David (Fred) Morgan

In his Primac days, David Morgan was better known as Fred to most of his colleagues and clients alike. David represented Primac in numerous branches during his time from the late 1970’s through to February of 1989.

My life before Primac, as told by David (Fred) Morgan

I am the son of an accountant who worked for Australian Estates in Miles, Quilpie and Goomeri (S.A. Perrett and Co.).  I had met and keenly remember people such as Trevor Odling, Tony Craig and John Dowling, all from Quilpie, and Tim Clifford from Miles.

The early days at Miles

I remember Tim Clifford telling me some yarns about my dad when Tim was a youngster, and was working for Australian Estates for a very short time.  One that comes to mind was Tim had sold something and couldn’t remember who to, so he booked it out (pre computer days) to “A. Stranger”.  Apparently when sending the monthly invoices and accounts out, my dad was not overly impressed with the loss.  Tim claimed as he couldn’t remember who it was it must have been “A. Stranger”!  I always enjoyed Tim’s logic.

At an young age I displayed an enterprising streak!

At Quilpie I would avoid school on Sale Day – the last Wednesday of the month, and go out to help draft early in the morning of the Sale Day and then run the pencillers slips from the auction rail to the accountant – my dad.  In 1963 / 64 / 65 I would earn the princely sum of £1.00 = $2.00 now days.  Then next morning I would wake and ride my bike over to the trucking yards and assist trucking out the cattle on the train.  The start time was about 2:30 am and there was always a piece of steak and a mug of tea waiting for me when I got to the yards.  The men kept an eye of me and the clock, and at 8:30am precisely they would toss my bike in the back of a ute and drive me home.  As I raced in for a shower, they placed my bike against the fence and mum would give them my school bag and my lunch which they would load onto the bike ready for me to get away to school. I usually made it to school as the last pupil was walking up the steps into school after morning parade and that got me another £1.00.

During the drought of 64 / 65 there were a lot of sheep and cattle being trained out of Quilpie – so much so that the line was that year the biggest earner for Queensland Rail.  Anyway, loading sheep into N wagons is always a pain and particularly if you were a bigger person and you scored the lower deck.  Anyway, the men soon worked out I could count to 50 or 100 reasonably accurately and so I was often placed in the lower deck to pen (where the pee and poo rained down from the top deck) and close off the wagons.  At the latter stages of the drought the Rail could not supply N wagons so they supplied H or HO wagons – the large flat wagons with sides ….. and a roll of netting for each wagon.  The idea was to load the wagon and roll out the netting as a cover to prevent sheep jumping out.  Well, there was always a few escapees and I was quickly appointed to be of the far side of the wagon with a bundle of baling twine with the express purpose of chasing any escapee on my bike and then “bulldog” the sheep and time them up.  They were all loaded into the ute and added to the last wagon.  Yep, another £1.00.  By the end of 1965 I had accumulated over £500.00.

I remember Trevor Odling and his amazing ability to draw. At the Primaries home in Quilpie, I can vividly remember a series of ducks taking off from a lake, that he had drawn.  They were so realistic.  I discussed this with Trevor after I joined Primac and he was in Head Office in Finance – I think. 

Goomeri was home for a short time!

When in Goomeri, I met on several occasions, Earl and Buck Pratt of Murgon. They along with the Perrett boys could tell some wild yarns.

My schooling years!

I was educated at Miles State School for early primary,

Quilpie for middle primary

Goomeri for the last of primary and

Murgon State High for my high school through to Grade 10 – Junior.

Off to Queensland Agricultural College in 1971!

I went to Queensland Agricultural College (QAC) Gatton – 1970 – 71 and completed as certificate in Animal Husbandry.

First “real” job – A jackaroo, but more opportunities to follow!

1972 – I went to work as a jackeroo on Darr River Downs Longreach.  Darr River was an 85,000-acre sheep property located at Morella siding half way between Longreach and Winton.  Darr River was a Primaries client.  I did meet a number of Primaries men when they were canvassing however, I can’t remember anyone except Mr Gordon Reid.

1973 – QAC – Gatton College for an Advanced Certificate in Stock and Meat Inspection.

1974 – 1977 – Department of Primary Industries – Animal Research Institute – Toorak Research Station – Julia Creek

1977 – Droving and contract mustering.  Best trip was from Mymong Station Kynuna to South Galway, Windorah.  1610 had of steers that we walked down the Diamantina, cut across to the Thomson just west of Longreach and down to Retreat station where the Thomson and Barcoo join to form Cooper Creek.  Then down to South Galway.  Mr Gordon Reid came out and inspected the mob at Retreat and purchased them for AA Co. with the delivery at South Galway. 

