Andrew and Nicola Forrest are seeking to buy Australia’s biggest sheep station – part to utilise for green energy infrastructure development, possibly including solar and wind power.
Rawlinna, 900 kilometres east of Perth in the Goldfields-Esperance region, is being sold by the McLachlan family’s Jumbuck Pastoral, which has held it since the 1960s.
Covering 1,011,714 hectares or 10,100 square kilometres – almost the size of metropolitan Sydney – part of the property encompasses the Nullabor Plain.
Also with 87 paddocks and 37 bores – powered by windmills – and a 370 kilometre fence to prevent feral dogs, it contains 60,000 head of Merino sheep.
The deal comes two years since the McLachlan family, which includes AFL chief, Gillon, with executives associated with Reece Plumbing, paid $104 million for the 1.25m ha Wave Hill cattle station, 600 kilometres south of Darwin, in the Northern Territory.
Next chapter for Rawlinna
With any Rawlinna deal – the transaction needs state government approval – the Forrests will overtake Gina Rinehart as the state’s biggest land owner, with just over three million hectares (story continues below).
Ms Rinehart still controls more agricultural property on a national basis – with about 9.2m ha, or 1.2 per cent of the country’s land mass.
Other major investors in this sector include Australian Agricultural Company, with about 6.4m ha, Crown Point (5.2ma ha) and the North Australian Pastoral Company (4.8m ha).
Jumbuck will hold about 2.5m ha following the Rawlinna disposal.
The Forrests are buying Rawlinna under its Fortescue Metals Group brand – not the pair’s Tattarang or Fiveight, which have been active real estate investors in recent years, or the couple’s Harvest Road agribusiness, which last year outlaid $70m for a collection of East Kimberley cattle stations and $40m for the New Norcia farm.
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