ASF offloading 122ha Burraga Island

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CONTROVERSIAL ASX-listed ASF Group has listed 122-hectare Burraga Island – also known as Pig Island – on the New South Wales south coast for sale.

Eco-tourism, education, recreation and accommodation are among the possible future options for the island, which is available through JLL’s Nic Simarro and Tom Gibson.

The private freehold is between the banks of the Shoalhaven River at Terara, 164 kilometres south of Sydney and close to the Nowra town centre.

Maps as early as 1827 indicate Burraga Island as being under the ownership of European settlers, and is has largely been used for cattle grazing since. The name “Pig Island” originates from a story in which a mainland farmer released pigs to the island hoping they would multiply across the island, but were poisoned by ticks.

A 1972 proposal to transform the island included an 18-hole golf course and marina, a country club of up to eight storeys, camping and picnic areas, wildlife refuge, villa-style housing, swimming pools, and shopping centre and medical clinic.

Shoalhaven Shire Council gave the development “approval in principle” in 1974, but concerns around the potential of flooding kept them at bay. The island’s size has fluctuated over the years, growing from 103 acres at the time of the original land grant to around 300 acres by 1970.

Simarro said Burraga Island offers multiple development options, with future opportunities including a golf course, water park or eco-tourism resort.

Chinese-backed ASF Group paid $2.5 million for the island in 2011. Nearly two years ago, Queensland’s Palaszczuk government terminated its controversial plans for a $3 billion Gold Coast Integrated Resort. A report on ABC’s 7.30 early in 2017 revealed that auditors had expressed concern over ASF’s finances going back as far as 2013, with the group’s then most-recent half-yearly report showing revenue of $430,000 and $6 million in net assets.

ASF Group director Louis Chien told the program it did not manage a big balance sheet because “we don’t need to…we call on funding when we need it from outside the company”, and that group the was an “investment incubator.”

State-owned China State Construction Engineering Corporation was part of the ASF Consortium behind the casino plans.

The Queensland government had also thwarted ASF’s Group’s $7.6 billion Wavebreak Island project in 2015.

Simarro said islands of the scale of Burraga Island are “exceptionally rare, with only a handful presented to the market over the past few decades”.

“While Nowra lies on the southern shore of the Shoalhaven River, Burraga Island is strategically positioned between Bomaderry on the northern shore, east of the Princes Highway. Combined, the two linked towns are a significant population centre on the South Coast matched only by Wollongong and the Batemans Bay area.”

Burraga Island is a two-hour drive from Sydney and within a 20-minute drive from popular destinations including Jervis Bay, Berry and Kangaroo Valley.

The island also benefits from its proximity to Bomaderry train station across the river, with 18 connecting services daily to Sydney, and Nowra Airport is a 40-minute drive. The island is also suited for helicopter landings.

Currently used for cattle farming, the island is zoned RU1 Primary Production. The only structure on the island is a four-bedroom house. A barge with a 48-tonne loading capacity connects the island with the rest of Nowra, and there is a dock to provide access to other piers on the Shoalhaven River.

Expressions of interest for close 24th July.

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