Rebuilding ‘Carisbrooke’

Rebuilding ‘Carisbrooke’

Whilst out west in Winton, we had the privilege of meeting Charlie Phillott at his property ‘Carisbrooke’.  Unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to Help Charlie out on his farm, due to the fact that the ANZ Bank questionably foreclosed on it and forced Charlie and his family off the land they have worked so hard on for over 50 years.

Carisbrooke Station

However, Charlie fought back, and had a win.  The bank recently handed back his property after he was banished from it for 15 months.  During this time however, the property they had worked so hard to establish and which was once a popular caravan and camping grounds was left abandoned, and now in a state of rack and ruin.

‘Carisbrooke’ is a 50,000 acre property located approximately 1 hours’ drive from Winton.  Predominately now cattle country as the dingoes have made it difficult to run sheep.  The property entrance is on top of a Jump Up and offers spectacular views of the valley below.

Charlie looks out over his property.

Charlie and his family have farmed this land since 1960 and began with over 8000 sheep.  In 1967 Charlie realsied the importance tourism played in the outback and the very first day-tour of ‘Carisbrooke’ was undertaken.  It soon became a very popular tourist attraction for the area.

It was not long before a small camping ground was established on ‘Carisbrook’ and over the years it became a popular destination for those wanting to experience the outback.  At its peak and before it was closed, the campgrounds were averaging up to 10 caravans per night.

Looking out over Carisbrooke from the Jump Up

The properties scenery is very unique.  Standing on the top of the jump up and looing over the Williams valley it could easily be mistaken for the plains of Africa.  A vast flat landscape scattered with grass and scrub trees.  You can’t help but look out and expect to see Lions and Zebras.  There are several locations on the property where Aboriginal art adorns some of the caves and rock faces, giving an insight into the history of this remarkable landscape.

Stunning views of Carisbrooke

So beautiful is the landscape that is has been used in several movies including the ‘The Proposition’ and ‘Panic’ and more recently a series of French Survivor was filmed on the property.

Remnants of the props from the filming of French Survivor.

Charlie’s story and the battle to save ‘Carisbrooke’ were recently featured on 60 minutes.  The short version is that Landcare, who at the time held the loan over the property, entered into a ‘sweetheart’ deal with ANZ who were set to take over many of Landcares’ loans.  Shortly into the deal, the ANZ wiped half the equity value off the property, effectively engineering a way for the loan to be placed into default.  Without knowing, and without even defaulting on any payments, the property was re-possessed by the bank and Charlie and his family were given only 20 days to leave the property.   The full story may be viewed on 60 minutes.

What the banks did was immoral, and it has come to light they have done the same to thousands of others farmers, who now thanks to Charlie and his win, are all fighting to have their properties returned to them.

At 84, Charlie is one of the most tenacious characters I have met, and he did not give up his fight.  After several years of battling the bank, he won his case earlier this year, and the property has recently been handed back to the family.  Unfortunately due to the abandonment, the property has not been maintained, so Charlie needs to re-build.

Carisbrooke has been abandoned for 15 months.

It will take at least two good seasons before they can run cattle on the property again to make it a going concern.  In the meantime, Charlie sees that the Campgrounds and re-introducing the tours that used to run on the property will be once again the mainstay of the farm.    But first, the campgrounds will have to be re-established.  Once hosting a variety of camp sites for tents and caravans, there was also a modest amenities building and well maintained camp kitchen.  However, most of the buildings were removed prior to the foreclosure.  Many of the trees established on the property have died due to neglect.  The buildings that remained abandoned over the last 15 months all need maintenance.

What remains of the Campgrounds @ Carisbrooke

It is Charlie hope that work will start on re-establishing the campgrounds in the near future, and at that time it is likely he will be looking for volunteers to help with the re-build.  We have assured him that there would be no shortage of Free Range Camping volunteers that would be willing to assist with this task, so when he is ready he is going to let us know.

‘Carisbrook’ from the Jump Up

Carrisbrook was beautiful to see in its current state, so it can only get better once it has been re-established. It will be an ideal location for anyone that is looking for a unique outback camping holiday.

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