Voice of Real Australia: There's movement at the stations

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The McMillan pastoral family from Cloncurry has bought two large properties on the NT border from a Chinese billionaire for $53 million.

The McMillan pastoral family from Cloncurry has bought two large properties on the NT border from a Chinese billionaire for $53 million.

You know when people say they're not playing for sheep or cattle stations? Well, sometimes they are.

Especially here in Northern Australia where cattle stations can be the size of middling European nations and can sell for some eye-watering amounts.

Consider the adjoining properties Wollogorang and Wentworth Stations which are run as one on the Gulf of Carpentaria straddling the Northern Territory/Queensland border with 80km of coastline.

Wollogorang covers 576,198 hectares (1.42 million acres) in the Northern Territory and Wentworth 129,000ha (318,766 acres) in Queensland. The operation totals 705,198ha (1.74m acres) - three times the size of Luxembourg.

The properties were put on the market in February and they sold in May for a princely $53 million.

And it wasn't Aussies selling to the Chinese, in fact it was the other way around.

The vendor was TBG Agri Holdings owned by billionaire Xingfa Ma, owner of massive ball bearing producer Tianma Bearing Group and listed as one of the top 400 wealthiest people in China.

They bought it in 2015 for $47m and have sold it five years later to the local McMillan family who own properties across the North West. They include Jane McMillan who was a former deputy mayor (and acting mayor) of Cloncurry who rose to national prominence when she talked about the heartache of last year's floods on ABC's Q&A program.

There's selling action too further south in the tightly-held Boulia district where John and Kate McLoughlin's adjoining properties Roxborough Downs and Mudgerebar Station are on the market.

The properties are estimated to be worth $40 million with a carrying capacity of about 16,000 cattle, the leasehold properties cover 423,494 hectares (1.05 million acres).

Also in the west, Les and Margaret Deem's Diamantina Channel Country property Cambeela has sold after auction for $3.5 million.

Located 175km south west of Winton on the Diamantina River Road, the Grazing Homestead Perpetual Lease has an estimated carrying capacity of 1500 breeders. Cambeela is experiencing an excellent season.

The 19,237 hectare (47,514 acre) property was bought by Todd Cormack owner of neighbouring Narcissus Station and principal of Black Gully Droughtmaster stud.

Selling agent Jack Kennedy, Kennedy Rural, said Cambeela was the "best house in the street" and had a higher per acre rate for the area.

Over in the Territory, there's been some flash action too.

South African-owned Rallen Australia has paid $70 million for Daly Waters cattle stations Tanumbirini and Forrest Hill stations where the perpetual pastoral leases cover 559,370 hectares (1.38 million acres). Tanumbirini is the location chosen by Santos for the first of its exploratory wells looking for onshore shale gas under the Beetaloo Basin.

Meanwhile, cattle company CPC has sold the 380,000ha Manbulloo Station outside Katherine to assorted investors for an estimated $25m. CPC immediately leased back the property to continue its enormous beef operations, chiefly as a supplier of cattle to Asian markets.

There's clearly money in them cattle hills. Just don't wait till the cash cows come home.

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