Current Operation

  • Closed


  • East Kimberley, 120km from NT border

Map Wyndham

map.Wyndham 001Source – Hema Australia Handy map 9th edition.

Locations of other Australian abattoirs.


  • Project Development Corporation (PDC) prior to 19765
  • Wyndham Meats (1960’s)
  • Hookers & PDC created a joint venture (1976)5
  • Hookers owned outright (1978) operated as Norwest Beef Industries Limited5


  • Seasonal operation killed May to September1
  • Average turnover was 30,000 hd cattle1
  • 45 yrs of public operation ran at a loss, sold 19661
  • Was export accredited – received cattle from NT prior to 1959 (when Darwin and Katherine) built1



  • JJ Holmes – Member for East Fremantle, member of parliament, at time Commissioner of railways – talked of long range solution to tick problem was formation of freezing works and chilling works at Wyndham. Pg 1777


  • Talk of forming syndicates for chilling and beef-extract works in Wyndham. Pg 2057
  • Richard Tilden – British promotor who had been involved with failed mining schemes in Kalgoorlie, tries to raise capital to establish a floating abattoir.Pg 2337


  • Properties from Kimberley were loading cattle at Wyndham for delivery to Robbs Jetty abattoir (WA), SS Mildura had run aground at North-West Cape and caused drowning of all 700 cattle aboard. Pg 2377
  • Kimberley pasturelands was producing more cattle than WA state could consume and were walking cattle overland to Queensland abattoirs.Pg 2367
  • James Mitchell, Minister for Agriculture promises provide two thirds of cost of construction of works at Wyndham. 40-50,000 pounds. Interest free for first 5 years and thereafter on gaurantee of 5%.Pg 2377
    • People weren’t happy with the meatworks receiving assistance.7

“Why should rich firms like these get large sums of government money free of interest whilst a struggling farmer can get no more than 500 punds and pay 6% for it” West Australian Newspaper.Pg 2377


  • Techinical advisor of a large freezing works in Syndey investigates Wyndham proposal and advises cost to be minimum 100,000 pounds, 25,000 above original estimate.7
    • expert estimate included Jetty and supply of fresh water sourced 20 miles away from site7
    • Government withdraw support of funding. Pg 2597
    • Michael Durack visits William Angliss, who owns meatworks in Footscray, Melbourne, Angliss advises Durack that excluding land the facility cost 50,000 pounds, including freezing, chilling, boiling down and preserving works. pg 2677
  • Bovril Australian Estates show interest in partnering building of Wyndham abattoir. Pg 2937
    • Bovril would latter build Bullocky point abattoir (NT) in 1917, which only operated for 3 years
    • Bovril had just taken up leases in 1908 Victoria River Downs in NT and Carlton near Wyndham.Pg 3157
    • Bovril also said to be considering purchase of a steamer to convert to a floating abattoir7
      • approached Australian government for assistance and wanted to use Asian labour, business would be conducted in Cambridge gulf and not infringe on White Australia policy of the time. Pg 3157
  • Government attempted to assist with cattle movement – as alternative to sea transport subsidised the development of the Canning Stockroute. Pg 3167


  • Kimberley cattle being sold for 3 pounds in Fremantle after shipping from Wyndham and Derby. Pg 3247
  • Live export was opening up to Philippines which would take light weight cattle. Pg 3247


  • Advisor to Bovril that suitable site for an abattoir was on property Auvergne. Pg 3427
  • Government surveyor Sanderson, advises on feasibility of abattoir at Wyndham, with water being sourced from various sources.
    • Project wasn’t an alternative to Manilla live export trade but would be advantage to ship frozen meat to avoid quarantine  problems with stock to be held prior to shipping.Pg 3437
  • If meatworks not established in 1912. Richard Tilden would undertake project at estimated cost of 25,000 pounds, not including water which government was expected to provide. Pg 3497


  • WA change of Government from Liberal to Labor – leader John Scadden. Withdraw support of Wyndham abattoir. Pg 3807
    • The government enter the Wholesale butchery business to reduce price of meat to public. Pg 3807
    • Government also take over shipping along coast. Pg 4377


  • NT government talk of establishing meat works in Darwin, this is not supported by WA producers though a meatworks in Katherine was. Pg 3917
  • Government had already commited to establishment of abattoir in Darwin.7


  • Vesteys sign a contract with government to establish meatworks in Darwin. Pg 4147Bullocky Point abattoir (NT)
  • Declaration of WW1 occured – WA government reconsider establishment of meatworks at Wyndham. Pg 4147


  • March. WA state government sign a contract with building group Nevanas for materials and to construct abattoir for 159,510 pounds. Pg 4217
  • Bullocky point abattoir (NT) construction is well underway. Pg 4287
  • July. Agreement between government and Nevanas ended and Wyndham abattoir construction again under review.Pg 428.7
    • Shipping space to Nevanas had been made unprocurable. Pg 4307
    • 3% of estimate had been paid. Pg 4307
    • government renegotiated with Public works to build abattoir, some materials already delivered to Wyndham. Pg 4307
      • No public tender called and reaction of public was unfavourable.Pg 4307
  • Government supply two more ships for coast transport of people and cattle7
    • N.2. prinz Sigismund – Kaisers private yacht – renamed the Bambra. Pg 4377
    • Kangaroo – new vessel, first diesel engined motor vessel. Pg 4377


  • Wyndham works making progress – mile from town, Water pool is located 20 miles out with 2 25,000 gallon tanks and pumping site.Pg 4417


