Victorian ‘sand king’ set to turn 33ha ‘sand pit’ into millions

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The “sand pit” quarry in Bearii could be worth as much as $5 million.

Most kids will play in a sand pit at some point, but a Victorian man is about to turn a childhood pastime into serious paydirt — potentially an eight-figure sum.

After 69 years running sand pits and gravel quarries across the Numurkah region north of Shepparton, Bill Gread is selling off a 33.24ha “sand pit” he spent 40 years buying up and licensing, piece by piece, with expectations it could snare $5 million.

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“I’ve had a fair bit to do with sand, but I’ve always called this the crown of all my quarries,” Mr Gread said.

“I have bought stuff when nobody else wanted it. I have gambled and punted and bought stuff when people thought I was mad.”

As sand pits go, this one’s big enough to build a life-size castle in.

He estimates the property at 100 Morgans Mill Rd, Bearii could pump out 1000 tonnes of clean, white sand a day for the next few decades.

“And the stones you strain out are worth a lot for pebble paving,” Mr Gread said.

Last month industry groups from across the state warned the Herald Sun that dwindling supplies of gravel, sand and other raw building materials would soon raise the cost of an infrastructure and home-building boom centred on Melbourne and Victoria’s biggest cities.

The “sand pit” could have a 30-year supply for builders across the state.

Kevin Hicks Real Estate boss Kevin Hicks is selling the quarry, and a 40.5ha gravel quarry at 120A Kull Rd, Katandra, also owned by Mr Gread, and said prospective buyers were coming from near and far as a result. And they had big budgets.

“They could be worth $5 million each,” Mr Hicks said.

“We are getting interest from Ballarat and Geelong, plus Melbourne-based groups want to know the detail.”

Mr Gread also has a gravel quarry for sale at 120A Kull Rd, Katandra.

Rising from the success of his contracting businesses to a role as councillor in the Moira Shire Council for a number of years, Mr Gread remembers a childhood spent “building roads and dams out of dust” in the horse yards where his father worked.

Later in life he watched as his father dug irrigation channels across the region, and managed to remember what was under the soil.

“I have a pretty good idea of where all the sand is from here to Cobram,” Mr Gread said.

“They always used to call me the sand king.”

In an area where most would think of farming, the dirt below the topsoil has proven surprisingly valuable.

While as a child he thought he’d wind up a banker, his adult life has had a simple philosophy that’s set himself and his family up for a long time.

“There’s more money in the ground than what you will get off the top of it,” Mr Gread said.

“I was always playing in the sand or dirt, and I’ve finished up a dirt boy and I’ve loved it.

“I’m really passionate about it.”

Kevin Hicks (left) with Bill Gread, preparing for the quarry sales.

He’s only selling because his family don’t need the sites any more.

“I don’t need the money, it’s not much good to me at 83,” he said.

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An expressions of interest campaign for the two quarries ends at 4pm, July 25.

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