An Edmonton family has been told to vacate sheds on their property for the second time in less than 30 years to make way for upgrades to the Bruce Highway.

Ken Hardwick, 86, knows the price of progress, having farmed cane on the southern outskirts of Cairns for seven decades, taking over the property his father pioneered.

The family property neighbours Bruce Highway, and in the 1990s sheds on the property were demolished and land resumed for highway upgrades.

Less than 30 years later, the Hardwicks are going through the same process.

Mr Hardwick’s daughter, Robyn Mitchell, said they had to move around 2,000 tonnes of equipment into a new set of sheds.

She said the family faced the prospect of losing their cane rail siding, bridges, culverts, and headlands to the new highway upgrade.

“What was resumed this time is actually what we had re-established from the last [land] resumption, and more,” Ms Mitchell said.

“Not only have we lost land to the project, but … we have to re-establish on what was productive cane farming land. So our profitability has taken a bit of a bash.”

An aerial view of a highway passing through flat country with mountains in the background.
The Bruce Highway is undergoing an upgrade from Edmonton to Gordonvale.(Supplied: Department Of Transport And Main Roads)

She said the process of moving equipment had been all consuming.

“It’s been a huge process of getting together the contents of 70 years of farming, getting it packed up and moved offsite,” she said.

“We have quite an extensive workshop that is used every day, so to pack that up means that it’s not usable.

“One of our family members has given up her job because [of] this job of re-establishing.

“Getting compensation is a really big one, it’s not something you can do in a couple of hours.”

Family left thousands out of pocket

The family have until the new year to vacate the sheds.

Ms Mitchell said they would receive compensation for the move, but that what had been offered so far would not cover the cost of rebuilding.

“We have received some compensation, but it has been a very long and arduous process to get to this point and it has been much less than half of what we require to re-establish what we had,” she said.

“It’s based on market value rather than replacement value, so whilst our sheds — which are some 20 years old — are doing a job perfectly well, we go to re-establish those sheds and we have to adhere to a brand new building code.”

She said the family were left out of pocket after the first move in the 1990s, but this time it was far more expensive.

“We were about $100,000 out of pocket because of that … but in comparison to what this particular resumption has cost us it’s not huge.

“This one, so far, has been a lot more expensive.”

A Queensland Transport and Main Roads (TMR) spokesperson said it had negotiated with the Hardwick family in good faith for more than a decade.

TMR said the New Year’s Eve move-out date was the third extension provided to the family.

“In an ideal world, road upgrades would be done without any impact on people’s homes, but unfortunately this is not always possible,” the spokesperson said.

“We acknowledge compulsory acquisition can be a stressful and difficult time for some landowners, and we approach each acquisition with professionalism and compassion.”

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