Jerry O’Sullivan

I was born in Roma Hospital on the 18th February,1945, the first born child of Harry Jeremiah (Jerry) O’Sullivan and Mary Martha (Molly) Mackenzie.

They made their home on the family property “Ashmount” Muckadilla in 1946 and spent the next 33 years raising and educating a family of two boys and one girl. My brother and I were educated as boarders at Dad’s old school, Churchie in Brisbane, and our sister was sent to Glennie in Toowoomba, also as a boarder.

After completing grade 10 (Junior) I left school at the end of 1960 and spent the next six years on the family property as a jackaroo working with mostly sheep and some cattle. I enjoyed the work and lifestyle but low wool prices and the big drought in 1965 forced me to leave “Ashmount” and look for work.

I was lucky to obtain a position with Mactaggarts after an interview with the Branch Manager of Mitchell, Ross Tucker in late 1966. I started with Mactaggarts Stock Department on the 3/1/1967 when I was 21 years old. I had the usual crash course at Cannon Hill pig and calf and cattle sales.

Baralaba Branch 1967

After about three and a half weeks I was transferred to Baralaba Branch which was managed by the very energetic Stan Cook. He taught me a lot about the agency life and he had a wonderful knowledge of the history of Mactaggarts and all the senior staff. I was indeed privileged to have worked and known Stan Cook.

Kingaroy Branch 1967 – 1985

After two months I was transferred to Kingaroy Branch on the 28th March 1967. Little did I know that the Kingaroy Branch under the great Jim Connolly would change my life forever and put me on track to become a branch manager in four years. I worked with some good people including Gary Whitaker (stock salesman/ auctioneer), Gary Heiner ( bookkeeper/stock salesman), and the very efficient typist/ receptionist Mary Daniells.

Kingaroy was a busy branch with weekly Monday pig & calf sales and monthly Thursday cattle sales. Kingaroy branch also ran weekly pig and calf sales at Wondai council yards on a Tuesday morning and in the afternoon a weekly pig and calf sale at Murgon Council yards in conjunction with Bill Hiscock. We also conducted monthly cattle sales at Murgon on Thursdays in either Kelly’s or Carsburgs yards. We also ran Boondooma Store cattle sales at “Happy Valley” Boondooma. In those days we conducted many dairy and machinery clearing sales and in 1968/69 we conducted nine sales in a six day week.

Tragedy & Change

We had a tragic accident occur in about May 1967 when Gary Whitaker was killed in a road accident near Wondai.

Frank Law who had a short training period in Head office was transferred to Kingaroy as stock salesmen in August, 1967. He was appointed manager of the branch when Jim Connolly was transferred to Gympie to manage the newly acquired Tatnell & Graham. Frank Law managed Kingaroy Branch very efficiently for a couple of years and Mary Daniells was married to David Lupton in Frank’s time.

Two new girls were employed by Frank during his management because Mary had left to get married. They were Jeanette Watt and Marilyn Fritz and both were pleasant girls and very efficient at their jobs. A number of male staff moved through the Branch such as Chris Hooper, Jim Gibbs, Denis Cook, and they either moved on or were transferred. Jim Gibbs turned out to be a good insurance rep with Mactaggarts in HO and ended up as a branch manager in Mitchell later in the Primac time.

Barry Dixon who had been at Tara and Head Office transferred to Kingaroy and he was a good agent in the marking and was transferred to the new Murgon Sub-Branch in 1969 to assist the officer in charge, Ron Taylor.

Kingaroy Branch Manger 1970 – 1985

I was promoted to Kingaroy branch manager in December 1970 on the transfer of Frank Law to Cunnamulla branch at the same time. I was married to Lin Wilson about two months later 20/2/71. She was a local girl who worked in Hatfields Pharmacy Kingaroy.

“1970 dinner at the Oasis Motel Kingaroy after a successful cattle sale selling Hal Frasers & Graham Wilsons cattle at the old sale yards where the wheat silos are now. Mactaggarts were the selling agents Jerry O’Sullivan was the auctioneer.”

Back row from left, Bernie Dixon, Barry Dixon (Mactaggarts), Shirley Lawrence (Hoare), Ron Taylor (Mactaggarts), Rosmary Law, Marilyn Fritz (Mactaggarts), Jeanette Watt (Mactaggarts), Bill Angus (Mactaggarts), Wendy Fraser. Front row from left, Tom Hoare, Stephen Smith, Hal Fraser, Jerry O’Sullivan (Mactaggarts), Frank Law (Mactaggarts Kingaroy Manager).

Photo – Barry Dixon

The Mactaggarts operation in the South Burnett moved along very well with some good seasons. A capable young fellow, Bill Angus was transferred to Kingaroy branch during the period that Frank was manager and Bill remained in Kingaroy branch during the first year or so of my management. He was a good stockman and the good fellow’s always get transferred and he moved back to HO in stud stock.

During Bill’s time in Kingaroy a very good merchandise officer by the name of Tony Nash was transferred to oversee the merchandise business in Kingaroy and Murgon sub-branch and he was a top operator and he and his wife Sandra fitted into the Mactaggarts family very well.

Reg Grace a good young auctioneer stockman replaced Bill Angus and it was great to have a backup auctioneer who lightened my load in the sale yards. Reg was transferred to Murgon to replace Barry Dixon when Barry was transferred to Surat as branch manager in about 1972/73 and I was short of a man in Kingaroy again.

