Govt takes Toorale Station and its water for $23.7m

11 Sep, 2008 02:54 PM
A spokeswoman for NSW Minster for Climate Change and the Environment, Verity Firth, in August confirmed the department, with financial backing from the Federal Government, was in discussions with the selling agents of Toorale station (pictured).
A spokeswoman for NSW Minster for Climate Change and the Environment, Verity Firth, in August confirmed the department, with financial backing from the Federal Government, was in discussions with the selling agents of Toorale station (pictured).

The big western NSW grazing and irrigation property, Toorale Station, in the northern Murray Darling Basin has been sold to the NSW Government for $23.7 million just before today's scheduled auction.

Managing director of owners Clyde Agriculture, John McKillop, and Federal Water Minister Penny Wong and NSW Environment Minister Carmel Tebbutt, announced the sale in separate statements late on Wednesday.

Clyde Agriculture successfully negotiated a purchase agreement on a bare-basis with the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC), which has received "substantial funding assistance" from the Federal Government.

Mr McKillop said the purchase price was in line with independent valuations for the land and water entitlements.

"Our decision to sell prior to auction was based on gaining fair value for the asset and taking advantage of the certainty of a firm bid on the table from DECC," Mr McKillop said.

"We understand the property, upon settlement, will be managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and that irrigation entitlements attached to the property will be used for environmental purposes."

Toorale Station is a 91,383-hectare sheep and cattle breeding and finishing operation on the junction of the Darling and Warrego River, 60km downstream from Bourke.

It has more than 2000ha developed for irrigation.

Toorale holds a Darling River licence and additional licences for a system of banks and levies originally built in the 1880s that spread moderate to high flows in the Warrego River across the floodplain.

Senator Wong said the NSW Government would take responsibility for preserving the land, while the water would be transferred to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.

She said the agreement delivers a significant boost to environmental flows in the Darling River, whilst also providing a boost to the NSW reserve system.

"In securing these water entitlements and floodplain harvesting rights, the deal will return an average of 20 gigalitres of water to the Darling River each year, peaking at up to 80GL in flood years," Senator Wong said.

"Returning this water to the Darling will begin to turn around the long term decline of this once great river."

Clyde Agriculture has offered four properties for sale in order to rebalance its property portfolio, which, the company says, is currently heavily weighted to livestock production.

Mr McKillop says Clyde Agriculture plans to reinvest in agriculture by purchasing more dryland and irrigated farming holdings.

The auction of another Clyde property in the region, Brewon, Walgett, NSW, will proceed as scheduled today.

National rural news from FarmOnlineSource:
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11/09/2008 6:46:26 AM

Waste of time and taxpayer money...rain puts water in river systems, not licence aquisitions.
Rear View
11/09/2008 7:08:49 AM

Is this good value for money? If the drought continues fro another few years, or if we get a major flood and surplus flows spread across the flood plains and soak away, we as taxpayers have just laid out $23.7m for nothing. Smart buying?
11/09/2008 7:09:05 AM

Mick says rain puts water in river systems, not licence aquisitions. But in the case of the Warrego, we have seen floods that could not get past Toorale's dams. This purchase is a great advance for the Darling River. Congratulations to the Governments involved.
11/09/2008 8:05:56 AM

Yep, that will fixes everything...shut down all agriculture &and turn the lot into a National Park. Genius! Don't forget that all farmers are guilty in this supposed environmental crime of using our natural resources. If our cattle eat what the kangaroos should be eating, then we, too, are in the gunsights of ACF, WWF, IRN, HSI and all the others who would like to see this country returned to pre-settlement condition and populated by vegans consuming only imported produce. What these geniuses don't realise is that there is a price to pay for human inhabitation. We should minimise that as much as possible, obviously, but we can't feed and clothe a nation without some impact on the natural condition of the environment. Even Barney's cattle have an impact on the environment. I fear we will get to the end of this drought and wonder why all our towns are still dying. Those producers remaining will be paying more for inputs and services to be brought in from farther away and these ideologues will succeed in de-populating the inland by default. We need to be very careful about what we wish for.
11/09/2008 8:32:34 AM

Great news indeed! Let's hope this is just the start and we can begin to rectify some of the damage done to our river system by flood harvesting.
11/09/2008 8:50:34 AM

Probably a good move regarding the health of the Darling River, but a bad move giving those National Parks people control of it! It would be better managed as a dryland farming operation and livestock finishing depot - when the seasons allow.
11/09/2008 11:41:50 AM

The land purchased should be leased out to farmers to graze and control noxious weeds at environmentally freindly stocking rates, and the income will help the ailing NSW economy...and not lock it up as weed haven.
11/09/2008 1:16:30 PM

Well, I guess, since this property is now to be a national park, maybe the govt should use some of the water rights to plant trees over the whole station and create a carbon bank, that actually improves the enviroment. 20GL of water from this station will make little to no difference to the river, as is harvested in peak times. If this water is released now, in times of drought, the evaporation is so high, that most if not all will be lost. And if it is let flow by in flood time, the effect in the Darling River is long gone. At least, if the govt established trees on this property, the local contractors and staff will still have some employment and business in the planting and maintenance stages. Many national parks become something long-term and real for the environment...not just something "feel good".
11/09/2008 4:26:32 PM

Something has to give somewhere down the track with water. Imagine if we could desalinate at one tenth the price we do now. Recall the old rule of thumb that one acre feeds a person for a year. If we were 30 million people [and I for one would argue that if we were we would be happier if 50% of the joint was less developed, more natural, be that with a bit of help] ... But if we were 30 million people that would mean we need a patch 346km by 346km to feed us all. Good tucker, plenty of wide open spaces, and rivers that do their thing rather than the thing of the money men and their water mates. We could get there.
11/09/2008 5:31:43 PM

This is not going to make much difference in how much water is going to flow into the darling. I have lived at toorale my whole life and know how much water the property can store. The government buying this and letting the water flow through is only going to make the town of bourke suffer and many people will lose their jobs. It all sounds so good on paper and through the media but until you go out there you will never understand how little of a differnce this will make... it is a bad move.
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