of below-average rainfall seasons in recent decades, is in the midst of a run of solid seasons, and is on track for an above-average year if spring is kind.

Diversity adds appeal

Elders Real Estate Swan Hill manager Peter Robertson recently sold a 2008ha farm located 37km east of Swan Hill to a buyer based in southern Victoria, and with farming interests in the NSW Riverina also, for an undisclosed price.

“It’s the diversity of the property that made it appeal to the buyer.”

With a 4km frontage to the Murray River, it has 450ha developed for irrigation, with dryland cropping plus sheep on the balance.

Crops grown last year include canola, chickpeas, lucerne and vetch.

“It’s the diversity of the property that made it appeal to the buyer,” Mr Robertson said.

“The viability’s attractive and it’s good buying.”

Mr Robertson said dryland cropping country in the Swan Hill district was comfortably making in excess of $7400/ha, up by more than 25 per cent in the past few years.

“The interest is solid on this kind of country.”

Strength draws listings

The continued strengthening in the market has attracted a steady succession of listings, and Nutrien Harcourts Mildura agent Michael Fernandez said properties were coming to the market, or being leased, for a number of reasons.

“Most of the reasons for selling are succession or retirement related,” Mr Fernandez said.

“They are looking at the opportunity now with this season going so well.”

Mr Fernandez said strong grain prices have also been supportive of the market.

“They are probably considering that the opportunity is right now to scale down or exit the industry.”

Two Nutrien Harcourts Mildura listings, the 1172ha Turoar at Nyah West, and the 842ha Tyenna, are both attracting solid interest, with Turoar expected to make up to $5000/ha.

“That is very good country.”

Tyenna is located in the tightly held Nandaly-Tempy district and, like Turoar, is for sale by EOI.

“We are expecting the same sort of money or more on that one.”

Both have been continuously cropped, and are without significant structural improvements, making them ideal bolt-on properties for existing operators

“It means these will attract interest for that reason alone.”

He said both properties were inter-generational family farms.


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