Alan Ferguson

WITH tales of exploits on the ground and in the air across most of Queensland, Alan Ferguson has fitted a lot into his 91 years. The former Mactaggarts and Primac stud stock agent and pilot was a larger-than-life character in the Central and North Queensland stud cattle industry for close to 40 years.


Born in 1930 to dairy farmers at Bowenville, I grew up milking cows every day before and after riding my trusty pony 4 miles to school and back.

My dad William was a returned soldier from WWI and was an invalid from the war, so I was the man of the house from a young age. I worked on the farm until it was sold in 1946 and then at 15 years of age I was sent away jackarooing.

Early Working Career

My first job was working for the Taylor family at ‘Russell Park’, Surat, earning 42 pounds a year.

After 3 years, in 1949 I left ‘Russell Park’ and went working for a chap by the name of Rudolph Hirchfeld at Yelarbon.

Also during my single days, I went working on a property at Roma cutting Mulga for sheep with an axe.

During this time I met Marilyn, and we married in 1950. Those times were tough after the war, Bob Menzies was the prime minister and he instigated the credit squeeze. We were living in Brisbane, and decided to head west in search of work.

We bought an old ute and stopped in every town looking for a job. We camped in the back of the ute and shot roos along the way, selling their skins for money.

Eventually, we got a job working on the well-known Dirranbandi sheep station ‘Booligar’, owned by the Crothers family. I started there as a ringer and ended up managing another of the family’s places,’Boorumbirra’, also at Dirranbandi.

We were on ‘Boorumbirra’ during the big flood of 1956, and couldn’t get off the property for six months due to floodwaters. When the flood was over, someone flew over the property in an old Auster plane and dropped a bundle of papers and mail. I said to Marilyn that day that I knew what my future held, and that is when I decided I wanted to learn to fly.

We gave notice soon after that and returned to Brisbane where I spent the next few months gaining my pilot’s license.

After that our next move was again out west working as manager of a sheep and cattle property, ‘Ringwood’, at Wandoan in the early 1960s. Whilst there I served as president of the Wandoan Show Society.

Alan shearing sheep while managing Ringwood, Wandoan.

Agency Career

In 1963 I joined the agency game, starting work for Mactaggarts in Brisbane. We were then sent to Clermont to open a new branch for the company. During my time as manager of the Clermont branch, we were the first in the country to transport sheep in open rail wagons.

“Transporting sheep in open rail wagons, captured at Clermont around 1965/66. Bill Lewis was the Primaries manager and at the time, in opposition to Alan at Mactaggarts. The 3 Lewis boys Mark, Phil & Andrew are seen taking a keen interest in the unloading. Andrew Lewis would go onto become a Primac Guru and Branch manager in his own career.”

Photo thanks to Andrew Lewis.

In 1967 we were transferred to Rockhampton Branch and I became the full-time company pilot, where I flew thousands of kilometres and inspected a lot of cattle across the length and breadth of Queensland.

The Beechcraft Bonanza was Mactaggarts and Primac’s plane of choice, which I flew for all the years I worked for the company. The plane made them money, as I could get to three or four jobs in a day by flying. Our company was very forward-thinking and Doug Mactaggart was a very progressive man.

I remember ringing Marilyn from Mt Isa one night and telling her I’d be on the ground in Rocky in the morning to refuel. She had my bag with clean clothes waiting for me and I switched bags and kept going. I was away for seven weeks at a time on occasions. I flew the Bonanza for close to 30 years, and never put a dent in an aeroplane.

I saw vast changes in the company during my 30-odd years with them, including the merger of Mactaggarts with Primaries during the beef depression in 1975.

I moved into stud stock and eventually became the stud and blood stock manager for Central and North Queensland for Primac and worked there until my first retirement in 1985.

“While judging cattle at the Rockhampton Show in 1984, Alan met up with his old friend, Professor of Veterinary Preventative Medicine, John Francis.”

Community Volunteering

Marilyn and I became involved in all aspects of life in Rockhampton, including many years of service to the local show society, race club and girl guides.

Alan and Marilyn with one of their thoroughbreds, McHanush, which won several races over the years.

Photo taken by Primac Guru, Kent B Ward when working at QCL

In August, 1985, and Marilyn and I were honoured at a dinner hosted by the Fitzroy Shire Council (Rockhampton), and four adjoining shire councils. The chairman and deputy chairman of each shire threw the dinner for us and said they had never had anyone in their shires that had worked so tirelessly for their regions.

I also had the privileged of being a stud cattle and horse judge at shows throughout the state. I am an honorary life member of both the Australian Braford and Charbray breed societies.

A highlight was judging cattle at Honiara in the Solomon Islands during a visit by Queen Elizabeth II, and my involvement in live cattle exports covering other Pacific countries such as New Guinea, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Fiji.


I initially retired in 1985 and reckoned I’d had enough. We bought a lovely little property outside Rockhampton to spell our racehorses. We were as happy as larry with our horses and our Brahman cows, however, Primac asked me to come back. As a result in 1987, I resumed my role as stud stock manager at Rockhampton, until my second retirement in 1994.

Alan with a young Brahman heifer on the Rocky property he and Marilyn retired to in 1985″.

We spent 10 years at our little place in Rocky until we moved to a 40-acre block west of Allora in 2004, where we still live today.

We purchased the Allora place as a spelling depot for our racehorses, which were trained in Toowoomba.

Nowadays, we lead a quieter life, staying firmly on the ground. Whilst we gave away racing thoroughbreds a while ago we still have horses and enjoy looking after them ourselves.

I am 91 and Marilyn is 90. We do not have email or the internet. We do however have a landline phone and would be happy to hear from any old Primac Guru’s who want to say hello.

* Last updated 01/02/2021

Source: Sunshine Coast Daily

Posted in : Primac Gurus