The sale of the well-known Warekila property, near Esperance and formerly owned by Chris Reichstein, for $11.65 million last week is understood to have set a new record high price for per hectare broadacre cropping land in Western Australia.
The result was about $3 million - or roughly 30 per cent - higher than had been initially thought by stakeholders.
Auction bidding started at $4 million and the property was finally knocked down to local farmers Ian, Jamie and Anthony Hesford, who were vying for this productive land against 12 other registered bidders - with six local families bidding on the day.
When the hammer finally fell at $11.65m, this equated to $19,846 per arable hectare - or $8031 per arable acre.
Elders Real Estate senior rural real estate executive Simon Cheetham, who ran the auction, said there was 703ha of Warakila offered at the auction, of which 587ha was arable.
"The final result is certainly considered a record price per hectare for the Esperance region and is likely to be a record for any broadacre cropping property within WA," Mr Cheetham said.
He said Elders Real Estate had undertaken the marketing campaign for Warekila, which is located in the northern Neridup region, and enquiry had been very strong.
"Our local rural real estate representative in Esperance, Rob Johnstone, is to be commended for the way he conducted the entire marketing campaign and sale, with it being several years in the making," Mr Cheetham said.
"Mr Johnstone always had the utmost respect for Mr Reichstein.
"Mr Johnstone's efforts, attention to detail and communication were all described as being outstanding and professional by the sellers after the auction."
Elders Real Estate was engaged by the Mount Burdett Foundation to sell Warekila, with representatives from the Foundation commending the company for the way it conducted the entire process.
Foundation director and chair David Falconer said the farm sale was part of the realisation of the estate of the late Mr Reichstein.
"Mr Reichstein was a respected Esperance farmer who died of stomach cancer two years ago, and he had decided to give back to his community and other groups he was passionate about," Mr Falconer said.
"The Esperance Community Foundation and the Rural and Regional Advanced Foundation will benefit from the sale of the Warekila land."
Mr Falconer said funds generated from farming about 3000ha of other farm parcels that were left to the Mount Burdett Foundation in a separate entity to Warekila had already resulted in more than $660,000 being distributed to various groups in the Esperance community and Statewide.
He said annual profits from farming the remaining properties would be allocated to community and other groups in future years.
Mr Falconer said significant funds from last week's auction sale would be distributed to several research organisations and charities, including the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Harry Perkins Institute, Bendat Cancer Centre, Tour De Cure Trust, Starlight Children's Foundation, Beyond Blue, Camp Quality, the Grower Group Alliance, the South East Premium Wheat Growers Association, the National Farmers' Federation and Nuffield International.
"It is really an extraordinary result for these beneficiaries," he said.
"Mr Reichstein's philosophy was always to give back and he wanted to support a range of local and State-based groups."
Mr Falconer said the remaining land left over after the Warekila auction would continue to be held in the Mount Barnett Charitable Trust and generate about $0.5m per year, with about 80pc of these funds going to Esperance projects and 20pc to WA projects.
He said the Trust had recently funded six leadership scholarships for young Western Australians with Leadership WA and this would be continued through the Horizons Rural Scholarship project and just announced it will provide for 80 students to attend the annual Grains Research and Development Corporation's Crop Update series at a significant discount (with support from GRDC).
The Mount Burdett Foundation was set up in 2019 on the instructions of Mr Riechstein to invest in initiatives and people to contribute to a vibrant and resilient future for the Esperance region and throughout rural and regional WA.
The Foundation has been set up with two funding arms - one supporting projects specifically benefiting the Esperance area and the second to support human capacity building throughout rural and regional communities in WA.
Projects funded to date in Esperance include a maritime mural, the Ocean Heroes group, Balmy Night Festival, rising leadership scholarships, a digital creation hub, beach trauma kits, Esperance Care Services and COVID community videos.
Deciding where funds will be spent is up to the Mount Burdett Foundation board, which has recently been extended to five board members with a diverse skill set.
The board takes guidance from two separate committees that have been set up to review and recommend projects for funding.
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