Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


Once wild Wollogorang

The main attraction of Wollogorang Station is the 80 km of yellow sand beaches and river estauries

Story: Sue Neales
Photographs: Murray Spence

Once wild WollogorangIt's hard to travel in the remote Gulf Country of far northwest Queensland and the Northern Territory without hearing about Wollogorang Station and Paul Zlotkowski long before you reach there.

For there's a touch of swashbuckling wild old days of the Gulf outback about them both.

The tales about Wollogorang's owner are as tall as the station is vast - more than 1.7 million wild acres.

Paul is a wily bushie and cattleman originally from near Longreach who bought Wollogorang more than 30 years ago when it had no fences, few improvements and thousands of wild scrub cattle running loose within its (map-line-only) boundaries.

Those were the days of poddy dodging and illegal marijuana production.

Just before Paul bought the property the NT police established a permanent station on the border in an attempt to crack down on the "lawlessness" that had long been associated with the country east of Borroloola.

Even if Wollogorang Station didn't have a good name in the 1960s, it certainly had a long and proud history. Selected by pastoralist John Chisholm from the Goulburn (NSW) Wollogorang House in 1881, it is the oldest continually settled cattle station in the Territory.

Even after the Gunns of We of the Never-Never fame abandoned Elsey Stations near Mataranka, Wollogorang remained a viable cattle property. In 1895, the wealthy Anning family bought it for 3000 pounds, with mr Anning Snr sending his 19-year-old son Harry to take a mob of bullocks from Richmond (more than 1000 km to the south-west) across scrub and rocky hill country to Wollogorang.

Once wild WollogorangThe instructions delivered by letter, contained one of the most matter-of-fact, yet loving messages from a father to a son: "PS. Be careful son, the blacks are bad."

Wollogorang Station has come a long way since then - and since the wild days of the 1960s.

For the past 15 years, Paul Zlotkowski and his family have promoted tourism while building fences, grading station tracks, putting down new bores and improving the 15,000-head cattle herd.

For Wollogorang is much more than just a scrub cattle property.

Straddling both side of the Queensland-NT border, its wilderness is blessed with a magnificent diversity of natural wonders and native treasures.

Pride of place and the main attraction - now being promoted rather confusingly as the Gulf Wilderness "Lodge" (there is no lodge) - is the 80 km of yellow sand beaches and river estuaries that stretch along its northern boundary with the Gulf of Carpentaria. Story end

Full story Issue 7, October-November 1999

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