Location: St Lawrence, 185km North of Rockhampton, Central QLD

Property size: 12,000 hectares 

Currently runs: 5,000 LSU 

Average annual rainfall: 1050mm 

Enterprise: Beef cattle agistment, breeding and growing


  • Increased carrying capacity
  • Improved animal performance
  • Created a healthy ecosystem 
  • Healthier happier people

Drivers of Success: 

  • Passion for environment
  • Determination to run profitable business
  • Attitude
  • Desire to learn and innovate
  • Setting goals

Ideas for future innovation: 

  • Technology that provides value for time
  • Streamlined data recording systems
  • Producer and consumer education in sustainable beef production

What the Right Attitude and a bit of Wisdom can Achieve

Rob and Ainsley McArthur firmly believe that ecological sustainability is the underpinning factor for success in agriculture. It’s a claim they can back up with evidence, having transformed their farm, Mystery Park, since they took ownership of it in 2003. Once a small, ecologically declining operation, the land they call home with their six children has evolved into a thriving business with an ever-improving ecosystem. 

The Journey to RCS

Before Rob and Ainsley’s management, Mystery Park was a smaller aggregation with a total area of 1,600 hectares running approximately 700 LSU’s (Large Stock Units) managed under a continuous grazing system. Rob and Ainsley observed that ecological health was declining. The operation was profitable, however, the business model did not meet the needs of the stakeholders or match Rob and Ainsley’s vision. 

After struggling to find the knowledge they needed to achieve the business and ecosystem they desired, Rob and Ainsley decided to further their studies. This prompted them to complete GrazingforProfit® together in 2002. Over the years, they observed the more knowledge they had, the more momentum they gained in their business. The McArthurs have since completed RCS’s three-year ExecutiveLink® program and have hosted several RCS Keep In Touch (KIT) Days, soil health field days and horsemanship clinics. According to the McArthurs, their confidence in making strategic business decisions, setting goals and developing a vision is thanks to their continued learning and connection to the agriculture community. 

Case Study - Rob and Ainsley McArthur

Changes Implemented by the McArthurs

RCS services used: 

Rob and Ainsley breed and grow beef cattle on their land, with their herd consisting mainly of Brahman crossbred cows joined to Angus and Belmont x Angus bulls. These enterprises have been selected based on gross margin analyses and the need to spread risk throughout the business. The changes they’ve implemented since 2003 include;

  • A gradual transition to time-controlled grazing based on the RCS principles
  • Dividing their land into 80 paddocks. 
  • The use of single-wire electric fencing. 
  • The use of various measurement tools such as Grazing Charts and the ProfitProbe® business analysis tool.
  • Low-stress stock handling techniques.
  • The utilisation of existing paddock infrastructure to transition to new grazing methods to reduce capital investment. 
  • Creation of a customised supplementing program of ‘Multimin’ and Copper injections based on their own cattle nutrition trials.

The Improvements in Business and Ecology

Rob and Ainsley have seen an incredible business transformation, expanding their original operation of 1,600 hectares running 700 LSU, to 12,000 hectares running 5,000 LSU. 

Simultaneously they have improved the health and quality of the grass and ecosystem. In some areas, the carrying capacity at Mystery Park since 2005 has more than doubled – from 8 SDH/100mm to sustainably maintaining 22 SDH/100mm, significantly increasing their beef production per hectare. “We are running more cattle than we ever have, yet our grass bank is not diminishing,” Ainsley states. 

Since implementing the rotational and time-controlled grazing program, Rob and Ainsley have observed significant ecological changes including:

  • Reduction in the number of weeds.
  • Noticeable increase in ground cover.
  • Improved response to rainfall.
  • Increased biodiversity.
  • Greater quality and quantity of feed.
  • Different grass and weed species that come up each year.

The Future of Mystery Park

To implement sustainable ecological management, the McArthurs believe the first step is to acquire knowledge. Looking ahead, innovations that could make a big difference at Mystery Park include:

  • A streamlined recording system for the whole of business.
  • Use of satellite imagery for feed budgeting and measuring ecological health.
  • Further investment in fencing and water infrastructure throughout the industry.
  • Telemetry remote water monitoring.

An inspiring characteristic of the McArthur family is their remarkable attitude. Ainsley regularly updates her blog ‘From the Veranda‘ to give insight into the day-to-day lives running a sustainable rural business. This willingness to be transparent is inspiring and critical to the future of the industry. According to Rob “it’s not about the business or situation, it’s about you and your attitude.”

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