Peter Milling Peter Milling & Company The firm was started in 1914
by my grandfather, so we’re 105 years old. He gave me my first job in the agency business not very long after I left school and I’ve been at it ever since. My grandfather, my father, four uncles, three cousins, a daughter and an aunt have all been stock and station agents, so I was destined to become one too.
I was married to a lovely lady for 53 years and lost her 10 years ago. Well I was
lucky – I found one that was marvellous. She helped me in my business and she was a great support, so any credit I’d give to her.
I was Chairman of the Dubbo Stock & Station Agents, the NSW Stock &
Station Agents and what we call the federal body of stock and station agents around Australia.
There have obviously been major changes in the industry,
particularly in the way stock are sold. Live weight selling came in back in the 1970s and it’s been very, very successful. Computerised selling has been struggling up until recently but now they’ve started to perfect it.
We had a yearling sale here for 45 years, until last year. The industry has
changed to the point of where the breeders would send us yearlings, good quality yearlings, but unfortunately our buyers here are mostly country trainers and they haven’t got the money to buy them.
I’ve very much enjoyed being a stock and station agent. You can get up of
a morning and go to work and you don’t know where you’re going to finish up that day. A very famous man called H.D. Bell, Henry Bell, was a very good friend of mine and a client. He rang me one morning at seven o’clock at home and he said, “Peter, I’ve got some cattle in the sale yards I’d like you to have a look at.” I said, “H.D., I’ve got a fair bit on today.” He told me it won’t take long – half an hour. And at the time he was living next door to me. I picked him up in five minutes, we went to the sale yards, looked at the cattle and we booked into a pub that night in Narrabri without a toothbrush between us.
You see, if you’re a farmer, you get up of the morning and you know you’re going to plough the back paddock or drench the weaners and you know exactly what you’re going to do. When you’re an agent, you can guarantee that on every day of your life something will happen that you don’t expect. That’s probably why I’ve enjoyed my life as an agent, because it’s the unexpected that keeps you intrigued, isn’t it?
As a stock and station agent, you make friendships as you are dealing with people
on a continuing basis. I’m still dealing with the family that was the first client my grandfather ever had in 1914.
- Photo by Sophia Rouse, interview by Darcee Nixon