'Crucial' farm land eyed by defence department

Lawson Geddes moving the Brangus cattle to higher ground - which is the land the Defence Department is interested taking for the Shoalwater Bay expansion.
Lawson Geddes moving the Brangus cattle to higher ground - which is the land the Defence Department is interested taking for the Shoalwater Bay expansion. contributed

IT'S been in the Geddes family for 140 years and half of their property is being eyed off by the Department of Defence.

But the family who run about 4000 head of Brangus on about 15378.054 hectares (153.78054 sq m), the section of land that Defence wants is the high ground used when it rains and the grazing land is covered in water.

Linda Geddes said she and her husband Lawson met with Defence representatives this week to find out what the Shoalwater Bay expansion means and if there is room for negotiation.

"All of our high country is to the eastern side of the road,” she said.

"Then there is the poorer coastal forest which we have to have in conjunction with the marine plain country on the western side of the road.”

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Mrs Geddes said the marine plain country was the perfect bullock fattening country.

"You couldn't find anything to replace it,” she said.

"It's very good fattening country.

"In all the years Lawson has run the farm, he has never had to feed cattle in drought and he's never had to sell a store animal (sell animals in tough times to lighten the load).”

Mrs Geddes said while the Defence wasn't interested in the 'fattening country', the parcel they did want would make the whole farm non-viable.

"Because the marine plains are completely under water when it rains, we have to shift the cattle to the high land,” she said.

"You can't have one without the other.”

The farm is currently run by Mr Geddes, 69, Mrs Geddes, 66, their youngest son and his wife.

Mrs Geddes said their other children - one son and two daughters who live in Central Highlands on properties - come and help out.

She said neither herself or her husband had any plans of retirement or leaving.

"We are hoping to carry on what we are doing,” Mr Geddes said.

"We love our land. We love our cattle. We love what we are doing.”

Topics:  cattle property shoalwater bay shoalwater bay military training stanage bay

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