Hale River Holdings, established in 2004 by husband and wife Tim and Emily Edmunds, is a large agricultural operation spanning central and southern Australia. They oversee pastoral properties, as well as a transfer facility in South Australia to market their livestock and a fleet of trucks and road trains to move their cattle right across the country.
Tim and Emily recently acquired Narwietooma, Derwent and Glen Helen stations, which are 165 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs and adjacent to their existing holding of Napperby station, after selling Ambalindum and Numery stations in 2017. They now control around 1.1 million hectares of land in central Australia.
With their team of nearly 30 staff, many of whom are family, they approach business by understanding the land first, and then reinvesting in it to set the property up for success for future generations.
“At Ambalindum, we had a real focus on rebuilding infrastructure and investment into the land. I always say it is like drawing a picture on a piece of blank canvas. Not a lot of people want to buy a blank canvas, but if you put good cattle on there with strong genetics, rebuild the infrastructure with solid fences and roads, and reappoint water to the right spots, you start to get something pretty beautiful,” Tim says.
“That’s what we now plan to do with Narwietooma, Derwent and Glen Helen stations – build them from the ground up, literally. There is a lot of infrastructure in central Australia that is about 40 or so years old. We’ll now look at improving the fences and roads, deal with erosion, and upgrade as much as we can. We’re working with 30,000 head of cattle at the moment, but once we’ve completed these renovations and at full capacity, we’re hoping to be at 45,000 head across the aggregation.”
Tim says his vision for the business is built on one thing – understanding an opportunity when it presents itself.
“I love finding opportunities, building and creating something from nothing. Sometimes people get caught in a rut, and suddenly the average becomes okay, but you’ve got to look up and think big. I’m a big believer in where you look is where you fall,” Tim says.
“I think central Australia really is the sweet spot to be in. The land is productive enough, but you need to understand it to make it work for you. The climate and remoteness provide the perfect condition for running an organic operation and we’re only a few months away from achieving organic status.”
Hale River specialises in the Santa Droughtmaster cross-cattle breed, which is a resilient, versatile and diverse enough breed to be sold to all markets across Australia.
"We also run our own transport division, to maximise our freight efficiencies to get the cattle to their final destination.
“With these four properties in the north west, it’s the greatest opportunity we’ll ever have with building this land back up. It’s over 11,000 square kilometres of greatness and untapped potential,” Tim says.
“Being so isolated from everyone else means we have had minimal impact from coronavirus, but we practice social distancing just like any other business and have a management plan for our organisation.
“It has opened up some markets for our cattle across Japan and South Korea, with demand for our lean meat there. So, there is always an upside, particularly in agriculture at the moment.”
Tim says he can’t praise CommBank enough for their support and understanding of their dream and vision for these properties.
“It’s very much a partnership with CommBank. They understand our plans for the future and what our vision is for these stations. They work beside us to turn these opportunities into a reality, which is what we need in a banking partner.”