Tag Archives: cattle station


Yuendumu is located approximately 280km north west of Alice Springs. This post includes a brief overview of aboriginal and european occupation, conflicts and difficulties faced by the people who lived in the area. Yuendumu settlement operated a pastoral activity and attempted to establish a meat processing facility to support the local community.


Current Operation

  • Closed


  • Yuendumu is approximately 300km north west of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory
  • Abattoir facility itself was located about 20km out of the township


Yuendumu. #2


  • NPC1


  • Slaughterhouse was established 1990 to supply meat to local community and income to the cattle operation of NPC.


  • ADC      Aboriginal Development Commission
  • ATSIC   Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission
  • BTEC    Brucelloisis Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign
  • CAAPA  Central Australian Aboriginal Pastoralist Association
  • DAA      Department of Aboriginal Affairs
  • DEET    Department of Employment, Education and Training
  • DEIR     Department of Employment and Industrial relations
  • IAD       Institute for Aboriginal Development
  • NPC       Ngarliyikirlangu Pastoral Company


Pre 1800’s

  • Yuendumu is situated on Ngalia Warlpiri country (Pg 246)
    • Evidence supports that continuous occupation has occured for 10,000 years (Pg 246)
    • Main land owning group is Walpiri (Pg 248)
    • People moved extensively for hunting and gathering, withdrew to core areas of importance at watering points in dry periods and extended over very large areas in better seasons.(Pg 249)
    • Walpiri maintained close relationships with other clans to north, east – Kurinji and Anmatyerre, Pitjantjatjara and Pintubi (Pg 249)
    • Walpiri discriminated against Arrernte tribes.(Pg 249)


  • Warburton expedition crossed the Tanami and came into contact with Warlpiri people (Pg 250)


  • Commencement of pastoral settlement increased contact with aboriginal people (pg 250)


  • Granite goldfields commenced, a series of wells were established between Granites and Hooker Creek (Pg 250)
    • relationships not always cordial with aborigines.(pg 250)


  • Gold reserves had petered out (Pg 250)


  • Pastoral lease uptake increased to the north and far west (Pg 251)
  • Conflict with aborigines increased (Pg 251)


  • Coniston massacre occurs (Pg 251)
    • 28 Warlpiri die as a result of an avenge attack by police and pastoralists in retaliation of the death of a non-aboriginal dingo hunter.(Pg 251)


  • More gold is discovered at the Granites. (Pg 251)
  • Several pastoralists open up mining ventures for wolfram and gemstones.(Pg 251)


  • Reports of Aboriginal peoples state of living in the Tanami region build pressure to establish an Aboriginal reserve in the area.(Pg 251)
  • Reverend of Baptist union wanted resumption of whole of Mt Doreen station lease.
    • lengthy negotiations, interrupted by WWII


  • Yuendumu reserve 2,200 km square was established (though not declared until 1956) (Pg 256)
    • Area was selected  because a bore had established permanent water (Pg 256)
    • land was in immediate vicinity to a bore on unoccupied crown land (Pg 256)
    • Country not particulary suited to cattle (Pg 256)
    • Later 137 sq miles was transferred from reserve to Mt Allan pastoral lease (Pg 252)
  • Yuendumu welfare settlement was established.
    • to settle nomadic Aboriginal groups under the Aboriginal affairs policy of assimilation (Pg 252)
    • to provide social welfare of Aboriginal people, train them in non-aboriginal skills so they may be assimilated into non-Aboriginal society (pg 252)
    • Policy objectives was training and employment for work within and outside the settlement (Pg 252)
    • Also to provide administration, health, education and general development functions
  • Cattle project was included with (pg 252)
    • garden (vegetable growing)
    • piggery
    • poultry
    • Aim to increase self sufficency
    • Cattle enterprise started with 200 head (Pg 254)
  • Initial population 400 people (pg 252)


  • Population now over 1,000 people (pg 253)


  • Rations and cash allowance replaced by Training allowance Scheme (pg 255)
    • Scheme – in lowest form, was less than dole
    • Scheme – in highest level paid less than award wages
    • Settlement residents received free basic health service, education and subsidised meals from communal kitchens
    • Some residents received free rudimentary housing


  • NT Social Welfare Branch annual report state there is (Pg253)
    • well established garden
    • bakery
    • store
    • mining company
    • housing association and a school council


  • Settlement was under administrative control of NT Social Welfare Branch (Pg 253)
    • Superintendent on advice from village council
    • Village council were representative body of all skin groups living in Yuendumu
  • Labour government election announce Aboriginal affairs policy of self-determination (Pg 253)
    • beginning of major structural changes in administration and development
  • Moves made to incorporate the cattle project as a pastoral company (pg 253)
    • Cattle herd now 3,500 head
    • Particularly good grass seasons 1967-1972 (Pg 255)
    • Further growth was limited by lack of reliable water sources
      • at this time only had 2 reliable bores and 1 dam for the entire herd
    • Management had varying degrees of pastoral industry expertise
    • Income from cattle sales was not paid to community but into Consolidated revenue(Pg 254)
      • lack of incentrve to sell cattle, meant very low turnoff of animals (Pg 255)
    • Expenses were paid from cash and rations under Settlements administration therefore not reliant on cattle project (Pg 254)
    • Capital development for all projects  was reliant on annual budget priorities.
      • Funding priorities depended on Canberra / Darwin
    • Cattle project goal was to maximise employment, train men in pastoral skills and provide fresh meat to the community (Pg 255)
  • Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) was primary employer of all people (Pg 267)


  • Crash of beef prices. No cattle turned off during the period 1972-75.(Pg 257)
  • Only killers for kitchen, averaged 2 per week (Pg 258)
  • Seasons had been very good 72/73 – meant herd numbers built rapidly (Pg 258)


  • Privatisation occured of some activities that previously had been under control of the Social Welfare divisions (Pg 130)
  • Bakery, garden, poultry farm and kitchen had ceased operation by this time.(Pg130)
  • Muster was conducted of Yuendumu and neighbouring property, Haasts Bluff. 850 prime bullocks sold when trucked to Adelaide. Gross return of $720,000, None of the funds went to the cattle enterprise (Pg 260)
  • Yuendumu is declared Aboriginal land under the Aboriginal land rights Act 1977 (Pg 262)
    • NPC couldn’t access mainstream rural finance (Pg 262)
      • Authors note – When Aboriginal land is alienated freehold it is not able to be sold. It can’t held as security for loans, therefore can’t be used as security for debt repayment.


  • Annual cost of training allowance for cattle enterprise $80,000 (Pg 255)
  • Trucking and drafting yards were gradully built from scrap steel from government dumps (Pg 266)
  • NPC employed 12 stockmen (Pg 265)
    • high levels of employment numbers were maintained through cattle sales, labour programs and funding.


  • Ngarliyikirlangu Pastoral Company (NPC) is formed (Pg 259)
    • 6 directors with 60 shareholders
    • All government assets were sold except the cattle (Pg 260)
    • NPC commenced operations with a tractor, trailer and approximately 3500 head of cattle.(Pg 261)
    • Enterprise grant was applied for – $55,000 79/80 (Pg 261)
    • Stock mortgage was raised $20,000 (Pg261)
    • Stockmans wages were to be paid from cattle sales.(Pg 261)
  • BTEC begins (pg 261)
  • Significant tension arose as company directors of NPC used vehicles for personal use (Pg 263)
    • highlighted critical tension – rights of the land owner over an enterprise taking place upon his and other descent group lands (Pg 263)
    • Cattle sale money was thought it should be split between directors and shareholders
      • misunderstood the link between income and costs – owners thought “funny business going on” (Pg 263)
      • community people were taking killers without payment to the company (Pg 264)


  • NPC employed 20 stockmen (Pg 265)



  • Cattle enterprise was (Pg 266)
    1. bantail mustering
    2. culling old stock
    3. testing and ear tagging young stock (BTEC)
    4. developing internal paddocks
    5. improving monitoring of waters
    6. regularly testing for disease free status
  • NPC was one of the few aboriginal properties to not be issued with compulsory destocking order (pg 266)



  • IAD began to advise on property development (Pg 266)


  • Feasibility study concluded that the property had insufficent waters to develop herd to 5,000 – 6,000 head.(Pg 266)
    • Alternative development options were suggested.
    • Develop herd to 5,600 head.
    • establish more bores, paddocks and yards, estimated to cost $283,000
    • build a community abattoir and a butcher shop, estimated to cost $21,500
    • restocking and operational costs estimated to cost $355,000
  • NPC felt it was in a positition to be commercially viable and achieve its development aims (Pg 269)
  • DAA was subumed to private and public organisations. (Pg 267)
    • now eleven organisations employing 73 Aboriginal people
    • created confusion, political rivalry and conflict in Yuendumu
  • Number of outstations were being established at Yuendumu (Pg 268)
  • Negotiations commenced over royalities relating to goldfields in Tanami (Pg 268)
    • Directors began to take less interest in cattle operations (Pg 273)
  • Advisory service of IAD was withdrawn and as funding was based on IAD feasibiltys study funding was withheld.(Pg 270)
  • Significant conflict in the community 1983 – 1996 major disputes as to the role of the council and local governement (Pg 276)


  • Central Australian Advisory Pastoralist Association (CAAPA) was formed (Pg 270)
    • acted as lobbyist for Central Australian Pastoralists
    • Limited property development advice
    • no accounting or training services provided
    • accepted IAD study
      • NPC applied for development funds $706,000, over 5 years.
      • Application was unsuccessful based on land capacity (Pg 271)


  • NPC received a capital grant of $37608. (Pg 271)
  • DEIR continue support through community employment program (Pg 271)
    • enables 19 full time and 24 casual employees to be maintained.


  • Concerns raised by Central Land Council  as to Yuenduma land resource ability to support a herd of 5,600 head (Pg 269)
    • CLC calculated a safe stocking rate of 1,000 – 1,500 head (Pg 269)
    • NPC access to funding was now been seriously affected (Pg 269)

1988 / 89

  • CAAPA management was being questioned (Pg 274)
    • questionable individual grants to cattle stations
    • Alledged funds allocated to NPC were used by a CAAPA employee to purchase personal paintings (Pg 274)
    • Audit could not account for $70,000
    • CAAPA was investigated, wound up and no further action was taken by ATSIC


  • Hawke-Keating Governments introduced form of local government called community government
    • This had been opposed by land councils – come leadership became more focused on structure of community organisations and less on delivery of service issues.(Pg 170)
    • Result was that community operated cattle stations depended on who from their families was represented in community councils (Pg170)
    • Allies of the cattle company – Ngarliyikirlangu were on council – in kind support of bulldozers and graders was available for dam building (Pg170)
      • when council had people not interested in cattle operation there was no support for it.(Pg170)
    • Proliferation of Commonwealth and NT agencies serving communities (Pg171)
      • singnificant lack of co-ordination between them (Pg171)
      • An aboriginal community pursuing pastoral activities to attempt to conduct a whole of property development program needed to consult and negotiate with 4-5 Commonwealth and NT agencies. (Pg 171)

Agencies consulting_edited-1Source – Black Pastoralism S Phillpot 2000 (Pg 172)
Agencies consulting with Aboriginal communities

  • All employment funding is withdrawn (Pg 271)
    • reason of withdrawal – funding is meant to be directed at economically viable projects (Pg 271)
  • Ministers letter to NPC advise that $1.2M has been invested over last 10 years (Pg 271)
    • NPC dispute and say it was only $670,000 (Pg 271)


  • Employment is reduced to only 1 employee plus manager (pg 275)
  • Abattoir is developed (Pg 272)
    • Licensed slaughterhouse built from a grant from ATSIC and training subsidies from DEET (Pg 276)
    • Over first 14 months of operations employs 4 different trainers (pg 272)
    • no aboriginal trainees were able to complete training programs in meat processing (pg 272)
    • 1993-1996 no training is conducted (pg 272)
  • Abattoir operation(Pg 276)
    • became a major cash flow for NPC
    • was difficulty in employing qualified butchers to train Warlpiri butchers
      • slaughterhouse was not well maintained


  • Manager was unemployed by NPC, continued to run the operation while on unemployment benefits (pg 275)
  • Herd numbers to now below 3,000 head (Pg 275)

1994 / 95

  • Beef prices collapse.(Pg 273)
    • NPC can’t turn off enough cattle to cover interest on debts


  • Department Primary industries advised that facility didn’t meet the new Australian Quarantine Inspection service standards (Pg 276)
  • NPC is currently unviable, Owes Yuenduma Mining Company $150,000, secured by 1,500 head of cattle. (Pg 281)
    • Throughout its operation 1972 – 1996 NPC never made a profit or achieved economic viability (Pg 282)


  • 1st January – slaughterhouse lost its licence (Pg 276)
    • Possible if the slaughterhouse had been successfully operated it would have enabled NPC to achieve a profit (Pg 282)
  • NPC business effectively was only sustained by the benevolence of its major creditor – Yuendumu Mining Company (Pg 276)


All references –

Black Pastoralism – Contemporary Aboriginal Land Use – The experience of Aboriginal owned pastoral enterprises in the Northern Territory – 1972 – 1996  Stuart Phillpot. 2000.



Curtin Springs (NT)

A small closed abattoir located South west of Alice Springs that used to cater to local aboriginal communities and Ayers rock regions. The facility has now been converted to a tourism, paper making workshop.

Other Names

Current Operation

  • Closed


  • 85km east of the entrance to the Uluru national Park (Ayers Rock) and 360 km South west of Alice Springs.

