Tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes is set to add “farmer” to his list of career qualifications after he bought one of the largest landholdings in the Southern Highlands for more than $14.5 million.
Widgee Waa is a 155-hectare holding aggregated over the past more than 30 years by legendary investment banker and green finance guru Mark Burrows and listed in June amid market expectations of between $12 million and $13 million.
It is a fitting purchase by Cannon-Brookes given he owns Australia’s most expensive residential property, the $100 million Fairwater estate in Point Piper and Widgee Waa is known among prestige agents as the “Point Piper of the Southern Highlands” given the quality of the pasture land and size of the holding.
It is the third Southern Highlands property bought by the co-founder and co-chief executive of software giant Atlassian. In late 2016 Cannon-Brookes and his fashion designer wife Annie bought Joadja Creek Farm for $3.3 million and added the architect Richard Rowe-designed Rosehill Farm in Kangaloon a year ago for $5.35 million.
The exact cost of his latest acquisition remains undisclosed and settlement will confirm if it tops the $15 million Southern Highlands record set in 2007 when the late Reg Grundy bought Comfort Hill in Sutton Forest.
Local speculation first pinned the sale on Cannon-Brookes last week after multiple parties were left underbidders at more than $14 million, and only confirmed this week amid hopes by local agents the family might sell Rosehill Farm.
A spokeswoman for Cannon-Brookes declined to comment for this story leaving it to sources to suggest the family plan to keep their other Southern Highlands properties, and build a large homestead on Widgee Waa.
Burrows listed the cattle farm with general farming infrastructure, equestrian facilities and a manager’s cottage in June with Chris Meares, of Meares & Associates, and Ken Jacobs, of Christie’s International, neither of whom would comment on the sale.
Burrows, a long-time corporate adviser and former deputy chairman of Brambles, Telstra and the now defunct Fairfax Media, has retained his other major Kangaloon aggregation, known as Sugarloaf Farm, on which he has developed a renowned 12-hectare garden.
Cannon-Brookes was ranked Australia’s sixth richest person on this year’s AFR Rich List 200 worth $9.63 billion, just behind his Atlassian co-founder and chief executive Scott Farquhar at $9.75 billion.
The friends from university founded Atlassian as a start-up in 2002 and following its float on the US Nasdaq in late 2015 it has grown into a $33 billion company, making them the first Australian tech billionaires and arguably our most high-profile climate change activists.
Cannon-Brookes’ penchant for investing in prestige real estate is fast becoming the stuff of legend, with $143 million worth of residential property purchases in the past 12 months alone, including his Fairwater estate bought from the estate of Lady (Mary) Fairfax last September.
Their $176 million property portfolio includes a beachfront house in Palm Beach bought for $8.7 million, and a 1920s landmark house in Double Bay they bought last year for $17 million and recently completed renovating.