Water-secure farmland in Murray Valley food bowl

Murray Valley food bowl opening


Property
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A large parcel of top-class farming country in a tightly-held region of the Murray Valley has hit the market, presenting a rare opening to prospective investors in water-secure food production.

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A large parcel of top-class farming country in a tightly-held region of the Murray Valley has hit the market, presenting a rare opening to prospective investors in water-secure food production. Marketed as “Billabong Aggregation”, the 2155 hectare (5325 acres) land package is situated just west of Mulwala, where it has frontage to the Murray River, the Murray Anabranch and the Mulwala Canal.

The property, made up of a number of contiguous blocks, started life as the 250ha “Billabong”, purchased by the Williams family in 1993. Successive purchases of adjoining blocks by them, and since 2014 by the present owner, the UK-based investment group Masma Capital, have brought the aggregation to its present size.

And now, as part of a realignment of Masma Capital’s portfolio, the property is ready for a new owner and has been listed for sale by expressions of interest with CBRE. The offering represents a rich opportunity for a new investor seeking a proven agricultural launching pad, or for a corporate player looking for diversification.

Currently oriented towards irrigated and dryland cropping of wheat and canola, the property is well suited also to irrigated rice, horticultural enterprises and sheep or cattle breeding and fattening.

As a grazing proposition the present owners estimate the property’s carrying capacity at 10,000 DSE, alongside cash cropping. Underpinning production is the property’s 4778 megalitres of water entitlements, comprising 3384ML of Murray River water, sourced from the river and the Mulwala Canal, and 1394ML from bores.

Occupying rich, level Murray floodplain country, the property has a mix of soils typical of the region, including red/brown sandy loams, red/black river clay loams and red/brown to black clay loams.

Of the total area, about 974ha is set up for irrigation, including 705ha under centre pivot and 180ha of laser levelled flood irrigation.  A further 741ha is used for dryland cropping, leaving a balance of timbered grazing country, 150ha of sand quarry and service areas.

...a rich opportunity for a new investor seeking a proven agricultural launching pad.

Under present management the country is cropped to wheat and canola in a three-year rotation, last year’s program comprising 1492ha in total of which 691ha was irrigated. Irrigated wheat produced average yields of 5t/ha, dryland wheat 3t/ha, irrigated canola 3t/ha and dryland canola 2.2t/ha.

The main homestead is of rendered brick construction, built in the 1970s and extended in 2008. Set in established gardens, it has four bedrooms and living areas opening to a wide verandah. Reflecting the property’s build-up history, there are six other dwellings, most of them in good condition, providing additional accommodation options for extended family or staff.

Working improvements are likewise abundant, and include five machinery sheds, three workshops, several hay sheds, a three-stand shearing shed and steel sheepyards and three sets of cattle yards. Grain storage is well catered for by a battery of 15 silos with total capacity of 1950 tonnes.

Expressions of interest for “Billabong Aggregation” close on March 22 and offers are invited for the aggregation as a whole or in component parts. The property is being offered on a bare basis, with water entitlements included, although successful buyers will also have the option of negotiating with the vendors for purchase of plant and equipment.

By PETER AUSTIN

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