As a world leading producer of beef and agricultural products and Australia's largest beef producer, AACo has a long and proud history.
We continue to diversfy our operations into a vertically integrated agribusiness, backed by a solid history of sustainability and growth.
AACo owns and operates a strategic balance of properties, feedlots and farms comprising around 7 million hectares of land in Queensland and the Northern Territory. This equates to roughly 1% of Australia's land mass.
1824 - 1850: The Beginning
In 1824, AACo was established as a land development company with the assistance of the British Parliament's Crown Grant of 1,000,000 acres in the Port Stephens area of the Colony of New South Wales.
In 1831, due to the unsuitability of the initial land grant at Port Stephens, a portion of it was exchanged for 101,000 hectares at Warrah on the Liverpool Plains and 127,000 ha on the Peel River, which was to eventually become known as Goonoo Goonoo. Shorthorn bulls were imported from England to develop the company herds.
By 1850, despite droughts, depressions and some heavy stock losses, the companies sheep numbers had risen to 114,118, cattle numbers to 8,306 and horse numbers to 1,436. While cattle outlets were originally restricted to the domestic market, wool provided export income along with horse sales to India.
1901 - 1950: The Move North
The early 20th Century brought with it a number of challenges, with an intense drought stretching from 1901 to 1903. This challenge however began to further shape the company, as its effects on the NSW estates stimulated the need to diversify geographically.
During World War I, from 1914-1918, there was a large labour shortage, especially for wool production. In addition to this, the Australian government acquired the wool clip on Behalf of the British Government so as to assist the war effort. These factors influenced the company to move away from sheep and increase their cattle production.
The company, in its move north, began selling subdivisions of its southern estates. This helped to finance the purchase of Headingly at Urandangie in Queensland in 1916 and Avon Downs in the Northern Territory in 1921.
During the 1930s, AACo and Peel River came together again, jointly purchasing Caldervale in Queensland as a holding depot for cattle sent from Headingly to Warrah.
The Second World War, from 1939 to 1945 presented the company
with similar challenges to those faced in the First World War. The
labour shortages and lack of income from wool
further influenced the company in moving away from sheep and into a specialised cattle enterprise.
In 1948, the geographic and enterprise diversification that the company had undertaken in the early half of the century was maintained with the purchase of Rockhampton Downs in the Northern Territory and South Galway in the Channel Country.
In 1950, AACo also purchased Brighton Downs on the Diamantina in and, assisted by the Korean War Wool Boom, moved into the East Kimberley region, purchasing the properties Auvergne, Newry, Argyle Downs and Ivanhoe.
1951 - 1987: Expansion of cattle production
In the early 1950's, the company's move into cattle encouraged the use and integration of Santa Gertrudis cattle into the herd. These cattle were more suitable for the Barkly Tableland regions, and were an asset for the upgrade of the Shorthorn herds. During this time, the entrance into the USA markets and close of the UK outlet, caused cattle markets to change rapidly.
During the 1960's the efficiency of the supply chain was greatly improved as a result of the construction of beef roads. With the commencement of the eradication of brucellosis and tuberculosis, a huge development programme in fencing and watering was initiated.
In 1963, the company purchased Wrotham Park in North Queensland. However, a period of rationalisation in 1979 saw the sale of the Kimberley Group and the purchase of the renowned Brunette Downs on the Barkly Tableland.
Between 1974 and 1976, there was a beef price crash created by expanded cattle numbers in Australia and in the United States. This economic challenge affected the Company, but its developed strength and effective management enabled AAco to see out the crisis.
In 1984, due to the earlier introduction of helicopter mustering which had greatly improved mustering efficiency, AACo established its own helicopter division.
1985 saw the end of a 160-year ownership with the sale of Goonoo Goonoo on the Peel River. Southern land had become valuable, and these sales allowed the company to purchase of properties in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Gregory Downs, Canobie and Dalgonally. In 1987, another Gulf property, Wondoola, was purchased after the sale of Caldervale.
Over this time, the livestock operations had changed even more, with the gradual phase-out of sheep, the continual upgrading of the Santa Gertrudis herd and the introduction of Brahman cattle, which were suited to the new land investments in the Gulf.
1987 - 2000: Intensification and integration
From 1987, consumer needs became a more prominent issue, increasing the pressure on the company to meet with consumer demands. This influenced further integration and intensification of the enterprise and required a full focus on northern beef production, which had the benefit of low cost of production.
In 1990, the Goonoo aggregation was formed and developed in Central Queensland, and in 1994, a 17,500 capacity feedlot was established.
Also in 1994, the purchase of a further breeding station, Austral Downs in the Northern Territory, and growing out areas in the Gulf at Clonagh and Kalmeta, led to specialisation of cattle production to maintain high growth rates.
With these refinements in the characteristics and achievements of the herds, Meteor Downs in Central Queensland was developed as a support for advanced cattle breeding and adaptation, utilising cattle studs and a large artificial breeding centre.
In 1996, the valuable New South Wales property, Windy, the last vestige of Warrah, was sold, after a continuous period of ownership spanning 165 years.
In the year 2000, the company was moving from strength to strength, with brandings at 108,000 and sales 133,000 from the entire AACo herd of 363,000. These sales were going to not only domestic customers, but to export markets in Asia, America and the Middle East.
AACo commenced the new millennium with the same grand vision as that of 1824, to build on a history of sustainability and growth in Australian agriculture.