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Monday, June 13, 2005

AUSTRALIA: Contrasting Fortunes #1

Room for a pool.

IT'S some of the cheapest land for sale in Queensland – about $10 a hectare – and there's oodles of it. But you have buy the 213,000ha in one lot. In the best of times after flooding rains, it has supported 5000 cattle. In times of drought like now, it will hold less than a quarter of that number – plus an assortment of feral camels.

If you want to tour the property boundary, set aside the best part of a day for the trip and take a four-wheel drive that will handle 9m-high sand hills.

Welcome to the Naibar-Carlo aggregation, a spread of spiky spinifex and scrub dotted with watering holes in far western Queensland. It nudges the Northern Territory border.

If you don't fancy being that far away from the coast, you could leave the running of the property to a manager. The remote property, the equipment needed to run it, and the manager's house is being auctioned by Ray White Rural in Brisbane next month.

Longreach selling agent Ben Forrest sees the far flung spread as a long-term money-making opportunity. "But it might just appeal as a lifestyle opportunity to someone who is cashed up and wants to be a bush hero." And they might even have a touch of the environmentalist in them.

A large chunk of Naibar-Carlo has been certified for raising organic beef, which commands a premium over meat produced with the aid of artificial fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides.

Good housekeeping skills would be essential. The nearest cold beer is 200km to the northeast in Boulia, population 400. Warm supplies are available on the mail plane once a week.

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