Victorian Livestock Exchange accepts discount on Pakenham site

McMullin Group bought the ex-Warragul saleyards in late 2022.

The Victorian Livestock Exchange is the latest group affected by fading fortunes in Melbourne’s commercial property market, selling a vacant Pakenham property for $25 million against $30m-plus hopes and, sources say, an offer about that amount which fell through.

The 6.84 hectare Industrial 1 zoned facility – the state’s fourth largest cattle saleyard – at 39 Exchange Drive, is selling to Jonathan Hardwick, a director of HFH Auto Group, owner of several south east car dealerships – mostly for Toyota – with others selling Ford, Lexus and Mazda, which is expected to occupy.

HFH was created more than 30 years ago by Mr Hardwick’s father-in-law, Flight Centre founder, philanthropist and property investor, Geoff Harris, with Ross Freer.

Sam Freer, Ross’ son, is another key director.

The deal comes 20 months since Bill and June Dineen sold the 1.67ha former Warragul saleyards for $11.5m to McMullin Group which is planning a bulky goods based redevelopment.

Residents push saleyards out again

VLE managing director Brian Paynter blamed land taxes, which recently doubled and rates, that have tripled, as reasons to sell; the Pakenham property is in the City of Cardinia, a major growth corridor.

Opened 25 years ago, the first privately owned, completely roofed, soft floored, multi-agent asset of its type in Australia, it is responsible for some 100,000 cattle transactions annually (story continues below).

With 14,999 square metres of improvements, it services farmers in Gippsland, the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula.

The facility superseded Dandenong saleyards (now the Metro Village 3175 housing estate) which in 1987 replaced the Newmarket Saleyards, (now the Kensington Banks housing estate).

Most functions undertaken at the Pakenham property, marketed by Facey, are expected to move to VLE’s Leongatha Livestock Exchange at Koonwarra, now set for an upgrade including a new truck wash and holding areas.

Some cattle will be directed to facilities at Kyneton and Yea, depending on transport cost.

A private consortium, meanwhile, is well advanced on plans to build a sophisticated $20m-plus saleyards facility at Longworry, expected to attract former VLE clients.

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Marc Pallisco

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