Australia’s most expensive single pastoral holding, Miranda Downs, in Queensland’s Gulf Country, is changing over from Brahman to Wagyu.

Story + Photos Ken Eastwood

From the seat of a high-flying R22, the black Wagyu look like intrusive ants in this green landscape. You’d expect on a huge station in the Gulf Country to be looking at the lighter-coloured Brahmans. But here they are, 1,200 black cattle, being gently encouraged across the Gilbert River with horses, bikes and the odd nudge from the chopper.

On the edge of the river, Jack Arnold, manager of the Rice Lagoon outstation on Miranda Downs, gets an unintentional cooling off in the 32°C heat as his horse stumbles into a hole. Whether it’s the thought of the crocs in the water or the fact that there’s a lot of work to be done, he’s quickly back in the saddle, dripping wet but unfazed, helping the mob across the river.

Almost as far as you can see in any direction, 4,380sq km Miranda Downs station shows its green glory after a big wet season – brimming billabongs flush with waterlilies and birds, woodlands of snappy gum, bloodwoods, box trees and coolibahs, bauhinia plains, ridge country with wattles and tea-tree, and rich black soil with Mitchell grass, speargrass and bluegrass. Three tropical waterways – the Gilbert River, and Walker and Maxwell creeks – carve across the property, adding to the surety of hundreds of water points, and providing lush grazing grasses and legumes such as verano. 

It’s no wonder this northern paradise sold in 2021 for $215 million – a record price for a single Australian grazing property. Now part of the Hughes Pastoral Company, joining a vast portfolio that already includes such iconic stations as Lake Nash and Caldervale, Miranda Downs is increasingly becoming the breeding ground for the world’s largest privately owned Wagyu herd.

The full version of this story was published in both OUTBACK magazine and the 2023 edition of our special one-shot magazine OUTBACK Stations.

This story excerpt is from Issue #151

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2023