After suffering years of drought, a Richmond producer has opened his property to tourists as another source of income.
Ross and Linda Mickan drew their property, Hampstead Springs, 150 kilometres north of Richmond, through a land ballot back in 1986 and started their cattle business of Brahman cross from scratch on a 50,000 acre block.
After a several years of terrible drought, in 2014 the Mickan’s lost cattle and were forced to drove cattle on the road. In 2015 they had to remove cattle from their black soil country and were sufficiently low on income.
Last year, Ross and Linda started their business Hampstead Tours.
“We saw all these caravans going backwards and forwards and we said ‘we have something a bit different and off the beaten track’ and thought tourists may want to have a look at it,” Ms Mickan said.
“We back onto the Gregory Range and Gilbert River so it is like a little oasis that you wouldn’t expect in outback Queensland.
“Most of the people that travel are interested in seeing something different so we felt the market was there.”
And they were right. Striving to keep the nucleus of their herd, Ross and Linda let 460 people onto their property last year to showcase their hidden oasis.
“We thought this was a great number for our first year. We did have a quiet period of two weeks wet weather which resulted in our road being cut and no access to town.
“A lot of our guests comment and said the biggest part for them was seeing what station life was all about and how personal the experience is. Because Ross is the owner and has lived all the stories he can give them a clear understanding of what happens.
“We started with a bare block and now having been here 30 years Ross tells the story of starting from scratch, sleeping in a swag, putting up the first fence, first paddock and building the house.
“We pitch it off the beaten track, something they wont see driving down the highway, the landscape variety and country hospitality.”
Conducting tours three days a week, the rest of the time Hampstead Springs functions like any other station, maintaining the station and mustering on horses three times a year.
“The first and last muster are full on because it is outside of the tourist season. 2016 was the first year we didn’t run the mid year muster as we were in the middle of tourist season so our son run it for us,” Linda said.
Hampstead Tours runs from May to October three days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) with pick up in Richmond at 7am, morning tea in the Gregory Range, lunch at the homestead and drop off at 4.30pm