I was acting “babbling brook” – cook at the time we were approaching Retreat and I went ahead of the mob to set up night camp, start a fire and prepare the evening meal.  I went through a fence and set up on the western side of the fence.  There was and had been a prevailing westerly so all the rolly polly and grass tops were piled against the west of the fence.  I selected a camp area and set up a half moon electric fence for the travelling mob.  I cleared a very large area for the fire and lit a fire in the middle of the cleared area ready to start cooking dinner.  As I was unloading the swags from the truck, a sudden gist of wind from the east blew and I froze as I watched one – just one lousy tinder dry rolly polly roll ahead of the breeze from the east and the fence straight to my fire.  As it blew through my fire and lit up, I jumped down from the truck and grabbed a hessian bag (after emptying out our dry salted beef), poured 2 gallons of water into the bag and immediately commenced chasing down the rolly polly that was lighting up the beautiful stand of Mitchell grass – all well outside my cleared area.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared and so focused in my life.  Anyway, after what seemed an eternity and was probably 10 minutes, I had the dire out.  Just then the”cocky” turned up to say g’day.  I stood there sweat dripping off me and petrified as to what he would say about almost setting his place on fire.  He got out of his vehicle, took a look at the extinguished fire (about 40 metres long and no more than a metre wide) and the large fire break I had built.  “Jeezes you were bloody unlucky weren’t ya mate”!  Never felt so relieved in my life.

I made the mistake of telling this local grazier at Windorah that we were off next morning taking the horse plant home and that I had drawn a short straw and had a young flighty horse to ride behind the mob tomorrow.  Didn’t think anything of it what he asked about times, places and directions of travel.  That is until about 9.00 am in the middle of the Windorah common the bloody aircraft had cut it’s engine and glided over, coming up from behind me and the young horse.  As it got directly above it restarted the engine. Scared the hell out of the young horse, it leapt high and I was fortunate enough to stay with it and as I looked across, I am sure I was looking eyeball to eyeball with the (in)famous Sandy Kidd.  Only the washer woman knew just how scared I was that day.

We were contract mustering on Mymong after the trip and put together a mob of about 1200 Territory cattle, rough bastards and just a little mad.  We were walking them for 7 days to another place and as they were flighty I had been awake for more than 48 hours when absolute tiredness got the better of me and I crashed out in my swag not far from the truck.  I had crashed about midnight and the mob jumped and rushed about 2:00 am.  I remember hearing them however was so tired I just lay there in my swag.  I looked up at some stage when I could hear hooves getting nearby.  I could see stars then the flashed out then they were back again.  I just closed my eyes and went back to sleep.  Next morning, I had a horse’s hoof on either side of me on the extended swag wrap.  One of the ringers was getting pushed wide and literally rode over the top of me.  Despite the prayers of many, I’m still here.

I ended up back at Darr River Downs just before Christmas in 1977.  On a trip to town, I decide, on a whim to make an appointment with Mr Gordon Reid and see if Primaries were hiring.  He talked for about 30 minutes and took my details.  He said next time I was in Brisbane I should make an appointment to discuss employment with Mr Jim Heading.  I did just that and was offered a start at Primac Dirranbandi starting March 1978.

David’s time line with Primac started at Dirranbandi in March 1978

After a meeting with Mr Jim Heading in Brisbane I was offered a start with Primac.  My letter of appointment as a probationary cadet stock salesman stated I was to start in Dirranbandi working by Mr Barry Dixon.

I rattled into “Dirran” and settled into the quarters at the rear of the office.  Keen as mustard to make a good go of this new venture I went to the pub around 5:30 pm.  It seemed like a way to meet some of the locals.  I sat on a bar stool and put my money on the bar, ordered a pot and settled in.  I noticed a group of locals watching me from the corner.  After a bit, an old geezer makes his way from the group and comes around to me and without preamble says “You the new agent in town”.  “Yeah, yeah I am” I said and stuck out my hand to shake his. The old bloke turns his back, scuttles back to his mob of mates and starts some conversation.