Australia. Curtin

Pic. Curtin Springs abattoir located South West of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory

Other Australian Abattoir locations


  • Peter and Ashley Severin5


  • Supplied to Aboriginal communities in the area beef that was cheaper than Alice Springs.1



  • Severins began operation of the property – working cattle station2
    • helped to develepe tourism to Uluru (100km away)2
    • Curtin Springs was the first wayside Inn in the region. With a store, licensed pub, accommodation and camp sites.2
    • Drive market caters to 300,000 people annually.2
  • 1956 to current period (2014) – Severins’ developed a substantial tourist business along with managing their cattle station of the same name.5
    • Curtin Springs Wayside Inn has a store, licensed pug, fuel, 27 accomodation rooms and camping grounds.5
    • Now caters to the drive market of approximately 300,000 people.5


  • Cattle prices were extremely low. Low communities  (including Ayers Rock) did not believe they were receiving good quality meat from their usual suppliers.5
  • Severin’s built the fully licensed commercial abattoir5
    • Considered state of the art at the time and well above industry standards5
      • Facility was later used as a basis for other people who set up abattoirs on their properties.6
      • Urapunga abattoir (NT)
    • Operated with a commercial butchers shop5
    • Employed 3 full time butchers, 1 apprentice, 1 labourer and both Peter and Ashley Severin5
  • Processed 30 head per week, on a single kill day.5
    • Rest of week was used to break up the carcases, pack, freeze and present for retail.5
    • Sourced cattle from local cattle stations – The Gardens, Mulga Park, Tempe Downs, Orange Creek and Haasts Bluff.5
  • Delivery was by aircraft, up to 4 hours by air (one way)5
  • At one stage operating 2 planes, with a full time pilot.5
  • Regular customers – Italian and Greek Immigrants in Alice Springs, for slink meat (Unborn calf meat)5
  • Bull meat was sent to Adelaide as slash and pack5

Curtain Springs._edited-1Pic. Source Lyndee Severin. Interpretive Information page.
Curtin Spring abattoir in operation

Curtin Springs Paper - Old Abattoir  (1)Pic. Source L. Severin. Yards and ramp leading to abattoir

Curtin Springs - Abattoir pictures (3)Pic. L. Severin. Gutting the carcase

Untitled_edited-1Pic. Source Lyndee Severin. Interpretive Information page.
Initial skining and carcase treatment after slaughter.

Curtin Springs - Abattoir pictures (6)Pic. Source L. Severin. Cutting the carcase down the back bone to create 2 sides.


  • Facility closed.4
  • Closed due to local politics.5
  • Various attempts to re-open the facility however constraints around staffing was always the greatest challenge.5


  • Federal Government conducted a camel cull in the area that was allocated $19M5
    • Feral Camel situation is complex and layered. No simple answer to the control of the feral camel population.5
    • Large proportion of the funding went to the development of infrastructure and skills on aboriginal managed land for increased commercial removal of camels.5
  • Suggestion was put to government that funding could be supplied to pay for abattoirs, fixed or mobile.1
    • Produce dried meat that could be sent as emergency food supplies in famine affected areas.1
    • Growing demand for camel meat, hide, teeth, fat, milk, toenails and blood products.5
    • Security of the camel processing industry must be supported by domesticated herds. Opportunistic removal are not consistent or reliable.5
    • Bulk of feral camel populations are on aboriginal owned land which have challenges regarding dedicated commercial activities.5


  • July. Application is made to NT Pastoral land board under new arrangement to allow diversification of pastoral properties to develope other businesses beside cattle production.
    • Abattoir to be refitted to make paper. Estimated Cost. $51,0803

Aerial Photo_edited-1Source NT Planning Application – Curtain Springs July 2014
Curtain Springs roadhouse located south (top of picture) of the Lasseters Highway, the abattoir located north (bottom of picture)

  • Sept. NT Government provide grant $45,680, from funding that for tourism development and infrastructure.2
    • Funding is to develop tourism walks along salt lakes and paper making workshop within the abattoir building.2
  • Old Abattoir building now houses the production area and a retail area.5
  • Many of the original features of the working abattoir have been retained and highlighted.5
  • Tours of the papermaking process are available as well as extended stay workshops.5

Curtin Spring papermaking and stay workshops

Curtin Springs facebook

 Curtin Springs Paper - Ashley and Lyndee Severin (2) (3)_edited-1Pic Lyndee Severin.
Ashley and Lyndee Severin – papermaking.

Curtin Springs Paper - Old Abattoir  (2) (2)Pic Lyndee Severin.
The Curtin Springs abattoir.

 Curtin Springs PaperSource L. Severin. Paper products available for sale at the Curtin Springs papermaking facility.


  1. ‘A rotton waste’ Alice On line. 09.11.2011
  2. ‘Curtain Springs nets Tourism grant’ Nth QLD register. 17.09.2014
  3. Pastoral land board application. July 2014
  4. ‘An old abattoir to be used for making Spinifx paper’ ABC Rural. 30.04.14
  5. Personal Communication. Lyndee Severin 12/14/2014
  6. ‘Red dust rising – The Story of Ray Fryer of Urapunga’ Marion Houldsworth


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

Livingstone. #800 NT

Australian Agriculture Company (AACo) is Australia’s largest beef producer owning in excess of 500,000 head. The building of the Livingstone beef processing facility near Darwin is the first new cattle abattoir to be built in Northern Australia for 50 years. It is the first operational beef export accredited facility operated in the NT for nearly 15 years. Currently mothballed after 3 years of operation.

Current Operation 

  • Livingstone abattoir, Was announced to be mothballed in September 2018.125
  • Ausmeat Accredited #80073 (as of February 2015)
    • Export Abattoir for Beef /Offal.73


  • 50km S Darwin, 600 ha lot, 14ha buildings, rest area used for irrigation, wetlands, ponds and buffer zone.        


  • AACo, looking for partnership with overseas investor
  • AACo intend to always retain 50% ownership. (AAco own 485000 cattle – will supply 50000 hd through its own Northern supply company)

Historical and current meatworks, canneries and abattoirs located in Australia can be viewed at;

Australian abattoirs inactive map



  • Initially Stage One – 100,000 head capacity with development through modular construction
    • 1,100 head a day, flexability to incorporate carcase chillers when required
    • double shift platform 7 months of year, single shift for another month and closed during wet15.
    • Work 11 months of year atleast 5 days a week
    • slaughter grids HSCW c/kg
    • inject $126M into economy6
    • Day care facilities7
    • Medical facilities to assist with Workers compensation costs7.
  • Darwin site chosen – just 50km from international seaport for exporting meat to key Asian markets. close to Major city to attract and retain workers and other support services for the proposed facility, with other benefits in AW , transport and carbon benefits12
  • Will be hot boning room (Stage 1 low cost production model), chillers and full capacity if fully developed to 225,000 head year.
  • Refrigeration system – one of the most technical and energy efficent installed.58
    • Built by one of the largest industrial refrigeration providers in Australia, Gordon Brothers Industries58
    • Cascade system – Refrigeration is in two parts58
      • Low temperature side operates on Co2 as the refrigerant58
      • High temperature side operates on ammonia.58
      • Designed to allow for future expansion58
  • Market for  cull animals cows and bulls and heavier slaughter weights steers, types unsuited to Live export Indonesia (feeder steers under 350kg)
  • complementing Live export not replacing it
  • Meat exported via Darwin Port to US, Asia including Indonesia, China and Philippines
  • 260 direct and further 530 indirect jobs.
  • Capital injection of $126M a year
  • Will be most carbon efficient plant in Australia, Claims will save 6M truck kilometres by reducing 30% truck requirement to east coast, cattle processed in Darwin expected to fetch premium of $42/hd above existing meat supply chains15
  • IAR – Individual animal recording will be used for management system5
  • ACIL Tasman Report – found a main benefit the proposed AAco abattoir would be providing a market for excess cast for age female cattle and as a result would promote productivity improvement in breeding herds.8
  • Facility is Halal accredited111

History of the Livingstone meat processing facility

MapSource – AACo Handout. Katherine Dec 2012.
Proposed location of AACo abattoir near Darwin comparative to existing 35 largest beef processing facilities in Australia at the time.


  • July. AACo seeking investors to back its proposed top-end works capable of processing 140,000 per year38
  • Estimates – $35M + $12.5M, If have government support up and running April 201211
  • Estimate $81M to construct (paper 06.06.12), Fed gov haven’t supplied funding as yet (Jan 2013) to project1.
  • Requires another $25M by Fed Government for road re-alignment, power, water, gas, rail, ports, Project not funded in 12/13 NT budget7.
  • Currently one container ship per fortnight is loaded Darwin, Abattoir  will require 2 container ships a week to take supply7.
  • Requires 145 container points at Port of Darwin15
  • Estimate $85 to construct (AACo board 19.10.12)
  • AACo – Wholesale Beef Group – sold 16,900t boxed beef in 2012, 17,000t in 20115
  • Korea – AACo’s largest export market for boxed beef, 20% of annual beef sales16
  • LE ban cost AACo $51.2M16, due mainly to land valuation write downs.
  • Managing director at this time – David Farley.137
    • Led AACo between 2009 to 2013137

AAco. Darwin

Source Northern Beef Limited Phamplet.

Artist impression of built Livingstone abattoir

  • August. Idea put to producers in NT to build abattoir14
  • AACo launch a feasibility study.54
    • facility could take 2 years to build.54
  • AACo believes a northern abattoir could play a key role to allow it become an integrated producer, processor and marketer.54
  • Indonesian weight import restrictions of animals being required to be less than 350kg had affected AACo, who sold 90% of export animals to Indonesia.54
  • October. Looking for support to build abattoir11
    • Problems anticipated – Labour and housing costs11


  • AACo raise $60M from Institutional investors and hopes to raise another $30 from ordinary shareholders39
  • AACo expected to peak this year with ownership of 640,000 cattle39
  • July. AAco sell a QLD property – Meteor Downs $21.6M (17,474ha), south of Emerald.53
  • AACo will consider sales and purchases to re-aling its footprint in North Australia53
  • Hoped Planning approval would occur by Christmas 201153
    • two sites being considered for the facility53
  • construction is expected to take 12 months, employ about 150-180 staff.53
  • Mr David Farley Managing director of AACo, says the facility is not an alternative to live export.53
  • ‘If we had to get to that point we’d need $10 billion, a 10-year planning horizon, major investment in roads, rail, port and electricity – and 10 good men to oversee getting the job done, You’d need to process about a million cattle a year in northern Australia if you want to replace Live export” David Farley53


  • Environmental assessment report conducted. “..there were significant uncertainties that had not been adequately dealt with…these relate primarily to the management of waste water and the need for effective management of odour, noise and dust76
  • February. Plant estimated to cost $80M,
    • Plan to be in opertion at around October 201315
    • Potential price premiums of $30+ a head from overseas meat buyers wanting to source product from low-carbon production backgrounds15
    • International indicators suggest $42/head premiums above existing Australian meat supply chains15
    • Process 135,000 cattle per year and require 260 full time staff15
      • Staff likely flown in from India and Philippines15
  • March. NT Minister for Primary Industries Kon Vatskalis announced at NTCA conference, Darwin $9M to be provided in kind by NT Govt.
    • Federal Government had no applications and funding never occured14
  • AAco post a financial loss for year ending March $8.4M39
    • Cite reasons for loss “Primarily due to flow on effects from the Federal government’s live export suspension of mid-2011″ Don McGauchie, AACo Chairman39
    • Continued high dollar39
  • AACo now estimate related devaluation of Northern Australian properties due to export suspension  devalued by $51.2M39
  • Implementation of ESCAS is challenging “Australia is the only country to attempt to regulate livestock exports from paddock through to processing in another country” Don McGauchie39

AAco cattle sales #2_edited-1Source – AACo Annual Report ending 2012 (March)
Markets that AACo sell their cattle to.

Cattle sales % 2012_edited-1Source – AACo Annual Report ending 2012 (March)
Cattle sales in percentages compared to full year sales.

  • April. Govt support required for highway expansion, port facilities for refrigeration, local health care facilities14
  • May. Government give approval to development subject to 5 conditions being met.35
  • ACIL Tasman report ACIL_EconomicImpact_AAcoAbattoir – May 2012.
    • Capital cost of the plant forecast to be $83M43
      • fully operational by 2014 with full throughput capacity 201643
    • AAco processing minimum of 35% their own stock.43
    • Closest abattoir – Townsville 2000km from Darwin.43
    • Proposed abattoir process 179,000 cattle can be modified to 225,000 with minimal capital expenditure.43
      • AAco anticipates processing 63,000 of their own stock.43
    • Majority of the throughput 80% being cull cows.43
      • Modelled on Average liveweight 430kg, dressing to 50% with saleable meat yield of 72% fo the HSCW43
    • Produce 28M kg of saleable beef and 36M kg offal, 6,900 hides43
    • No current regional market for cull cows and bulls.43
      • development of a cull market will enable younger, more robust, fertile herds reduces mortality and increases calves produced.43
      • Returns for cows would improve 117%43
      • Depending on capacity of plant and supply of heavy animals could increase sale value of animals in north by 31%43
    • Increased investment is required for all weather access.43
      • Abattoir would be closed December periods.43
  • June.  AAco says needs Indian worders to help fill 260 new positions10
  • AAco announce they have purchased 600ha site 50km  south of Darwin – Livingstone35
    • Plant estimated to cost $83M35
    • Initially plant to process 185,000 cattle annually, capacity with further development to 225,00035
    • AAco to always hold 50% equity in plant35
  • Three months to June 2012 – AAco Total cattle sold 68,660 cattle. Av $967/hd21
    • Wagyu beef sold 2,487t21
    • Short fed grain finish beef sold 1,965t21
  • October. Design phase complete, NT Governement has granted various planning approvals7
  • Federal funding in last budget wasn’t provided as they hadn’t received a solid proposal49
  • AAco board approve commencement of civil and construction works36
    • Plant estimated to cost $85M36
  • $14.5M spent by AAco on site to date. Earthworks beginning on site5
  • RSPCA quoted as saying as soon as Darwin ab opens they will be increasing demands for LE to be shut down8.
  • “Federal government committed to promoting economic diversification in Northern Australia9 Joe Ludwig, Current Minister for Agriculture.

Oct 2012_edited-1

Source -The 600ha site for the AACo abattoir at Livingstone – Photo Carl Curtain.

