Baillieus buy Gunnedah’s Ruvigne

Grain Central, June 27, 2023

Ruvigne’s cropping program is centred around cotton and durum. Photo: Inglis

THE Baillieu family has paid what is believed to be around $40 million for the Liverpool Plains irrigated and dryland cropping property Ruvigne from the Gardiner family via an expressions-of-interest campaign.

Located 5km east of Gunnedah, Ruvigne features 14km of direct frontage to the Mooki River, the 2658ha holding boasts 854ha of irrigation development supported by 4090ML of dams and natural storages.

The Gardiner family included former Fairfax media executive Greg Gardiner,  who died in 2009, and they purchased Ruvigne more than 20 years ago from Jim and Joanna Cochran.

Under the Gardiners’ ownership, the holding expanded through the addition of three adjoining properties, and significant capital has been invested in water-storage infrastructure.

Inglis Rural Property agents Sam Triggs, Jamie Inglis and Liam Griffiths handled the listing, and the agency has declined to comment on details of the sale.

In a preview published in Grain Central in March, Mr Triggs said recent investments have enabled the vendors to increase the productivity of their cropping enterprise.

“The big thing they have done in the last three years which has made a monumental change to the whole business is the investment in a 2400ML storage cell,” Mr Triggs said.

“They can store a huge amount of water and that has been a significant step-change in how that operation runs now.

“You can see it in the numbers, and after the last couple of wet years, they’ve been able to capitalise on that water.

“For the incoming purchaser, you have an excellent runway for the next few years for production.”

Cotton and durum are the staples of Ruvigne’s current cropping program, with canola, soybeans, sorghum, sunflowers and mungbeans also grown when the season and prices allow.

Alongside the irrigated land, about 1092has been developed for dryland cropping and a further 712ha is suited to livestock grazing.

Soil types include self-mulching clays which are brownish-black to greyish-brown in colour.

The Gardiners have invested in water-storage infrastructure. Photo: Inglis Rural Property

Future production potential

Mr Triggs said he expected strong interest for Ruvigne, despite rising interest rates and talks of a recession fueling a potential slowdown in property sales.

He said it is “a standout property in the region” and typically these types of holdings are resilient to economy pressures and perform well in most markets.

“Those type of good quality properties continue to be popular because it generates a really good profit, it has scale and is in a really good location, being one of the best agricultural regions.”

Possible corporate investment

The scale of Ruvigne and its accompanying water availability will make the holding an attractive investment opportunity for local or overseas corporations or large-scale family holdings.

“Corporate and investor institutions will be interested because it’s a significant scale,” Mr Triggs said.

“There will also be families from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane who like agriculture as an asset class, and they will be interested in putting capital into land and water and see a return.

“Possibly international buyers will also be attracted to it.

“[Ruvigne] has a professional management team there and it’s run as a commercial, viable operation.”

In addition to a historic federation homestead, Ruvigne’s improvements include two silo complexes which can store 954t in total, cattle yards and multiple machinery and storage sheds and workshops.

Ruvigne’s expressions-of-interest closed April 19.


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