I had just finished my pot and ordered another when the old bloke comes back and again, without preamble says “You shear sheep?”  Thinking carefully as to where this conversation could go, I replied “Nah, can’t shear sheep”.  He again wandered off to his group.  He returned a short time later and stated “Ya been to Bourke?”  Again, not sure where this was all leading, I replied “No, never been to Bourke”.  With that he again turns his back and scuttles back to his group of mates.  Then in a very loud voice so that all in the bar could hear he announces, “Yeah, that’s the new agent in town, been nowhere and can’t do a farking thing”. That was my introduction to “Dirran”.

Mr Barry Dixon had organized two sheep sales, and hence why I had been deployed to Dirran.  The sales were on property at “Ballandool” l to the southwest, and a property to the south east (owned by Paul Cato and Malcolm Neil(?)).  The day before I was assigned to “Ballandool” to assist with the drafting and set up of the sale.  We finished well after dark, using the headlights of the vehicles for light.. 

“Dear Lord please deliver me from Hebel!”

The sales at both properties progressed well.  I was at “Ballandool” for the entire day and was still trucking sheep late into the evening.  Tony Hammond led me to the Hebel Pub where he plied me with plenty of drinks as his way of saying thank you for the efforts of the day.  Without any food since lunch time, the alcohol had a very quick effect and somewhere about midnight I remember chanting the Lords prayer “Dear Lord, please deliver me from Hebel”!  I had to be over at the Cato / Neil property by daylight the next morning.

I arrived at the Cato / Neil property and worked there all day loading out sheep.  Finished for the day and made my way home.  I was having some very serious thoughts on being an agent at this point.

A couple of weeks later Barry had organised the dispersal sale of NEE NEE Poll Hereford stud in conjunction with AML&F.  This went reasonably well considering the cattle industry was just crawling up from the horrific market crash.  There were a number of cows passed in and there appeared no market for them.  Barry and Bernie then took annual leave and left me in the office “un supervised” and Cathy Nolan (Margaret Nolan’s eldest daughter) as the accounts clerk.  Barry had left town, the heavens opened up and Mr Jack Hammond from “Ballandool” decided to make an offer on the passed in females.  Now, the phones were still party lines and open to the vagaries of wet weather, so continuous contact was a bit “hit and miss”.  Eventually over a period of some 36 hours – the total weekend and part of the Monday, I negotiated the sale of the females.  Thankfully Mr Hammond knew what, and how to proceed with things, as I was so wet behind the ears.

Barry and Bernie returned from leave and the clearing sale of “Nee Nee” was organized and programmed in.  The plan was for me to go down very early with the AML:&F blokes and Barry would come down later in my vehicle.  All the books and office requirements for the sale were on the back table ready for first thing in the morning.  I woke a bit early and thinking of doing the right thing, I loaded all the office items into my car for Barry to bring down later.  I left early and Barry had a change of plan.  He checked the back table, saw the office stuff gone and assumed I had taken it with me and the AML&F blokes.  Barry drove down in his car and asked me where the office stuff was.  I said “on the back seat”.  That’s when Barry realized what I had done.  I was requested to take his car to town, pick up the items and return.  From memory it was about a 45-minute trip one way and the sale started in one hour.  Well, we all know agents’ cars can fly or at least are supposed to!  In my haste to get to town, I managed to park Barry’s car against a tree about half way.  I scrounged a lift, got my car and made it back to the sale only a little bit late.  Now Mr Derek Andersen was not overly impressed and thankfully Barry was able to steer him round and I managed to keep my job.

I recall one of my last encounters at Dirran. I was to complete the sale of a mob of sheep from a client on the Bollon / Goodooga Road.  I was to leave at 4:30 am.  During the night there had been a large fall of rain in Dirran and no amount of trying could I raise anyone on the party line of with close proximity to the roads and property. So, dutifully I set off.  The further I progressed, the worse the roads got and the heavier the rain had been.  By the time I had worked out the roads were cut and the job off, I was too far committed and was unable to turn around.  A few kilometres on, the rain had lightened off and I made it to the client’s property, a couple of hours late however in time for breakfast.  After the feed and many unsuccessful attempts to phone Barry, I headed off towards Bollon.  I knew it would have been impossible to return the way I had come.  I never made it.  I got undone by the slippery top and steep table drain and ended up camping the night. Daylight next morning I walked six kilometres into a property.  First was a drink of water, a cup of tea and a feed and then a smoke. I was then able to contact Barry and let home know I was safe and OK, and would make it back to the office late that afternoon.

