IT'S been a few years since the Kimberley pastoral market has had a substantial lease offered for sale but the market will be tested with a new listing.
The two leases of Jubilee Downs and Quanbun Downs, near Fitzroy Crossing, have been listed for sale on behalf of Jubilee Pastoral Company, which is co-owned by Keith and Karen Anderson, who are also the managers and United States billionaire Edward Bass, who is a silent partner.
The two adjoining holdings total 221,408 hectares and are run as one operation with a combined carrying capacity of 11,000 head.
The sale includes about 11,500 Droughtmaster cattle, 39 working horses, five broodmares and five pensioners, plus plant and equipment.
Mr Anderson is a highly regarded cattleman by the North Australian Beef Research Council, having been recognised with a Producer of the Year award.
It's understood the vendors are selling due to retirement, however it's believed the Anderson family is willing to work in management roles if so desired by the new owners.
Media reports have speculated that the operation could fetch about $30 million but Elders real estate specialist and selling agent Greg Smith declined to confirm a price expectation.
"We have gone to the market with an expression of interest (EOI) campaign to see where the market is in the Kimberley at the moment because there hasn't been a significant sale in the region for the past three or so years," Mr Smith said.
One of the last major Kimberley pastoral lease sales was in 2016 when Consolidated Australian Pastoral Holdings bought four properties covering more than one million hectares for about $100m.
In 2015 Gina Rinehart spent about $30m to acquire the iconic, nearby Fossil Downs property.
With the Kimberley pastoral market being so tightly held, Mr Smith said he already had some interested parties.
"There is strong demand from within the Australian cattle industry for land in the Kimberley," he said.
"The good cattle prices we have had over the past five or six years have got most of the cattle producers in a reasonably sound financial position and the opportunity to expand in the Kimberley has been fairly limited in the past few years.
"The property is of a sufficient size and carrying capacity to be of appeal to the corporate-style farmer."
Mr Smith said overseas interest would likely depend on the ability to inspect with the COVID-19 restrictions, but most overseas investors that could be key players already have representatives based in WA or Australia.
But he expected Australian investors and companies to be the dominant buyer profile, yet didn't rule out the possibility of farming families expressing interest.
"We think the properties and cattle are of adequate quality to be highly attractive to domestic buyers," he said.
Mr Smith said Jubilee Downs and Quanbun Downs were presented to a very high standard.
"The priority in the management has been sustainability and environmental management," he said.
"They are presented to a top standard and the cattle are second to none in the northern region."
He said the properties have become renowned for producing excellent performing cattle that are in high demand by local and export markets.
Annual sales have averaged more than 3300 head for the past 10 years.
"It is a highly respected operation in that every year, whether it's been a drought or good season, there's consistently good quality stock turned off," he said.
According to Mr Smith, the operation's consistency is testament to the Anderson's excellent management practices.
"Even with the dry conditions over the 2019 season, upon my viewing the property at the end of last year, the cattle were in very good condition," he said.
"The property has held up far better than most of the other properties in the Kimberley.
"They have also maintained their numbers well over the past 10 years, unlike some places that have 15,000 head one year and then 8000 head the next, it has been very consistent."
The operation prides itself on running a quality herd with modern genetics and premium bulls sourced from leading studs in Queensland.
The Jubilee country features Alexander Island in a location where the Fitzroy River divides into two, creating a 40,468ha flood plain of rich, dark, self-mulching alluvial loam reminiscent of the best Queensland plains country with well established Birdwood, Mitchell and Flinders grass, as well as an array of legumes and medics.
About half the property comprises various forms of alluvial plains and/or river system rangelands with the balance being mainly pindan country with woodlands and shrub lands colonised with spinifex and other grasses.
The northern artery of the Fitzroy River flows through the property and the southern branch runs via the southern boundary, creating almost 90 kilometres of river access with some huge pools of permanent water.
There are 42 operational bores and 13 dams.
The properties are well fenced with 54 paddocks and the yard infrastructure includes nine sets of yards.
There are also three homestead complexes.
The EOI process will be carried in a two-stage process to suit the COVID-19 circumstances.
Inspections will be available in stage two for shortlisted prospective buyers.