Tag Archives: army abattoir


Manbullo abattoirPhoto – Cattleproducer. 2013
Manbulloo abattoir historic site , Katherine river is located to rear.

Current Operation

  • ·         Old historic site


  • ·         8km from the current Katherine meatworks. On Manbulloo.

Manbulloo #1              

       Manbulloo #2

Locations of other abattoirs in Australia may be found at Australian Abattoir Locations


  • Abattoir and freezing chamber, 30,000 poultry farm, with a major army camp close by7.
  • By products plant was begun but abandoned due to costs7


  • Site has concrete slab, with some information, airstrip opposite, pipeline into the river2
  • Visited 29.02.13. Squatters present. took photos



  • Manbulloo station established 11km W of Emungalan (original township north of Current Katherine town area). Used for holding cattle waiting for shipment to Vestey’s Meatworks in Darwin (established 1917)1
  • Manbullo0 & Wave Hill were leased to Vestey’s under agreement that abattoir in Darwin was to be built and operated6



  • December 7, 1941 Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour and quickly occupied most of South East Asia (Pg 134)8
    • Territory was suddenly vulnerable and the government evacuated women and children from Darwin and the hinterland.(Pg 134)8


  • February 19, 1942 Japanes bomb Darwin.(Pg 134)8
    • All sea lanes are closed (Pg 134)8
  • By 21st February, Northern portion of the NT was under martial law (Pg 134)8
    • All male civilians mediacally examined – those fit for service conscripted into militia8
    • Unauthorised persons excluded from the area north of Pine Creek8
    • Situation was now extremely serious8
      • labour shortages affected day to day operations of beef industry8
      • difficult to move large numbers of stock due to lack of availability of skilled stockmen8
  • Whydham meatworks was closed (Pg 134)8
    • Due to fear of being captured by the Japanese
    • As many cattle as possible were being moved from the east Kimberley and Victoria River district for fear of invasion (Pg 134)8
      • Need to deprive invaders of ready food source
  • Military meat contract sub committee emphatic that killing should be concentrated at a large abattoir in Katherine region (Pg 134)8
    • reduce need for additional droving and rail transport to current processing sites8
    • Allow more efficent processing of offal (Pg 135)8
  • Meatworks built by the army, but offered to Vestey’s to operate4
  • Construction started – Army constructed, to feed the 3 services stationed in the NT, site consisted of 46 buildings including mess halls, barracks, poultry farm, shilling rooms which could hold 1000 carcasses. Cattle came from Pine Ck, Mataranka and close areas to Katherine5.
  • Vestey’s operation was accused by local pastoralists as having unfair advantage in animals being processed and supplying army with rations and stores4Pg 133
  • Slaughter occurred at site, cool storage plant was built in Katherine, meat was bought in and frozen then distributed to troops3


  • March. Abattoir commissioned, cost £70,000 (Pg 136)8
  • Was built (on then Manbulloo- Vestey’s) by A.W.C cost £65,0009
  • by end of 44 was killing 700 hd cattle a week, several butchery units stationed at the abattoirs including 2/3rd Australia field butchery platoon, engineers, cooks and quartermaster personnel5


  • Over 23 months processed 34,000 head (Pg 136)8
  • Following the immediate postwar departure of personnel, facility was closed in early 1946 (Pg 136)8


  • Bovril Australian Estates purchased Manbullo, moved sections of it to Katherine to establish new meatworks6
  • Manbulloo plant & equipment sold for £10,0007.



1.       Katherine Museum 25.02.13

2.       Personal communication. #1. 26.02.13

3.       ‘Katherines No lady’ Winsome Maff

4.       ‘The Big Run – The story of VRD station’ Jock Makin 1970

5.       ‘The Track: 1000 miles to war’ NT Library

6.       ‘Pastoral Australia: Fortunes, Failures & Hard Yakka: A Historical Overview’ M. Pearson, J Lennon, 2010

7.       ‘Katherines Earlier days’ Pearl Ogden

8.    ‘Distance, Drought and Dispossession – A history of the Northern Territory Pastoral industry’ G McLaren & W Cooper. 2001