Three and a half months as an agent – man what a ride this gig was.  Far too much fun to be had to walk away from this.

Transferred to Millmerran Branch in July of 1978.

I got the transfer to Millmerran and started working with Mr Hugh Johnson. Hugh was a larger-than-life character who had gained my transfer by telling head office that he could handle the business coming into the office however there was just too much walking past the door.  Jodie McCullough was the office manager and I mean manager; it fell upon her to keep Hugh and consequently me in line and ensure we met our paperwork targets. Jodie used to leave hand-written messages for when I got back after hours.  They were always so detailed and so precise that when I followed up it was so easy.

Hugh started the Millmerran Grain Trading business and he was making some success from that.  The intricacies always eluded me and we agreed to leave me deal with the stock.  Millmerran had open sales and a central selling ring.  The yarding was almost all yearlings and strapping good types they were too.  Millmerran used to sell on the Wednesday so late Tuesday arvo was taken up with drafting and preparing for the sale.  It didn’t take long for me to work out that as we were busy on the Wednesday and Catons sold on the Tuesday, they were out canvassing our area very hard while we were busy selling.  Hugh and I devised a ploy that we used to counter the Toowoomba is best deal from Catons – best left unsaid here as Hugh is no longer with us to defend us.

We had some wonderful clients such as Mr Alex Paton, Evan Paton from Bringalilly, the Jones from Cattle Creek, Maurie Moffatt and his extended family, Ken Elborne, Mrs Tickle and her sons Ross and (??), and my favourite was always Mrs Nancy Clay.  Mrs Clay used to always make a great morning tea when I let her know I was going to be up that way.  Mrs Nancy Clay and her brothers – the Barkla men had some huge holdings for Millmerran and dealt in a lot of cattle.  They shared their business about however if you got a share, it was always sweet.

Hugh took a holiday and for some reason, which I can’t remember why, I was without a vehicle so I was using my own.  Anyways sale day was approaching and it was massive, I had somehow got more cattle to sell than any previous numbers.  It must have been a flash as all agents had increased numbers and we were using both sets of cattle yards.  Early sale day I had dropped a permit off to Ken Elborne Junior at the abattoir and was making my way back to the sale yards.  It was about 6:00 am and mid-November, the grass and wheat had hayed off and all golden brown.  I was approaching the Millmerran / Inglewood Road and looked in every direction and thought it strange that there were no trucks delivering last minute loads to the saleyards.  Halfway across the intersection I was hit by Joe Munster driving a small Datsun 180B with a sandy coloured vinyl top.  Joe had been in a lowered floodway when I had looked and the roof was the same colour as the grass / wheat and hence I did not see him.  Anyways, another prang.  Derek Andersen wasn’t so concerned as it was my vehicle this time.  Don’t tell him however my T&E was up a bit to pay for the insurance excess.

Millmerran wasn’t a fun branch as Hugh expected a lot and there were few youngsters around my age.  Having said that though, I did have some fun weekends with Peter and Don Barkla and Ross Tickle.

It will take more than a little nerve gas to get rid of me!

There were quarters attached to the office or more accurately the office was a front portion of a house in the main street of Millmerran.  With Hugh’s seed dealings a growing business, he stacked every room with bags of seed grain which left only the kitchen / dining room and bathroom for my quarters. I’m sure at some stage Hugh decided he didn’t like me because on most Friday nights he would fill the various bedrooms stacked with seed grain with Phostoxin.  I would do my very best to disappear on a Friday night and when I got back on a Saturday open up every possible opening to cross ventilate and empty out the smell.  It was only years later that I found out that Phostoxin is supposedly harmful to humans.  I used to taunt Hugh that it would take more than a little nerve gas to get rid of me.

I got word just before Christmas in 1978 that I was being transferred to Alpha starting as early as I could in the new year.  I was asked to stop in and meet Tom Scanlon, the Manager of Rockhampton and Dick Graham the stock salesman who had been the manager of Alpha.  I don’t know why, however I really struggled to gain rapport with them for my tenure at Alpha.  I just didn’t seem to ask the right question or do the right thing.  I did get along with the merchandise men very well, particularly Barry Kane and we formed a very strong working bond.

Merv Fazaldean was manager of Aust Estates, and Bill Haley was Dalgety manager during my time there.

