The Queensland Government will forcibly acquire Martha’s Farm on the southern Gold Coast, after talks broke down with the current landowners.
Also known as Martha’s Vineyard, the government plans to transform it into one of the largest eco-parklands in Australia.
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Steven Miles said the government committed to protect the parcel of land at Currumbin Waters and has started the process to compulsorily acquire the 148 hectares.
“We’re delivering on our commitment to protect this important land and transform it into Currumbin Eco Parkland.
“Not only will this be a new recreational eco-parkland for the community, but it will protect valuable koala habitat as well as local flora and fauna. We listened to community concerns about preserving this unique property, and we have acted on these concerns,” the deputy premier said.
Miles said this decision also ends 20 years of development uncertainty around the site.
“Martha’s Farm or Martha’s Vineyard has been subject to several development approvals since the 1980s, with the current approval for 348 residential lots, a marine precinct and artificial lake.
“It’s a highly constrained site with steep topography and flooding issues, making it difficult to develop, but has some unique features that make it worth preserving and enhancing,” he added.
Miles said the government has undertaken commercial negotiations with the current landowners since early 2021, to purchase the site, however talks broke down.
“Unfortunately, an agreement has not been reached, and we have had to take further action. We remain open to a commercial resolution with the landowner.” he said. “If the site is acquired, we will progress short term measures to make the site publicly accessible including construction of an entry road, car parking and amenities, before commencing stakeholder and community consultation to ensure everyone has an opportunity to put their ideas forward about the long-term outcomes for the site.”
Minister for the Environment Meghan Scanlon said the government was committed to conserving Queensland’s natural areas with more than 1.2 million hectares protected since 2015, including the nearby Merala Nature Refuge, which she visited and announced last week.
“This decision will protect koalas and other local wildlife, stop development from encroaching on the local blackbutt forest and as Queenslanders rekindle their love for their own backyard, encourage more nature-based tourism,” Minister Scanlon said. “Martha’s Vineyard is already popular with hikers and nature-based activities, and we want to not just protect that access but improve it.”
The news was welcomed by Peter Kershaw, President of Friends of Currumbin, a local community group, who had identified Martha’s Vineyard for its environmental preservation and community uses and requested the State Government to step in and preserve the land.
“Land parcels of this size, with such high biodiversity are very rare on the Gold Coast, which is why we are so passionate about saving it for future generations.” Kershaw said.
The acquisition continues the trend of state governments acquiring land for nature reserves.
Last month the NSW government acquired 60,468 hectares of land to create a national park.