Cattle baron bought $10m Ballina land
By ALEX EASTON
ONE of Australia's top cattle barons, killed with his wife in a plane crash on Friday, had been planning a move to Ballina.
Peter Menegazzo had spent more than $10 million buying up a 5km strip of coastal property and sugarcane farms at South Ballina and Empire Vale ahead of the move from Swan Hill in Victoria.
And he had already started giving to the Ballina community, donating a $20,000 jet ski and $1000 sled to Ballina Jet Boat rescue last month.
Mr Menegazzo and his wife, Angela, along with two pilots, were killed on Friday when their Piper Chieftain crashed in a paddock near Condoblin in central NSW while they were flying from Brisbane back to Swan Hill.
Investigators believe the plane, which was spread over three kilometres, may have been torn apart by a storm.
Ballina people who had already met the Menegazzos said yesterday they had been looking forward to having them join their community.
Ballina Shire councillor Margaret Howes was to have been Mr Menegazzo's neighbour, and said they had already become friends.
Cr Howes said Mr Menegazzo had told her he planned to build homes for him and his wife, and for each of his four children, build a private airstrip and run cattle on the eight properties, totalling 310 hectares.
Mr Menegazzo was also rumoured to have been negotiating with the Department of Agriculture to buy the Duck Creek agricultural research station.
Ballina Jet Boat Rescue captain Garry Meredith said the volunteers were training with their new jet ski on Saturday when they learnt of the crash.
"He was just such a gentle and kind person, we were all really, really upset," Mr Meredith said.
Mr Meredith said the group would have a memorial message painted on the jet ski this week, and would hold a small gathering in honour of the couple in the near future.