Alpha Branch: January 1979 – June 1984

Dolores Sparrow had been keeping the doors open since Dick Graham had moved on to Rocky.  Dolores wanted a holiday and I was to “fill in”.  Dolores had done and continued to do an outstanding job and in all honestly was the real driving force behind the success of Alpha.  I’m not sure what was planned after that for me however as I always did, do the very best ya can at the time and place you’re at. 

The cattle market was moving up and prospects looked good.  In the four weeks Dolores was away I worked the phone and the canvassing as hard as I could.  I did a “deal” with the local exchange ladies to take down messages for me and I would call everyone back when I got home.  Merchandise and cattle numbers exploded.  By the end of February Mr Heading rang and told me that they were opening Alpha as a full branch again and that I would be manager.  I received a letter the next week confirming that and then the bookwork arrived – Bugger!!

The first client I met with a load of cattle to be railed to Gracemere was Keith Sparrow , Dolores husband.  Keith had given me the drum that he expected a drink of rum when he had completed the delivery.  I met him at the trucking yards with a brand-new bottle of Bundy, two mugs and some fresh water.  I offered the bottle to Keith however he said your bottle you take the first nip.  And I thought I’d show the man so I poured four nips, and filled my pannikin with the water.  I drank heartily.  Keith poured half the bottle into his pannikin and waved the water over the top and swallowed the rum in two gulps.  I thought that was all show so I took five nips and two glugs of water thinking he can’t repeat that show.  I forced myself to take very large mouthfuls and not gag.  Keith just smiled his lopsided smile, poured in the rest of the rum and didn’t even pretend to put any water into the pannikin.  He swallowed the neat rum in two mouthfuls.  I knew right there and then that I had met a true professional Bundaberg Rum drinker and it would always be best to feign an excuse not to drink with him again.  Over the course of four years we did have some wonderful sessions and one really, really bad session.

Whilst stationed at Alpha, David (Fred) secured his General Auctioneers Licence on the 17th September 1982. Photo supplied by David Morgan.

Trouble with the Stock Inspector!

Alpha was a clearing dip for livestock moving west or south.  Kevin Cook, the “Stockie” was a great bloke however like the rest of us he could occasionally “crack the shits”.  There was a mob from Rocky off loaded at Alpha going to Blackall.  As the spelling agent, I unloaded them, fed them and prepared them for the dipping.  The dipping went well and I expected just a casual inspection of the waybill and permit and the issuing of a new one.  Well, this day Cookie took exception to the abysmal descriptions on the waybill and refused to write a new permit until a full and comprehensive waybill was filled out to his satisfaction.  It was a Saturday and bless her, Dolores came in ad we worked for six hours running the cattle up the race and doing our very best to record each and every brand.  Cookie was happy enough to accept the way bill and write a permit out for me so the cattle moved on.  The agents in Rocky were less than impressed when I hit them for a labour bill to write up a proper waybill.  There were rumblings about using Robbie Peckett (local boy made good and opened up his own agency), and a couple did, and found the exact same problem so the Rocky boys learned to fill in waybills correctly or pay the consequences.

Jack Lawless-Pyne was a grazier with a great block east of Alpha towards the Drummond Range.  The road to Emerald over the range was still dirt and fairly rough at that.  Jack and Mrs Lawless-Pyne were coming home late one night from Rocky.  Jack needed to stop for a pee on top of the range.  Out he got and did his business.  Popped back in the cart and drove home.  It was only when he got to the horse paddock gate and Mrs Pyne was not in the seat nor getting out to open the gate that Jack realized, he had left her behind on the range doing her business.  Apparently, Jack raced home, woke his son and told him he had lost his mother.  Jack and the son retraced the steps and found her on top of the range waiting patiently.  Jack’s reasoning for not noticing was that “at our age we’ve said all we need to say and I was concentrating on the road so there was no need to talk until she wouldn’t get out and open the gate”!!  Not sure old Jack ever lived that one down.

The Dillons of Surbiton were clients and had a very small flock of sheep.  We had their clip – all eight bales each year.  At a Managers meeting (and living up to my reputation of saying it as it is) I’d been asked by Bill Lewis from Barcaldine and Ernie Harriman from Aramac to ask Tom O’Brien about lifting the wool rebate to $8.00 per bale.  Well In for a penny – in for a pound and so I did ask Tom – in front of Mr Campbell.  Tom took it in good grace and asked if he gave me the $8.00 per bale how much more wool could I get him?  My reply was that when you’ve got 100% of the district clip it’s bloody hard to increase the take. Tom smiled, shook his head and asked who had set him up.  Mum was always the word.