 ‘AAco board finally approves Darwin abattoir’ ABC Rural. 19.10.12


  • Discussions under way with potential equity partners5
  • February. Changes to water treatment process on site from an effluent dam storage treatment and irrigation system to a dissolved air flotation system13
  • Preparation of site and civil works well advanced,  light wet has been good advantage. Construction phase to begin 11.02.13
  • March. 260 staff required – will use 457 visas16
  • Government threatened to impose further restrictions on 457’s, “ if you want to delay, disrupt or waste Australia’s future then the 457 actions of the Gillard government will do all of that” – David Farley. AACo CEO16
  • April. Completion of first stage of construction17
  • Speculation development may be abandoned40
    • AACo say waiting for equipment to arrive.40
    • AACo announce selling two QLD properties40
  • Northern Territory Treasurer – Country Liberal Government, “There is no money available to support the abattoir” David Tollner, Minister for Business41
  • May. Construction expected to recommence late May17
    • AACo now sourcing capital to finance the abattoir without private investors17
    • Estimates of build now $85M17
    • Uncertainty of government funding and private joint ventures led AACo to fund project independently17
  • June. Three months to June Financials for AACo.21
    • AACo cattle sales  – Total Sold 99,654 cattle, Av $676/hd21
      • Grass fed/finished 28,275 hd21
      • Breeder and Feeder Cattle 37,456 hd21
      • Live export 20,14621
      • Wagyu 8970 hd21
      • Previous year same period – Total sold 68,660 cattle, Av $967/hd21
    • AAco wholesale beef business21
      • 2140t Wagyu21
        • Previous year same period 2,487t Wagyu21
      • Short fed – grain finish 1,699t21
        • Previous year same period 1,965t21
  • August. AAco CEO David Farley is dismissed18
    • Farley had served AAco for 3 years and 8 months20
    • ..investing in a  Darwin abattoir was important strategy to break reliance on large-scale processing competition in Australia, while also protecting the value of AAco’s northern beef properties” Nick Burton Director & Chairman of AAco, commenting on how Farley had helped to reposition AAco through difficult periods.18
    • Concerns are raised that abattoir won’t be built without Farley but at AGM Chairman Donald McGauchie the board has given full approval for the project.28
    • AAco recently sold Brighton property $11.5M18
      • part of strategy to focus capital in North Australia18
    • Finance of the abattoir had caused friction in last 2 years18
    • AAco may need to raise $150M in fresh equity to get its debts in order19
      • currently hold 1% of Australia’s landmass19
        • 600,000 cattle across 7.2M hectares.26
        • Australia’s biggest beef producer26
      • has Gross debt $423M at March 31.2013.19
      • recently sold properties worth combined – $25M19
      • AAco’s current debt to equity is 70%19
        • Ideally would be 30%19
        • Current major stakeholders – Wellington Management cut its holding from 8.1% to 6.5%19
        • Biggest shareholder Malaysia’s Felda Holdings and IFFCO failed to participate in 2011 revenue raising19
        • Tavistock Group, investment company of Britishman Joe Lewis owns 11% of AAco21
      • global beef prices are hovering near 3 decade low19
        • Due to poor wet season and low live export orders19
    • AAco current share price – $1.09c20
    • Meatworks due to be completed first half of 2014.20
  • Livingstone abattoir now estimated to cost $91M21
  • September. AAco shares are placed on trading holt.22
  • AAco announces it wants to raise $299M in capital through a share offer22
    • Share offer to be $219.2M fully underwritten 7 for 10 accelerated non-renouncable entitlement offer.22
    • $80M subordinated convertible notes maturing September 2023.22
      • Capital raising to be used to reduce Net debt from $412M of predominantly secured bank loans to $248M, including the $80M convertible notes.42
      • Gearing will fall from 40.9% to 23.5%42
  • Funds to be used to “support a future refinancing of its existing facilities”22
    • Within 2 days of announcement large investors generate $129.2M23
    • Existing institutional shareholders took up 56% of entitlements23
  • In effort to cut costs AAco move Brisbane headquarters to Fortitude valley consolidating two locations into one.23
  • Abattoir now stated to have future processing capacity of 200,000 hd22
  • Half year Financial results – End of September 2013 AAco report after tax loss of $31.6M26
    • Cattle liveweights fell 12% contributed $20.4M to fall in revenue26
    • Total revenue fell $15.6M to $177.7M26
      • cite reasons for loss as ongoing effects of June 2011 suspension of live exports27
      • below-average seasonal rainfall in North Australia27
        • some properties recorded lowest rains on record27
    • comparisons of earnings to previous years same period27
      • Sept 2013 – delivered 172,517 hd for sale27
        • Sept 2012 – $147,693 hd for sale27
      • Sept 2013 – Average $731/hd, 20% lower than previous period27
        • Sept 2012 – $919 /hd27
      • Sept 2013 – Cattle purchases 14,453 hd27
        • Sept 2012 – 61,181 hd27
      • Sept 2013 – Kilograms produced 44.7M kg27
        • Sept 2012 57.7M kg27
        • Authors Note Kilograms produced is a benchmarking technique taking into account animals born/deaths and differences in weights of sale animals to previous year. It is not simply sale animals weights.

    Livingstone abattoir 002Source – ‘AAco rules out split, plans $299M raising to expand to Asia’ The Australian 13.09.2013
    Global beef price v’s domestic cattle prices / AAco revenue contribution.

  • October. Tavistock Group – owns AA trust – operated by Joe Lewis – Discloses 19.9% in AACo.24
    • has purchased an extra 1.8% – derivative contract.24
      • 20% threshold ASIC – take consideration as formal takeover – 1.8% not physical ownership therefore ASIC/take over panel not concerned.24
    • Bonds of 8% due to convert at fixed price $1.15 will allow Lewis ownership of close to 30% AACo.24
  • AA Trust. Is Bahama based. Is a stable company of Tavistock Group100
    • Lewis could command up to 30% of AACo’s register by September 2014.100
  • Larger foreign shareholders are rumoured to want split the company in two.100
    • Rumours were dismissed with investor said to favour the transformation of AACo into a pure meat processor and exporter to Asia.100
  • AACo purchase 2 NT properties – Labelle Downs and Welltree Station – $27.1M25
    • No cattle included in sale, only plant and equipment25
    • RM Williams had previously owned properties – gone into receivorship25
    • Properties were 180km from Darwin and complement abattoir25
      • ensure continuity of supply of animals through both wet and dry season.25
  • AACo retail component of $299M capital raising is successfully completed97
    • Retail Shareholders subscribing to $46.1M in shares97
    • Institutional offer and convertible notes issuance had been completed in the previous month97
  • Livingstone abattoir is expected to be completed second half of 201497
    • Processing capacity of over 200,000 per annum97
  • AACo appoint contractor Milmeq (New Zealand based) – build refrigeration and food processing equipment in abattoir – worth $21.4M29
    • Were not able to find anyone in Australia who were able to give full turn-key operations29
    • Milmeq have subcontracted to an Australian based refrigeration company some of the tender.29
  • Haarslev – Denmark company won $6.5M contract to build rendering and waste treatment plant29
  • Managing contractor – Sunbuild – has sub-contracted much of the construction work to local companies.29
  • NT Country Liberals Government has enabled removal of red tape to allow agreements that suited both sides better than in the past.29
  • November. AACo report a net loss after tax of $31.6M in first half year results98
    • Domestic cattle prices had slumped – decline of 12%98
      • On-going effects of Federal governments June 2011 Live export ban98
      • Below average seasonal northern rainfall98
  • Acting Chief executive officer currently – Craig White98
  • New Livingstone facility would be crucial to enhancing the group’s profits and well as reducing volatility of the groups earning profile98
  • Lewis – Tavistock Group own almost 20% of AACo99
    • Rumours Joe Lewis wants to break the company apart99
    • Tavistock were the primary backer of the capital raising99
  • December. Facility is based on similar layout to Hunter Valley (EC Throsby – NSW)37 (Not yet added to blog)


  • January. AAco investigate options to enable supply of employees30
    • Providing work for prisoners – Sentenced to a job program30
      • Prisoners would get minimum wages after being trained.30
      • Money would be held by the Territory to pay for their board.30
      • Enables training to devleope skills and then move to full time work before they leave prison30
    • Require 350 workers30
      • locals get priority.30
    • Nik Taylor – Associate professor – Flinders university says using prisonersto work in the Abattoir would be “psychologically damaging”31
    • “We’re asking people to take lives from sentient creatures”, “Theres lots of other work that doesn’t have the kind of moral ambiguity we have around slaughterhouses” – Nik Taylor31
      • Nik Taylor studies links between domestic abuse, child abuse and violence to companion animals32
      • Taylor is an associate of New Zealand Centre for Human-animal studies -“whose research is concerned with the conceptual and material treatment of nonhuman animals in culture, society and history”.34
      • She is also a committee member of ‘Minding Animals Australia’ – Minding Animals International state their main objective as “… to further the development of nonhuman animal studies internationally and to help establish legal and moral protections for nonhuman animals”33
    • Authors Note – At time of writing Karnet abattoir (WA) is a low security prison operated abattoir located in Western Australia
  • Jason Strong is appointed managing director and chief executive officer, was previously the companies general manager44
  • February. Organic farmers in the NT express and interest in buying meat meal from the plant45

#7_edited-1Source – ‘Darwin abbatoir on track for AACo’ ABC Rural. 20.02.2014. Photo Jeanette Button
Construction of the freezing section. Main building for processing of carcasses not yet constructed.
More photos of the site are available on the above link

  • Plant now estimated to have cost $90M47

“We strongly believe that in conjunction with the live export trade this facility will help to improve the overall performance of the Northern Territory beef industry” Mr Donald McGauchie, AAco Chairman47

  • AAco confident of securing cattle throughput to keep the plant viable47
  • Throughput would start at 300 head a day47
  • APA Group – Natural gas supplier announce arrangement of delivery of natural to facility47
    • Gas will be sourced from Amadeus Basin (Alice Springs) arrive via APA existing pipeline and a new 2.8km lateral line.47
    • New gas line and receiving facility will be owned and operated by Northern Beef Australia Beef Limited – a wholly owned subsidiary of AAco.47
    • 10 year agreement with APA group51
    • Abattoir will utilitse cogeneration – using both electricity and thermal heating for meat processing.47
  • Facility will have capacity to kill 240,360 and 520 head per shift48
    • 1000 head per day using 2 shifts per day51
    • Carcass breakdown – collection of red and green offals, renderable products to tallows, meat and bone meal. Dry blood and hide processing to ready for further processing off site.48
    • Hot Boning – Will be conducted in Stage 1 of manufacture with stage 2 being cold boning if further developments are made in the future.48
      • Animal is expected to be processed within 24 hours of delivery48
      • All animals pre-slaughter electrically stunned48
      • From time of stunning to time meat enters freezers – 45 minutes48
    • Facility will have capacity to process buffalo48
    • Cattle will be paid on HSCW (Hot standard carcass weight), manufacturing cattle will have a set price and grid prices for prime.48
    • Online portal for feedback to suppliers to be developed.48

B.Cooper. 28.03.14_edited-2

 Source ‘AACo abattoir set for spring start’ The Land 28.03.14
Site Construction at the site in March 2014. The Packing label is slightly wrong and should be more to the right

  • Plant now cost more than $90M, expected to begin operations in September 201450
    • Processing will start at 300 head a day before steadily increasing50
  • Refrigertion and rendering equipment is now arriving and being installed.51
  • Expected savings of transport of stock from Katherine or the Victoria river area to a QLD plant will be $160 per head or $20,000 a trip48
  • Some within Australia’s established processing industry rate the plant’s chance of long-term success at zero63
  • Plant will contribute more than $120M to the local economy63
  • AACo 2014 report – The Northern Beef Processing Facility will be complementary to AACo’s live export trade, not a competitor, providing a market channel for cattle not destined for live export. (Pg 11)69
  • AACo, current Australian herd (including animals in feedlots and calves) 552,065 at 31/03/2014 (Pg 95)69
    • At 31/03/2013 was 677,217.(Pg 95)69
    • sales occured due to dry conditions necessitated de-stocking across the industry, forcing domestic cattle prices lower (Pg 8)69
    • company has destocked significantly past 18 months due to drought mitigation measures74
      • core breeding herd of 185,000 head74
      • Currently running 467,000 head of cattle across 7M hectares74
    • AACo’s branded beef division increased 329% to $17M gross profit.74
    • Net loss after tax of $40M for the year to March 31.74
  • Abattoir is on track to opening in September 201474
  • May. Author – Blog article I wrote after viewing AACo Beef Processing facility

14.04.14 087_edited-1Source Jo Bloomfield. Livingstone abattoir site at March 2014

  • May. Showcasing product representation through a trial run dummy kill at a QLD export plant.52
    • Brisbane based branded beef group to be responsible for management of sales out of Darwin plant.52
  • Showcasing allows confidence and security around stable pricing out of Darwin plant.52
    • Some of the product went to China52
  • Plant expected to be opened September 2014.52
      • First time slaughter facility has returned to NT on commercial scale since closure of Katherine (NT)52
      • Initial costs in establishing the plant with disproportionate operating expense in first year of set up, on completion management of budget is confident by AACo.52
  • Cattle supply secured from start September to End March 201552
    • Some of AACo’s own stock52
    • Some cattle purchased by AACo to hold for slaughter52
    • Supply agreements locked in with other livestock Northern producers52
  • Initial start up will be half-shift daily – represents 50,000 head cattle a year.52
    • Depending on operating conditions, issues of start up improve will progress to52
      • full shift – 110,000 per year52
      • 2 shifts – 220,000 per year52
  • June.

24.06.2014Source – Photo supplied by AACo. June 2014
Showing Livingstone beef processing facility near completion.

