FOR one Western Australian farming family, the purchase of a Northern Territory cattle station in 1997 led to 24 years of commitment to development and cattle breeding.
The Lester family, Manypeaks, spent the years building up a pure Brahman heard on a prime parcel of 70,000 hectares of pastoral land, Larrizona, which was recently sold for $17 million to the Langenhoven family's Amanzi Property Group, an arm of their Rallen Pty Ltd.
Sydney couple Pierre and Luciana Langenhoven are Australian citizens of South African origin, with Luciana's father Giovanni Ravazzotti, being listed as one of South Africa's richest men by Forbes.
Mr Ravazzotti is the founder and majority owner of ceramics manufacturer and retailer Italtile.
The Langehovens now own six NT cattle stations including their latest purchase in Larrizona.
Since mid-way through 2018 the Langenhovens, under their company's Rallen Pty ltd and Amanzi Property Group, have acquired more than one million hectares of NT grazing country.
The family is now a big player in the Australian cattle industry having Larrizona, Kalala, Tanumbirini, Forrest Hill, Mt McMinn and Big River stations in their portfolio.
Rallen Australia settled Tanumbirini station and Forrest Hill station for $70m in April, 2020.
The 376,000ha Kalala station near Daly Waters was believed sold for about $60m in 2019.
Larrizona was on the market for a year, listed by WA's Lester family, not long before to the global upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brain Lester said it probably had not been the best time to list, but for their family it had been the right time.
In 1997 Mr Lester and his wife Cathy, in partnership with Phillip and Annette Howie, purchased Larrizona station, on the Sturt Plateau near Katherine, after the original larger lease, Dry River Station, was subdivided.
There were five conditions of sale and all related to the development of the property.
"We had to clear 1000 acres, put in five bores, a set of cattle yards and fence the property fully, as it was only fenced on two sides," Mr Lester said.
"We had to have 1000 head of cattle and put in a homestead."
The Lesters bought the Howies out a few years after they purchased Larrizona and made it a truly family operation with their son Kim and his wife Georgina, becoming an integral part of the business.
The family also has an extensive beef cattle business in their hometown of Manypeaks.
Having the two businesses meant that the family was becoming stretched managing both and hence decided to divest Larrizona.
"We wanted to focus on our family and be in the one State, I hardly saw Kim all year as we would cross over between the State (and Territory) and miss each other," Mr Lester said.
"We also wanted to focus on our beef herd here in WA as we supply Coles with their Grazed beef products, certified pasture fed beef and we want to continue this."
The Lesters have expanded their WA operations to maintain their Coles contract, having done a fair bit of development already with more planned for the future.
Mr Lester said Kim and Georgina had met the new owners of Larrizzona and the Lagenhovens had purchased the station specifically to bolster their cattle herd and production across all their properties.
Larrizona includes 6000 Brahman cattle, 1000ha of cultivation used to produce seed, hay and to background livestock, with a further 400ha being cleared for development.
It has extensive groundwater resources and was marketed as being prime for irrigation development.
"The new owners bought the station for the cattle herd," Mr Lester said.
"They want to use Larrizona to produce hay for their whole cattle operation and want to use the breeding in our cattle."
Larrizona and the other properties purchased by the Langehovens are within a few hundred kilometres of one another, making the purchase a logical one.
The property is sub-leased to the Lester family until the end of June, 2021.