WA mining magnate Gina Rinehart is buying up big in the South West, splashing more than $20 million to buy 2000ha of prime farmland in the past 18 months as she continues to steer her cattle empire towards luxury beef. Property records show Valley River Holdings — an entity of investment vehicle Hancock Prospecting — bought the 13 titles in the Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes and Shire of West Arthur for up to $6.5m each. While a spokesman for Hancock Prospecting declined to comment on the property sales, the acquisitions align with Hancock Agriculture’s purchasing strategy extending beyond its sharp focus on pastoral properties during the past two years. Mrs Rinehart — Australia’s richest person — offloaded 10 of the country’s most famous stations held by her company S. Kidman and Co in recent years and has instead been buying up smaller landholdings for Santa Gertrudis and Wagyu cattle. The higher-value cattle properties form part of Hancock’s 2GR Premium Wagyu Beef brand launched in 2016, with Mrs Rinehart owning one of Australia’s biggest wagyu beef herds and exporting the prized beef cuts across the world. Until now, the majority of the cattle for 2GR has been raised in Queensland and New South Wales but some industry stakeholders believe these South West properties could become the hub for 2GR’s WA waygu production. The investment includes six titles at Kingston and six at Winnejup within the Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes, as well as one at Bowelling in the Shire of West Arthur, with each of the purchases made between March 2022 and August 2023. The holdings range from as small as 2.02ha to 896.09ha, with an average size of 163ha. The sale includes a six-title vertically adjoining aggregation at Kingston, totalling 245.9ha, purchased on March 21 last year. It also includes a six title adjoining aggregation at Winnejup, totalling 814ha, bought during the past 18 months. Sources told Countryman some of the Winnejup land was being used to run cattle for Bannister Downs Dairy, a Northcliffe-based operation founded by the Daubney family Mrs Rinehart formed partnership with in 2014. The final property, 896ha at Bowelling, was purchased from the corporate arm of Davenport-based Geographe Civil Company, called Fairbelle Pty Ltd, in March this year. Australian Business Register records show Valley River Holdings has been active since March 11 last year, just 10 days before the first property — 106.24ha at Kingston — was bought. The most recent purchase included four adjoining titles totalling 537.84ha at 1015 Winnejup Road. The mixed farming enterprise between Bridgetown and Mayanup — called Threebrooks — sold to Valley River Holdings for $6.5m on August 7 this year. The listing on realestate.com shows the property sold just two months earlier — on June 10 — for $2.80 million before selling to Valley River Holdings for an additional $3.69 million. Described by the agents as “a very viably-sized property” for the area, the listing showed it had been used as a cattle and sheep grazing property with some hay and silage production. It also features a large shed, two cattle yards to hold up to 100 head, sheep yards to hold up to 250 head, a 370,000 litre rainwater tank, four-stand shearing shed, 60 tonne silo, and other infrastructure — including a 4x1 homestead with granite walls. Ray White Rural WA rural sales representative Mike Batchelor — who handled the Threebrooks sale — said there was “strong enquiry for quality land” across the State. “The property market continues to be strong,” he said. “There is significant inquiry from corporates and other interests, despite average commodity prices for sheep and cattle.” Competition for farmland has reached record highs in recent years, with corporates bidding for prime agricultural land for both farming and carbon offset projects and the State Government on a mission to put 33,000ha to pine plantations by 2033. Dalmore Farm owner Emilie Abbiss, whose farming and wedding venue property is adjacent to one of Mrs Rinehart’s Winnejup purchases, welcomed the investment in the area. She said locals felt confident the land, which she described as some of the “best farmland in WA”, would be used for agriculture. “There was some concern among the community about what the land would be used for,” Ms Abbiss said. “But Gina has been a good source of investment in rural communities and a wonderful investor in agriculture in WA ... so we are hopeful she will continue to farm. “We feel confident she will continue to run these as agribusinesses and are hoping she will be a bit of a champion for agriculture in the South West.” WA Farmers president John Hassell said it was positive the land had been bought by an Australian company that had “done a lot for agriculture” — as opposed to the State Government or a foreign investor. “It is serious money ... but there is a huge demand for farmland, particularly in the South West,” he said. “People pay for rain. I’d prefer the State Government not to be involved in the property market at all. “The Government’s intervention is putting extra pressure and demand on freehold land.” The Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes declined to comment but is seeking clarity on the future of the farmland.