The CBH Group (commonly known as CBH, an acronym for Co-operative Bulk Handling), is a grain growers' cooperative that handles, markets and processes grain from the wheatbelt of Western Australia.

CBH Group
Founded5 April 1933
HeadquartersLevel 6, 240 St Georges Terrace, Perth, Western Australia
Area served
Western Australia
Key people
Ben Macnamara (CEO)
Simon Stead (Chairman)
ProductsGrain marketing, logistics
Revenue$4.19 billion (September 2019)
$60.8 million (September 2019)
Number of employees
1,100 (September 2019)


CBH's Kwinana grain loading terminal in November 2009

CBH was formed on 5 April 1933,[1] at a time when a royal commission on bulk handling of grain was in progress,[2][3][4] and after over 20 years of failed proposals for bulk handling of grain in Western Australia.[5]

The trustees of the Wheat Board of Western Australia and Wesfarmers registered the company together with capital of £100,000 divided evenly into 100,000 shares.[6][7] The cooperative was formed under the principle of one person, one vote, regardless of the amount of grain supplied.

CBH merged with the Grain Pool of WA in November 2002, after the Parliament of Western Australia passed legislation allowing the merger to go ahead.[8]

In 2016, the Australian Taxation Office revealed that despite generating more than $3.4 billion in revenue in 2013/14, the company paid no tax. This made it Australia's biggest revenue earner not to pay tax in the period under review.[9]


CBH class hauled train at Yilliminning in October 2013
Grain silos at Port of Albany 2016
CBH locomotive at Port of Albany 2016

During the early years most grain movement was by rail over the Western Australian Government Railways network, with sidings and branch lines specifically serving wheat growing areas. Many of the branch lines and rail facilities have not been updated or maintained, with road transport increasing in many areas.

In 2009, CBH decided to put its rail grain haulage services out to tender for the first time.[10][11] It aimed that the amount of grain transported by rail rise from 50% to 70%.[10][12] CBH settled on a business model that saw it invest in new locomotives and grain wagons, with day-to-day operations contracted out.[13][14]

In December 2010, CBH awarded Watco Australia a ten-year contract to operate services in the south of Western Australia.[15][16][17] To operate the services, CBH purchased 22 CBH class locomotives from MotivePower, Boise[18] and 574 grain wagons from Bradken, Xuzhou.[19][20]

Under the agreement, Watco was responsible for providing a comprehensive rail logistics planning service, including train planning and scheduling, tracking, maintenance, inventory control, and crew management.[21] Watco operated and maintained the rolling stock, with ownership remaining with CBH.

The services link various CBH grain collection points in the wheatbelt with CBH terminal and port facilities in Albany, Geraldton, Esperance and Kwinana.[22] CBH operate on the Arc Infrastructure managed open access network.[23]

Although the contract officially commenced on 1 May 2012, Watco operated its first service on 30 March 2012.[24][25][26] Because of a delay in the delivery of the rolling stock, QR National continued to operate some 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge services until October 2012,[27] while to operate standard gauge services, locomotives were hired from Chicago Freight Car Leasing Australia and SCT Logistics.[28] A further three locomotives were delivered in 2015 as compensation for late delivery of the original order.[29]

In October 2013, CBH referred an ongoing dispute with the network owner Brookfield Rail over track access prices and the state of the network to the Economic Regulation Authority.[30][31] In December 2017 CBH Group expanded its locomotive fleet purchasing 10 DB class locomotives from Aurizon.[32][33]

When next tendered, the contract was awarded to Aurizon for six years with an option to extend to 10 years. Aurizon introduced a further three sets of wagons to the 10 owned by CBH.[34][35] Although scheduled to transition in May 2022, all parties agreed to bring the handover date forward to September 2021.[36][37]


In 1999/2000 season CBH received a record amount of grain, 12.2 million tonnes in all, made up of 11 different grain types.[38]

CBH received a new record harvest of 14.7 million tonnes from grain growers in Western Australia during the 2003/2004 season.[39] This record was broken in 2013/14, with 15.8 million tonnes of grain handled by January 2014.[40][41]

New records were set in the 2016/17 season when the company received 16.6 million tonnes of grain. The company expected over $5 billion to have been pumped into the Western Australian economy as a result of the record harvest. A new record for the month of December was set with 831,000 tonnes of grain moved to port via rail. The highest monthly shipping record was also broken in January with 1.88 million tonnes shipped out. The previous monthly shipping record of 1.66 million tonnes had been set in February 2014.[42]

Harvest managementEdit

Kwinana silo in November 2006

Historically the CBH system had up to 300 receival points[43] – in most cases tied into the Western Australian Government Railways railway network, as the railway lines were the prime grain transport method.

