THROUGHOUT 2019, the Western Australia pastoral market has been a feeding ground for investment company Wharton Capital Limited.
During the year, the New South Wales-based company purchased two properties across WA - Kumarina and Marymia stations, near Newman.
Wharton also had its eye on another two properties - the Balladonia aggregation, at Balladonia and Wagga Wagga station at Yalgoo.
Wagga Wagga station was sold to an individual from the Eastern States, who is involved with Wharton, for about $900,000, through Ray White Rural WA director Simon Wilding.
If Wharton's original plans had gone ahead, it could have purchased about 1.435 million hectares, however the two neighbouring properties it purchased in the Pilbara resulted in Wharton acquiring about 673,700ha.
Wharton paid $3-4 million for the 305,929 hectare Kumarina station from WA pastoralist and businessman Brent Smoothy, who has invested heavily in the emerging Sulphate of Potash (SoP) industry.
The sale did not involve the SoP mine on the property, which has remained in the hands of Kalium Lakes Ltd (KLL).
Mr Smoothy is the biggest individual shareholder of KLL and founded the Beyondie Potash Project.
In October last year, Mr Smoothy added Karamarra, 145 kilometres west of Rockhampton, Queensland, to his portfolio.
Karamarra was believed to be valued at $25m or more.
Also last year, Mr Smoothy sold three properties, the feedlot Petro, at Eneabba, which had a major water license and Wilara and High Hill, at Jurien Bay.
Together the three properties spanned about 6000ha, which sold for $22.6m to Rural Funds Group.
Mr Smoothy purchased Wilara and High Hill in 2018 for almost $8m.
Wharton also purchased the neighbouring property to Kumarina station, the 367,836ha Marymia station from a different vendor for an undisclosed price.
Landmark Harcourts WA's Terry Norrish and Daniel Wood handled the sales of both Kumarina and Marymia stations.
In the same year, Wharton launched a new investment opportunity, the Wharton Pastoral Fund, which as stated on its website, allows "investors to gain exposure to the potential benefits of agricultural production, initially through beef cattle and sheep, followed by further value adding opportunities by building the components of a vertically integrated food business".
The fund will be investing in cattle and sheep stations, as seen with the recent WA acquisitions, then add feedlots, abattoirs, food processing and export logistics, with the long- term objective to become a vertically integrated producer of food products.