“If we could get five new families to the shire, for us that would be a massive success," says council chief. “To see the interest, it was a little overwhelming.”

The Australian Outback town of Quilpie hoped its offer of free residential land to anyone who would make it their home might attract five new families to the remote community of 800. But authorities have been overwhelmed by more than 250 inquires in less than two weeks from around Australia and internationally.

The Quilpie (Quill-Pea) Shire Council came up with the novel idea to overcome a housing shortage, an obstacle to filling jobs in the cattle and sheep ranching region of western Queensland state.

People who buy a block of land, build a house on it for less than 750,000 Australian dollars ($560,000), and live in it for six months are eligible for a AU$12,500 ($9,400) grant.

With fully serviced, 1,000-square meter (about a quarter acre) blocks selling for the same amount as the grant, the council is effectively giving the land away.

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