Energy giant buys cattle station for renewable project

Andrew Forrest is purchasing Australia’s biggest sheep station, Rawlinnna, for a renewable energy project.

London based hedge fund manager Michael Hintze has sold Armidale’s Warrane cattle, lamb and merino wool farm to Origin Energy which plans to repurpose it for a renewable energy project.

Warrane contains a c1910 homestead.

The deal is speculated to be worth in excess of the $35 million guide when the 7690 hectare holding was listed in April.

The Australian-British businessman paid c$22m via a leaseback deal in 2007 then, upon taking occupancy 10 years ago, invested heavily on pasture establishment, soil fertility, fencing, laneways and livestock yards.

The Armidale farm spreads 7690 hectares.

LAWD agents Col Medway and Danny Thomas marketed its potential to produce 58,000 Dry Sheep Equivalents a year.  About 2027ha is permitted for clearing and further development too.

The brokers also spruiked the land’s ability to be repurposed for solar and wind energy production – with buyers in these sectors in recent years paying a premium to a farm’s agricultural value.

Warrane is about 18 kilometres north west of the township.

Armidale a renewable energy hub

The Warrane deal comes 18 months since the NSW government declared the Armidale region the state’s second Renewable Energy Zone, where capacity creation will be encouraged.

Origin, which has in recent years been focusing on cleaner energy, confirmed the purchase when contacted.

“Origin recently acquired the property as a prospective greenfield wind development opportunity, and over time it will be assessed alongside a range of other renewable energy development options in our portfolio,” a spokeswoman said.

“While noting settlement has not yet occurred, the acquisition is consistent with Origin’s strategy and ambition to lead the energy transition through cleaner energy and customer solutions,” she added.

The deal comes just over two months since Andrew and Nicola Forrest bid for the country’s largest sheep station, Rawlinna, 900 kilometres from Perth, with plans to part utilise the property for green energy infrastructure, possibly including solar and wind power.

Covering 1,011,714ha, that property was offered by the McLachlan family’s Jumbuck Pastoral (story continues below).

Australian-British businessman Michael Hintze turns 70 this month.

Sign-off needs to come from the state government.

MHPF reweighs

Cheviot Hills sold in 2016 after 164 years.

Mr Hintze, who turns 70 this month, is also a philanthropist with a fortune of cA$3.5 billion (US$2.1b) according to Forbes; he joined the House of Lords last November after King Charles accepted a recommendation by former UK prime minister Boris Johnson.

Warrane supplied product for the businessman’s MH Premium Farms.

The property was listed with the 8130ha Mourabie, in Walgett; covering 8130ha, also for sale via LAWD, it is carried a c$30m-plus guide.

Assuming that sells, MHPF will, according to its website, control 15 Australian assets; covering an estimated c54,000ha, all on the east coast, these are a mix of cropping, livestock and mixed farms.

Elsewhere in NSW, the portfolio includes the 4917ha Springfield at Boorowa, 4788ha Watson Park (Goulburn), 3651ha Canomodine (Canowindra), 3568ha Burrangong (Young), 2573ha Deltroit (Adelong), 2430ha Enfield North (Yarrowitch), 2412ha Rippling Water (Tumbarumba) and 1212ha Meadowbank (Koorawatha).

It also controls a 3940ha Gunedra cotton farm.

In Victoria, MHPFs book includes Penshurst’s 2791ha Cheviot Hills which it bought in 2016 after being offered for the first time in 164 years.

In that state, Mr Hintze also five years ago established Hawkesdale’s 2868ha Minjah – which like Cheviot Hills produces lamb, beef and wool.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of