  • July. Abattoir is currently at 80% capacity101
  • August. AAco is no longer a cattle company – it’s a beef company.55
  • Vertical integration from production, processing, sales and marketing.55
    • closed system to maximise profits.101
  • Transition has been happening for several years.55
  • Over 12 years the branded beef has grown from nothing to a division that provides half the companies revenue.55
    • Top Wagyu brands selling for more than $250 /kg55
  • Asia is the main target market for AACo’s production.55
  • Testing is occurring at the plant, securing of some accreditations was still ongoing, Ausmeat, AQIS, USDA and market access accreditations.56
  • ‘Preferred supplier status’ where suppliers who are able to supply in the wet seasons may be given space for kills in the dry, co-ordination by AACo with other producers.56
  • AAco are stocking Labelle Downs and Welltree proeprties so as to supply facility over the wet season.57
    • Manager from Eva Downs on the Barkly – Tim Milne.57
    • Many came from AACo’s own properties at VRD and on the Barkly57
    • One third of the herd is cows for processing at Livingstone57
    • Two thirds are shipper types for live export57
  • AACo have also purchased the Pell Airstrip and Tortilla blocks to enable supply of cattle incase the roads are out to Labelle and Welltree57
    • $8M to buy Pell Airstrip & Tortilla67
  • NT prisoners helping to construct the cattle yards at Livingstone.74
    • Correctional Services won a contract to supply workers74
      • Ahead of a Chinese company74
    • 40 prisoners on project for up to 3 months74
      • Enables prisoners to learn skills74
      • Prisoners pay board, lodgings, pay tax and pay a levy to victims of crime74


  • Begins processing of manufacturing beef to supply Asia, United States and European Markets.59>
  • Initially the plant will only process AACo stock59
    • Expects to process other clients early 201559
  • Will give the live export dependent northern beef industry a fresh option for stock that don’t fit export specifications.59
  • Other areas are watching to see if the abattoir benefits economics of beef production to enable hastening of plans for others.59
    • Northbeef project59
  • One shift is operating at present employing 160 people, processing 520 head a day59
    • Capable of operating 2 shifts, nominal throughput of 220,000 head a year.59
    • At full capacity turn off will be 25 containers a week of frozen and chilled beef, along with hides, offal and tallow.59
  • 85 people currently employed, killing small numbers of cattle but only for training and trial purposes76
    • 90% of employees are local76
  • Facility has to meet standards of an Operational Environmental Management Plan (OEMP) before a licence to operate can be released.76
  • October. NT Environmental protection Authority has concerns with companies management of waste water, noise, odour and dust.60
    • EPA held back commissioning of the facility.60
  • Taken AACo over 5 years to get the facility built and operational60
  • 85 workers already employed60
  • Eventual cost of facility $91M60
  • Plant was close to signing off on requirements around operation and licensing61
  • Next major goal is have staff trained to conduct a single shift of cattle by March 2015.61
    • Already have 43,000 cattle lined up and dedicated to the plant to March.61
    • building up to a single shift will involve a progressive ramp up of supply, training, people and operations.61


  • EPA deliver licence to allow start of operations.62
    • Detailed bureaucratic process, part is negotiation, part is understanding what the requirements are62
    • things had required more detail than AAco had originally thought.62
    • No substantive change had to be made to the plant, design or or manufacture.62
    • 78 conditions of the environmental licence64
      • First of its kind in decades for a new meat processing facility64
      • Not unusal for licences to go through multiple stages before final approval64
    • Annual review will be conducted to ensure facility meets standards set.62
  • First significant abattoir in Northern Australia in 50 years.64
    • Previous facility in operation in the NT Katherine #2 (NT)
    • At different times the north had 10-12 abattoirs, that processing capacity has vanished. Abattoirs in the NT
    • More than 90 abattoirs were lost from Australian agricultural landscape between 1980-200566
  • Killing started immediately – 40 head a day, have been able to do that while commissioning.62
  • Product will accumulate in cold storage before the first sale is delivered in several weeks.64
    • First customer will be un-named domestic manufacturing beef customer on the eastern sea board64
  • AACo are not concerned about rising prices of live export cattle62
  • “We are quiet aware of that (rising LE prices) and we’ve got to remember that a strong, viable live export industry is good for the plant” Jason Strong. AACo Managing director.62
  • Australia’s national cattle herd is set to decline to its lowest level in 20 years
    • Forecasts of July 1 2015 Herd will drop to 26.1M65
  • Plant will face difficulties to get established65
    • cattle supply shortage65
    • find competant workers65
    • establishment of product in a highly competitive wholesale beef marketplace65
    • Maybe AACo plant will survive, others to the south of Australia may not.65
  • November. Financial year earnings released. Pre tax earnings for first half of year negative $8.2M mainly due to cattle sales revenue reducing by $50.4M as company held stock to be processed at the abattoir.68
  • Since original business case developed has been significant improvement in manufacturing beef prices68
    • underpinned by US beef producers rebuilding herds.68
  • First customer was an un-named domestic manufacturing customer on the Eastern seaboard70



  • February.Facility is listed on Ausmeat Accreditation list, Establishment #800
    • Export abattoir Beef/offal
  • Facility is officially opened by Prime Minister Tony Abbott71
    • nearest existing abattoir 2,500km from Darwin.71
    • Facilities main value will be competitive tension71
  • Intend to have a full single shift in operation and killing 520 per day by March 201570
  • Jason Strong rejected media statements facility would battle to secure stock, due to competition from live export70
    • Live export steers – ex Darwin 275c/kg70
    • Heifers – ex Darwin 255c/kg70
    • Cows – ex Darwin 170c/kg70
      • Note LE cows must be spayed or preg tested empty
  • Facility has started exporting beef with a container sent out of Darwin bound for Hong Kong.72
  • As the facility ramps up production focus will shift to product export72
  • Facility will produce beef products, hides and rendered products for markets across Asia and the US72
  • Some cattle had already been purchased from producers72
  • Prices to producers/suppliers will be either72
    • Over-the-hooks – animals supplied into the plant72
    • Live weight delivered likely to Pell Station.72
  • April. Pell Airstrip property is being transformed as an integral part of the supply chain for cattle to Livingstone processing facility77
    • Large weigh bridge capable of weighing individual trailers of an entire roadtrain.77
    • Accommodation block, hay sheds, commodity sheds, yards and office blocks77
    • Current purchase structure of abattoir will be to those animals delivered to the abattoir facility to be paid over the hooks77
      • Livestock delivered Pell will be paid live-weight on stock delivered.77
    • Pell and Labelle Downs will be used to hold animals to gain more weight prior to slaughter or being attached to groups destined for live export.77
    • hay for Pell is being sourced from Torilla which AACo also own.77
  • NT Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) order AACo to take “immediate action” to solve odour problems coming from the works.78
  • Odour is being caused by poor quality of wastewater being used, possible over-used by AACo for irrigation78
  • EPA had given permission to AACo to start processing cattle so the system could be tested and fine tuned78
  • Maximum cap was place on number of head to slaughter at 250 head a day78
    • AACo volunteered this amount78
  • AACo had presented a plan to mitigate odours and ensure sustainable compliance with the Environmental limits78
  • May. Livingstone facility slaughters 300 head a day for the first time79
    • Milestone to the road of full capacity of 500 head per shift79
  • First container of beef from the works had landed in th US79
    • Past 3 months shipments had gone to Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore79
  • 2014/2015 Annual results are released
  • AACo earned $9.6M profit,79
    • previous year loss of $39.9M79
    • Boxed beef now account for 77% of AACo revenue79
      • Processed Beef $277M  (includes Livingstone facility)103
        • Wagyu beef accounted for 52% of boxed beef revenue104.
      • the more boxed beef sold by AACo the better the revenue to them79
      • AACo are targeting higher boxed beef turnoff.79
    • Past 12 months to 31st March 201479
      • Cattle sales $120.5M,79
        • fallen in the past 12 months $70.5M79
      • Boxed beef sales $188.2M79
        • Increased in the past 12 months to $267.6M79
    • AACo’s current gearing ratio 32.7% at 31/03/201579
      • Equity 67.3%
      • Debt increased from $225M to $366M103
    • Previous gearing at 31/03/2014 23.3%79
      • Equity 76.7%
  • AACo’s publicly listed status has meant considerable transparency with investors and broader industry and community about the project.80
  • Plant has now entered 6 export markets, exported from Darwin via Singapore80
  • Facility is licensed to access full range of front-line markets80
    • country specific markets like China are not yet included.80
  • Initial domestic supply had been due to management of customer relations80
    • Early volume predictions of production suited the flexibility of domestic customers80
    • Exports require stable output80
      • Stability of supply will improve as volumes increase80
  • AACo do not need to spend significant investment on large volume osmosis equipment to overcome water quality issues80
  • Environmental issues are not constraining processing operations80
  • Cattle held on properties for processing are not causing environmental or welfare issues.80
    • properties have the capability to hold an entire years processing capabilities with no environmental impact.80
    • No outside cattle were contracted for slaughter until March80
  • Plant is not cannibalising profits from AACo pastoral operations80
    • the whole premise of the Livingstone plant is to provide an alternative market for cattle80
    • adding value to cattle that previously had limited market value prospects80
    • Some cattle are still live exported if financially attractive80
  • Plant will continue to run a single shift for operational reasons not environmental80
  • July. Indonesia cuts quota of live cattle imports.50,000 for quarter to Sept 2015.104
    • Same period last year had been 250,000 head104.
  • AACo AGM. The boxed beef transformation has created a more robust business104.
    • making strategic decisions to reduce the number of cattle sold externally104.
    • Volume and pricing of boxed beef sales continues to increase105.
  • August. AACo publically advertise kills space is available for cows of various weight range for September through to October81
  • Prices weighed Pell Airstrip81
    • $1.85/kg for cows over 421kg
    • $1.75/kg for cows 391kg – 420kg
    • $1.50 for cows 340kg – 390kg
  • the abattoir is generally processing cattle not suited to Live export markets but is competing with southern processors81
    • Midfield Group’s abattoir at Warrnambool Victoria has been buying large number of cull cows and old bulls from the NT81
    • prices are very competitive being offered by AAco.81
  • Indonesian import permits for slaughter & feeder cattle is still not released81
  • NT Environment Protection Authority (NTEPA) continues to receive complaints about “foul odours” coming from the new abattoir82
  • Problem is caused by poor quality waste water being used for irrigation82
  • NTEPA met with AACo January to discuss odour issues82
    • Company made improvements to manage odours and seperately applied to the NT Government to build additional improvements to the facility to specifically manage odours82
    • complaints had reduced dramatically
  • NTEPA met with AACo again March
    • NTEPA believe odours can be eliminated entirely
    • Wrote a letter to AACo to improve odour reduction further82
  • AACo did do air quality control report, which recommended an odour audit was conducted – audit wasn’t done82
  • NTEPA instruct under section 48 Waste Management and Pollution Control Act that the audit be carried out issued in August82
    • Conducted by an accredited expert in odour control
    • Will involve a thorough check of all buildings
    • Community interviews
    • How weather affects the odour
    • Recommendations
      • Which NTEPA want AACo to follow
      • Want implementation of improvements by the end of October 2015
  • Currently processing 350  head a day83
  • September. Currently processing 400 head a day83
    • 6-7 cuts from carcasses, as well as mince83.
    • Markets in Korea and Japan83
    • US market – Mince83
  • AACo purchase Thorner Station in QLD – $4.1M83
    • Exit Tipperary Station that had been an agistment agreement83
  • October. AACo’s shift from cattle producer to vertically integrated beef operation is delivering results83
    • increased earnings reflects success of switching from selling cattle to capture value of the herd when converted to beef83
  • EBITA for the first half of 2015 financial year (Ending September 2015) $8-$12M83
    • Last year same period $8.4M loss
    • Beef sales as a percentage of revenue have risen from 47% to 80% year on year
    • Branded program – 1824 that is 100day grainfed
      • 3 years ago processed 26-27,000 head with only 1500-200 being owned by AACo
      • In 2016 processed 60,000 through 1824 and owned 50,000 head of those animals
    • AACo have maintained a herd of 170,000 head83
      • despite liquidation of females due to drought
    • Livingstone abattoir began to process 350 head a day in August increasing up to 400 head a day in September83
      • processing 6-7 cuts from the carcases, including mince
        • established markets to Korea, Japan and US (Mince)

AACo. Half year 30.09.2015. Pg 10

Source 2015_-_28__aaco_fy16_half_year_financial_report___final

Northern Beef Performance as at 30/09/2015. Pg 11.

  • November. Half Year financials AACo report a $97M increase in statutory earnings to $92M and a statutory net profit of $50 for the 6 months84
    • $64M improvement on previous years same period84
    • First time in 8 years that a first-half profit has occurred106
  • “We are selling more kilograms, off the same herd base, for more money” Jason Strong, AACo Managing director82
  • Increased throughput at the Livingstone facility comprising of 16% of group meat sales revenue in H1 FY16.82
  • Boxed meat – particularly wagyu cuts, surged by 90% to $218M106
    • 2 years ago boxed beef represented 47% of total sales, today that stands at 84%106


  • February. NT Environmental Protection agency not satisfied with odour audits85
    • Suggests some errors in estimates in regards to winds and magnitude of the emissions from the irrigated areas85.
    • Local residents are still complaining of odours85
  • AACo plan an upgrade to the site to address all concerns85
  • March. Livingstone facility is currently processing more than 400 head a day86
    • Management were happy with operations through the wet season86
    • 2015/2016 being the first full wet season of operation86
      • Expectation capacity will increase to 500 day in the coming dry season on full single shift86
    • Competition is increasing for cattle86
      • Mix of stock coming from AACo’s own stock and other producers86.
  • Increasing number of producers are sending stock to Southern works such as Warrnambool86
    • Could be traditional markets for those producers86
    • Southern facilities need to keep operating, thus source stock further afield86.
  • Vietnam live export is also strong competitor86
    • Heavy cull cows and some heavy males being exported86
  • AACo Annual report to 31/03/2016. Livingstone account for 16% of overall Meat sales84
    • 16% = $65,523,000 (Total Meat Sales $428,272,000)96
  • AACo Director – Shehan Dissanayake. Is concerned with the disconnect between head office and on the ground staff at properties, is causing the company to underperform.107
  • April. Carbeen Park ( Cattle depot located Katherine and leased by AACo) turns over 40,000 head of cattle in the previous year87
    • Cattle are purchased from WA and AACo’s own properties to spell a the site before being trucked to the abattoir at Livingstone87
    • Most stock are cull cows and bulls unsuitable for live export87
    • Some producers able to sell cattle in small lots that they could never sell before87.
    • Carbeen is also a registered export yard able to pre-export stock, then trucked straight to the port for loading87
    • Carbeen cuts 400ha dryland sarbi and verano grass with 40ha sorghum under centre pivot87.

ABC rural .#2 21.04.2016

Source ABC rural. 21.01.201687.

AAC newsletter, April 2016

Source. AACo. Livingstone Beef Operations Newsletter April 2016.

April Newsletter indicating the make-up of the work force at the facility.

Website page. April 2017.

Source AACo Website. Livingstone Operations.  Accessed April 2017.