Off to Indonesia for Christmas!

The export trade was on in earnest and late December 1981 I was asked if I would take a boat load of cattle across to Indonesia.  Well, I was a natural – single and unattached so that were the qualifications that got me the gig.  I met up with Margie Neil and the export team in Rocky and loaded the cattle onto road transport for delivery to port in Gladstone.  We were to fly down to Gladstone.  We loaded into the Beach Barron and took off from Rocky.  At 50 feet up, the cabin filled with smoke. I was in the front with the pilot and Margie and three Indonesian vets were in the back.  Only two of the three green lights were on for the down and locked landing gear.  The pilot did four passes over the control tower and all agreed it “should” be OK to land.  We circled about for a few minutes and then landed and the pilot gave me instructions to get everyone out as soon as we came to a stop.  Well, the plane landed, I flung my door open, stepped onto the wing nearly tore the passenger door from its hinges and reached in front of the vets and dragged Margie out first. I was on a mission to ensure no Primac person got left behind.

We made Gladstone and the boat the M.V. Braham Express with 900 brahman heifers and 100 bulls sailed next morning from Gladstone.  Up through the Whitsundays it was like a pane of glass and so smooth that I was getting queasy.  The captain was worried as to how I would handle the Torres Strait which would be rougher.  Once we turned the corner and hit the rough stuff, I as on top of the world and had a fantastic voyage.  Christmas day was spent on board, three days out from Palu, Sulawesi.  We unloaded in record time and seeing the cattle through quarantine started.  All went well until day 10 when the cattle broke out into blisters – something like mosquito bites that got infected and bubbled up.  Another seven days in quarantine.  Was an absolutely marvelous experience though.

The M.V. Brahman Express was a Dutch registered vessel and was originally a Roll On – Roll Off ferry for vehicles and plied the European waters. It was converted to carry cattle (very few modifications) and was the vessel I was to escort a load of cattle from Gladstone to Sulawesi, Indonesia.

We loaded one night in late December ( I suspect it was the 20th of December) with 900 brahman heifers and 100 brahman bulls, and departed early next morning. The waters were as smooth as glass and we made good progress. The cattle travelled very well and there was plenty of room for individuals to lay down. The fodder was of great quality, and very plentiful.

We celebrated Christmas in Indonesian waters. The cook prepared a huge turkey with all the trimmings and was shared by the entire crew

We tied up at Palu on the southwestern tip of Sulawesi on the 28th December.

The unloading began. I must admit I was in shock as the truck drivers were busy building “crates”, for their trucks to carry the cattle. All construction was of bamboo! There was no organisation of vehicle movement or orderly loading. I grabbed an offcut of bamboo and started to tap trucks to get the drivers to move them, and got them into an orderly fashion, so unloading could begin. Once unloading began and I cleared the chaos, the trucks fell into an orderly rhythm and the Captain was very impressed as the boat was unloaded nine hours quicker than planned.

Once unloaded, cattle were taken to a quarantine facility where they were monitored and processed through Indonesian standards. When quarantine was finalised, the stock were distributed to the various local farmers at various villages. Each animal then had a nose piercing and rope applied.

It was a wonderous experience

Married in November 1982!

I met and married my bride in Alpha.  She of course came from Brissy and was a Registered Nurse.  We got married in late November 1982 and had a seven-week honeymoon traveling the coast of Queensland.  Once we got home, I went to work on the Monday and came home that night and did not see her awake again for eight days.  The cattle market had kicked off and I was off with clients buying cattle.  Leaving at 3:00 or 4:00 am and returning at 10:00 or 11:00 pm and always in my vehicle.  The biggest mob we bought was up near Kynuna and the buyer and seller were $7.50 apart.  My client suggested “tossing a coin for the difference”.  I paled, tossed the coin and walked away.  We lost and it cost a cool $15,000.00 dollars extra.

My first flight in a helicopter was at Ewan Mulcahy’s Drummond Slopes.  They were chopper mustering and I was invited down and on arrival asked if I would like to be the spotter.  I said yes and had a thoroughly brilliant time.  Not knowing anything about choppers I asked the pilot about a shake that was in the craft on take-off and landing.  He just blew the question away. Two days later it shook apart on the strip at Charleville – no severe injuries.

