Forget Yachts, Planes or Polo, This is the Ultimate Toy

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Australian outback cattle station uses social media to attract a buyer - muster cattle, drive one of the world’s largest road trains - profitable business includes beef, retail and tourism revenues

A cattle station for sale in the Northern Territory is hoping the power of social media and online advertising will attract a new type of investor to the Australian outback, someone (or some ones) looking for a lifestyle experience as well as a financial return.

MacDonald Downs – a profitable business producing beef, along with other revenue streams from retail and tourism – is a unique blend of big business and outback adventure, says the current owner, Charlie Chalmers.
It’s perfect for the investor who wants to experience the thrill of mustering cattle, the bliss of plunging into the swimming pool to wash off the outback heat, the flavour of the station’s own free-range beef on the bbq.

“You don’t have to have been born on the land to run a station like MacDonald Downs,” says Charlie. “It’s what we like to call a ‘family-sized’ station, which means it can be run by a fairly small team of people.”

In other words, it’s the Ultimate Toy.

Events on the station – like the annual muster of around 5,000 head of cattle – provide opportunities for an adrenalin rush as well as being a regular function of the business.

The station’s helicopter, along with several motorbikes and quad bikes, go out in search of the cattle around the 2,000+ square kilometre property. Sometimes, says Charlie, they can be very elusive.

“I’ll try to see the sneaky ones from the air, hiding under a tree or just blending into the landscape, then radio down to the bikes to herd it out,” says Charlie. “It’s a real team effort.”

An advertising campaign will be appearing on business and finance websites around the world, in the lead-up to the auction of the station on 18 June. The campaign, called “Ultimate Toy”, is tempting investors to consider the unique benefits of a cattle station over other types of “toys” – such as yachts or sports cars, or perhaps even wineries or horse studs.

A Facebook Group and Twitter profile will enable interested people to find out what the Chalmers – Charlie and Sonja – are up to as they continue to run the property over the next month in the lead up to the auction. A website, http://www.UltimateToy.com.au, contains more information on the business and the lifestyle offered at MacDonald Downs.

“We’ve got plenty of toys to keep the most adventurous person busy for years – besides the helicopter and bikes, there’s the road train that can carry 200 head of cattle to market, the air strips and hangars for planes, trucks and 4WDs, lots of bores and dams that provide the essential water and irrigation for the property, we’ve got the potential to grow almost any crops thanks to the plentiful sub-artesian water supply and plenty of heavy machinery for various jobs around the place,” says Charlie.

Adds Sonja: “We’ve got one of the most luxurious homesteads in this whole area, it’s a great place for entertaining. I love the organic vegies fresh from the garden and the eggs from the hens.

So where will the Chalmers go after the sale?

“It’s time for us to retire,” says Charlie. “We’ll be staying in the local area, in a lovely old homestead with a very small farm around it, just to keep our hand in. We will also offer our services to any new owner who would like to pick our brains about the running of the station, or help with staff and labour.”

That’s better than any instruction manual!

The Auction of MacDonald Downs will be on 18th June 2010

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Samantha Tannous
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