  • Major share holder in AACo – Tavistock. Managing Director – Shehan Dissanayake.102
    • Mr Dissanayake is an AACo Director.102
  • September. Producers are sending some stock south to higher paying processors
    • 3,000 head have passed through spelling station at Sturt plains in the past 4 months88
      • Southern meatworks were paying freight after weighing at Sturt plains.
  • significantly less cattle have been exported live from Darwin this year88
  • October. Upgrades are made to the wastewater treatment facilities89.
    • Current 12ML capacity will be increased by 25%89
      • 4ML increase in the covered anaerobic lagoon89

ABC rural . 07.10.2016

Source ABC Rural 07/10/201689

  • Current throughput capacity is 520 animals per shift.89
    • Built capacity of the plant was 510-520 head to be processed on a full shift89.
  • AACo launch 2 high end beef brands in Singapore89
    • “Premium luxury brand”89
    • Wylarah brand – Wagyu beef grown in central QLD89
  • Joe Lewis converts 59 of 160 convertible Notes into fully paid ordinary shares in AACo.108
    • Convertible notes were given a fixed share conversion price of $1.148.108
      • significant discount to AACo’s net tangible assets per security of $1.90108
      • Was a further $219M non-renounceable entitlement at $1 per share108
      • Mr Lewis took up his own full entitlement and underwrote any new share that existing shareholders didn’t take up108
        • If other shareholders didn’t take up their offers then Tavistock would buy them108
    • Tavistock now have just under 38% stake in AACo. Worth approximately $350M108
    • Now two Tavistock directors on the AACo board108
  • November. Full runs commercial trial processing buffalo90.
    • 8 head had been processed previously but additional equipment and training of staff had been required90.
      • Equipment was required particularly for the horns90
    • Possible one day a month could be allocated to buffalo90
  • Currently employing 200 people90
    • Both skilled and unskilled90
    • Actively employing local people, require more90.
  • Currently processing beef 480-500 head a day90
    • equates to 75-80 tonnes of meat per shift90
  • AACo announce revenue from meat and live cattle sales has fallen $46M for the 6 months to Sept 30. 201691
  • Half year results91
    • Net profit $47.9M – down $1.9M same period last year91
    • Revenue $214M91
      • Underlying earnings improved by $2.4M91
    • Live cattle sales down $28M – reflective of more stock being processed through the companies own supply chain91
    • Costs have cut 25% to improve earnings in the company91
  • Estimated Asian swamp buffalo numbers across the Top end are 150,000 head92
    • Majority are located in the Arnhem land92.
      • Kakadu National park having 6,500 head92
    • Buffalo management is being assessed but will require government support aimed at culling and capturing some stock92
  • Cost of Production (CoP) $2.77 for every kg of cattle weight added was reduced to $2.09 per kg.109
    • Cuts in CoP were due to slashing of transport costs as the business streamlined its alignment of cattle breeding and grazing on properties with specific abattoirs, feedlots and meat brands.109
    • Two new beef brands launched – Westholme and Wylara109
  • Joe Lewis – Travistock now own 39% of AAco shares.109


  • February 10. Livingstone abattoir is temporarily shut down due to lack of stock93 because supply has been affected by heavy monsoonal rain cutting off road access to many properties93 .
    • 1st time facility has shut due to bad weather93
      • Abattoir is shut down temporarily due to lack of cattle being able to actually be transported into the site.134
      • Shortfall caused by heavy monsoonal rain.134
    • closure will likely be only 1 week93
    • First time facility has shut down due to weather in 18 months of operation134
  • A year round operating abattoir was sustainable in the NT93
    • AMIEU claims 300 workers will be affected93
    • Workers will not receive pay while stood down93 .
    • Other facilities in other states have even opened from the Christmas shutdown yet93
    • Longer shutdown may occur due to weather93 .
  • Jason Strong, AACo CEO still believes it is possible to have a year round abattoir operating through the wet season.134
  • “The plan’s still very solid and the execution of it’s still fine….” Jason Strong. AACo CEO134
  • Approximately 300 workers were affected by the shutdown134
    • Workers will be stood down without pay134
  • March. Australian government announce that China will increase market access for chilled meat products133
    • Chinese FTA has decreased tariffs133
    • Allow the number of meat processors in Australia to increase from 10 to 36133
      • 15 were expected to have approvals fast tracked133
    • South American countries have been squeezed out of the Chinese frozen market133
    • China had banned chilled imports from Australia in 2013 with only 11 facilities being able to regain access.133
  • March. AAC_2017_Annual_Report

Source AAC_AACo_2017_Annual_Report

  • Meat Sales (Including all boxed meat and Livingstone) decreased 11% ($45,236,000) from 31/03/2016112
    • Total Meat Sales 31/03/2017 $383,036,000. 31/03/2016 $428,272,000112
      • Australia – Increased 15%112
      • USA – decreased 33%112
      • South Korea – decreased 5%112
      • Japan – decreased 57%112
      • Other countries – increased 10%112

Source AAC_AACo_2017_Annual_Report

  • Average Value of Stock as at 31/03/2017 $1,207 per head across all stud, breeders, calves, trading and feedlot animals – 662,482 head. (Pg 59)112
    • Breeding herd consisting of 540,000 head113
  • April. Livingstone hopes to export meat to China.110
    • Applied for permission to export to China.110
  • Livingstone currently has access to 27 customers.110
    • USA being the largest customer.110
    • Higher quality beef cuts are mostly sent to Asia110
  • Looking at unutilised quota of 2,250 tonnes of frozen buffalo meat that Australia has with the European Union110
    • Quota had not been accessed since 2003110
  • April 7. Facility is back in full production after it closed a week earlier this year due to lack of cattle in the wet season110
  • Key relationship establishment has allowed the abattoir to operate with minimal disruption through the wet season.111
  • Processing capacity was maintained at 500 head per day.111
    • Only one week shut down in February due to weather affecting access and odd Friday shutdown.111
    • Reduced throughput was widely experienced in the processing sector courtesy of trough trading conditions.111
  • Facility is halal accredited, Hot boning, or immediate boning after slaughter.111
    • Carcase moves through the production line in 45 minutes111
  • Livingstone is supplying 90CL or manufacturing meat mostly to United States.111
    • Four main markets are supplied111
      • Some cuts such as rumps being sold domestically111
  • Three trials of buffalo have been run111
    • Buffalo meat went into domestic market for pies and buff burgers111
    • AACo would like to keep the buffalo production increasing as relationships are established111
  • August. Joe Lewis. Tavistock now own 41% of the 193 year old AACo113
    • Mr Lewis’s representative Shehan Dissanayake is made a senior executive and key member of the leadership team113
      • Dr S Dissanayake owns 2.02M shares of AACo (31/03/2017)112
  • AACo CEO Jason Strong resigns113
  • AACo’s share prices plunges 24% in the past year113
  • September. AACo Livingstone start to commission a new waste water treatment plant that has recently been installed.114
    • Covered anerobic lagoon that captures gas for future use at the plant.114
    • Cost $8.7M114
    • Will take approximately 3 months to be in full operation.114

Source ‘Darwin’s AACo abattoir commissions water treatment facility…’ ABC Rural. 18.09.2017. Audio

  • November. Jessica Rudd, daughter of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is appointed as a non-executive director of AACo.116
  • December. New CEO – Hugh Killen115
    • Experienced in finance – three decades in the banking industry including 15 years with Wespac leading its fixed income, currency and commodities business.115
      • Experience in volatile markets having been head of Westpac’s North American business during the global financial crisis.116
    • Has a family background in farming but has never run an agricultural operation or acted as a CEO.115
    • Mr Killen will receive a fixed annual renumeration $600,000, cash bonus max $300,000 and max $150,000 under AACo’s performance rights plan.116


  • March 17. Cyclone Marcus hits Darwin. Category 2 cyclone with winds up to 130km/hr135
  • April. Annoucement is made that AACo was likely to post an underlying statutory loss of between $30M – $40M for the 12 months to March 2018121
    • Livingstone beef operations write down of $60-65M121
      • Facility is expected to have contributed EBIT & Depreciation and Amortization loss $18-22M ending 31/03/2018117
        • Compares to loss of $12.5M ending 31/03/2017117
      • Losses reflected ‘Onerous contract provision’ – the abattoir was committed to118
        • Gas provision supply contract119
      • Deloitte Accounting firm has been engaged to conduct a strategic review process to assess all available options for Livingstone, including improving the operational efficiency of the plant.117
        • Update of the review to be provided in the full FY18 results119
    • Disclosure of the individual performance of the Livingstone facility  had not been done before in reports of financial performance.
      • Segment disclosure would be occurring in the coming FY18 results119
  • Facility currently employs about 200 people117
    • Compares to profit $133.2M in the prior year121
    • AACo shares have slumped to $1.12121
      • Decrease of 31.5% in the last 12 months121
    • Second Review of AACo was being conducted121
      • Company was not considering selling property121
      • Review will focus on process and efficiency within AACo’s supply chains
  • “AACo’s  performance has been affected by external challenges such as increased competitive dynamics in certain markets, a higher Australian dollar, higher input prices, and an elevated cattle price environment for Livingstone Beef” Mr Hugh Killen, AACo CEO.117
  • Recent transition from retaining brand ownership through the supply chain to instead selling cattle is in stark contrast to what previous management teams claimed had pulled AACo out of negative cash flow in the first place.117
  • Key Pillar in AACo’s vertical integration had been the opening of the Livingstone abattoir.119
  • Increased competitive dynamics had occurred in some of the beef product portfolio’s.119
    • Larger exports out of the US and the strength of the Australian dollar119
  • Net debt at years end $348M119
    • Gearing ratio (Net debt/total equity +net debt) 26%119
      • AACo’s stated target net debt 20-35%119
    • Debt refinancing had been completed in September 2017125
  • May. New Chief Operating officer (Pastoral) – Anna Speer.122
    • Currently CEO of online livestock trading company – Auction Plus.122
    • Formerly worked for Australian Consolidated Pastoral122
    • Ms Speer will be responsible for122
      • 16 outback cattle stations in QLD and NT
      • 2 feedlots
      • Livingstone abattoir
      • 500 regional employees and
      • more than 500,000 cattle.
  • May 23. AACo announces it will suspend operations of its Livingstone abattoir.123
    • Facility has commitments through to August.123
    • Likely operation will suspended September 30, 2018.123
      • Possibly earlier stoppage may occur.123
  • Facility has been in operation for 3 years and currently employs 200 people123
    • Blend of local workers and overseas 457 visa holders128
    • Workers will be offered redundancies128
  • Total one-off write down of $74.9M includes123
    • $69.5M in respect to buildings, improvements, plant and equipment
    • $5.4M onerous contract
  • Local pastoralists are concerned old bulls and old cows located on properties now have no where to go123
  • “They couldn’t meet the market with the prices they were giving for cattle which is why a lot of people weren’t actually going there” Amanda Murphy, Pastoralist, Kalala Station123
  • AACo said its earnings were impacted  by a number of factors.123
    • increased competition affecting certain parts of product portfolio123
    • reduced volume due to less reliance on external supply123
    • increased input costs due to dry conditions.123
    • High labour costs126
      • Labour competition with local gas and mining projects128
      • Labour costs were unviable128
    • Inputs were just too dear to make a viable profit at the plant130
    • Staging of cattle to maintain supply through the wet season created an additional cost burden130
  • Potential buyers are welcome to talk to AACo about the future of the Livingstone abattoir.126
    • Could be options with other partners126
  • Facility had relied on non-AACo herds to provide about 80% of its throughput126
    • AACo’s own cattle processed through Livingstone are transferred at observable market rates130
    • Livingstone cattle price problems were due to herd reduction that has occurred across large parts of Australia130
  • Supply chain inputs were far higher than would be expected in southern beef processing environments – including labour contracts at the abattoir126
  • Meat from the Livingstone plant averaged just $4/kg126
    • Sold domestically and to China, Korea, Indonesia and Japan126
    • Livingstone generated one fifth AACo’s revenue in 17/18126
  • Livingstone abattoir has failed to turn a profit since opening in late 2014127
  • Abattoir is not officially for sale127
    • legitimate offers would be considered127
    • If market conditions change the plant could be profitable130
  • AACo had miss-matched the objectives of the NT abattoir127
    • Abattoir to supply low value hamburger mince to US commodity markets127
    • push by AACo’s largest shareholder to become a luxury beef producer127
  • AACo denied hanging onto the abattoir as a hedge or calculated bet that the $1.2B northern Australia live cattle export trade might be banned in the near future because of animal welfare or activist campaigns127
  • Hugh Killen denied that live cattle export was responsible for the failure of the Livingstone Beef plant127
  • Facility will be mothballed with a working crew retained of 12 people129
  • Licences and standards will be maintained to allow re-start in a short time if required129
  • Abattoir will cost $400,000 per annum to simply maintain in a mothball state129
  • Observers say contributing factors to Livingstone predicament are more than just livestock procurement and labour130
    • Some point to AACo’s multi layered and generously rewarded management profile130
    • Poor operational set-up and strategy at the plant130
    • AACo handed over domestic marketing to Australian Wholesale Meats which took $2-3/kg off the margin of sales130
  • Some other processors mystified as to why the plant wasn’t setup as a least cost hot boning plant suited to efficient generation of frozen lean grinding beef130
  • QLD processor Australian Country Choice (ACC) visited the site to offer guidance on set up and operational strategies.130
    • No suggestion ACC has any direct interest in investment or management130
  • Broome ‘Yeeda’ WA abattoir is also recently built.131
    • Processing 1,100 – 1,200 per week and is making a profit selling generic trim grinding meat for hamburgers131
    • Yeeda has been successful due to its simplicity, lack of unnecessary overheads and remained a ‘family show’131
      • All product is forward sold
      • with majority of each boned carcase going to frozen commodity grinding beef pack
      • Relies on older cull cows and bulls not suited to the Live export trade
  • Queensland abattoirs advertise in NT papers to encourage meat workers to their facilities.136
    • Meatworks around Australia were desperate for skilled workers.136
  • Livingstone abattoir had agreed with AMIEU to pay workers $200 a week retention bonus until the facility closes.136
  • It will be very difficult to get the facility in operation again if mothballed and staff move away from the area.136
    • Some staff had come from interstate to work at the abattoir.136
  • Livingstone had been processing stock mostly not suited to the Live export market.136
    • Some slaughter animals may be now sold through Live Export.136
    • Most will have to be sent to other abattoirs in other states136
      • Significant freight costs136
      • Likely negative impact on price136
    • Abattoir had been processing a lot of horned cattle that were unable to be sold to Live export.136
  • June. Former Managing Director – David Farley say’s the abattoir will not stay closed long137
    • Was Managing Director 2009-2013137
    • Facility can make a comeback and be profitable.137
    • Issues exist around labour costs and energy costs were manageable137
    • Largest issue was company’s culture and lack of experience in meat processing.137
    • Opportunities to continue the abattoir operation will likely come through a joint-venture or other style of operation that complements AACo’s other business operations.137
  • Cull cows at Darwin are currently selling $1.70 to $1.85 per kg (Live)137
    • A manageable price conversion through the abattoir should be achievable due to the frozen cow 90CL value.137


  • July. NTCA meet with Chinese owners of Darwin Port to discuss opportunities to export beef from NT to China.138.
    • Landbridge group had already invested in cold-storage facilities at the port and were interested in boxed beef trade between NT and Shandong Province.138.
    • Chinese were circling other mothballed abattoirs in the Territory.138.
    • NTCA had a vision of “network of meatworks” through the central NT corridor to include.138.
      • Batchelor, (NT)
        • Currently undergoing refurbishment with likely operation to begin March 2020.
      • Livingstone (NT)
        • Currently mothballed and closed due to operational costs
      • Wamboden (NT)
        • Currently closed and not in operation.
  • Chinese investment company commit to construction of new facility – Hughenden (QLD) processing abattoir to begin operating in 2020139.

