$100m sale leads farm value boom

TASMANIA’s rural property market is once again in the spotlight after the sale of historic midlands property Vaucluse for more than $100 million.

The exact sale figure and purchaser of the property have not yet been revealed, but it is expected to create renewed interest in investment opportunities in Tasmanian agriculture.

The property was owned by US-based private equity firm Proterra Investment Partners.

Long-term owners Michael and Susie Warner sold Vaucluse, to what was then Black River Asset Management, a subsidiary of US investment giant Cargill, for $20 million in 2015.

Proterra, a spin off from Black River, was established in 2016 and set about expanding Vaucluse.

When it was sold by the Warners in 2015, the property consisted of 2600ha, but the purchase of two adjacent properties saw it grow to the current 4448ha.

Since then, a development program by Proterra focusing on the property’s grain production, has seen a major cropping expansion across the property.

Proterra also invested heavily in water storage and now half of the property is irrigated.

The property now has about 9000 megalitres of on-farm water storage and access to about 15,000ML of irrigation water.

The investment company also established major grain storage infrastructure, to underpin the expansion in cereal production.

Vaucluse at Conara was originally established in 1830 and includes a historic 10-bedroom Georgian-style mansion, which has been extensively renovated along with a refurbished two-bedroom coach house, a manager’s residence, two cottages, an office, stables complex, a pool and a pool house.

There were more than 200 enquiries during the nine-month selling period before the sale was finalised late last week.

This latest sale follows a major trend in Tasmania, which has seen large tracts of farmland across the state being purchased by investment companies rather than traditional family farming operations.

In November 2021, the owner of Tasmania’s biggest dairy operation at Woolnorth, Van Dairy, sold 6000ha of its farm to TRT Pastoral Group for more than $120 million.

The deal included the 900-hectare Harcus dairy, along with part of the Gums dairy and the Heifer Unit near Smithton Earlier this year, Van Dairy also sold a further two of their Woolnorth dairies to TRT.

The dairies, Cloverlea and Riverdale adjoin the previously sold farms of Harcus and The Gums. Operations at the Cloverlea and Riverdale farms will remain the same, with no changes to staff.

Their operation also includes the seven-property, 2200-hectare Howquadale Station at Mansfield in Victoria as well as the eight-farm aggregation of more than 9300ha on King Island.

In May last year 2200ha across 12 Van Dairy farms was sold to Australian company Prime Value for $62.5 million.

An exception to the investment company buy up, was the sale of historic property Bentley near Chudleigh, which was sold earlier this year for more than $15 million