General News

18 May, 2023

Unique CSIRO site up for sale

A PIECE of Atherton’s history is now up for sale, with the CSIRO site on Maunds Street being listed by a local real estate agency after the research facility closed its doors two years ago.

By Rhys Thomas

Unique CSIRO site up for sale - feature photo

The CSIRO laboratory in Atherton stood tall for decades as a beacon for research and its ex-pansive Arboretum which houses hundreds of rare and unique rainforest trees remains its centrepiece.

In 2021, it was announced that the long-standing research facility would close its doors and the majority of its staff and resources would be relocated to the Townsville facility.

Locals were shocked upon receiving the news about the site’s relocation and many would still like to see the facility utilised, including resident Alan Bragg.

“On the site are many useful buildings suitable for State Government offices and for community organisations,” he said.

“Let us hope that we have political and public support to secure the site and the trees and that the past title of cooperative prevails.”

The site was initially purchased in 1969 for the former Department of National Development, Forestry and Timber Bureau and the first labora-tory buildings were constructed a few years later during 1971.

CSIRO acquired the site in 1976 with various constructions or extensions occurring after the acquisition.

The property was primarily used as a research facility where local scientists and researchers provided expertise in the biogeography, ecology, taxonomy and behaviour of terrestrial and aquatic vertebrates and plants, in weed and feral animal management, and in other natural resource management concerns over the years.

The facility is mainly known for its work in the collection of rare and unique trees which all live in the Arboretum.

Mr Bragg said that in the late 1960s, the Department of Forestry Research branch in Atherton recognised the need for a system to be developed to identify the rainforest trees of north Queensland and initially a card system was developed to do this.

“The mammoth task in completing this came in 1993 when a computer version was published by the CSIRO providing information to enable identification of over 1000 taxa in some 80 families.

“In describing the many aspects of plant identification, individual plant seed was also collected, propagated, raised, individuals planted, and position mapped on the CSIRO grounds.

“They exist today as mature specimens, a rare legacy which may never be repeated and should never be lost.”

A CSIRO spokesperson said the property offered a unique opportunity for those seeking to create new ventures or enhance existing ones.

“It provides an excellent opportunity for educational institutions and businesses who are looking to invest in the region’s future,” she said.

“Ultimately, decisions on the future of the site will be made by the new owner, and any contract for sale will require the purchaser to consider heritage issues and engage with Queensland Heritage.”

The site is being sold by First National Atherton. For more information call 4091 1177.


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