Source’s for Livingstone Meat Processing facility

    1. Weekly Times, ‘AAco to build NT abattoir’ 06.06.12
    2. AAco Board letter. 19.10.12 www.aacont.com.au
    3. Farm Online ‘AAco needs to get serious, says Crean’ 19.10.12
    4. AAco, North Australian Beef Limited information phamplet. NTCA meeting Dec 2012
    5. ‘Equity partners in hunt for Darwin Abattoir project’ Beef Central 04.02.13
    6. ‘AA co’s nod to Darwin Plant’ QLD Country Life 25.10.12
    7. ‘New northern abattoir still lacks government support’. Katherine Times 10.1012
    8. ‘Abattoir will ‘not stop Live Ex’ Katherine Times. 10.10.12
    9. ‘We’re Committed to NT’ QLD Country Life  11.10.12
    10. Online Comments – Stock Journal 07.06.12
    11. ‘AAco mulls building top end abattoir…….’The Australian 23.10.10
    12. ‘Northern abattoirs make their case’ QLD Country life. 24.02.12
    13. ‘Community update’AAco. 04.02.13
    14. ‘Darwin abattoir plan on tenterhooks’ ABC rural. 23.04.12
    15. ‘AAco’s ‘green’ abattoir punt’ The Land. 07.02.12
    16. ‘AAco blasts 457 fears, FTA lag’ Stock and Land. 18.03.13.
    17. ‘Work to recommence on Darwin abattoir’ ABC Rural. 22.05.2013.
    18. ‘Farley Walks… but was he shown the door’ QLD Country Life 08.08.2013.
    19. ‘AAco may need $150M in fresh equity’ Katherine Times. 14.08.2013.
    20. ‘Departure of AAco’s CEO to be scrutinised’ QLD Country Life 15.08.2013.
    21. ‘Darwin plant set for 2014’ Stock Journal 29.08.2013
    22. ‘Ag company to raise $299M’ Katherine Times 18.09.2013
    23. ‘Investors stampede AAco’s debt offer’ Stock Journal 26.09.2013
    24. ‘Lewis takes another slice’ Nth QLD Register. 31.10.2013
    25. ‘AAco: $27.1M Northern buy-up’ Nth QLD Register 31.10.2013
    26. ‘AAco suffers $31.6M loss’ QLD Country Life 14.11.2013
    27. ‘AAco reports $31.6M Net loss’ Nth QLD Register 14.11.2013
    28. ‘AAco confirms $90M Northern abattoir will be built’ ABC News 22.08.2013
    29. ‘NZ company signed to build Darwin killing floor’ ABC Rural. 02.10.2013
    30. ‘NT Government defends plan to put prisoners to work in abattoir’ ABC News. 04.01.2014
    31. ‘Concerns over psychological impact of abattoir work on NT prisoners’ ABC Rural. 06.01.2014
    32. http://www.flinders.edu.au
    33. http://www.mindinganimals.com
    34. http://www.nzchas.canterbury.ac.nz
    35. ‘AAco to build abattoir’ Weekly Times 06.06.2012
    36. ‘AAco Board approves construction of Northern Territory meat processing facility’ AAco media release 19.10.2012
    37. ‘Darwin meat processing facility’ AAco Community update 12.12.2013
    38. ‘Kimberley pastoralists cautious over proposed Darwin abattoir’ ABC Rural 27.07.2010
    39. ‘AAco feeling export ban pain’ Stock and Land. 15.03.2013
    40. ‘Doubts mount about Darwin abattoir’ ABC Rural 19.04.2013
    41. ‘No room in CLP Budget for abattoir’ NT Country Hour. 26.04.2013
    42. ‘AAco rules out split, plans $299 raising to expand in Asia’ The Australian 13.09.2013
    43. ‘The economic impact of the proposed AAco abattoir’ ACIL Tasman. May 2012
      PDF file for report located 2012 – May.
    44. ‘Strong new AAco chief’ Stock & Land 24.01.14.
    45. ‘Organic farmers seek Darwin abattoir waste’ NT Country hour. 25.02.14
    46. ‘Darwin abattoir on track for AAco’ ABC Rural. 20.02.14
    47. ‘Abattoir to operate in September’ Katherine Times 02.04.14
    48. AAco Northern Beef Processing facility, handout 27.03.2014
    49. ‘AAco needs to get serious, says Crean’ The Land. 19.10.2012
    50. ‘AACo set for spring start’ The Land. 28.03.14
    51. ‘AACo starts recruiting process for Darwin plant’s September start’ Beef Central 08.04.2014
    52. ‘AACo showcases Darwin product to the market’ Beef Central 30.05.2014
    53. ‘Abattoir drives AACo plan’ QLD Country life 28.07.2011
    54. ‘Restrictions prompt AACo abattoir plan’ The Land 16.08.2010
    55. ‘AACo’s Asian Future’ QLD Country Life 07.08.2014
    56. ‘AACo sheds light on ‘preferred supplier’ status for Darwin plant’ Beef Central 22.08.14
    57. ‘Thousands of head return to majestic NT cattle station following purchase by AACo’ ABC Rural 02.09.14
    58. ‘AACo abattoir looks to advanced refrigeration system ahead of September opening’ ABC Rural. 11.09.14
    59. ‘NT abattoir ready to roll’ Farmonline. 22.09.14
    60. ‘Head of Australian beef company describes NT abattoir venture as ‘frustrating’ process’ ABC rural. 02.10.14
    61. ‘AACo plant to ramp up to full single shift by March 2015’ Beef Central. 02.10.14
    62. ‘Australian Agriculture Company jumps final hurdle to gain environmental approval for long-awaited Darwin abattoir’ ABC Rural. 31.10.14
    63. ‘AACo starts recruiting process for Darwin plant’s September commissioning’ Beef Central 28.03.14
    64. ‘New Era for northern Australia as AACo flicks the switch on Darwin beef plant’ Beef Central 31.10.14
    65. ‘Kay’s Cuts: AACo & Iowa beef plant dreams become reality’ Beef Central. 06.11.14.
    66. ‘Reversing the loss of Australia’s meatworks’ QLD Country Life. 07.11.14
    67. ‘Cattle head to AACo stations as Darwin abattoir prepares to open’ ABC rural. 18.06.2014
    68. ‘AACo logs $13.6M net loss for first half’ Beef Central 19.11.2014
    69. Australian Agricultural Company Limited – Annual report 2014.
    70. ‘PM opens AACo’s trail blazing Darwin beef plant tomorrow’ Beef Central 20.02.2015
    71. ‘PM opens AACo NT abattoir’ QLD Country Life 21.02.2015
    72. ‘Beef From AACo’s new abattoir in the NT exported to Hong Kong’ ABC Rural 23.02.2015
    73. ‘Ausmeat Accreditation Listing’ as at 10/05/2015.
    74. ‘Harsh weather conditions affect AACo profits’ ABC rural. 28.05.2014.
    75. ‘Prisoners help build new Top End abattoir’ ABC News 25.08.2014
    76. ‘AACo’s Darwin abbatoir sweats on licence….’ ABC Rural 25.09.2014
    77. ‘The Transformation of Pell…’ ABC Rural 07.04.2015
    78. ‘New abattoir near Darwin on the nose’ ABC Rural 09.04.2015
    79. ‘AACo lifts profit by $49.5M’ www.farmonline.com.au 13.05.2015
    80. ‘Unravelling seven misunderstandings….’ Beef Central 13.05.2015
    81. ‘AAco looking for Northern Slaughter cows..’ ABC Rural 18.08.2015
    82. ‘Ongoing odour problems for new AACo abattoir…’ ABC Rural 21.08.2015
    83. ‘AACo Earnings Turnaround’ www.farmonline.com.au 21.10.2015
    84. ‘Supply chain focus delivering strong …..’ Beef Central 25.11.2015
    85. ‘Environmental Protection Authority not satisfied with AACo’s audit….’ ABC Rural 09.02.2016
    86. ‘AACo abattoir near Darwin processing more than 400….’ ABC Rural 20.03.2016
    87. ‘Busy times for one of Katherine’s smallest cattle……’ ABC Rural 21.04.2016
    88. ‘Strong competition from meat processors ….’ ABC Rural 08.09.2016
    89. ‘AACo expands wastewater handling capacity at Darwin….’ ABC Rural 07.10.2016
    90. ‘NT abattoir runs first full commercial buffalo slaughter trial’ ABC Rural 11.11.2016
    91. ‘AACo cuts cost by 25%, as revenue falls’ ABC Rural 23.11.2016
    92. ‘Researcher calls for Top End Buffalo cull and muster….’ ABC Rural 25.11.2016
    93. ‘AACo temporarily shuts down Livingstone abattoir near Darwin after heavy rain’ ABC Rural 13.02.2017
    94. AACo Livingstone Beef Operations
    95. ‘North sees direct competitive price tension between processors and live – ex’ Beef Central 12.08.2015
    96. AAC_2016_AACo_Annual_Report
    97. ‘AACo capital raising progress’ www.farmweekly.com.au 11.10.2013
    98. ‘Cattle slump hits AACo’ www.farmweekly.com.au 07.11.2013
    99. ‘AACo chief defends Lewis’ www.farmweekly.com.au 08.11.2013
    100. ‘AACo the latest target for hotshot Joe Lewis’ Financial Review 25.10.2013
    101. http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2015-07-29/aaco-undergoes-transformation-from-cattle-company/6654102
    102. https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/in-depth/global-food-forum/tavistock-md-urges-australians-to-invest-in-agriculture/news-story/53c9131a820d3fab877dc0cab7def62c
    103. ‘AACo boxed beef profits up as transformation continues’ The Australian 14.05.2015
    104. https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/business-spectator/aaco-upbeat-on-indon-cattle-cuts/news-story/987b0df66c6fcd2dd0a349cea915812a
    105. ‘AACo an long-term buy after move to packaged beef’ The Australian 17.07.2015
    106. ‘Beefed-up AACo finds its profits in the box’ The Australian 26.11.2015
    107. ‘Shehan Dissanayake’s unforgettable trip….’ The Australian 26.03.2016
    108. ‘AACo, the other landholder taken by foreign investors’ Financial Review 30.10.2016
    109. ‘AACo’s Jason Strong cuts costs for solid profit’ The Australian 24.11.2016
    110. ‘Top End Abattoir applies to access Chinese…..’ ABC Rural 07.04.2017
    111. ‘Livingstone broadens its horizons’ www.farmonline.com.au 23.04.2017
    112. AAC_AACo_2017_Annual_Report
    113. ‘CEO quits in AACo power struggle’ The Australian 12.08.2017
    114. ‘Darwin’s AACo abattoir commissions water treatment facility…’ ABC Rural. 18.09.2017. Audio
    115. ‘AACo appoints ex-Westpac executive Hugh Killen as CEO’ Financial Review 20.12.2017
    116. ‘Banker Hugh Killen is AACo’s new chief executive’ The Australian 20.12.2017
    117. ‘AACo reviewing abattoir and beef business…’ ABC Rural 04.04.2018
    118. ‘AACo abattoir and beef business model under review….’ www.farmonline.com.au 04.04.2018
    119. ‘AACo to review processing, brand operations….’ Beef Central 04.04.2018
    120. ‘Opinion: The reality of our northern cattle industry belies popular rhetoric’ Beef Central 29.04.2018
    121. ‘AACo won’t consider selling farm,cattle’ Financial Review 04.04.2018
    122. ‘AACo appoints Anna Speer to steer paddock-to-plate beef supply chain’ The Australian 22.05.2018
    123. http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2018-05-23/aaco-closes-livingstone-beef-abattoir-near-darwin/9790454
    124. http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/nt-country-hour/hugh-killen-aaco-decision-to-mothball-abattoir/9791264
    125. ‘AACo suspends operations at loss-making Livingstone Beef plant’ Beef Central 23.05.2018
    126. https://www.farmonline.com.au/story/5424766/loss-making-livingstone-abattoir-not-for-sale/?cs=5373
    127. https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/companies/aaco-closes-livingstone-beef-meatworks/news-story/c8f4d422cbc8f77510aaa791a6bd6f1b
    128. https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/companies/aaco-swings-to-heavy-loss-as-it-battles-dry-weather-conditions/news-story/fbbc972f0f4d03509127c947b4bbb310
    129. http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/nt-country-hour/abattoir-job-losses-a-blow-for-darwins-rural-area/9796498
    130. ‘High cattle prices, input costs blamed for AACo’s Livingstone plant losses’ Beef Central 24.05.2018
    131. ‘Kimberley’s thriving Yeeda beef processing venture contrasts with Livingstone’s struggles’ Beef Central 25.05.2018
    132. ‘AACo shutting down Darwin meatworks to stop financial bleeding’ Financial Review 23.05.2018
    133. ‘AACo, temporarily shuts down Livingstone…..’ ABC Rural 13.02.2017
    134. ‘Tropical cyclone Marcus warning’ ABC news 17.03.2018
    135. ‘QLD abattoirs swoop, as AACo meatworkers in Darwin weigh up their future’ ABC Rural 31.05.2018
    136. Drwin abattoir will work with right culture and commitment….’ ABC Rural 29.06.2018
    137. ‘Landbridge Group and NT Cattlemen….’ ABC.net.au
    138. ‘Chinese investors back major new meatworks for Nth QLD’ 29.07.2019.


Katherine #2 (Victoria Highway)

Other Names

  • Hookers
  • Northmeat.
  • Katherine
  • Tancreds
  • Teys Bros

Current Operation

  • Closed (2002)


  • 300km S of Darwin, Victoria Hwy Katherine 3km.

Steers - Slaughter floor

Source – Steers Sale Catalogue September 2012

This was the slaughter floor prior to the auction sale in 2012. Much of the equipment is now removed.

Katherine abattoir

Source – Cattleproducer. Taken February 2013.