  • Trade union strikes impeded progress of meatworks construction. Pg 4547


  • Meatworks costs now 723,000 pounds from original estimate of 155,150. Pg 4627
    • Debate on how the works was to be run, by the state or a joint enterprise. Pg 4627
    • Nevanas claimed they had the right to solely operate the facility. Pg 4627
  • Construction finished late in 1918, facility had an electric lift. Pg 4697


  • Constructed as a public meat works1
  • Meatworks to be operated under Government control7
    • Government offered producers 5-7 pounds less than other markets.Pg 4727
    • Post war markets and freighting costs were still indefinite.Pg 4727
    • Outbreak of pneumonic influenza forced quarantine – disrupted travel, delay in loading and unloading cargo.Pg 4737
  • Government resumed land held near abattoir, 60,000 acres, land was resumed forcefully including all improvements, living quarters, yards, fences and wells, from Duracks with no compensation. Pg 4817


  • VRD cattle (Owner – Bovril Australian Estates) were Wyndham’s largest supplier5
  • Angliss discuss with Durack possibility of leasing Wyndham works.7
    • Angliss has processed in Australia 1,250,000 sheep and 30,000 cattle. Employed 1,000 men at 4 pounds to 4pounds 10 shillings a week. Pg 4907
  • June. Works having difficulties – inexperienced workers and strikes for higher pay. Pg 494.7


  • VRD supplied one third of 10 568 head slaughtered this year5
  • Abattoir paid £3 1s 5d, compared to realised value on VRD for 4000 head purchased by Sidney Kidman, paying £4 2s 6d5Pg 118.
  • ‘condemns’ chuted to be processed as meatmeal – ‘political reasons’5Pg 144.

Note by Jo Bloomfield – Not sure what this statement was in reference too – think there was strife between the management and workers and more than usual number of condemned cattle occurring, Could also refer to the government overseers.


  • Japanese attacked Darwin, Government at the time were concerned if Japan invaded from the north that they would have a ready supply of meat and food therefore temporaily closed the meatworks down from this time to approximately 1949.6
  • Government also had landholders remove many cattle from northern properties and move south incase of invasion, so as to deny ready food source6
  • Cattle which had normally supplied this abattoir were now walked down the Murranji stockroute, eventually to QLD, 47,000 cattle in 1942, 30,000 from Vestey’s Wavehill alone. Demand for meat had increased on east due to Troops6


  • ‘Airbeef’ Cattle slaughtered on Glenroy station, meat flown to Wyndham and Derby for exports and freezing1


  • Abattoirs in the north were still operated ‘frontier mentality'(Pg 64)9
    • short processing seasons of 20-25 weeks9
    • largley itinerant labour9
    • Living and working conditions were dangerous9
    • Animal welfare standards were low9
    • Sanitation compiled to UK market standardsfor quarter beef, were well below standards for emerging US markets of boxed beef (Pg 64)9
  • US grinding beef market of the late 1950’s suited the cattle that were present in the north (Pg 64)9
  • Plants were encouraged to upgrade to meet USDA standards (Pg 64)9


  • Improved to meet stringent USDA (USA Dept of agriculture) hygiene regulations1


  • Wyndham Meats – Collective bargaining with Emanuel Exports, including Derby and Broome
  • UK agreement – quarter bone in carcases – meat was of inferior quality. Many condemned and processed into meatmeal5


  • Abattoir sold to private buyer1.


  • Entire plant is condemned for its wooden structure by USDA reviewer(Pg 64)9
    • Decision was extended to cover all Wyndham beef on the water and in the US9
  • Affected importers and exporters, Wasn’t covered by insurance (Pg 64)9
    • finanical fallout took many years to resolve.9
  • Connections in Eastern Europe and Austria came in to play (Pg 65)9
    • 1,000t of affected product still in Australia was picked up at Wyndham and sold to Romania, with health certificates9
    • Export statistics don’t show shipments to Romania for that year, apparently customs and DPI were not present at loading9


  • Couldn’t meet USDA standards – lost export licence, so did Broome, Derby, Darwin and Katherine1
  • Beef Crisis was taking effect, many northern abattoirs were losing money.9


  • Ray Fryer – Uranpunga, Roper Gulf (NT) – trucked his own cattle from property to works. 3 day round trip, 1100 miles, 22 bullocks or 20 cows, received $150/hd ($3000 total), cost $500 fuel. “It was the only way to get a bit of money coming in”4


  • Ian Mc Bean was sending load of cattle from Bradshaw, return of sale barely covered costs of sending the animals (Pg 122)8


  • PDC & Hookers created joint venture in attempt to rationalise the Katherine and Wyndham meatworks, outside shareholdings also purchased5


  • Hooker Corporation owned outright5


  • Export beef plant closed June 19851
  • Stayed open longer than other plants as was subsidised by the government3
  • Effluent from the works ran into a drain and straight into the sea, great burly for sharks (Pg 67)9


  1. ‘Sailing ahead’ Annabelle Coppin. 2009
  2. ‘The Australian livestock Export trade’ Nigel Austin 2011
  3. ‘Northern Australian Beef industry – Assessment of risks and opportunities’ ABARE 2012
  4.  ‘Red Dust Rising- The story of Ray Fryer of Urapunga’ Marion Houldsworth 2004.
  5. ‘The Big Run- The story of VRD station’ Jock Makin. 1970
  6. ‘The Murranji track – Ghost road of the drovers’ Darrell Lewis 2007.
  7. ‘Sons in the Saddle’ Mary Durack.
  8. ‘The privileged few’ Jeff Hill. 2008
  9. ‘World on a plate – A history of meat processing in Australia’ Stephen Martyn 2013

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: