Wife’s heart­break­ing trib­ute to late hus­band Brent Ac­ton

Pas­sion­ate pi­lot and farmer taken too soon

Central Queensland News - - RURALWEEKLY - ZHANAE CON­WAY-DODD Zhanae.con­way-dodd@apn.com.au

HE WAS a coun­try boy nick­named ‘Scary’ and she, a bright-eyed girl on a new ad­ven­ture in the Kim­berly.

Both from dif­fer­ent worlds, but both hated school and left the class­room young, on the look­out for sta­tion work in the top end of Aus­tralia.

Lit­tle did the two know they would cross paths and share a life to­gether, one which would be trag­i­cally cut short.

Brent and Shona Ac­ton had a full life to­gether but sadly Brent was sud­denly killed in a he­li­copter ac­ci­dent near Clon­curry last month.

The 40-year-old fa­ther of two died when his he­li­copter crashed into a pad­dock on La­nark Prop­erty, about 20km north of Clon­curry, and burst into flames on the morn­ing of Au­gust 2.

Mr Ac­ton, a mem­ber of the Ac­ton Su­per Beef fam­ily dy­nasty, is sur­vived by wife Shona and two young sons, Ned, 11, and Robert, 6.

Brent Robert Thomas Ac­ton was born in Rock­hamp­ton on Oc­to­ber 25, 1976.

Brent was the old­est of three chil­dren for Robert and Janette Ac­ton and grew up on his fam­ily cat­tle prop­erty, Wi­eta, about three hours north of Rock­hamp­ton.

When it was time, Brent headed off to board at Toowoomba Gram­mar School.

How­ever at the end of Year 10, his par­ents re­alised school wasn’t for him.

The de­ci­sion was made for him to at­tend Emer­ald Ag Col­lege. Brent thor­oughly en­joyed it, and it gave him a real di­rec­tion to fol­low.

With this in mind, Brent headed off to the top end of Aus­tralia, and worked on var­i­ous large cat­tle sta­tions.

This is where he met the love of his life.

Brent and Shona Ac­ton first met at a coun­try race at Tim­ber Creek in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

Shona was set to start work at Rose­wood Sta­tion and met with the man­ager at the races to start her new job.

The man­ager pointed her in the di­rec­tion of Brent and said “he’ll give you a lift back to the sta­tion, his name is Scary”.

Shona made her way to this young man, with a long blonde mul­let which sat just at his shoul­ders.

She soon found out how Brent earned the nick­name Scary – he would of­ten sit on the out­skirts of the cir­cle, as a deep thinker with not much to say.

On rare oc­ca­sions he would step in and say some­thing, tak­ing every­one by sur­prise.

On the fol­low­ing day, it was time to head back to the sta­tion. Shona went to get into the back of the Brent’s Hilux, and he said, “I sup­pose you can get in the front”.

“Dur­ing the trip back, af­ter a big day at the races I fell asleep in his lap and woke up with drib­ble all down my chin. This was the start to our friend­ship,” Shona said.

Dur­ing the two years the pair worked at Rose­wood, Shona camped out in the stock camp while Brent was in the weaner camp at the homestead.

“He would pur­sue our re­la­tion­ship by driv­ing 40km most nights to visit me,” Shona said.

“Af­ter fin­ish­ing at Rose­wood in 1999, we moved back to Queens­land to­gether to Brent’s fam­ily prop­erty, Re­treat Sta­tion at Wan­doan.”

When they re­turned home, Brent’s fa­ther, Robert, said he

had a fence that he needed to be built if Shona and Brent wanted to give it a crack.

So the pair gave it the best they could and on com­ple­tion of the fence a neigh­bour, Bill Speed, im­pressed by the qual­ity, asked if they could do some fenc­ing for him.

Af­ter sev­eral more jobs, Brent’s dad said if the pair were go­ing to con­tinue fenc­ing they needed to buy their own gear.

They brought a Toy­ota, trac­tor, trailer and a sec­ond-hand fridge.

But be­cause Brent loved a bar­gain the pair of­ten had to take the fridge for a drive to get the gas go­ing again.

“For Brent, shop­ping was a math­e­mat­i­cal process. Those who know Brent well knew that he loved a good bar­gain.”

Shona said he never lost his nose for a bar­gain, with it more re­cently shin­ing through at Kmart in Mt Isa.

“He found some thongs that were la­belled on sale for $2 a pair, which Brent was very im­pressed by,” she said.

“When he went to the counter to pay, the lady scanned the ticket and they were ac­tu­ally 50 cents, so you could imag­ine Brent’s face.

“So he went back and got all the thongs avail­able, get­ting seven pairs for just $6.50. He now had a pair for step­ping out, go­ing to the pub, for work, for weld­ing and so on. He was so im­pressed.”

Over the years the cou­ple’s pas­sion for con­tract fenc­ing took them far and wide, from places such as Wan­doan and Ta­room, to Roma, St Ge­orge, Su­rat and Bol­lon.

It was also dur­ing this time Brent com­pleted his fixed wing li­cence and then his he­li­copter li­cence.

“With such a big in­vest­ment, I ques­tioned whether he would pur­sue a ca­reer in fly­ing or make it a hobby, as I was aware the ridicu­lous­ness of spend­ing $50,000 on a hobby was like me spend­ing the money on clothes,” she said.

Brent’s re­sponse was he just needed a bit more money be­hind him as he knew his first fly­ing job wouldn’t pay much, so he put an ad in the pa­per for fenc­ing work.

Af­ter four years to­gether, Brent fi­nally popped the ques­tion to Shona.

Brent was de­ter­mined to pay for the wedding out­right, so af­ter three years of hard work the cou­ple was mar­ried in Noosa on Fe­bru­ary 28, 2004.

The pair even­tu­ally set­tled in Mid­dle­mount, where Shona worked in the mines as a ma­chine op­er­a­tor while Brent con­tin­ued fenc­ing.

“By June 2004, we had se­cu­rity in the form of a house in Mid­dle­mont and Brent was com­fort­able to move to Clon­curry to start as a mus­ter­ing pi­lot with Clon­curry Mus­ter­ing Com­pany,” she said.

Shona fol­lowed Brent to Clon­curry in Christ­mas 2004, where they pur­chased the cheap­est house avail­able.

Brent con­tin­ued to prove him­self as a val­ued pi­lot, and bought into Clon­curry Mus­ter­ing Com­pany.

Over the next 13 years, he be­came a se­nior pi­lot and logged more than 10,000 fly­ing hours. Not only was he sought af­ter for his ex­per­tise, he was highly re­spected by his peers, and Brent felt a sense of achieve­ment.

“Brent and I went on to call Clon­curry home, hav­ing our first child Ned James Ac­ton in 2006 in Mt Isa, and com­plet­ing our fam­ily with Robert Wes­ley Ac­ton born in Toowoomba in 2011,” Shona said.

“Brent was the proud­est dad ever, and so con­tent with his two beau­ti­ful sons by his side.”

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

SORELY MISSED: Brent Ac­ton was trag­i­cally killed in a he­li­copter crash last month. His fam­ily re­mem­ber him as a hard worker, a ded­i­cated dad and a pas­sion­ate pi­lot.

FAM­ILY TIME: Brent adored his two sons Ned and Robert.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

PER­FECT COU­PLE: Brent Ac­ton pic­tured with his lov­ing wife Shona. The cou­ple met in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory in 1997 and shared a pas­sion for ru­ral life.

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