OBITUARY: Well-known and widely-respected Central Western Queensland grazier and eldest resident of the Blackall district, Phillip Sydney Adams of Darracourt, Blackall, died on Tuesday January 22, aged 96.
He was an engaging man, always ready to have a yarn about cattle prices, the value of crossbreeding, where the storms were building or where the rain had been, the growing dingo problem, Federer’s backhand and anything tennis related.
With his vast knowledge to share gained from working the land for nine decades, Phillip showed a keen awareness in happenings around him, watching television and avidly reading to the end.
"Who’s got my Country Life?" was his catchcry.
Born in Rockhampton on September 29, 1916, to Sydney and Margaret Adams (nee Shepherd), Phillip was the eldest brother of Pansy, Clifford (deceased) and Gordon.
The family lived on Sydenham, east of Yalleroi, surrounded by grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins on a multitude of family grazing properties.
With his mother as governess, most of Phillip’s schooling was through correspondence papers delivered by pack-horse.
He was proud of being top of the class in his second and final year at Jericho State School in 1931.
With an enduring love of the land, he returned to Sydenham to work alongside his father, breaking in horses, doing contract work, dam sinking using draught horses, putting up windmills and pulling bores, and ‘roo shooting.
At 19 years, Phillip worked on Corinda and associated properties managed by Cecil Rich around Lake Galilee north of Aramac, learning from accomplished and experienced stockmen.
The large scale of the operation at Corinda fascinated Phillip who would often talk of the day their 11-man team marked 25,000 lambs at one time.
In partnership with his father, Phillip added Darracourt as an additional area to Sydenham in 1939, and later bought Rellim in 1977, their grazing interests then totalling 64,000 acres.
In 1953 Phillip married Zena Doris Reilly from the Condamine, who was governessing the Allan children on Erne.
They then spent their first few years at Sydenham before moving onto Darracourt. Milling timber from the Yalleroi family properties, Phillip built the Darracourt house, adding to it as the family expanded.
Here together they would spend the next 53 years raising six children and developing a successful grazing enterprise.
Phillip saw his main achievements as being sheep and cattle property management, with the highlight of his life being breeding quality cattle.
Over 100 years ago his father bought a few head of Hereford/Shorthorn cross heifers from his uncle, as the basis for their first herd, although their primary industry for many of the earlier years was wool growing.
In 1973/74, the family switched to cattle breeding and they continually looked for opportunities to improve their quality with the infusion of Hereford, Braford, Simmental, Brahman and, most recently, Santa genetics.
From 1980, with the passing of his father, Phillip worked in partnership with his son, Ashley.
Two years ago, he moved into the Barcoo Retirement Village with Zena, but continued to take an active interest in the family properties, doing his final water run on his four-wheeler with his dog, Bonnie, on Boxing Day 2012.
Phillip will be remembered as a pioneer of buffel grass, winning several pasture improvement prizes and being instrumental in developing innovative harvesting and screening equipment.
His sporting passion was tennis, self-taught from the age of 10.
From their ant bed tennis court at Sydenham, Phillip went on to play very competitively in many tournaments and shields across the Central West, and socially at the ‘Wimbledon’ courts on Erne.
This love for tennis has now spanned five generations.
Phillip’s grandparents arrived in the Aramac/Jericho area in the 1880s.
Philip had many poignant memories of the early days in the Central West.
The greatest changes he saw over his many years were in transport, communication and refrigeration.
He would often recall racing off down the track with his younger sister and brothers to meet their grandmother approaching their house in her horse and buggy.
More of Phillip’s memories included the erection of the first bush telephone lines, his uncles’ wagons fully loaded with wool bales and being pulled by 16 horses, delving boredrains and grading firebreaks on Corinda using horse teams, seeing VC winner Edgar Towner in full military uniform arriving at the Yalleroi Railway Station and being fascinated by the first aircraft, which was selling Semco sewing products, to land in Jericho.
As a boy, Phillip trained his team of 11 goats to bring water up to the house for family use.
On one occasion, they were used to cart 67 loads of antbed in preparation for building the home tennis court where friends and neighbours would spend many enjoyable hours.
Goats also provided the family with milk and meat.
Phillip’s affection for his family was obvious and ran deep.
Tears of pride would well in his eyes when he spoke of the achievements of his children.
He set an excellent example to them and others with his commitment to do the job well and to the best of his ability.
He will be remembered for saying up until the last: “You’re never too old to stop learning - I’m still learning! ” as he buried his head in yet another Queensland Country Life, reading the latest developments in genetics, crossbreeding, property sales and the coal seam gas industry.
Phillip will be cherished forever by his family.
He is survived by his wife, formerly Zena Reilly of Miles, his son, Ashley Adams, Darracourt, his five daughters; Janneale Bylett, Thornlands, Brisbane, Wendy Just, Summerholm, Robyn Adams, Stratford, Blackall, Kathryn Moloney, Happy Valley, Wallumbilla, and Lesley Adams, Booringa Downs, Mitchell, and six grandchildren; Courtney and Laura Bylett, Lain Adams, Amy and Phillipa Moloney and Chelsea Just,. He is also survived by his sister, Pansy Clews and brother, Gordon Adams, Rockhampton.
Phillip earned the respect of many for his clean, honest approach to life, enduring capacity for hard work and focus on getting the job done. In the words of Red Politch who has now worked at Darracourt for many years, ‘Your father was a mighty man’ and in the words of his children, ‘He was a mighty fine Dad too!’
The funeral service took place at the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Blackall on Friday January 25, followed by graveside prayers with many family and friends paying their last respects to a true man of the land, bushman, cattleman, sportsman, family man and gentleman; one of our finest.