A large-scale offering of prime Riverina farmland now in the public eye has the potential to defy the recent trend in agriculture towards farm aggregation and corporatisation.
The seven-property package being marketed as Southern Riverina Aggregation is being offered to the market by expressions of interest, but not necessarily as a whole.
Offers for Southern Riverina Aggregation will be considered for individual blocks, or combinations of blocks, thereby creating a timely opportunity for local build-up acquisitions by established farmers in the area.
Totalling 4174 hectares (10314 acres), the aggregation is being marketed by Inglis Rural Property on behalf of the US-based Westchester Group, which is selling as part of a portfolio rollover.
Westchester is the global farm investment arm of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA), and a major stakeholder in Australian agriculture, with holdings worth more than $1 billion.
The seven properties making up the Southern Riverina Aggregation were acquired between 10 and 12 years ago within a 45 kilometre band from Henty and Culcairn in the east to Walbundrie in the west.
Ranging in block size from 2160ha to just 122ha, the aggregation comprises open, level to gently undulating country of versatile red-brown earths, 92 per cent arable and ideal for winter cropping.
Average rainfall is between 550-600mm, and crop yields typically range from 4-4.5 tonnes/ha for wheat and 3.1-3.4t/ha for canola, although this season's bumper crops have higher potential.
The farms are variously leased to four local operators and cropped in a winter rotation comprising wheat, barley, canola and pulses. Buyers will be allowed access after harvest to conduct fallow preparation.
Although managed primarily for cropping, all the properties are fenced to cater for livestock grazing of stubbles or opportunity trading or fattening, and watered by dams.
Bulgandra, the largest of the seven blocks at 2160ha, is situated 10km west of Walbundrie, and is a remnant of Bulgandra Station, which sprawled over 13,000ha before its break-up after the First World War.
The property has frontage to Billabong Creek, to which it has a shared Water Access Licence for stock and domestic water, supplemented by reticulation from two bores.
Structural improvements include five steel machinery sheds, 320 tonnes of silo storage and a four-bedroom homestead in "fair" condition.
The other substantial block is Warrawillah, comprising 1018ha and fronting the Olympic Highway 5km north of Culcairn, where it originally formed part of James Balfour's Round Hill Station.
It comes with a three-bedroom brick homestead (currently rented) in established gardens, machinery and hay sheds, silos, established tree lines and town water connection.
Immediately to the south of Warrawillah, and also fronting the highway, is Old Round Hill of 215ha, while 17km west of Culcairn is the 193ha Royal Rose.
The other three blocks, located west or south-west of Henty, are Westwood of 268ha, Rosebank of 194ha and Ronnies of 122ha.
Structural improvements on the smaller blocks are limited to Rosebank's three-stand shearing shed with yards, machinery shed and silo, and a machinery shed on Royal Rose.
Recent sales in this highly regarded region indicate a value range of $4200-$4600/ac ($10,500-$11,500/ha) for the Henty-Culcairn locality and $3800-$4000/ac ($9500-$10,000/ha) for lands further west.
BY PETER AUSTIN.