The Hawkins family has bought the 2800-hectare Frances Farm Portfolio from the failed Camperdown Dairy for $13 million.
The portfolio in Victoria’s Western Wimmera area and the south-east of South Australia comprising three farms – Frances, Minimay and Bool Lagoon – was to form part of a planned $500 million vertically integrated dairy operation set up by coal miner Bill McDonald.
Mr McDonald, a former Financial Review Young Rich Lister, bought into Camperdown Dairy in 2015 with plans to build up a 40,000-strong dairy herd, spend about $200 million upgrading the Camperdown milk factory and export milk products to China.
In July, Camperdown Dairy was placed in administration owing $60 million, with KordaMentha appointed. It joined a number of milk powder ventures that collapsed in the wake of a global oversupply of dairy and uncertainty at Chinese import regulations.
The Hawkins family, based at Minimay and led by Ron Hawkins, runs a diverse operation, involving Merino ewes, winter cropping, irrigated lucerne and lamb finishing. The biggest of the three farms, Frances, comprises 1550ha and has been historically used for horticultural pursuits, fat lamb production and cropping. It includes a planning permit allowing the use and development of a freestall barn dairy for a 3600 milking herd.
Minimay covers 647ha, and has been utilised primarily for cropping; Bool Lagoon comprises 605ha and has been used for horticultural pursuits, as well as cropping and fat lamb production.
The property also comprises a 1389-megalitre groundwater entitlement and a set of cattle yards and sheep yards.