Tubbo Station sells to Hewitt Cattle Company

Marian Macdonald
By Marian Macdonald
Updated August 17 2021 - 7:39am, first published 12:50am
ICONIC: Tubbo Station has only had a handful of owners over its almost 200-year history.

Only approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board now stands in the way of Tubbo Station's sale to Hewitt Cattle Australia, which is backed by a Canadian superannuation fund.

The 14,875-hectare (36,757 acre) historic property near Darlington Point was sold on a walk-in, walk-out basis by LAWD for what director Colin Medway could only confirm was more than the $40 million price guide.



"Tubbo's an iconic and renowned Riverina sheep station," Mr Medway said.

"We got interest from from sheep people from within the Riverina and southern New South Wales, mainly.

"Most of the interest was domestic. I wasn't surprised that people would come hard for it; it's a renowned property."

Hewitt Cattle Australia chief executive officer Michael Hewitt said Tubbo was a rare gem in a competitive property market.

"It is an extremely high quality, large scale property in a region in which we are interested in investing in," he said.

'We had been looking to expand into that region for a while but it's difficult to find properties of that quality and scale that suited our operation.

"We remained very diligent in terms of our investment principals and that has proven to be a valuable decision."

Mr Hewitt said he saw the Riverina region as "an agronomic powerhouse".

"Its location, infrastructure, access to water - there is more development potential there than we have seen in other regions in this most recent investment cycle," he said.

Asked whether the selling price per acre would be replicated locally, selling agent Col Medway was circumspect.

"It was a very solid price," he said.

"Look, the market is continuing to strengthen so you can never say it won't be repeated, but it's a very sound property."

Mr Medway said that during their tenure, the current owners had invested heavily in water security, fencing and laneways.

"Also, the property's been conservatively grazed and managed to allow the native pastures to regenerate," he said.

"I think that the price achieved represents the quality of the asset.

"It's a renowned station, and also I think it's a just reward to the manager, Rob Stein, who's been there for the last 10 years and overseen the development of the property.

"There's no doubt it would not have realized the amount for the vendor that it has if it wasn't for Rob's hard work."


ELEGANCE: Tubbo's six-bedroom homestead, built in 1910 on the river banks, had a $450,000 renovation in 2011.

Hewitt Cattle Australia bought the station with backing from Canada's Public Sector Pension Investment Board.

"It will be used to expand their organic lamb operation," Mr Medway said.

"Although they trade as Hewitt Cattle Australia, they've got a significant lamb business as well."

Indeed, Hewitt Cattle Australia runs organic lamb production across 355,611 hectares in New South Wales and South Australia.

Tubbo's 19,402 self-replacing Merino flock, which is predominantly based on Ridgway bloodlines was included in the sale.



Hewitt Cattle Australia chief operating officer Ben Hewitt said they intended to run the operation as "a going concern", focusing on wool and prime lamb production.

"We are really looking forward to building a team at Tubbo. We have some great people on the ground already and we are looking forward to adding to that team and being part of the local economy," he said.

Although its carrying capacity was estimated at 39,000 dry sheep equivalents, Tubbo Station has carried an average 8450 breeding ewes and 450 breeding cows since 2011.

Mr Medway said cattle were not part of the sale but it did include the property's 539ha solar farm, which generates $559,810 in rental earnings under a long-term lease.

While contracts have been exchanged, the sale remains subject to FIRB approval. An application was submitted two weeks ago but Mr Medway is not expecting a swift result.

"It's supposed to take 30 days but nothing's getting done in 30 days, it's taking more like 90 to 120 days, which is ridiculous," he said.



"With this type of asset and also given the fact that the purchasers are known, and good solid investors in Australian agriculture and have got a very good reputation, I don't think there's much transaction risk.

"The delay for this is significant when you're basically in limbo now for 90 to 120 days and you're running a dynamic agricultural operation.

"A lot changes in three months, so it's far from ideal."

The average annual rainfall is just under 400mm and the station is watered by 17 bores feeding a network of holding tanks and troughs.

Tubbo is being sold by the UK-based Pritchard-Gordon family, which also recently offloaded its Kameruka Estate holding near Bega as part of a succession plan.

Marian Macdonald

Marian Macdonald

National rural property writer

Writing for farmers in the Stock & Land, The Land, Queensland Country Life, Stock Journal and FarmWeekly, farming in Gippsland.

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