Inside the Katherine #2 abattoir boning room.

Steers - Plate FreezersSource – Steers Sales Catalogue. September 2012

Each of these plate freezer rooms could hold one tonne of boxed meat. All these are removed now.

Coolroom areas

Source – Cattleproducer. February 2013.

Inside one of the many coolrooms


  • Hookers – Traded as Northmeat (1963)
  • Manager 1974 – Dick Condon60
  • Norwest – 1976 to atleast 1984. Oprational Manager Ron Goldspring38
    • General Manager Peter Taylor43
    • Managing Director of Norwest Beef Industries (1985) Ron Ibbotson45
  • Northern Meat Exporters12
  • Tancards – Manager Paul Herrod
  • Teys Bros2
  • Teys merged –


  • Workers mainly permanent residents



  • Royal commission into the Northern Pastoral Industry recommends the eestablishment of a freezing works for the area45


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

Prior to 1960

  • Prior to abattoirs being built in Darwin and Katherine cattle had been been previously walked along the Murranji stockroute and others to be processed in facilities in QLD, or to the railhead at Alice Springs. Stock walked North would be sent to abattoirs at Wyndham or prior to that put on barges there and sent to Robbs Jetty, Perth to be processed there33


  • Hookers took over VRD26 including holdings owned Katherine abattoir & Wyndham30.


  • July. Colonel Rose, former director of the Animal Industry and now in private practice as a consultant urges government to back the proposed Katherine abattoir meatworks63
    • Meatworks is the only chance for a prosperous future in the area63
    • Reports of insufficient cattle to keep the works in operation is not true63
      • Annual surplus of 20,000 head over local requirements with cattle being walked to QLD63.
  • Peter Playfair of the Australian meat packing family is raising finance63
    • reported to already have £200,00063
      • Have applied for aid from the Development bank63
  • Peter Playfair is a senior member of Playfair meat company64.
    • Peter Playfair (DOB 03/04/1920) is a 5th generation of Playfair family65
      • Great Grandfather – John Thomas Playfair (04/03/1833 – 15/11/1893) served as Alderman and Mayor of Sydney for 18 years65
      • Established Homebush saleyards 1882 for £60,00065
        • Homebush became 2000 Olympic venue site
      • Laid foundation stone of Sydney Opera house65
  • Peter Playfair is involved in a serious car accident in Sydney suffering severe injuries requiring brain operation64
  • Hookers Pastoral company begun preparations to build an export abattoir. Peter Fairplay – Meat processor from Eastern states and a backer of scheme. – formed the Northern Meat exporters Association23
  • Northern Meat Exporters Pty Ltd consisted of
    • support of station owners within 500km of Katherine(Pg 64)61

40% – Hookers – who also lent money for operating expenses which was repaid in one  year.
John Swire & Sons Pty Ltd
Killen family
Australian Agricultural Company
Craig Mostyn & Co Pty Ltd
WD & HO Wills (Aust) Ltd
Retreat Holdings Ltd
PH Playfair
RF Condon
33,000 shares also offered to Katherine pastoralists(Pg 145)25

  • Another investor was China Navigation Company, subsidiary of Swire group.(Pg 64)61
    • Held a strategic investment in the abattoir in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.61
    • stimulated export of beef on its vessels from the north.61
  • Built to specifications of US department of Ag – US lean boned out MX markets25
  • Met stringent USDA (USA Dept of agriculture) hygiene regulations4
  • Combined with Darwin – capacity of 60,000hd per year, first time NT had export killing capacity4
  • Built to kill 600 cattle per six day week(Pg 64)61
    • Slaughtering on the first floor, hides and offal treatment below.61
    • Sides  of beef went by ‘lowerator’ to 2 ground floor chillers61
    • Each chiller could hold a days kill61
    • Further cold store could hold 2 days production61
    • After freezing product was trucked to cold stores provided by the commonwealth government in Darwin 300km away.61


  • Opened Owned by –Operated as  Northmeat8
  • Opened mid season 1963, took 6 months to erect, initial capacity 125 hd a day. Supervisor Richard (Dick) Condon23.
    • R Condon had previously managed Anderson’s works at Roma (Pg 64)61
  • Coincided with opening of the US hamburger trade – ‘Class 3’ or ‘grinding beef’23

“The situation was more amazing in that the export trade was not to consist of Australia’s finest meat from premier producers but, miracle of miracles, bull meat and as much as could be procured!” – Bull meat can absorb at least 20% its own weight of water, therefore could yield 120% when processed23

  • Syndicate of owners formed and export meatworks, Northmeat was built. “This revolutionised the disposal of our cattle. The meat was mostly exported to the USA as hamburger meat!”16
  • Exports to USA from Katherine meatworks– US lean boned out meat worth £7,000
  • Road transport of animals was replacing droving on stockroutes. Murranji stockroute, where cattle normally walked to Wyndham or south, to eventual QLD or Alice Springs declinded to finally stopped being used 1967.33
  • Beef roads project to improve roads in the NT was instrumental in assisting with access and transport of livestock45


Northmeat rego_edited-1

Source http://www.trade.mar.com
Northern Meat Exporters licence.

Wording – Meat in cartons or carcass form for export or local consumption from Katherine, Australia. Reg renewed 09/02/1984, Accepted 03/12/1964, Reg renewed 27/05/1965, Reg 18/12/1969

  • Mr Bryce Killen. Managing director of Northern Meat Exporters66
    • Elected as president of the Federal Inland Development Organisation (FIDO)66
      • Vice president of NSW Graziers Association66
      • Mr Killen owns property at Nyngan (NSW)66
    • FIDO have been pressing federal government to build the Pioneer Highway66
      • Link Bourke with the Barkely Highway with a fully bitumised road66
      • Would link Darwin and the south and open up huge areas of QLD channel country66 .


  • Contractors caught bulls on cents per pound meatworks rates – was a better result as the station got less bruising and contractor was paid to look after the animals(Pg 174)60
  • “Katherine meatworks made a big difference to all Territory graziers. It gave them a market for the thousands of bulls being shot because no one wanted to buy them – thank goodness for the Yanks wanting hamburger beef. Up until then the Darwin butchers and the live export trade to the Philippines were the main outlets” Neville Hood. (pg 234)60


  • Exports to USA from Katherine meatworks – US lean boned out meat worth $4M

Aust News Info 1967 A1200_L64219Source Australian News and Info Bureau 1967. A1200 L64219
Cattle at Katherine abattoir waiting for slaughter

Aust News_Info 1967 A1200_L64304Source Australian News and Info Bureau 1967. A1200 L64304
Carcases moving from top processing/slaughter floor to down levels to chillers and boning.

Aust News Info 1967 A1200_L64306Source Australian News and Info Bureau 1967. A1200 L64306
Inside chillers

Aust News Info 1967 A1200_L64300 (2)Source Australian News and Info Bureau 1967. A1200 L64300
Boning Room


  • Laurie Howard – contract Buffalo catcher supplied buffalo to abattoir from Dorisvale (then manager at Dorisvale – Leo Whitely) (Pg 189)60
  • US quota diversification scheme took effect (pg 64)61
    • disadvanteagd northern works who were most suited to grinding markets.61
    • R Condon was chief spokesperson that argued for special consideration of northern works under the US beef quota system61
    • Number of Northern plants received special allocations for US beef quota.61
    • Alice Springs abattoir was given 2,000t quota.61
    • US quota was worth $1B at the time61


  • Northmeat Meatworks destroyed by fire, rebuilt in 4 months17
  • Significant industrial unrest at the time (Pg 64)61
    • Claims the arson was intentional.62
  • Royal Australian airbase at Tindal was used to fly in parts for the rebuild (Pg 64)
  • Rebuild cost $650,000, capacity 2,000 head a week, a considerable increase on previous operation25
  • Properties were opportunistically harvesting bulls and taking them as they caught them to meatworks  – sometimes 20 head a day during the dry season (Pg 122)60


  • Beef Crisis 1974-7725
  • Opened Easter, killed mainly bullocks and cows prior to July, then culls and bulls after July, closing late dry season3
  • Heavier steers went to SA abs as they paid better than Katherine who did mainly hamburger trade.
  • Lost USDA listing – No clean up had occurred of prior days kill floor and inspector from America seen. Industrial problems and workers were on strike day and a half12


  • Couldn’t meet USDA standards – lost export licence, so did Derby, Wyndham, Darwin and Katherine4
  • Average price paid, dressed 37.5c/kg28
  • Animal health position taken up by Terry Crowson. palpating lungs for pleuro lesions – pleuro eradication program was drawing to a close60


  • Average price paid, dressed 48.5c/kg28


  • Northmeat built a butcher shop in Main street17
  • Katherine meatworks was operational taking bulls and bullocks from Montejinni station (Pg 27)60


  • Average price paid, dressed 57.3c/kg
  • Manager at site – Dick Condon looked after producers, paying immediately animals were killed.(Pg 121)60
  • Abattoir closed for a period (Pg 122)60

Katherine 1974 PH0091_0114

Source NT Library. hdl 100709545
The Katherine abattoir 1974

Camera shot is looking north. Stockyards that are partially covered in the forground, ramp to the slaughter and processing centre. Main engines and boilers to right, Administration top right, ammenities and canteen to the far left.

NT Library hdl 100705008

Source NT Library. hdl 100705008
The Katherine abattoir 1974

Camera shot is looking south. Workers accomodation in centre, main processing top, administration to the right, hide processing shed to the left.


  • DPI Bribery – $17-20 weekly cash to inspectors – meant to be in lieu of living conditions, payments made 1963 – 197512
  • Most workers living rent free, free electricity in reasonable accommodation1
  • False labelling 1974-1977 – Cow Meat ‘C’ labelled as Steer meat ‘S’, continued even after management confronted about it12


  • Management bulldozed caravans of workers to fragment
  • Norwest Beef Industries take over operations.38


  • New management didn’t pay DPI bribes or mis-label meat packaging12
  • Royal commission notes – Abattoir was experiencing problems in other directions12.


  • Employer tried to induce non union contracts – workers revolted bound by industrial award
    • Old system – Tally – workers slaughtered a set number of beasts a day50
    • New system – court ratified contact – workers paid on productivity50


  • Brucellosis and Tuberculosis eradication program (BTEC) testing beginning57.
    • Aim is to eradicate TB by 199257
    • All properties must reach TB incidence of lower than 0.1% by January 1989 or property will be compolsory destocked57
    • In 1982 – 17 of the 38 properties in Gulf District – (latitude 14’S – 18’S) had a testing programme57
  • Gulf District turnoff – 20,215 cattle – from 33 stations, 72% went to meatworks – Katherine or Tennent Creek – 14,601 going to meatworks – 51% were females57.
    • Turnoff from properties was governed by wet season, road condition and opening of meatworks57
    • Katherine meatworks paying $105 (160kg dressed ox at 65.75c/kg)57
    • Of 18 stations 55.5% had operating costs per beast turn off of $30 to $150 per head sold.57
    • Of 38 stations 13 had herd of 2000 to 4000 head.57
    • Of 38 stations 47.3% had herd with Bos Indicus breeding 60% or greater57
    • Of 38 stations 86.8% had branding rate of 50% or less57
    • Of 18 stations 55.5% had Operating costs of property below $100,000pa57


  • AMIEU applied to have all abs in NT under wage conditions not contracts. Employers at Katherine opposed
  • Oct. NT Minister for Primary Production seeked certification of NT meatworks to be certified as Halal suitable, Estimated to be worth $200M a year in markets to NT35
  • Nov. Noel Buntine takes over from failed business Buntines Transport to establish – Roadtrains Australia (RTA), orders 14 new prime movers. Will be ready for 1984 season with 17 trucks and fully reconditioned trailers.36
    • Trucks 440hp, total legal length was 17m, this is prime mover and one 40′ trailer40
  • Dec. BTEC campaign, Federal ALP offer $2.4M to accelerate program in NT, is 60% of what was offered Australia wide37
    • Some reports say total $6M for BTEC allocated with $4.4 released immediately, scheme started in 1970, more funding allocated $73.2M by mid 1987.42
  • Funding had been witheld due to an investigation into the program by Federal government41


  • Mar. Loss of Beef export markets from Malaysia, Singapore, Middle East and some EEC markets cost $100M in 1983/1984. Markets lost to competition of South America, 36 of 44 export markets taking less Australian beef. Japanese markets being lost to America38
  • April. Katherine employs 160 people, mostly locals, seasonal operation – April to November average slaughter of 280 head daily, Most beef is sold to US some to Japan, Middle east and UK markets, Up to 1983 season 600,000 head had been slaughtered at Katherine39
  • June. 24 Buffalo slaughtered to trial as a feasiblity study to process Buffalo43


  • Pastoralists boycotted the abattoir due to AMIEU, Was a drought on NTCA refute vote for boycott was made.
  • Abattoir closed down temporarily1
  • Northwest didn’t open for full season, 140 people umemployed, could be reopened with 30-40 men but not under Union onlyunder NT meat employees Act.49
  • Hookers tried to have all workers on penalty rates, meant menial jobs paid very large, tried to implement same status in Wyndham and Katherine30
  • Had wet canteen on plant site (grog), major problems with reliability of workers30
  • Feb. Northwest put abattoir on market to sell.49
  • Mar. Katherine branch of NTCA (Northern Territory Cattlemans Association) is formed44
  • May. Editorial in paper.“Every year it becomes a farce whereby the meatworks and the meatworkers have a slinging match against one another”48
    • Abattoir still closed up to May from wet season normal closure.48
    • Pat Roughan – National organiser AMIEU – letters to paper. Wants the contract system abolished in smaller abattoir such as Victoria river and Mudginberry. “These picket lines have been gallently manned by Katherine meant workers in protective defence of union conditions and principals”48
    • 11,600 cattle, 1,200 buffalo across NT abattoirs, YTD 20,300 cattle 16,00 buffalo47
    • 10,000 t worth $30M held in cold storage in Australia due to lack of shipping services. causing delays and extra costs47
    • Cattle Prices dressed47
      • Bulls >250kg 85-148c/kg,
      • Steers 180-250kg 65-158 c/kg
      • Cows 160-200kg 55-151c/kg
  • July. Local meatworkers concerned about ‘travelling interstate knife men’ replacing their employment45
  • August. Mudginberri meatworks operator offers to buy Katherine meatworks – to have operating within 4 weeks.49
  • AMIEU – Jack O’Toole refuse to negotiate staff requirements49
  • Katherine abattoir kill costs $158.40 / beast, other abattoirs less than $50, Katherine had highest processing works costs of any abaottoir in Australia

