Meet the Largest Landowners in Australia

Written by Katie Downey
Published: November 28, 2023
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Many people are struggling at this time of year, but not the handful of landowners in Australia in this article! Well, at least not on the financial side of things. Can you imagine owning so much land that you could say you own 1% or more of the country you call home? That’s what these companies and people can say. Most of the land is filled with cattle or sheep, but it’s still prime real estate in Australia! The land is expensive, but the animals on the land are where the actual money is made.

1. Crown Point Pastoral Company

A black angus cow and calf graze on a green meadow. Agriculture, cattle breeding.

Cattle on farms owned by Crown Point Pastoral Company typically run $2,000 a head.

©Nordroden/Shutterstock.com

Donny, Colleen Costello, and their equity partner, Viv Oldfield, make up Crown Point Pastoral Company. Together, they owned several massive cattle farms in Australia. They now have a combined 9.2 million hectares in their leading cattle empire.

The latest purchase of cattle and land is located at Mount Doreen Station in the Northern Territory. This new chunk of land is said to have cost Crown Point Pastoral Company nearly $70 million! The purchase included the cattle already on the land, which ran the pastoral company, approximately $2,000 for each. This brings the company’s ownership to 13 cattle farms in Australia.

2. Joe Lewis – Australian Agricultural Company

King of the Iowa Feedlot

Cattle farming and production is a significant source of income in Australia.

©DarcyMaulsby/iStock via Getty Images

The Australian Agricultural Company dates back to 1824, when it began under the British Parlament. It is one of the country’s oldest companies. Joe Lewis is a British majority shareholder and pushed the purchase through. This brought the company’s land ownership portfolio to reach 6.4 million hectares, making the company a perfect candidate for our biggest landowners of Australia article.

The company owns 433,000 cattle and feedlots in Queensland and the Northern Territory. They also produce beef products. The Australian Agricultural Company owes and operates four fully integrated broiler production operations. Each produces, processes, distributes, and markets their products. The combination output of all four operations puts out 6,200,000 processed broilers per week!

3. MacLachlan Family – Jumbuck Pastoral Company

Sheep

Sheep farming and wool production are other big moneymakers in Australia.

©brackish_nz/iStock via Getty Images

In 1888, H.P. Maclachlan started the Jumbuck Pastoral Company out of Adelaide. Back then, the company was best known as a wool producer. The company owns sheep and cattle farms in Southern and Western Australia and farms in the Northern Territory. The descendants of H.P. Maclacklan run and operate the company. They are now the owners of 6.2 million hectares of land in Australia and are one of the largest producers of wool in Australia.

4. North Australian Pastoral Company

Cow looking directly at camera

Queensland and the Northern Territory are predominantly made up of cattle farms.

©Gatien GREGORI/Shutterstock.com

The North Australian Pastoral Company is another massive land owner in the cattle business. Like the other landowners, the company was also started in the 1800s. The North Australian Pastoral Company began in 1877 as a privately owned company, and it has remained that way for almost 150 years. They also have land in Queensland and the Northern Territory, similar to the other landowners. The North Australian Pastoral Company’s landownership is now 6 million hectares. They have 13 cattle farms and approximately 200,000 cattle.

5. Gina Rinehart

Detail of mining levels at open mine pit

Many precious gems come out of Australian mines, like the ones Rinehart owns.

©Vladimir_Timofeev/iStock via Getty Images

Not long ago, Gina Rinehart was the largest private landowner in Australia. She also solely holds the title of the wealthiest person in Australia. Rinehart is currently worth AU $31 billion. She is a mining magnate and heiress. Her father was Lang Hancock. Hancock started Hancock Prospecting, a mining company in 1955, which today holds the mineral rights to some of the largest Crown land leases in the Pilbara region in Western Australia. The original partnership that started the entire company in the 1930s was called Hanwright.

In 2016, she joined forces with China’s Shanghai CRED to buy a huge chunk of S. Kidman and Company’s land, bringing her to the top, holding the “landowner with the most land” title. She has fallen from the ranks since selling three stations to Crown Point Pastoral Company in 2022.

6. Handbury Group

Sheep

It’s tough to say if cattle or sheep farming is more labor intensive.

