Iconic Hay property for sale

Iconic Hay property for sale


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Ravensworth has the Murrumbidgee River's biggest water entitlement, with 6361ha of the property irrigated.

Ravensworth has the Murrumbidgee River's biggest water entitlement, with 6361ha of the property irrigated.

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EVERYTHING about 'Ravensworth' in NSW's Riverina is "big", according to Ray White Rural agent Bruce Gunning.

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EVERYTHING about 'Ravensworth' in NSW's Riverina is "big", according to Ray White Rural agent Bruce Gunning.

The 14,300-hectare property, 50 kilometres west of Hay, has a history that sprawls several continents and decades.

Once developed with the aspiration of being a world-class beef exporting business, the property has since been owned by a controversial American investor, and is now farmed under partnership of Peter and Ron Harris.

They have been using the land for corn, cotton, wheat and barley cropping over the past decade.

However there is also an extensive feedlot on-farm, which can handle 15,000 head of cattle.

It is considered to be one of the best in Australia, Mr Gunning said.

It includes two fully automated processing sheds, 14 holding pens, an overhead sprinkler system, concrete loading area and a double-decker loading ramp.

In addition, three of the feedlot holding pens constitute a small animal hospital.

Mr Gunning said Ravensworth also held a dairy license.

"The feedlot could be developed into a large scale dairy without much expense," he said.

Ravensworth was bought by the Bankers Trust in the 1980s for $10.2 million, who invested millions of dollars into revamping the property with the ambition of tapping the lucrative beef market in Japan.

Overestimating the potential success of Gold Coast Riverina Beef, the Bankers Trust constructed a two-storey office complex that wouldn't have been out place in Sydney's bustling business district.

The office has a 225m2 ground floor as well as a 180m² mezzanine level and verandah, which was used to oversee operations.

"Everything from that venture was built to the highest of standards," Mr Gunning said.

When the beef orders from Japan weren't as lucrative as expected, the Bankers Trust handed over the keys to Ravensworth to American Investor Charles Schindler II in 1997.

In a saga that ruffled more than a few feathers in Hay, Mr Schindler, a corn farmer from Texas, was out of his depth and left the property after only eight months.

Since then the property has been extensively cropped by the Harris family.

"The soil is outstanding - very even, soft-cracking clay soil that has great water-holding capacity," Mr Gunning said.

Ravensworth has extensive water supply channels, including separate rights for stock, irrigation and domestic allocations, he said.

"The property has the largest water entitlements on the Murrumbidgee River, and the most development for irrigation in the area," he said.

Of the fields, 6361 ha are irrigated, and have been redesigned according to the cotton industry best practice layout.

The property's four major dams can store nearly 15,000 megalitres.

There is also huge capacity for grain storage, in the 6000m² igloo-shaped bulk grain shed.

Due to the seasonal influx of workers, the on-farm accommodation at times could have housed as many people as a small country town.

There are 10 residential dwellings, as well as a caravan park and additional workers quarters, which was filled during cotton-picking season until machinery took over.

Owner Peter Harris said that while the area was well-maintained, it hasn't been utilised for several years.

"Before machinery advancements, cotton pickers were run in teams of three," he said.

"Eight people now do the work of about 48."

Mr Harris, who is returning to northern NSW, said the property was "beautiful, and very well developed," and the huge scale of irrigation allowed for huge potential.

  • Full story in the Stock & Land July 4 edition
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