I must admit particularly in my younger days I could have been described as a bit of a rolling stone in so far that as the saying goes “over the fence always looks greener”. It seems in today’s world, this is a common theme where no one stays long in one job but keep moving around presumably to better themselves.
While I probably had similar aims it didn’t always work out to my advantage as I sometimes look back in retrospect, but you must remember that in the 60’s and 70‘s stock and station agents were notoriously underpaid compared to many other jobs. I used to often remark I would be better off financially with a job on the council.
Despite this I loved the work and the people involved and as I never achieved my dream of one day being able to afford my own place presumably like many other agents I wouldn’t have swapped my time as an agent with any other profession. Some of the dates are now a bit hazy but I have done my best to be as accurate as possible.
Childhood, Family & Education 1947 – 1964
Born in Cunnamulla in ‘47 Dad owned the local news-agency. His family owned “Humeburn” station at the time but I guess there wasn’t room for all with two older brothers. When I was still young we moved to Brisbane where I did my schooling, primary at Yeronga then on to Churchie for Junior or grade 10. Then a year at Gatton College.
My dream was to go Jackerooing on leaving school but Dad always said there was no future in that and must have talked me into getting a job with one of the wool brokers. I guess I may have been destined for that as an uncle Syd Perkins was general manager of Moreheads a well known stock and station agency at the time and a takeover forerunner of the Elders conglomerate plus dad working for New Zealand Loan a forerunner to today’s Nutrien.
On leaving school I approached several woolbrokers as they were mainly known as then to put my name down. To my surprise, I had the offer of three jobs New Zealand Laon, Mactaggarts and AML& F. I chose Mactaggarts and began work at 43 creek Street in ‘64.
Mactaggarts HO & Cannon Hill 1964 – 1968
Started as office boy in dispatch then into fat stock dept, working at Cannon Hill saleyards on Tuesdays and Thursdays and clerical duties on the other days. The very capable Trevor McGuire was head of the stock dept. He was a man with an indelible memory for phone numbers and registration plates. Auctioneer was Don Milligan in my opinion the best I have known and I have seen a few over the years and one that I tried to model my own style on.
Tuesdays and more so Thursdays (cattle sales) were always looked forward to with an early pick up and start usually 3 am Tuesday mornings to help at Fitzsimmons an associate company. Fitzy’s probably yarded 70% or more of the pigs and calves at Cannon Hill yarding up to 1,000 or so pigs and a few hundred calves every Tuesday. You can imagine the noise with those numbers around you and it was at a hectic pace until about lunchtime.
Fitzsimmons had a team of top auctioneers in Jack and son Greg on the pigs and Vic Barwick on calves ably assisted by manager Bill Webb and Dick Fitzsimmons. Also some very good younger staff in Staff Campbell, Doug Haig, Dennis Ferguson, and Bruce Fowler.
Thursdays were my pick as the pace was a bit more relaxed but still busy. We had a very good stockman in Roy Pugh and his assistant Brian Galletley who drafted most of the bigger mobs on horseback. Selling in those days was done on a time basis so much per pen and if you went over the superintendent Jack Fitzgerald would ring the bell and you would have to come back and sell that pen at the end of the sale. Fortunately, it didn’t happen much but kept the slower auctioneers on their toes. They were the days when the buyers walkways would be full of exporters, wholesalers, and butchers all competing strongly it was a great feeling to be up on the catwalk calling bids. Tim Clifford started auctioneering at the time and assisted Don Milligan.
Mactaggarts ‘Apprenticeship Scheme’
At the time Mactaggarts started an “apprenticeship scheme” for all young stock salesman doing 3 months at “Camboon Station” Cracow owned by the then chairman of Mactaggarts, Bill Bell, a thorough gentleman. I was one to be selected for this scheme and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it so much that I would have liked to stay.
Mactaggarts Eidsvold Branch 1968
After this, I did a short stint at Eidsvold under the great Alan Walker, Alec Reiser, and Bruce Vidgen all ably assisted by Pat Bishop. After this, I finally got my first branch posting to Mackay.
Mactaggarts Mackay Branch 1968 – 1969
I think that was around’68 I arrived as a young 20-year-old out into the big wide world and went into a boarding house there. Graham Jenkinson was the branch manager, Doug Alford was the stock salesman and I was merch and stock. Enjoyed working there and started auctioneering and got my license at the then-new Bakers Creek Saleyards. Always enjoyed my canvassing trips to Nebo in Graham’s Holden station wagon loaded up with dip etc and usually stayed overnight with clients. In those days to get the business when many plunge dips were changing over to the new organophosphates, you had to offer to clean out the old dip as well. Not very nice shoveling out old arsenic dips.
Mactaggarts Ipswich Branch 1969
Being a bit young and naive unfortunately I got in with older friends and started drinking which I came to realise was to my detriment so I put in for a transfer and got Ipswich under Colin Duff.
This was about ‘69 and my initiation was a coalmine clearing sale with around 1,000 lots. I remember that day clearly just Duffy and I did the lot. Ipswich was quite a competitive centre with weekly cattle sales at Churchill saleyards which were 50/50 owned by Mactaggarts and Hayes & Co. Harry Hayes was a very popular local agent and together with his sons Pat Hayes and Jack Hayes were the kings. However, Duffy gave me plenty of opportunity and I got a lot of selling experience. Les Bishop and Ian Geddes were all good work colleagues. Ipswich was where I met my future wife Carmel.
