There has been a flood of publicity for the recent Magic Million Horse Sale and Race, held at the Gold Coast last week, and rightly so, for this year the MM Race was Australia’s richest race and the yearling sales were a great success and both events drawing record crowds from all over Australia and also overseas.
However, I would like to take this opportunity to go back in time and pay a compliment to the founders of the Magic Million Horse sale concept. We go back to the 1970’s and the two men that started this incredible concept were fortunately for me, good mates of mine. Brisbane based businessman and grazier, the late Gordon McNicol and his friend Darling Downs thoroughbred breeder the late Carl Waugh.
Prior to Carl Waugh starting his horse studs in the Toowoomba district, he was a cattle dealer in Roma and a client of mine. I can vividly remember in the 1960’s Carl saying it was a pity we didn’t have a horse sale in Queensland to compete with the Sydney yearling sales. Well, together with Gordon McNicol they fixed that up in the 1970’s.
They commenced selling at the Ekka grounds, (the sale and race day then called the Golden Nugget), and then they moved their sales to the Gold Coast renaming it the Magic Million and racing the MM at the Gold Coast.. Their first sale was conducted in a large tent at the present site, before the present complex was built.
David Chester was one of the original auctioneers for this prestigious event and it is great to know he still wields the hammer for the Magic Million sales.
Now the Magic Million sale and race day is world class, but we should always remember the two gentlemen that put the concept together.
Huge Hay present from the South
It is always good to hear from my southern mate Bill Grant, from Moana NSW on the Victorian border during the Christmas New Year period. Bill gave me a first hand account of the amazing gift from southern farmers putting together around a 125 truck convey, carrying 5000 big bales of hay, to send to drought stricken graziers around the Longreach area.
The really highlights the strength and generosity of our pastoral brothers and sisters in sharing the benefits of a good season to rally behind the less fortunate producers caught in the grip of drought. It is to be applauded.
Bill Grant said the convoy of semi trailers left the Albury Wodonga areas and the trip to the Longreach area covered a distance of over 1800k.
Bill and his southern mates and I catch up every year at the Ekka and manage some quality time in appropriate places, occasionally out of the sun.
It was good to once again catch up with David Brook, Adria Downs Birdsville, during the Festive Xmas season. David had some positive news with a break in the season. He said handy falls had produced around 30-60mm in the district.
David and Nell Brook’s properties received the following - Adria Downs measured 38mm; Kamaran Downs 47mm; Alton Downs SA 68mm; Cordilla Downs 42mm; Murnpeowie 57mm and west to the Birdsville Track falls from 100-150mm were recorded. However, east of Birdsville falls were lighter, with Birdsville measuring 32mm. Also David said there was only a small flood in the Diamintina as most of the falls were good soaking rain.
Northern Rivers round-up
I caught up with old mate Brisbane based Northern Rivers NSW pastoralist Richard Barber early in the week after his return from NSW.
Richard said “We had a recent trip down the Pacific highway to Sydney and retuned via New England highway.”
“The countryside was very green with lush pasture, particularly down to Port Macquarie. Also, the Armidale to Dorrigo area was well pastured.”
“At our Kyogle property we had the best spring early summer rain of 450mls (18 inches) in past 8 years. Had 1350mls (54 inches) for year 2015, compared with 48 inch average.”
It was great to hear this positive news from Richard. Probably your shout?
While we are quoting falls over the border, my old ex Charleville mate Geoff Fennell rang to say his bother Mark measured 60mm over Christmas on his Narrabri property. Mark also had a good sale before Christmas with David McIvor, McDougall & Sons Warwick, selling cows for an average of $1760 with the tops making $1970.
Gus McGown bursary winner announced
Goondiwindi student Elizabeth McClymont will receive a $5000 education scholarship as the winner of the inaugural Gus McGown bursary.
AgForce General President Grant Maudsley said Ms McClymont, from the property Morennan was chosen because of her commitment to the future of Queensland agriculture.
"Elizabeth is currently studying her final year of Animal Science with a major in Livestock Production at the University of New England," Mr Maudsley said.
"I hope this helps her further her career in agriculture, but will also give us all a chance to remember Gus McGown, one of Queensland's finest graziers."
Elizabeth McClymont said it was a great honour to be awarded the bursary and to be associated with Gus McGown and his significant contribution to the agricultural industry.
"My upbringing on a cropping and grazing property north-east of Goondiwindi has fuelled my commitment and desire to develop a long term career in the Australian and international agricultural industry," she said.
"Along with my studies I am currently completing an honours program where I am looking at how different hormone growth promotants impact meat eating quality in beef cattle."
The bursary was named after long-time AgForce member and sheep grazier Gus McGown.
"The memorial bursary, which we announced last year, aims to reward one student with links to AgForce's Southern Inland Queensland region with funding to assist tuition fees for an accredited qualification, undergraduate study or post graduate levels within Australia," Mr Maudsley said.
"The bursary will also include a four-week AgForce internship to provide exposure to agri-political advocacy across the three AgForce commodities, communications, projects teams and school-to-industry partnerships program.
"Gus was a leader in agriculture in Queensland and this is a recognition of the enormous amount of work he did for producers in the areas of vegetation, carbon and landscape management and land tenure.
"In his roles as industry representative and advocate, he was a valued contributor to a range of AgForce, government and NGO boards and committees and developed respect among many stakeholders who constantly sought his and opinions on pastoral land management.
"Gus spent the majority of his life tending to sheep on his beloved property Jhelum Plains, near Bollon, while representing the grazing sector with his enormous intellect and wisdom."
Gus passed away in 2014 after a long-running battle with cancer.
The Bursary is sponsored by the Maranoa Graziers Trust and administered by AgForce.