10 May 2023

Bramwell to remain open for tourists despite sale

| Matt Nicholls
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Gerhardt Pearson (Balkanu), James Fitzsimons (The Nature Conservancy Australia), Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon and Richie Ah Mat (Cape York Land Council) in Brisbane last week at the announcement of the Bramwell deal.

THE future of Bramwell Station’s famous tourist park and roadhouse is up in the air after the state government purchased the property last week.

The two Cape York hot spots will remain open this year but their longer-term future could be on shaky ground.

Ken Godfrey had leased the businesses from Wendy Kozicka and Vince Bowyer and will continue to run his station talks, live entertainment and famous feasts at the tourist park this year, but may not return in 2023.

Cape York Weekly broke the news about the state government’s deal to buy Bramwell in September last year.

However, despite both parties agreeing to the sale price, the deal fell over when it came to putting pen to paper.

That changed when the state agreed to pay Wendy and Vince $11.5 million for the Bramwell property, as well as the adjoining Richardson Station.

The state government, along with senior Cape York leaders, called the transaction as a win for conservation and Indigenous land rights.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the deal would protect more than 131,900 hectares of land for conservation.

“Conservation is vital when it comes to tackling climate change and supporting the local tourism industry,” she said.

“This is one of the most significant purchases in Queensland history – linking close to one million hectares of protected land in a picturesque part of our state.

“Conserving and returning this land to Traditional Owners will create jobs and opportunities for local workers in the future.”

Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the property would return to First Nations ownership and management through negotiation as part of the Cape York Peninsula Tenure Resolution Program.

“The area includes significant, undisturbed ecosystems and habitat that will become part of the protected area estate,” she said.

“Through the Cape York Peninsula Tenure Resolution Program, we will negotiate for which areas of the land will be made jointly managed national park and which areas become Aboriginal freehold land.”

The Cape York Peninsula Tenure Resolution Program returns ownership and management of identified lands on Cape York Peninsula to local Aboriginal Traditional Owners, while ensuring the region’s iconic natural and cultural values are protected.

Ms Scanlon said the Bramwell Roadhouse would remain.

“The roadhouse and tourist park are vital to the local economy and the tourism industry and we will ensure provisions are made to allow these facilities to continue operating,” she said.

Gerhardt Pearson, the executive director of Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation, said he was delighted that the Traditional Owners of these properties would now be able to enjoy the cultural and economic benefits of their ancestral lands.

“I congratulate the state for successfully concluding this complex and long-running matter,” Mr Pearson said.

“Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation was pleased to help the state broker the outcome after many years of negotiation and planning.

“Traditional Owners of these strategic lands – gateway to northern Cape York, including the start of the Telegraph Track – can now work with the Traditional Owners of surrounding lands to better manage country and protected areas.”

Ms Scanlon said the purchase was highly strategic and represents a major win for the environment, Traditional Owners and the local economy.

“The Bramwell and Richardson properties connect with other protected areas, including Batavia National Park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land); Bromley (Ampulin) National Park; Michingun Nature Refuge; Heathlands Reserve and Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve Nature Refuge,” she said.

“The lands also provide further opportunity to protect the Great Barrier Reef by stabilising two catchment areas that flow into the Great Barrier Reef.”

Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch congratulated Wendy and Vince for “making a buck” from the deal.

“I don’t have an issue with the sale although I am concerned that the state is trying to get rid of cattle grazing from Cape York,” he said.

“I didn’t agree with the sale of Springvale Station, which was very good grazing land.

“It’s good that Wendy and Vince made a buck from this deal after putting in the hard yards.”

Remarkably the state government could have saved taxpayers almost $10 million if they had not been the underbidders when the property sold in 2002.

Bramwell sold to Wendy and Vince for less than $1 million.

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