©patjo/Shutterstock.com

Paddy Handbury of the Handbury Group sold $33 million in Saltbush lambing and cropping aggregation in South Australia. Instead of selling to massive pastoral companies, Handbury chose to sell to different generational farms in Australia. They are moving the farms closer together in a different area of Australia.

The number of hectares Handbury owns isn’t unknown, but they are still high-ranking on Australia’s list of the biggest landowners. They were around 5.3 million hectares, and once they purchased the new land for their sheep, they could become higher up on the list.

7. Williams Family

cows

We’re betting there’s plenty of meat in this family’s freezer.

©iStock.com/criene

Like some of the other biggest landowners in Australia, the Williams family is neck-deep in the cattle industry. In fact, they own the largest working cattle station in the world! They previously purchased this enormous farm, the Anna Creek Station, in South Australia in 2016. To give you an idea of the size, the Anna Creek Station is larger than Israel. The property is worth roughly $16 million. Overall, the Williams family owns seven cattle properties in northern South Australia with a combined size of 4.5 million hectares. They fit perfectly on a list of the largest landowners in Australia.

8. Paraway Pastoral Company (Macquarie Pastoral Funds)

Best farm animals

Sheep are prized for their meat and wool.

©iStock.com/DejaVu Designs

The Macquarie Group is a Sydney banking industry member who owns Paraway Pastoral Company within the Macquarie Pastoral Fund. The company is in the cattle and sheep business and is present throughout Australia. They own so much scattered farmland that their estimated landownership is approximately 4.4 million hectares.

The 27 separate pieces of farmland are located in northern Australia in Queensland, south in Victoria, and throughout New South Wales. The properties can hold and maintain 220,000 cattle or 250,000 sheep. Mooo! That’s a lot of feed!

9. Consolidated Pastoral Company

Beef cows, calves and bulls grazing on grass in Australia. eating hay and silage. breeds include specked park, murray grey, angus and brangus.

Beef IS apparently what’s for dinner in Australia.

©William Edge/Shutterstock.com

Guy Hands and other various shareholders fund the Consolidated Pastoral Company. It stands with the strong title of the largest privately owned beef-producing company in Australia, which is widely recognized because of the products it produces. It owns and operates 27 cattle stations that hold 300,000 head of cattle. Overall, the company owns 3.6 million hectares of land, making it one of the leading landowners in Australia.

The Consolidated Pastoral Company exports most of its products and cattle to Asian markets, where they are resold. In Indonesia, they own 90% of PT. Juang Jaya Abdi Alam runs two feedlots caring for 35,000 head of cattle combined. They also produce a lineup of crops. However, the types are not found on their website.

10. McDonald Family

Black Cattle Grazing

Some might wonder whether the Australian pastoral McDonald’s gets confused with the fast-food chain.

©Laurel A Egan/Shutterstock.com

The McDonald family has been in business since the early 1900s. They consist of seven generations of cattle farmers with 14 different properties around Queensland. The combined properties cover 3.36 million hectares of land in Queensland. Overall, the company has 190 years of experience in the agricultural business in Australia.

According to the McDonald’s website, they have been in the cattle-producing game since the first shipment arrived in Australia in 1827 in Tasmania and have never left. Jim McDonald was famous as one of the first true cattlemen in Australia in 1944.

11. Hughes Pastoral Company

portrait of a wagyu cow of Japanese origin

A wagyu is a Japanese type of black cattle.

©Perpis/Shutterstock.com

The Hughes Pastoral Company is another beef farm handed down from generation to generation. They have not only a tiny amount of black Angus but also wagyu cattle. Those are both prime quality beef products that can fetch quite a bit of coin in the right markets. The company typically has over 200,000 wagyu cattle on any given day. They are the world’s largest private wagyu cattle owners and have stocked wagyu for over 30 years.

The family owns and operates 3.2 million hectares over nine properties in Queensland. Though the market rises and falls, the family prides itself on their values and embraces the phrase “sticking to their knitting” when it comes to their understanding of the market. Whatever it is, they remain one of the largest landowners in Australia.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/AlexKosev


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About the Author

Katie Downey is a writer for A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on wildlife, arachnids and insects. Katie has been writing and researching animals for more than a decade. Katie worked in animal rescue and rehabilitation with handicapped cats and farm animals for many years. As a resident of North Carolina, Katie enjoys exploring nature with her son, educating others on the positive role that insects and spiders play in the ecosystem and raising jumping spiders.

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