30 March 2024

Land discussions continue as Weipa ag dream progresses

| Lyndon Keane
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Western Cape Agricultural Park committee president and keen campdrafter Brooke Quartermaine (pictured) says “the sky’s the limit” for what the proposed Weipa precinct could ultimately be used for. Photo: Karlene Shephard Photography.

Weipa will be poised to host agricultural events and training more commonly associated with other parts of the state if an ambitious vision to create a new community precinct is realised.

Initially driven by the desire to have a dedicated space for equestrian events, the scope of the proposed Western Cape Agricultural Park (WCAP) has evolved into a place everything agriculture will be able to call home.

While discussions about the precinct’s actual location continue, WCAP committee president Brooke Quartermaine said ideas for its potential use had snowballed.

“Originally, we needed a better block of land to put horses on,” she explained.

“The current block of land for the horse club is on a bauxite slab next to a swamp.

“For me, we’d just sold our cattle station and I realised there’s no way I can give up this lifestyle or experience to my kids or my kids’ friends; that’s what we had growing up.

“[The current concept] covers far more than equestrian and what we were originally looking at.”

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Ms Quartermaine said WCAP was expecting a feasibility study into the project – being undertaken by James Cook University through a $100,000 Rio Tinto grant – to be completed by November 2024.

She added there had been strong stakeholder support for the precinct and what it could deliver for western Cape York communities.

“It’s kind of been a unanimous yes from everyone,” she said.

“We’ve recently had an AGM and general meeting, and we are thinking that other places have a show, so we could potentially do that, as well as things like a bake-off, competitions for artists and cattle showing.

“We plan to have in the space, a community garden but we’re not just sure how it looks; the feasibility study will help with those decisions.”

In addition to Ms Quartermaine, the 2024 WCAP executive is made up of Lachlan Johnson (vice-president), Cassandra Taske (secretary) and Penelope McArthur (treasurer).

In a boost for those seeking a career in agriculture, the precinct could one day include training for agricultural subjects, as well as land and fire management.

“The sky’s the limit,” Ms Quartermaine said.

“If there’s a training area, the school may introduce an ag subject if we can set up some classrooms [and] they may decide to take on some animals as well.

WCAP is hoping to secure a lease off Rio Tinto for about 100 acres of land for the precinct, which could one day also boast an undercover arena to provide a solution to activities that historically stop in the wet season.

“We’re still sourcing the appropriate land to get a lease done up for, but it’s all going well,” Ms Quartermaine said.

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