I employed a local fellow, Brian Walters as stock salesman at Kingaroy after Reg Grace moved to Murgon and he proved to be a capable auctioneer/ agent.

I employed two very good girls during this period, Lorene Ciesiolka and Elaine Sluce after Marilyn Fritz was married and moved away from Kingaroy.

We also had a time before the cattle slump that Mike Quinn worked in merchandise in Kingaroy before he was transferred to the Mactaggarts New Guinea business. Unfortunately Tony Nash left to go home to manage the family dairy farm at Palmerston North in New Zealand and he was replaced by John Lever in Mechandise who was always looking for a better-paid job and he soon moved on.

Peter Winfield was appointed Merchandise Officer in Kingaroy and Murgon Branches. He had started with Mactaggarts at Tara and spent time in H/O before he came to Kingaroy in the 1974/75 period when the catastrophic crash in the cattle market took place. Peter had a good head for turning out a good profit on any merchandise deals and the Merchandise profits helped carry Kingaroy and Murgon branches together with pig sales during the cattle slump.

Elaine Sluce got married and we carried on with just the four staff until unfortunately Brian Walters was retrenched owing to lack of income in the cattle business of the Branches.

Murgon Branch

In Murgon Sub branch Ron Taylor resigned in early 1975 and Reg Grace was transferred to Ipswich branch. Trevor Francis was transferred from Brisbane Export Department to Murgon Officer in charge. It was back to the old days when I was doing all the sales on my own however I got Trevor doing some selling and that was a help. As the cattle market picked up by about 1977 the life in the branches improved.

At Murgon we employed a merchandise man in the form of a local farmers son, Mark Quinn who proved very handy until he had to go back to manage the family farm. We had some good girls work at the Murgon office in Diane Zelinski and Maree Kuhn who both did a top job over a number of years.

Trevor Francis was transferred to Gin Gin Branch and Tony Struss was appointed to Murgon. He became a competent auctioneer and Murgon became a branch in its own right.

Kingaroy Branch Post cattle Slump

I continued at Kingaroy with a reduced staff of Peter Winfield, Lorene Ciesiolka, myself, and I employed Brian Walters on sale days to help with stock work and to release Peter Winfield to do the merchandise more efficiently. As the beef market improved and our merchandise business increased we convinced H/O management that we needed a bigger office and showroom for merchandise and plans were put forward for such a building in 1979/80.

Just prior to this I desperately needed help in the livestock area as my part-time man Brian Walters has accepted a job at Primac Blackall as a stock salesman. I, with the okay from H/0 had appointed a new stock salesman at Kingaroy in the form of Earl Retschlag which proved to be a great move. At 43 years of age, he became a good auctioneer and he was a great help to me.

By 1980 a new Primac Office and Merchandise store had been built on the outskirts of Kingaroy and business was going very well.

“Official opening of the new Primac Kingaroy Premises. From Left to Right: Primac Director Dick Wilson, Cr K, Peters, Mrs Bjelke-Petersen, The Hon J. Bjelke-Petersen M.L.A, Doug Macctaggart and Bruce Campbell.”

Photo from 1980 Primac Annual Report – credit Rick Tyrer

Before our move, I had employed a junior girl to assist Lorene and her name was Susan Robson. She was a great choice and was a top receptionist, bookkeeper, typist, etc and shortly after we moved into our new building Susan took over from our head girl Lorene who had given us a long term of loyal efficient service but unfortunately she resigned for personal reasons.

Kingaroy Business Booms

Business boomed in the early 1980s with a big improvement in cattle prices and increasing merchandise sales. We appointed some extra staff in the Merchandise with Craig Norris and a new girl Sandy Hatchman and also a storeman, Ian Cairns. Mark Hay, the son of a local farmer client had got a job with Blackall branch where Brian Walters was based with Richard Handley as Manager. After a time Mark who was well trained at Blackall was transferred to Kingaroy and Craig Norris was transferred to Cunnamulla.

Business kept increasing at Kingaroy and we appointed another good young local fellow, Neil Kleinhanss to the branch merchandise section. I even appointed a commission property salesman at Kingaroy. He was Ken Hay, father of Mark and a local farmer and client.

In 1984 Peter Winfield who had been with me for nine years resigned to work with a Sydney-based corn company and he had driven the building of a big merchandise business in the Kingaroy, Murgon areas. He was replaced by a fellow called John Bothwell. After five years of loyal service, Susan Robson resigned to go on a working holiday to England and the Continent and she was replaced with a girl from Miles, Susan Geldard.

Tony Struss had resigned to start his own business in Clermont and Les Dunstan was appointed to manager at Murgon. Later Les took a transfer to manage Capricorn Meats at Rockhampton and he was replaced at Murgon by Mike Wheeler who ran a thriving business there. Andrew Lewis was his 2IC auctioneer and Murgon thrived with increasing numbers of cattle from adjacent northern areas. Mike was transferred to Brisbane office and replaced by the very active Bill Edwards who had been well trained by Ross Stewart at Goondiwindi branch.

For personal reasons I resigned at the end of June 1985 after 18 years and six months of service with Mactaggarts and then Primac. I worked with some great people including staff and clients and also opposition agents and cattle and pig & calf buyers. I end up spending the next 28 years in the seed and grain industry.

In retirement, I spent a number of years documenting my full life story as a book. The book ” Brigalow to Bulldust” was published in 2020. If you’d like to read that you can order a copy of the book by clicking here.

* Last updated 19/02/2021

Posted in : Primac Gurus