Glen Ruth Station helps to protect the Reef

December 16, 2019

A remote cattle property in Far North Queensland is doing its bit to help the Great Barrier Reef.

Glen Ruth Station’s Archer family will prevent several hundred tonnes of sediment – or up to 10 semi-trailer loads – from reaching the Reef each year through major earthworks to stop eroded gully systems in their tracks.

Grazier Curtis Archer said cyclones and floods had taken their toll on sections of his family’s 82,000-hectare Glen Ruth cattle station in the Mt Garnet region over the last 20 years, causing gullies to spread and deepen. 

“One gully system was two metres deep in places and more than half a kilometre long,’’ he said.  “We’re getting big valleys where the grass doesn’t grow, coming off Cameron Creek which feeds into the Herbert River.”

The Archers have been working with Terrain NRM as part of a $3 million Herbert Gully and Grazing Project, funded through the Australian Government’s Reef Trust IV program to help landholders tackle erosion and fine-tune grazing management practices.

Terrain NRM’s Jen Mackenzie said roads built across the station in the 1960s for surveying a Herbert River Dam proposal were contributing to the erosion issues.

Erosion repair work has included a 100m bund wall, backfilling of road drains and the construction of a basin with gentle banks where native grasses will be planted. It also includes whoa boys, or dirt mounds built across roads, to direct wet season storm water away from the sites.

“The aim is to control the gully heads and redirect wet season water flow,’’ Ms Mackenzie said.  “This project also includes revegetation and changes to grazing management practices.”

The Archer family is trialling denser stocking rates in smaller paddocks for shorter periods in an area close to the homestead.

“We are doing this with 260 head of cattle in five 20ha paddocks,’’ Curtis said. “On this small scale, we’ve already seen improvements in our pastures. The grass roots grow deeper and the grass gets a lot stronger.” 

The family has also fenced off a section of the Herbert River: “We did the exclusion fencing about 10 years ago. We’re always trying to improve our land and we’re more than happy when it also helps to protect the Reef.”