Farming a crop of ideas for Birkdale Community Precinct


With Willards Farm being a rare and fascinating example of early farming settlement on Redlands Coast, Redland City Council is encouraging the community to consider this agricultural heritage when imagining future uses for Birkdale Community Precinct.

Mayor Karen Williams said Willards Farm was one of the region’s oldest surviving farms and residences.

“The 8,164 square metre property on Old Cleveland Road East at Birkdale was purchased by Council in March 2016,” she said.

“An adjoining 61 hectares was bought by Council in December 2019 after lengthy negotiations with the Commonwealth Government.

“Council effectively saved both properties from potential subdivision and together they now form what we’re currently calling Birkdale Community Precinct.”

Cr Williams said it was likely the homestead, owned initially by James and Margaret Willard, was built in 1876.

“This was when James took out a mortgage on his land,” she said.

“The Willards’ farm originally covered most of this precinct and its commercial origin was in tree clearing.

“It later operated as a dairy farm for many decades; and the original milking sheds and creamery are still standing.

“James Willard conducted a cattle dip (to help protect livestock from ticks) on a part of the site from 1904 and farmers across the area would bring their animals down to be dipped.

“At various stages, the land was used to grow crops such as maize, sweet potatoes and pineapples.”

Council is asking the community for their ideas on possible uses for Birkdale Community Precinct, to help shape a shared multi-generational vision for its future. Could it be home to a water park or an adventure sports precinct with skateboarding and rock climbing facilities? Could the precinct be a hub for interactive history tours, museums or arts venues? Or could it have walking and cycling trails, picnic areas, educational or heritage activities, or some form of paddock-to-plate venture?

Division 10 Councillor Paul Bishop said the importance of the land’s agricultural and rural heritage suggested there was potential to see part of the precinct return to being a working farm.

“It could be used to promote locally grown produce; or as an educational facility around sustainable or regenerative farming practices,” Cr Bishop said.

“We know livestock were used to manage the land for approximately 150 years, so this may provide learning and enterprise opportunities in the future.

“Paddock-to-plate ventures; a home for rural enterprises and ecological innovation; bush food production; perhaps community gardening, permaculture or even farm stays – there are myriad rural-based ideas that would be well suited to this precinct.

“Most importantly, please let Council know: What do you want to see here in future?”

For more information about Council’s community consultation on possible future uses for Birkdale Community Precinct, visit yoursay.redland.qld.gov.au/imagine – see expert urban designers’ ideas, watch the videos, read the fact sheets, take a virtual tour of the precinct, and have your say.

Consultation closes on Tuesday 4 May 2021.