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Mystery surrounds call to scrap plan for Indigenous refuge, rehab and training site at old El Caballo Resort

An ambitious plan to house vulnerable Indigenous Australians at El Caballo Resort has been scrapped, with the facility and its neighbouring 40ha of land listed on the market.

The reason for the sudden change is shrouded in secrecy but The West Australian understands the group pushing the plan, the South West Land and Sea Council, has a new board.

The landholding was bought by Equity Trustees in January 2020 for $12 million. The SWALSC had revealed at the time it was the first of several projects to address homelessness. It wanted to develop the two sites into a multipurpose complex with accommodation for up to 180 vulnerable Noongar people, including aged-care beds.

The plans included a rehabilitation centre, a domestic violence refuge and childcare centre for up to 50 Aboriginal children, as well as facilities for vocational training.

This week SWALSC chairman Brendan Moore would not reveal why the plan was aborted.

“With the significant opportunities these properties offer, SWALSC anticipates the decision by Equity Trustee’s to list the properties for sale yields positive outcomes for the Noongar Charitable Trust,” he said.

The sale of the 6.5ha El Caballo Lifestyle Village and Resort can be sold with, or separate to, the neighbouring 38.95ha block at 51 Jocoso Rise, which includes 34 occupied homes. The land has development approval for 131 lifestyle lots, with 89 lots already fully serviced.

Located 60km east of the Perth CBD, it is selling through an expressions-of-interest campaign led by Tony Delich of Knight Frank.

The resort includes function rooms, bars, equestrian arena, amphitheatre, tennis courts, commercial kitchens, motel units and swimming pool.

Mr Delich said it was an underutilised site, claiming its development potential was its biggest drawcard.

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