Neil Dunn — one of the previous owners of Clifton Hills Station. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian
Neil Dunn — one of the previous owners of Clifton Hills Station. Picture: Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian

SOLD: World’s second-biggest cattle station

ONE of the world's biggest farms has been sold in outback Australia to two prominent Australian rural landowners.

Alice Springs-based Viv Oldfield and Donny Costello have acquired Clifton Hills Station, which sprawls across 1.65 million hectares, making it the world's second biggest cattle station after Anna Creek in the state's far north.

It is understood the property, located on the Birdsville Track about 820km north-east of Adelaide, sold for a price tag close to $40 million.

Mr Oldfield owns the adjoining Pandie Pandie Station as well as a number of rural landholdings in the Northern Territory.

Clifton Hills was previously owned by Clifton Hills Pastoral Company, comprising the SA-based Dunn, Harvey, Simpson and Hartley families.

Managing partner Dave Harvey, whose family ties to the property date back more than 50 years, said he had mixed feelings about the sale.

"In 2015 we drew up a new plan for the property and within three years we doubled our stocking rate on the property, to around 18,000, and so half of the partnership wanted to exit having achieved that improvement," he said.

"There's mixed feelings for me. There's still a lot of work to be done out there, a lot of improvement to infrastructure, a further increase in the amount of stock you could run and improvement in the quality of the herd.

"But we got it in good shape for the new owners - they'll carry on with that good work."

Clifton Hills Station
Clifton Hills Station

Clifton Hills was established in 1878 and comprises four pastoral leases supporting a variety of cattle breeds

The property includes a homestead, a network of internal roadways, airstrips, bores and equipment.

Colliers International director Jesse Manuel, who spearheaded the sale, said it came at a time of unprecedented investor demand for rural property.

"The property attracted strong interest from a variety of investors including wealthy families from within Australia and overseas, institutions, existing pastoralists and other major farming enterprises," he said.

"Clifton Hills is the ultimate all rounder when it comes to Australian cattle stations given its size and excellent cattle breeding and fattening capabilities.

"The property is diverse as it is large, with three main land types that complement each other very well and provide a good mix of feed types for the cattle.

"The great advantage of this diversity and scale over comparable enterprises is that it is largely self-sustaining and can maintain a core herd during periods of drought."

Mr Oldfield is one of the country's biggest landowners, overseeing 50,000 cattle prior to the Clifton Hills acquisition, across seven stations and 4 million hectares.

Well-known in Northern Territory horse racing circles, he made headlines in 2016 when he joined other investors as part of a bid to acquire the properties of S Kidman and Co.