A close bond with southern Queensland Merino station Victoria Downs has run through the family of Will Roberts for the past century.

Story by Annabelle Brayley and James McEwan

Hosting 270 people for lunch on Easter Saturday this year was just another busy day in the hectic lives of Will and Narda Roberts. Aided by numerous friends and extended family, the Lord/Roberts families celebrated a century of ownership of Victoria Downs near Morven in southern Queensland. They also launched a book to mark the occasion – Victoria Downs: A Century of Challenge and Change written by Will’s mother, the Reverend Mary Roberts.
Victoria Downs spreads north-west from Morven, straddling and bordering the Landsborough and Warrego highways respectively. Travellers in the know judge the state of the current season by the appearance of the Mitchell grass plains rolling out before them. For most of this year, the downs country has looked grim, with the bare, undulating landscape acting as a harsh reminder of the soul-destroying drought that has clutched this part of Queensland for the past few years. There have been brief spells of relief in the district but never enough to bet a future on. Vegetation management and wild dogs are a constant challenge and wool prices are still depressed.
So what has kept this family tied to this piece of land for 100 years? Sixth-generation Australian Will is conscious of the mantle he has assumed in taking over from his late father Lionel Roberts and the Lords before him. “In a lot of what I do, I am mindful of what people have done before me, hoping that they would be proud of what we are doing and where we are going,” he says.

This story excerpt is from Issue #49

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2006