    • Mudginberri & Victoria River used contract system – lifted productivity 4 fold, carcase cost fallen from $150 tp $4050
  • Katherine stronghold of AMIEU. Abattoir management siad last season would not open unless change in award conditions.50
    • AMIEU claimed closing Mudginberri & Victoria river would ensure Katherine remains open50
    • “it is about time that the public realized this is not jsut a dispute over awards but the right of a democratically elected union to negotiate on behalf of its members” Les George – meatworker51
  • 300,000 cattle normally slaughtered in NT, 2/3 sent interstate.50
  • AMIEU disputes disrupted 4 abattoirs – Pt Stuart – bankrupted, Tennent ck – opening halted, Mudginberri & Victoria River.50
  • 70% of cattle from Katherine area, poor quality, feral shorthorns whos meat is used for manufacturing purposes50
  • National Farmers Federation raise $800,000 so far of target $2M for fighting fund to assist Jay Pendarvis53
  • Dispute had so far caused 2 24 hour national meatworkers strikes and a national waterfront strike52
  • Nov. Workers indicate they are willing to work under NT meatworkers award54
  • Katherine meatworks now been closed for 2 years, only about 60 of previous employees remained in town.54
  • Overseas markets would have to improve to enable works to open54
  • Wage comparison –
    • Meatworker at Mudginberri 36 hour week earning $1000/week52
    • NT Government postion advertised – Library traneeship – 1986 – Adult wage $16521 – $18351 pa ($317- $352 week)55


  • New owners (purchased Wyndham as well) used material from Wyndham abattoir to improve and enlarge Katherine1
  • Shut Wyndham down completely30
  • Teys were major Australian meat processors in own right before buying the NT abattoir, purchased to use quota for USA orders30
  • 1st year – processed 50,000 – over years up to 300,000 cattle, mainly bulls, 10,000 buffalo a year1
  • New management reopened. Contract system no Unions. Known union activists were blacklisted,half work force of previously1
    • 250 people apply at newly opened works for employment56
  • Teys worked plant for a number of years – Purchased about 1985. Before closure manager sent a letter to pastoralists asking if they would supply to ab, needed minimum 20,000 hd to be profitable to process, was assured 23,000 hd. Teys still closed as they didn’t view as viable, Teys owned other plants in QLD13.
  • Plant could have been scaled back to only 150/day, could have survived, idea was to set up small boning room on floor next to kill floor, hot bone meat and plate freezers30.
  • At height of BTEC – had 13 boners, killed 750 head a day and worked 7 days a week1.
  • Selling markets – US – 90-95CL and Korea  ¼ ‘s frozen, also cattle from Alice – if 4 tooth processed to EU1.
  • Cattle cheap – cows $70, foetal blood $120/lt – Cancer research, tripe /Stomach/Honeycomb  to Japan selling more than fillet, killing costs about $110 hd1.
  • Heavy bullocks cost $40 to process30
  • Buff selling to Germany $4/kg. Only wanted feral, not domesicated1
  • Buffalo – able to be processed and freighted for $2/kg
  • Transport –
  • Was costing 3.5-4c /kg to transport meat to Darwin –transporter changed and AQIS required meat to be exported via Brisbane, eventually had to go through Brisbane costing 40c/kg1
  • Survived because hot boned– comes away from bone better, bagged then blast freezed1.
  • If plant shut down cost $20,000 a day, yards could hold 5000hd1
  • Made substantial saving by reprocessing of tallow to use for furnaces, Initially had to transport in Furnace oil at $300/t from Townsville, by using own tallow were able to reduce costs by over $100/t
  • AUSMEAT, caused huge problems – Korea liked meat in a particular colour bag, Ausmeat dictated another colour, AQIS Rejected a whole consignment because not in right bags, Korea rejected other colour bags and lost whole market1
  • 1000lt of water for every beast processed1
  • Processed Camels at times, and horses but welfare for horses (pet meat)was extremely difficult due to panic in transport, only tried once30
  • Normal operation was 4 month shutdown over ‘wet’, do maintenance and repairs30


  • Was a Chinese buyer interested but Teys refused to sell to control market, wanted to have pastoralist pay for freight of delivery of animals to eastern abs, transport was very costly once boxed30
  • Plant not active4
    • Inbetween period of 1993-1997 – Historic article notes – trouble plant closes, article is unclear when or how often it closes.56


  • Department of primary production aim to eradicate both tuberculosis and brucellosis from the NT57
  • AMH considered making a bid for the Katherine works.(Pg 68)61
    • at the time they had Mt Isa, Tennant creek (NT), Townsville and Pentland (QLD)61
    • Economics of the operation of the other works and Katherine were dependent on them not being competitive against each other.61
    • AMH inspected and made a bid on the plant but were out bid by Packers Consolidated Meat Group (CMG)61
  • Transport efficencies made cattle more marketable from the NT by moving them to QLD processors and fattening areas. (Pg 67)61


  • Teys closed – Stated couldn’t compete with LE6
  • Factors affecting closure (Pg 67)61
    • Lack of competitive shipping service, especially containers.61
    • Lack of skilled labour61
    • Industrial unrest61
    • US quota arrangements61
    • seasonality of operations61
    • ongoing abattoir rationalisation61
    • Growth of the Live export trade in to SE Asia(Pg 67)61
      • Between 1990-1996 live cattle exports increased from 97,556 to 723,085 head61
      • A processing plant working for 180 days, processing 500 head a day would require 90,000 head61
      • Live exports represented 6-7 meatworks61
      • Producers could turn off younger cattle and not hold for 4 years for local processors.61


  • Last kill5
  • Teys Bros and CMG Merge18
  • CMG consider reopening to meet demands of US beef quotas28
  • Maintenance work had been kept up to date at plant so it still retained its current export licence28
  • Rockhamptons Lake Creek was having industrial problems, oversupply of cattle in QLD due to lack of rain and US market uncertainty28
  • Strength of LE had kept plant in mothballs for last 2 years28


  • Feasibility study conducted by Teys to determine Katherine meatworks future. Chairman – Alan Teys, said the abattoir was unable to compete with the Live export trade19.
  • Feasibility study found not viable to re-open the meatworks, considered feasibility of processing 30,000hd20


  • Consideration by Teys to re-open20.
  • Decrease in LE has provided some opening, LE would have to continue to decline to ensure profitability in the long term22
  • Free trade agreement with USA would have little benefit to the Abattoir22


  • Consideration given to process camels – Ivan Coulter21
  • Proposal – Multi species abattoir. Processing each year 60,000 camels, 800 buffalo, 50,000 brumbies


  • Darwin Investment Group – CEO John Hughes,considered purchasing6
  • John Hughes – was former general manager for Teys – when owned Katherine11
  • Requires $5-6M not including Government support10
  • To process 500 animals a day 5 days a week11
  • Accommodation shortage was issue in Katherine, no land releases had occurred in 10 years in area11
  • Plans to reopen abandoned – ferals, camel, buffalo & donkey, maybe horses and cattle outside 350kg Indo weight restrictions5
  • Require $20M – power, water – Unable to source Federal or state funding5
  • July – Darwin investment group withdraw – due to lack of financial support, government and others???? Water licence on the site required upgrading, aswel as power. Freight was an issue15
    • “Katherine has challenges in relation to labour, We know accommodation is short in Katherine, so it’s always going to be difficult, In the ideal world Darwin is the best place for a northern abattoir with its proximity to transport and infrastructure” Luke Bowen NTCA CEO34
  • Export prices for steers ranged from $1.85/kg – $2.10/kg57
  • 2010 Pastoral Industry survey57
    • Katherine properties 78% Brahman, Top End 83% Brahman herds.57
    • Turnoff to Live export – Katherine 80% of turnoff, Top End 87%, Barkly 39%, Alice Springs region 8%57
  • August. Northern Territory cattle being sent interstate for processing58
    • Between 30-50 decks of Territory cattle heading to QLD and NSW meatworks a week.58
      • About 900-1500 head a week58
    • Alice Springs had sent 10,000 head from Territory to South Australia and Victoria so far this year58
      • Another 10,000 expected to follow over the next few months.58


  • Teys decide to liquidate Katherine #2 and Innisfail abattoir (QLD)59, closed since 2006.
    • Assets to be cut up and sold as scrap metal.59


  • September – Assets sold from Katherine Abattoir7


Jo Bloomfield views.

Difficulty in re-establishment of this plant even though seemingly so much is still in place.

  • Some equipment is gone from inside the abattoir, plate freezing facilities, some specialised equipment from the slaughter floor, boning and packing rooms.
  •  Technology is so out of date whole abattoir requires gutting, Ausmeat, CL, computerised technology and processing facility efficiency. Had assesments done for gas/refrigeration for Katherine and Batchalor – Batchalor was most feasible32.
  • Feasiblity of Katherine estimates $40,000 a day just to run32.
  • I would doubt that government would give permission to allow the abs to restart due to close proximity to the urban areas of Katherine.
  • Effluent ponds and much of the outside landscape is changed too or removed. To meet Environmental requirements doubt if would be able to obtain permission.
  • reportedly $20M to meet current AQIS requirements, unsure as to what capacity this was intended. Says needed substantial investment from government for water, electricity and gas supplies.


  1. Personal Communication #1 Oct 2012
  2. ‘Another northern Abattoir bites the dust’ABC rural 21.09.11
  3. Personal Communication. #2  Jan 2013
  4. ‘Sailing ahead’ Annabelle Coppin 2009
  5. ‘Teys Bros take back Katherine meat works’ Meat trade daily 14.08.10
  6. ‘Katherine abattoir set to reopen and go feral’ ABC rural. 07.06.10
  7. ‘Katherine abattoir finally put down’ ABC rural 15.09.11
  8. www.darwineguide.com.
  9. ‘Meat Monopolies’ Northern Standard 07.03.47
  10. ‘Katherine abattoir bought with high hopes’ ABC Rural 08.06.10
  11. ‘Katherine abattoir plans could create 200 jobs’ Nth QLD Register 18.06.10
  12. Royal Commission into Australian Meat Industry A Woodward 1982
  13. Personal Communication #3 Feb 2013
  14. ‘The Track: 1000 miles to war’ NT Library
  15. ‘Katherine abattoir plans shelved’ ABC rural. 15.07.10
  16. D.M Carment. Recollections. 2000.
  17. Katherine Museum. 25.02.13
  18. ‘Teys/CMG Merger’ QLD Country Life. 19.10.02
  19. ‘Feasibility study to determine Katherine Meatworks future’ NT country Hour 19.09.03
  20. ‘Future of Katherine meatworks still uncertain’ NT Country Hour 20.10.04
  21. ‘Camels on the agenda for Katherine abattoir’ ABC rural. 26.08.09
  22. ‘Teys kills off hopes of Katherine slaughterhouse’ NT Country Hour 12.02.04
  23. ‘Wild Cattle Wild Country’ Ann Marie Ingham. 2007
  24. ‘Katherines No lady’ Winsome Maff
  25. ‘The Big Run – The Story of VRD station’ Jock Makin 1970
  26. ‘Pastoral Australia: Fortunes, Failures & Hard Yakka: A historical view..” M. Pearson, J Lennon. 2010
  27. ‘Meatworks project for N. Territory’ The Canberra times. 21.11.52
  28. ‘Economics of Agricultural development in Northern Australia’ B Davidson 1974.
  29. ‘CMG new hope for Katherine’ QLD country life. 11.07.02
  30. Personal Communication – #3 17.03.13.
  31. Cattleproducer.wordpress.com Photos – 28.02.13
  32. Personal Communication. #
  33. ‘The Murrranji track – Ghost road of the drovers’ Darrell Lewis. 2007
  34. ‘Future Katherine abattoir no certainty’ http://www.efarming.com.au. 16.07.10
  35. ‘Tuxworth wants muslim meat market’ Katherine Times 13.10.1983
  36. ‘Buntine is back in transport business’ Katherine Times 24.11.1983
  37. ‘Collins on BTEC campaign’ Katherine Times 01.12.1983
  38. ‘Loss in beef exports’ Katherine Times 29.03.1984
  39. ‘Abattoirs’ Katherine Times 05.04.1984
  40. ‘Mack Superline in 17 metres’ Katherine Times 12.04.1984
  41. ‘Brucellosis and TB Funds’ Katherine Times 10.05.1984
  42. ‘Senator calls for increased BTEC funding’ Katherine Times 14.06.1984
  43. ‘Buffaloes Slaughtered’ Katherine Times 14.06.1984
  44. ‘Cattlemen meet in Katherine’ Katherine Times. 28.03.1985
  45. ‘Roger Steele meets with meatworkers’ Katherine Times 11.07.1983;
  46. ‘Station profile’ Katherine Times 06.06.1985
  47. ‘Cattle and Buffalo Market report’ Katherine Times 01.08.1985
  48. Editorial and letters to Editor. Katherine Times. 30.05.1985
  49. ‘Works sale halted’ Katherine Times 15.08.1985
  50. ‘Industry roped and ready for slaughter’ Katherine Times 22.08.1985
  51. ‘Proud to be a meatworker’ Katherine times 29.08.1985
  52. ‘Pendarvis worried despite picket retreat’ Katherine times 12.09.1985
  53. ‘NFF says arbitration should be bypassed’ Katherine Times 12.09.1985
  54. ‘Union to work meatworks’ Katherine Times 21.11.1985
  55. Advertisement, Katherine Times 28.11.1985
  56. ‘History of Katherine’ Katherine Times 12.06.2013
  57. ‘The Elsey and Gulf districts Cattle industry survey 1982’ Agdex 420/853. J.Mitchell.
  58. ‘Government’s lack of support hurt Katherine abattoir plan’ Willem Westra van Holthe MLA 04.08.2010
  59. ‘AAco on track for Darwin abattoir’ Beef Central 26.09.2011
  60. ‘The privileged few’ Jeff Hill, 2008m
  61. ‘World on a plate – A history of meat processing in Australia’ Stephen Martyn 2013
  62. Personal communication. J.Condon.
  63. ‘Opposition to abattoir’ Centralian Advocate 27.07.1962
  64. ‘Mr Playfair’s Injuries serious’ Centralian Advocate 27.07.1962
  65. Playfair descendants. www.airgate.com.au
  66. ‘FIDO president is NT land holder’ Centralian Advocate 26.06.1964


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