Bill Lewis had the show sale in Barcy and asked for some help.  Up I went and unbeknown to me the hierarchy from Brissy were there.  A great sale and great PR for Primac and Bill.  After the sale, a couple of cartons were produced and everyone was standing around.  After a while (I was on a timeline – had to be home before 6:00 pm. – a restricted driver’s license that nobody knew about and I only had a week to go) I asked why no one was opening stubbies or drinking.  Mr Heading said there is no opener.  Hell. I’ll fix that and immediately commenced to open stubbies using another stubby.  Mr Heading was impressed however did wonder how one of his managers had learned such a thing.  I explained it merely being a resourceful employee and not wanting the clients to miss out. Jeezes, who drinks hot beer?

Gary Everingham, a first nation person and employee of Keith and Dolores Sparrow challenged me to ride a bullock at the Alpha Rodeo and whoever got the furthest, didn’t have to buy the beer.  I came out first and got about 18 metres from the chute – about a 5-second ride.  Gary was next out and fell not quiet as far out as I.  Unfortunately, he got kicked in the throat by the Dave Hoch bullock when falling and this cut his trachea.  Gary passed away three days later in Brisbane.  I learned just how fragile life is and how simply things could go wrong.

I drove up to a new client just north of Jericho and had lunch. The outstandingly attractive jillaroo was sticking a cardboard box or appropriate proportions together. The discussion came around that it was the fancy dress party they were going to later that week.  The client said he was going as a mechanic.  So what’s the jillaroo going as asks I, scratching my head.  Ah, she’s the mechanics tool box.  Boom Tish!!

This client also had a magnificent Mustang aircraft with machineguns still in place, was a very capable engineer, had a very straight driveway about three kms long and showed me where he set up the M60 machine gun with ammo.  He was also known to have had pistol shoot outs with another disgruntled neighbour at the boundary.

I sold a mob of stores in Alpha. About 600 head and the price was delivered Alpha dip, clean of tick.  Well once the cattle arrived, I inspected the mob and to this day I’m convinced they were swapped out.  Not knowing what to do I rang Mr Reid and spoke with him for half an hour.  I could describe beasts from the lead, the middle and the tail that were there and also that were missing.  He recommended I get the purchasers back and if they agreed the mob had been switched then cancel the sale if not then I would front the bill for flying them back to Alpha.  I got them back and the cattleman agreed that they were not the same mob, the farmer was not convinced so the sale went ahead and any commission I could have made was lost in paying for the extra flight.

Alpha had wonderful, wonderful clients and they were true clients.  The Davidsons of Cheshire, the Hacks, the Hoch’s, the Goodwins, the Elliott’s, the Comiskey’s, the Dillon’s, The Vale’s of Jericho, the Williams to name a few.  I had the most wonderful and most trying of times at Alpha.

No branch is complete without a car accident.  February 1982, coming back from Emerald and caught up in thick dust on the Drummond Range, I had an (almost) head-on with a car travelling from Longreach.  Turns out they were good Primac clients and mates of George Vinson – the Longreach manager.  George rang about 7:00 that night and gave me a gruelling about running into clients and how it’s not good for his business etc, etc.  He finished up and rung off after about 15 minutes.  I waited to be sure the phone was disconnected and immediately placed a call (manual exchange still) to his afterhours number in Longreach. 

When he answered I just said – And by the way George, I’m OK so nothing to worry about.

June 1984, Mr Derek Andersen rang and congratulated me on my transfer closer to the coast.  I asked where and was told Mitchell.  After the call I got the maps out and then rang him back.  Just to be accurate – it’s 35 miles further from the coast than Alpha.

1979 to 1985: At Alpha until June 1985. Transferred out to Mitchell Branch as Manager.

Fred Morgan, with his client, Keith Coward, was a major buyer at the first Primac teleauction at the remote bidding station situated at the Queensland Hotel in Miles on the 7th March 1985. Article supplied by Greg Jacobsen

1984 to 1987: At Mitchell until November 1987. Transferred out to Millmerran Branch as Manager.

1987 to 1988: At Millmerran until July 1988. Transferred out to Blackall Branch as Manager.

David (Fred) Morgan calling the bids at Swan Hill Santa Gertrudis Sale, Blackall 1988. Photo supplied by David Morgan

1989: Resigned from Primac Limited, Blackall on the 3rd February 1989. Commenced a university degree at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba.

David (Fred) Morgan met up with fellow Primac Guru Tim Clifford at Caloundra in December 1984. Photo: Courtesy of David Morgan

More of David’s story to come:

Posted in : Primac Gurus