Approximately 72,000km of Queensland’s roads are declared as stock routes. Together with dedicated reserves for travelling stock, they make up the 2.6 million hectare Queensland stock route network. The network is primarily used by the pastoral industry as an alternative to transporting stock by rail or road, and for pasture for emergency agistment and long-term grazing.
Stock routes are corridors on roads, reserves, pastoral leases and unallocated state land along which stock are driven on foot. A stock route can be a road that is declared to be a stock route under Queensland legislation, or it may simply be any route that has customarily been used for walking stock.
Stock routes have no separate title or tenure from the underlying road reserve, and the same roads are used for walking and agisting stock and vehicular transport.
Reserves for travelling stock are areas designated for travelling stock purposes under the Land Act 1994. They can include camping and water reserves, pasture reserves and trucking reserves.
Stock routes have been part of Queensland's rural history for more than 150 years, evolving as settlers drove stock along corridors that followed river systems, Indigenous trade routes and trails.
Between the 1860s and 1890s, established stock routes were recognised and dedicated as roads. Use declined in the 1950s and 1960s when road improvements made road transport more convenient and efficient.
Recently, increases in fuel prices and continuing drought have made the stock route network a cost-effective alternative for moving stock and a vital source of pasture for emergency grazing.
The stock route network contains significant cultural heritage and has been celebrated in the works of Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson. The Combo Waterhole at Winton is thought to be the location of the story that inspired Waltzing Matilda.
The stock route network has significant environmental value, in part because its unique interconnectedness and geographical extent allows for the movement of wildlife.
Many stock routes are in highly cleared landscapes and are adjacent to waterways, providing habitat for threatened species.
The Queensland Government shares responsibility for the management of the stock route network with local governments under the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002. Some grazing access is administered under the Land Act 1994, while the Transport Infrastructure Act 1994 and the Stock Act 1915 also include provisions affecting network management.
Local governments are responsible for day-to-day administration and management as well as some network maintenance, while we are responsible for providing policy and legislative advice; operational guidelines and compliance support; reviewing decisions; managing asset maintenance; and training local government stock route officers.
The Queensland Stock Route Network Management Strategy 2009–14 (PDF, 319.8KB) provides a framework for managing stock route activities and allocating available resources.
The Queensland Government is currently consulting with key stakeholders to identify ways of improving network management, operation and administration.
Some local governments in central and western Queensland are required to have local management plans for their area of the stock route network. See Schedule 4 of the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Regulation 2003 for a list of the 24 local governments affected. Contact the relevant local government to view a copy of their plan.