One of the most urgent problems facing the Queensland Government following Separation was the administration of public lands. This was exacerbated by a decision made by the New South Wales Lands Department to declare two new pastoral districts Mitchell and Kennedy, just weeks before the transfer of power.
Assented in September 1860, the Unoccupied Crown Lands Occupation Act was the colony's first land legislation and comprised of 35 sections. Land Commissioners in each pastoral district were appointed to oversee its provisions by issuing licences for land varying in extent from 25 to 100 square miles. The occupation fee was 10 shillings per square mile, payable within 90 days, and after a further 90 days the recipient was eligible to receive a 14-year lease. Regardless of the quality of the land, all runs were deemed to be capable of carrying at least 20 head of cattle or 100 head of sheep for every square mile, and the requirement to stock the land within nine months resulted in a veritable pastoral "rush" into the proclaimed districts of the colony.