Another cattle station bought for national park, this time in Queensland

Chris McLennan
By Chris McLennan
February 6 2022 - 11:00pm
The Lakes Station in central north Queensland is the latest farmland to be bought by government to create more national park. Pictures: Qld Government.

The Queensland government will convert more farmland to national park after buying a 35,300 hectare (87,228 acre) cattle station west of Townsville.

Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the purchase of The Lakes Station, 100 kilometres north of Hughenden, would be followed by more in the region this year.

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"This is the first big acquisition for 2022 but there's more to come," Ms Scanlon said.

The purchase price was not disclosed but the government revealed $1.829 million of the "multi-million dollar purchase" was paid by US charity The Wyss Foundation, set up by Swiss billionaire Hansjrg Wyss.

At almost half the size, the nearby 16,060ha (39,685ac) Sandalwood station sold at auction for $7.2 million last year.

The NSW government last year bought two big outback stations - Avenel (Mt Westwood) and Koonaburra totalling 166,924ha - to turn them into national parks.

One of them was once owned by the cattle king Sir Sidney Kidman.

Map: Qld government.

The Avenel (Mt Westwood) station was the second largest buy by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service in the state's history.

In this recent sale in Queensland, Nature Conservancy Australia helped secure the Wyss charity's involvement in The Lakes' sale.

It is the first major buy under the government's $28 million Protected Area Strategy released in 2020.

The pastoral station is in the Einasleigh Uplands and Gulf Plains, and hosts wetlands of national significance including Pelican Lake, Louisa Lake, Agnes Lake and the South Gregory River, which flows into the Great Barrier Reef.

The Hann Highway goes through the middle of the property.

It is understood the deal has taken two years to negotiate and the station had been owned by the same family for generations.

The property was fenced into four large paddocks and has been marketed for sale as a "good breeder block". There was no house on the property.

Dr James Fitzsimons from The Nature Conservancy said The Lakes provided "key infrastructure for Australia's biodiversity".

"The Lakes is a really amazing property," he said.

"It's about three or four large perch wetlands on top of the Great Dividing Range - escarpment country, gulf plains, a range of threatened species and a range of ecosystems that are really under-represented in the reserve system."

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Ms Scanlon said after two years of negotiations, the area was identified as an "important ecosystem" that needed protecting.

"There's a whole range of threatened species in that area," she said.

"It's actually between two existing national parks, which allows for that continuity of protection, which is really critical."

The government has indicated the former beef property would likely be opened to the public in the future.

"It's a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make sure we can get these really pristine parts of Queensland secured under Queensland's ownership," Ms Scanlon said.

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"Careful negotiations are currently underway on other high-quality properties as I am determined to increase our protected areas to deliver a world-class protected area system for our state."

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Chris McLennan

Chris McLennan

National Rural Property Writer

ACM national rural property writer based in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria. Career journalist. Multi award winner.

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