1969 Mactaggarts to Primaries & Back again
On looking back this was the time when I made some unwise decisions. The first was to resign from Mactaggarts and to take up a job with Primaries in Brisbane working with George Henderson and Eric Bassingthwaite, both very accomplished auctioneers. I was not settled and only stayed a few months and wanted to return to Mactaggarts who fortunately gave me another start and so I went into stock working with Don Milligan, Tim Clifford and David Armstrong. We did a number of local sales besides Cannon Hill including Kilcoy and Maleny many clearing sales as well as buying trips to Eidsvold.
1970 -1972 Mactaggarts Wandoan Branch
My next move was to Wandoan Branch around ‘70- ‘71 and at last back to the bush. I was appointed as auctioneer and as well as weekly the Wandoan sales also did the selling at Miles sales. Worked under a very capable manager in Stan Cook and Phillip Charles and Bill Coss at the Taroom Branch. Also had the benefit of ex Manager Tom Hair’s experience. Tom was almost a daily visitor to the office around morning smoko. I gained a lot of experience working in Wandoan particularly with bigger lines of cattle.
During my time in Wandoan I married Carmel and we settled in the tin flats which were like an oven in summer but not as bad as the hot bore water which didn’t cool down much until around midnight.
1972 – 1974 Kawana & Kingaroy
Again around ‘72-‘73 another “golden opportunity” called, this time it was real estate at Kawana and with Tony Carrington’s urging (ex Mactaggarts Miles office). I resigned and went to work under Alan Walker (ex Mactaggarts Eidsvold Manager) who had also made the move to the coast.
After a while, I started to realise that real estate was not my game and on talking to my old friend and ex flat neighbour from Wandoan Kevin Curry ( later Kevin Curry & Co. Townsville/Charters Towers) found AML & F were looking for a stock salesman/auctioneer for their recent acquisition Murray & Co at Kingaroy. So pack up time again and off to Kingaroy. Unfortunately, my timing couldn’t have been worse this was ‘74 and cattle crashed and along with others the last on first off rule applied with AML and I was again looking for another job.
1974 – 1980 Blacksoil to Highfields in the Produce Business
So back to Carmel’s parents place at Bundamba and I got a job on the “Red Scheme” a government initiative to soak up the unemployed similar to “work for the dole”.
Soon got sick of this and got a job as manager of Stock’s Produce at Blacksoil. I stayed here for a couple of years then bought a produce business at Highfields around ‘78, which we sold in 1980.
1980 – 1983 Catons Toowoomba
After selling the Highfields Produce business I obtained a position with Caton & Co. in Toowoomba around ‘80. What a team with Graham Caton as Manager, John Erbacher, Norm Jenner, Rob Caton and Noel Grant auctioneers, no wonder they had such a great business, the foundations of which were laid by Eric Caton. I had further experience auctioneering here and worked with a great team of people including the many capable yard men.
1983 – 1997 Primac Dalby
It was ‘83 I think when Norm Jenner who was branch supervisor by then due to the Primac takeover asked if I would transfer to Dalby Branch as auctioneer. Seeing a very good opportunity to get to show my skills as an auctioneer I accepted the offer. I worked here under another great company man in Richard Handley who gave me plenty of free rein.
We had a great team here also in Geoff Blomfield, Mick Cuskelly, Terry Hartman and many other aspiring young staff. I also was involved with the early instigation of Primac Feedlot Services and liaise with branch staff on the progress of clients’ cattle and marketing. Dalby office had many very loyal western clients, a lot of Richard’s clients, plus a good local business and always well supported by the branches. It was always a bit of a competition between us, Oakey and Toowoomba, but they all had their following.
With cattle sales, every Wednesday and sheep and lambs Monday a lot of our time was spent in the yards. We also ran the very successful Dalby stock horse sales and they grew into a very large event.
“Primac Feedlot Services, me selling assessed and accredited feedlot steers under the hammer at Dalby Saleyards.”Vic Perkins
After around 15 or so years in Dalby it all came crashing down when Elders took over and I got the dreaded tap on the shoulder (by a phone text message) “you’re not wanted we have decided to go with the Elders auctioneer”.
1998 – 2005 Landmark, Elders Beaudesert & Oakey
After been made redundant by Elders I did a 12 month stint with Landmark, but things were not the same any more and as my two sons had moved to Beaudesert we decided to move down that way to.
This was around ‘99 or so and I went into real estate again and had a half share in a Ray White franchise which we later sold. I then obtained a position with Elders Beaudesert under my good friend Lewis Jenkinson in merchandise.
The call to get back into auctioneering was strong and John Robbins offered me a job at Oakey. Unfortunately, Oakey was dying and Roma and Dalby were the big centres. Fortunately, while working at Elders Oakey we didn’t sell our home and I used to travel up to Oakey on Sunday nights and return Friday nights. This carried on for a couple of years until I left.
I was offered a position back in Toowoomba but decided I had had enough so went back to Elders Beaudesert as Rural Real Estate salesman.
2005 – Retirement
Since leaving I have done some part-time work but am now fully retired. It has been hard to recall some dates and I stand corrected by anyone who finds a mistake.
In finishing, I would just like to say how great it has been to recall what has happened over many years and revive memories of some of the fantastic people I have worked with and I still often think about people and events that have somehow stuck in my mind from my agency days and Primac Gurus has accentuated this.
* Last updated 26/02/2021