EXCLUSIVE: Family's anguish at selling historic property
BITTERSWEET is to cause happiness and distress at once, and the decision to let go of a family dynasty is a melting pot of swirling emotion.
After 109 years of working on the land, the Faust family is set to exit the agriculture sector.
The historic property is one of the largest agricultural enterprises in Proserpine, making up five per cent of the district's 1.5 million tonnes of sugar cane for the 2018 harvest, and has a price tag of between $18-$20 million.
Third generation farmer and Faust Farm general manager Peter Faust said they had planned to sell in 2018, but the menace that was Tropical Cyclone Debbie "wrecked those plans".
"Initially we had a five-year plan. We started around about 2013, as we always thought it was a good idea to have the place in a position to sell. It keeps you mindful to run it efficiently and run it as best we can," he said.
The property is a Best Management Practice farm, and Peter said they're very conscious of sustainable farming, and 99 per cent of the water used on the property was recycled or recyclable.
"Probably as far as infrastructure goes, the key thing we've done is to install a very modern low operational cost flooding infrastructure, as well as the levelling of the paddock to accommodate drainage," Peter said.
The family got into cane farming in the 1990s, when the industry was deregulated, and sugar assignments became available, and it's quite unique to have a combination of cattle and cane.
Peter is one of six children and he said the death of his older brother Patrick late last year hit the family hard, leaving a hole in their hearts and their lives.
"We lost our brother Patrick in October last year and its time. I'm 55 years old, and the youngest is 50 so we just needed to go our separate ways.
"We're third generation farmers, and we thought it was too complicated to get a fourth in."
Peter said there were 19 grandchildren and the politics embroiled in involving a fourth generation to the dynasty weren't worth it.
Peter's youngest son Matt said he would miss being able to work alongside his father and brother.
He said the sale of the farm was "sad", but ultimately the decision didn't lie with him, and he could understand that it's for the best.
"You're at the mercy of the weather. Sometimes you can have the worst day, but then at the end of it there will be an awesome sun set and you just forget about it all," he said.
"In 10 years of farming, you might get two good years, two really bad years and the rest are average," Peter said.
Peter added it was incredibly special, that he had learnt from his own father, and his uncles who were taught from their father before them.
The patriarch of the family, Peter Faust Snr, worked on the land until he was 80 years old.
In conversation with his grandfather, Matt said there was a lot of sentiment attached to the property, but Peter Snr said it was time to look beyond the sentiment, and to focus on the potential of the property.
Peter Snr is a pioneer of Proserpine, and with his commanding presence, it's easy to see how this is the man responsible for the dam, which was completed in 1991.
His father Charlie Faust purchased the land in 1910, and the farm was built from the ground up.
The sale of their historical 3134-hectare beef and cane aggregation will be handled by Elders, and agent Robert Murolo said it's the first property of its size in the Proserpine milling area to be opened up to the market.
"It's taken the last five to six years to build the property up to a very substantial enterprise, to get the farm up to where it is today," he said
"I feel very confident the property will be sold. The right buyer will come along and we're putting it out for expressions of interest."
Peter said there was interest for the property at the corporate level for larger holdings.