THE largest private piece of land on Earth is up for sale '” and it's right here in Australia.
The massive chunk of outback territory comprises 10 working cattle stations spanning 11 million hectares '” which is about three quarters of the size of England.
And it's hit the market for a cool $325 million.
Bidders will need to spend a week flying across South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland to inspect the combined territory, which is said to be the 'largest private, non-monarchical, non-state landholding on earth'.
The property empire includes Anna Creek, the largest cattle station in the world, which has been owned by the descendants of Australia's 'Cattle King', pastoralist Sir Sidney Kidman, for more than a century.
Selling agent Don Manifold of Ernst & Young South Australia said first round offers would be locked in next month, and then the bidders would be whittled down to a shortlist of six to 12 potential buyers.
'There has been a lot of interest, and we've been quite overwhelmed,' Mr Manifold told news.com.au.
'Over half of the interest has come from Australia and there's also a number of other bidders from Asia, North America and Europe.
'It is a large tract of land and it's an iconic name, Kidman, and it's certainly quite rare that an opportunity like this would come on the market, having been under family ownership for 100-something years.'
The landowning company, S Kidman and Co, is selling the land as a debt-free concern. Mr Manifold said it was likely to fetch more than the land value of $325 million.
As well as the 10 cattle stations, the landholding includes a bull breeding stud farm and a feedlot.
The property includes about 170,000 head of cattle, which Mr Manifold admitted was less than 1 per cent of Australia's overall cattle heard. However, he said the properties were well positioned to capitalise on the increasing overseas demand for Australian beef.
'It is a terrific cattle producer, and the location of the cattle stations mean that it has access to all the channels to market,' Mr Manifold said.
'It's also got a fantastic brand name, and I think the long-term outlook for the cattle industry, and in particular the Australian cattle industry, is positive. As the growing middle class in Asia becomes wealthier they tend to eat more beef, and the Asian market demands high-quality food, and Australia is a very high quality producer of beef.'
S Kidman and Co is selling the their landholdings in order to capitalise on their investments in Australian agriculture or other businesses, The Daily Mail reports.
Anna Creek Station, in northern South Australia, is the biggest of the company's properties and, at more than 23,000sq km, it is larger than Ireland.
S Kidman and Co managing director Greg Campbell said, despite Anna Creek's desert location, its rates of return were among the highest in the company's portfolio.
'A lot of people think the Kidmans '” they've been around for a hundred years, poor buggers, and they still own all that desert ... surely they ought to have been able to buy a bit of better country by now,' Mr Campbell told the ABC.
'But smart managers can make better rates of returns out of cheap country if they run it well than people who put money into high value country and don't run it well.
'Don't be fooled by desert. Desert can be an attractive place to do business.'
The other holdings include Durham Downs, Durrie, Glengyle, Morney Plains, Naryilco and Rockybank in Queensland, Innamincka, Macumba and Tungali in South Australia, Helen Springs in the Northern Territory and Ruby Plains in Western Australia.
Sir Sidney Kidman was 13 years old when he ran away from his well-heeled upbringing with a one-eyed horse and five shillings in his pocket.
He found work as a roustabout and bullock driver in outback NSW and South Australia and began building his enormous cattle empire about 1885, when he bought his first cattle station southwest of Alice Springs.
The Kidman family, who own 98 per cent of shares in S Kidman and Co, which Kidman set up in 1899, are Australia's biggest private landowners, and one of Australia's largest beef producers.