Batchelor

Batchalor is a multi species abattoir located south of Darwin. It is currently mothballed due to problems with ownership of title deeds. Hasn’t operated since 2003. Has undergone upgrades and maintenance since then.

Other names

  • Tenarra4
  • Meneling abattoir (Pg 202)7
  • Rum Jungle meat exports8

Current Operation

  • Being upgraded, open or very close to being opened.

Location

  • 100km S of Darwin

Map. Batchelor

Owner

  • Windy Hills Australian Game meat. 5 year lease.
  • Ivan Coulter (Operator)1
  • A. Phillips 5

Operation

  • Domestic and Export3
  • 350 hd day (could be limited by wet season)2
  • Halal approved, was originally designed for onshore processing of halal meat products3.
  • It used to be the largest abattoir in the NT3.
  • Process other free range animals, goats, water buffalo1
  • Stockyards, races and interior have changed to suit dimensions and animal welfare requirements of camels1

History

1960’s

  • Sid Parker involved with abattoir (Pg 202)7

1968

  • Sid Parker principal of Meneling meatworks, approached producers about supply of Brahman cross animals for local trade (Pg 205)7
    • Product was sent to Woolworths Darwin store who offered a premium price (Pg 205)7

1974

  • Beef Crash, came unexpectedly and hit hard.(Pg 205)7
  • Properties supplemented income by slaughtering brumbies and buffalo for pet meat (Pg 205)7

1980’s

  • Robert Bright mustering Finniss River Station, sending cattle and buffalo mainly into Batchalor (then called Meneling abattoir)(Pg 244)7
    • Money from sale of cattle was paid to store to cover wages and goods – cheques were bouncing.(Pg 244)7
  • Batchalor – manager Bill Coleman didn’t realise no-one was getting paid – owed $80,000 to Robert Bright abattoir in no position to pay. (Pg 244)7
    • Another creditor lodged summons to wind Batchalor up.(Pg 244)7
  • Creditors meeting – abattoir didn’t have any money to pay anyone and was going to appoint administrators to take over the abattoir. (Pg 244)7
  • Creditors asked Judge if they could take over running of the abattoir instead of installing an administrator- was granted (pg 245)7
  • Robert Bright appointed solely to take control, Merl Sharples set up bookwork (Pg 245)7
    • Asked creditors to supply animals to kick start abattoir.7
      • Townsend family from Stapleton agreed to supply animals as they were 2nd largest creditor.(Pg 245)7
    • Abattoir at the time was supplying 60 bodies a week to Woolworths (Pg 245)7
    • Started to contract kill pigs for Angliss meat works as Berrimah abattoir (NT) had closed7
      • Pigs gave a 2 day a week kill.(Pg 245)7
      • Litchfield abattoir (NT) wasn’t built until 1993 to process pigs that was closer to Darwin when Berrimah officially closed in 1991.
    • Meneling only had local licence meaning they could only supply Australian market7
  • Established contacts with Steiger’s – Waxy Pearce (Pg 245), who had previously been involved with Katherine abattoir (NT) 7
    • Contract was paid upon loading of the freezer trucks at the abattoir (Pg 245)7
  • Wally Wegscheider – used to work at Meneling, ran the slaughter floor (Pg 246)7
  • Freddy Robinson – ran the boning room7
    • Both Wally and Freddy agreed on a per head price and they would supply their own labourers7
  • Bill Coleman stayed on for period when Robert Bright took over. (Pg 246)7
  • Creditors eventually paid 70c in the dollar(Pg 245)7

abattoir books 012Source – ‘A privileged few’ Jeff Hill. Pg 244
Old Meneling abattoir

abattoir books 013Source ‘A privileged few’ Jeff Hill. Pg 246.
Meneling abattoir yards in 1980

1985

  • Robert Bright bought out major shareholders and debt of creditors to be sole owner (pg 247)7
  • Meneling was upgraded to an export abattoir – allow to sell anywhere in the world (Pg 247)7
  • Contracted Herman Lind – German contractor who built export abattoirs for the Tatiara Group7
    • Lind was engaged to design new abattoir (Pg 247)7
  • Incorporated part of the old abattoir into the new (Pg 247)7
    • slaughter 10 – 300 animals a day with minimum labour (Pg 247)7
  • Bright needed a loan of $1M, found a bank to lend $650,000 (pg 247)7
    • Used and located second hand abattoir equipment7
    • did a lot of the work themselves7
    • built abattoir for $800,000 (Pg 247)7
    • Bank supplied rest of money needed. (Pg 247)7
  • Export abattoir required specialised labour, previously as domestic abattoir all workers had been locals, tried to employ non-union with export set up but ended up with some staff that were union (pg 247)7
  • Only killing for one week before labour problems started.(Pg 248)7
    • Union rep at the time – Trevor Surplice (Pg 248)7
  • All boners had walked off job – had called a stop work (Pg 248)7
  • Boners saying they didn’t like the conditions they worked under (Pg 248)7
  • Workers were given choice to stay or leave under the conditions they had originally agreed before strike, a few left.(Pg 248)7
  • Meneling didn’t lose days to strikes even though it had a picket line (Pg 248)7
  • Robert Bright bought Mudginberri abattoir (NT).7

abattoir books 014Source ‘A privileged few’ Jeff Hill. 2008. Pg 247.
New abattoir at Meneling

Unknown dates

  • Went into partnership with a Germon company that the abattoir supplied buffalo meat7
    • Terms were that Bright had to stay and operate abattoir.(Pg 249)7
    • after couple of years was sold.(Pg 249)7
  • For a long period Meneling was the major employer in Batchalor and killed close to 40,000 head (Pg 249)7

2003

  • Malaysian company ,kept it closed in exchange for LE to Malaysia3.

2007

  • Currently closed but would be capable of still operating – 250 head a day capacity8

2010

  • Camel culls in North of south Australia instead of shoot to waste could have been processed at Batchalor, Company could have increased production from 250 to 500 animals per week6

2011  

  • Upgraded cost $5M, process cattle, camel, buffalo
  • Owners stated ABC 06.06.11. Plant isn’t alternative to LE
  • Indonesia possible to sell small amount boxed beef
  • Main intention to process wild cattle.

Note – Some countries prefer wild run cattle they see them as healthier. Markets have been lost once these wild herds tamed, ie Buffalo Katherine meatworks contracts with Germany.

                  

2012      

  • July. Recomissioning former plant to process 250 camels a day1
  • $2M already spent with further $6M earmarked to do further work1.
  • Problems with Malaysian owners not being able to sell as they owe debts and title won’t be released on land5

Source

  1. ‘NT Camel abattoir set to boost processing’ Stock Journal 19.07.12
  2. ‘Batchalor abattoir two months from opening’ ABC rural 06.06.11
  3. ‘Answer to the live exports stand-off’ www.crikey.com.au
  4. Removed.
  5. Personal Communication – #1. 23.03.13
  6. ‘APY Lands responds to camel cull with food processing plant’ Adelaide Now 20.02.2010
  7. ‘The Privileged Few’ Jeff Hill, 2008
  8. ‘A pre-feasibility study of supply and demand issues for a multi-species abattoir in Northern Australia’ G.Niethe. 2009
    • Extracts from ‘The Meat industry of the Northern Territory’ Lorraine Corowa 2007

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