It's in dry times such as this that water-secure grazing properties come into their own, and consequently the upcoming sale of Upper Murray station, Mount Falcon, is certain to draw keen interest.
Situated just north of the Victorian border at Tooma, Mount Falcon is a 2887 hectare (7136ac) property blessed by a 750mm average rainfall, three permanent creeks and high-quality groundwater.
It is owned by the China-based Union Agriculture, whose other local holdings include the Glenrowan Aggregation and Leandah/Wyangan at Gunnedah, Kyabra at Tamworth and Bobbara at Galong.
Mount Falcon, although a substantial property by any measure, is one of Union's smaller holdings and its planned divestment is not thought to herald a wider exit by the company from Australian investment.
The property has been listed for sale with Inglis Rural Property and Colliers Agribusiness in conjunction, and will go to auction in Wagga Wagga on September 9 with bidding expected in a range from $13.5-$15 million.
Before being acquired by Union in 2011, Mount Falcon was owned by Sydney investor Sean Howard.
Mr Howard bought it in 1998 and introduced the present Wagyu crossbreeding program.
It was previously held for most of last century by the Falkiner and Landy pastoral families in turn.
Situated 15 kilometres south of Tooma and 27km north of Corryong (VIC), Mount Falcon is set amid spectacular Upper Murray scenery near the junction of the Tooma and Murray rivers.
Ranging from open slopes and timbered valleys to elevated plateaus of predominantly red granite soils, the property is ideally suited to cattle breeding, although sheep have also been run in past years.
Productivity is underpinned by 1200 hectares of improved pastures comprising phalaris, clovers, cocksfoot, ryegrass and fescue, topdressed annually with 150kg/ha of single super.
Estimated carrying capacity is 20,000-23,000 DSE and under present management the property carries 1000 spring-calving Angus breeders, with progeny grown to feeder weights of 350-400 kilograms.
A successful buyer will have the option to negotiate also the purchase of the highly-regarded cattle herd.
Apart from pasture improvement, the present owners since taking over Mount Falcon in 2011 have spent freely on weed control, water reticulation and upgrades of fencing and cattle yards.
The property is subdivided into 35 main paddocks, 29 of which are serviced by either one of two laneway systems, with more than 50km of fencing either newly erected or replaced in the past seven years.
A newly installed electric bore delivers water to two new elevated 50,000 litre tanks from which it gravity-feeds to 15 troughs.
The original five-bedroom pise homestead, built in 1934 for newlyweds Franc and Lela Falkiner and boasting Tooma Valley views, is no longer in use although offering restoration potential.
Instead the main homestead today is the five-bedroom manager's residence, built in 2006 of bagged brick.
It is complemented by a recently renovated three-bedroom cottage.
Also dating from the previous owner's era of investment are the main steel cattle yards.
They were built to a circular design with covered work area.
Other working structures include an outlying set of timber cattle yards, a four-stand shearing shed, hay and machinery sheds and workshop.
By PETER AUSTIN.