In one of the last public auctions to take place before the ban was enforced last week, Heartwood Farm, the former dairy in the Illawarra’s picturesque Rose Valley, sold under the hammer for just over $6 million.
The 61-hectare property near Gerringong, renowned for its tasty finger limes – the “caviar of the citrus world” – was bought by a Sydney-based buyer.
The vendor was Kim Manley, founder of British renewable energy company SIMEC Atlantis Resources.
Held last Wednesday, just prior to the midnight ban on auctions and open home inspections kicked in, it was attended by a small, well spaced-out crowd of 15 people.
There were four registered bidders and two active bidders with the property at 128 Alne Bank Lane selling under the hammer for $6.05 million, above expectations.
Selling agents Craig Pontey and Neil Campbell from Ray White sold the property but were unavailable for comment.
Mr Manley, who is a director of the Australian subsidiary of SIMEC Atlantis Resources (Connec Limited), and his wife Fiona acquired Heartwood Farm for $3.1 million in 2007.
Ten years ago the Manleys planted thousands of native Australian hardwood species, including Red Cedar, Silky Oak and Quandong. Later, in 2013, they planted their first orchard of finger limes and have since added two more orchards using biodynamic farming methods.
The harvest normally runs from January to June, with an opportunity for the new Sydney owner to export frozen fruit.
“We have relationships with the chefs from Quay, Cirrus and many others who truly appreciate this unique native fruit and where and how they are grown,” Mr Manley said prior to the auction.
“When there is extra fruit we sell at our local farmers market in Kiama. Foodies love them with their unique texture and pop of flavour. Some are zingy lime and others like grapefruit. They are known as the caviar of the citrus world.”
Heartwood Farm dates to 1878, when its predominant use was for dairy farming. The farm, which has its own water resources, was spared by the recent fires.
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