Life­time spent at cat­tle sales

Re­tired agent re­flects on how the busi­ness has changed

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE - Jack Lawrie jack.lawrie@cnbtimes.com.au

THOUGH he of­fi­cially re­tired as a cat­tle sale agent in 2003, John James was still help­ing out right through last year, be­fore he hung up his hat for good.

John started out at the sa­le­yards in 1963, at a time when the mar­kets were much smaller and the prod­uct less var­ied.

He grew up on a dairy prop­erty at Ca­nia and moved into cat­tle sales.

He be­gan run­ning the old sa­le­yards on Golf Links Rd, or­gan­is­ing the draft­ing for the late Joe Quinn.

“Joe was a great men­tor for me and it was a great plea­sure work­ing with him,” John said.

When Joe Quinn sold out to Dal­gety, John stuck around as man­ager of the Monto branch for a few years be­fore even­tu­ally pur­chas­ing the busi­ness off them.

He used to travel all through­out Queens­land or­gan­is­ing sales.

“I put an aw­ful lot of time out of dis­trict at other sales buy­ing cat­tle in,” he said.

“I had a run I used to do ev­ery fort­night where I’d head out to Mackay on Mon­day, stay the night, then on to Nebo, then Bowen the day af­ter that, Char­ters Tow­ers the day af­ter that and back home Fri­day.”

One of the big­gest changes John over­saw dur­ing his time as an agent was in­tro­duc­ing store cat­tle into the mix.

“At that time the Monto sales were all fat cat­tle, no store cat­tle, so I de­cided to hold a store cat­tle sale to see how it would go,” he said.

“It was ac­tu­ally a great suc­cess and I had to use two sets of steel yards to back up the old wooden yards be­cause we booked so many.”

At the time, cat­tle sim­ply weren’t sold if they weren’t fit for the meat­works, but John’s de­ci­sion to move into store opened up the mar­ket.

From then on, store cat­tle be­came a big­ger part of the sales, con­tin­u­ing into the present day un­der Monto Cat­tle and Coun­try.

Sim­i­lar to John un­der Joe Quinn, Brad and Donna McI­nally of Monto Cat­tle and Coun­try started out work­ing with John in the 1980s be­fore even­tu­ally pur­chas­ing the busi­ness off him in 2003.

John con­tin­ued to stick around at the mar­kets, help­ing out where he could.

“When I re­tired and sold out to Brad and Donna, I said if you need me around the yards, I'll come over two days ev­ery fort­night be­cause I like to get out and do some­thing,” he said.

This lasted up un­til De­cem­ber 6, when at the age of 79, John de­cided he didn’t have it in him to keep up the du­ties, so he de­cided to re­tire for good.

PHOTO: JACK LAWRIE

A GOOD RUN: John James got his start in 1963 and was a fix­ture of the sa­le­yards right up un­til his re­tire­ment last year.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

John with Donna McI­nally, who worked with John since 1987 be­fore even­tu­ally buy­ing the busi­ness off him.

PHOTO: JACK LAWRIE

John still looks af­ter cat­tle for his son.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

The cat­tle sale of De­cem­ber 6 was John's last.

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