KIMBERLEY icon, the 394,028 hectare Fossil Downs cattle station and pastoral lease held by one family for the past 133 years, is being acquired by Hancock Prospecting headed up by mining magnate Gina Rinehart.
Hancock Prospecting is understood to have agreed in Perth at the weekend to pay close to $30 million for the property on a walk-in, walk-out basis which includes a quality 15,000 head poll Droughtmaster herd bred up over the past 30 years.
The sale is not expected to be finalised until the end of October or early November and the WA Pastoral Lands Board will have to approve it beforehand.
It is understood Ms Rinehart, Australia's richest person despite the recent drop in iron ore price who is fast adding cattle baroness to her business activities titles, was not directly involved in the negotiations at the weekend.
Last year Hancock Prospecting paid $40 million for a half-share in Liveringa and Nerrima cattle stations in the Kimberley and Ms Rinehart retains control of the Hancock family's Mulga Downs station in the Pilbara.
Bordered by the Fitzroy and Margaret Rivers and with rangelands and alluvial plains receiving a seasonal annual rainfall of 525 millimetres, Fossil Downs is about 50 kilometres north-east of Fitzroy Crossing and 430 kilometres east of Broome's live cattle export port.
Included in the sale is the immaculate, fully-furnished, historic 1940s double-storey homestead with large established attractive gardens, associated buildings and sheds, extensive plant and machinery and new cattle yards with a capacity of 2500 head.
The station which takes its name from prehistoric fish and plant fossils found on it in limestone formations, part of an ancient devonian reef, is considered something of a Kimberley cattle industry time capsule.
It has never been open to the public and was settled in 1886 by brothers Dan, Charles and William MacDonald after being taken up by Dan in 1882.
Charles and William undertook the longest cattle drive in the world, taking just over three years to bring cattle and horses 5600 kilometres overland from near Goulburn, New South Wales,
Cattle king Sir Sidney Kidman held a half-share of Fossil Downs in the 1920s before the MacDonald family bought his share back.
The sellers are John and Annette Henwood.