By the 2000s, the number of receival points had been reduced to less than 200[1] and the locations of the receival points became part of a system of management zones:

Each zone is further broken down into areas.[44]


  1. ^ a b "Key Facts & Figures". CBH Group. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  2. ^ Western Australia. Royal Commission on the Bulk Handling of Wheat; Angwin, W. C. (William Charles) (1935), Report, Govt. Printer, retrieved 5 March 2014
  3. ^ Western Australia. Royal Commission on the Bulk Handling of Wheat; Angwin, W. C. (William Charles), 1863–1944; Mitchell, James Sir, 1866–1951 (1935), The Bulk Handling of Wheat Royal Commission : report to His Excellency Sir James Mitchell, Govt. Printer, retrieved 5 March 2014{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ "THE COMMISSION'S REPORT". The West Australian. Perth: National Library of Australia. 16 August 1935. p. 25. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
  5. ^ Western Australia was by no means unique – there had been Royal Commissions into Bulk Handling of grain in other states – Victoria in 1902 for example Victoria. Royal Commission of Victoria (1902), Report of the Royal Commission on handling grain and other produce in bulk or otherwise, together with the appendices and minutes of evidence, Robert S. Brain, Government. Printer, retrieved 5 March 2014
  6. ^ "Co-operative Bulk Handling Website- History". 2008. Archived from the original on 29 April 2008. Retrieved 23 May 2008.
  7. ^ See also the history of Western Australian Farmers Federation that shows the relationship between the WAFF, CBH and Wesfarmers
  8. ^ "ABC News Online – Farmers' group welcomes merger legislation". 2002. Retrieved 4 August 2008.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "98 private companies earning over $200m pay no tax: ATO". ABC News. 22 March 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  10. ^ a b Bidding underway for WA grain rail management Archived 18 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine Rail Express 11 November 2009
  11. ^ Tender plans for rail future ABC News 18 November 2009
  12. ^ Asciano in $700m grain bid The Australian 30 August 2010
  13. ^ Locomotives roll off production line and wagons hit the WA shore Archived 20 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine CBH Group March 2012
  14. ^ Major new investment in WA grains industry Archived 22 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine Agriculture & Food Minister 24 August 2012
  15. ^ Watco wins CBH Group rail contract The Sunday Times 13 December 2010
  16. ^ US group wins CBH contract from QR National The Australian 14 December 2010
  17. ^ Watco wins CBH grain rail contract Archived 3 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine Rail Express 15 December 2010
  18. ^ Clark, Peter (2012). An Australian Locomotive Guide. Rosenberg Publishing. p. 312. ISBN 9781921719554.
  19. ^ New wagons hit the Western Australian shore[permanent dead link] CBH Group 9 February 2012
  20. ^ WA grain industry takes ownership of first rail fleet Archived 4 March 2014 at Rail Express 29 August 2012
  21. ^ CBH, Watco mark anniversary of moving grain on rail Archived 22 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine World Grain 3 April 2013
  22. ^ Receival Site Map Archived 22 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine CBH Group
  23. ^ ERA to mediate CBH, Brookfield rail talks Business News 31 October 2013
  24. ^ CBH, Watco rail agreement starts early Archived 22 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine World Grain 2 April 2012
  25. ^ CBH grain wagons go to work early Archived 22 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine Farm Weekly 5 April 2012
  26. ^ First train runs from Merredin Merredin-Wheatbelt Mercury 12 April 2012
  27. ^ Annual Report June 2013 Archived 23 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine Aurizon
  28. ^ Annual Report September 2012 Archived 20 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine CBH Group
  29. ^ CBH pushes market limits The West Australian 23 December 2013
  30. ^ CBH, Brookfield off to ERA Archived 12 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine Rail Express 6 November 2013
  31. ^ Consultation Brookfield Rail Pty Ltd Floor and Ceiling Cost Determination Economic Regulation Authority 6 January 2014
  32. ^ MotivePower Roundup Motive Power issue 115 January 2018 page 106
  33. ^ Diesels expand CBH's loco fleet Farm Weekly 18 March 2018
  34. ^ Aurizon and CBH sign long-term agreement for WA grain haulage Aurizon 6 August 2021
  35. ^ CBH chooses Aurizon as rail services provider Rail Express 13 August 2021
  36. ^ CBH seeks a rail new deal Farm Weekly 14 April 2021
  37. ^ Grain contracts change hands in Western Australia The Railway Magazine issue 1447 October 2021 page 106
  38. ^ "LANSA – CBH uses LANSA to collect harvest estimates from 10,000 growers". 2008. Retrieved 29 May 2008.
  39. ^ "ABC Rural – Sparks fly at Co-operative Bulk Handling AGM". 2005. Retrieved 3 August 2008.
  40. ^ Grain growers CBH back to best after record WA harvest The Australian 23 January 2014
  41. ^ Western Australian bulk handler and the nation's biggest grain exporter CBH Group posts a near-record Profit The Weekly Times 3 February 2014
  42. ^ Jenne Brammer (3 February 2017). "WA farmers deliver record grain harvest". Albany Advertiser. Yahoo7. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  43. ^ In 1965 the maximum was reached of 305 sites – Goldfinch, Richenda; Co-operative Bulk Handling Limited (2002), Legends of the grain game: stories of the people who built Co-operative Bulk Handling, Co-operative Bulk Handling (published 2003), p. 236, ISBN 978-0-9592858-1-9
  44. ^ "Sites and Ports Directory".

Further readingEdit

  • Ayris, Cyril; Cooperative Bulk Handling Ltd (1999), A Heritage ingrained : a history of Co-operative Bulk Handling Ltd. 1933–2000, Co-operative Bulk Handling Ltd, ISBN 978-0-646-38283-8
  • Co-operative Bulk Handling Limited (1965), A co-operative enterprise (New ed.), Co-operative Bulk Handling Limited
  • Zekulich, Michael (1997). The Grain Journey: The History of the Grain Pool of W.A. Perth: Grain Pool of Western Australia. ISBN 0646327372.

External linksEdit