Tag Archives: Historic Australian abattoir


Authors Note – May be confusion in Darwin timelines as a packing plant was built and a number of abattoirs.Some articles contradict in dates therefore timeline may be inaccurate.

Other names

  • Angliss abattoir
  • Berrimah Abattoir
  • Central abattoirs5
  • Darwin abattoir (Pg 189)
  • 10 mile abattoir (Pg 190)

Current Operation             

  • reopened 1960’s3
  • Closed 1970’s for a period
  • Was operating in to the 1980’s9
  • site is closed and has been redeveloped now, 2013


  • Ten Mile abattoirs reserve5
  • Is an Angliss Road, Berrimah, off the Stuart Highway, south of Robbie Robbins reserve.

Australia. Berrimah

Map - Berrimah


  • North Australian Meat Company1
  • Sir William Charles2
  • Vesty’s (1934)


  • Export and Domestic accredited11


  • Sir William Charles (1865-1957)– Migrated from England, Engaged in butcher trade in Kent when young. Migrated to Roackhampton (QLD) 1884. Moved to Melbourne and opened two butcher stores in 1886.He began to export meat. Over the next 30 years became a dominant figure in Australian meat export trade. Sent meat to WA goldfields, latter to forces in South Africa and Britain. Built his own freezer works in Footscray 1905. Exported to NZ, opened offices in London and Liverpool. Brought meatworks in Forbes 1914 and Riverstone, Sydney 1920, Brisbane 1924 and with a rival (F.J. Walker) in Rockhampton 1927. Leased and bought cattle stations in 3 eastern states with Sir Kidney Kidman. Purchased QLD properties owned by the government in 1929. QLD properties could support 80,000hd. 1930’s claims William Charles owned the largest personally controlled  meat enterprise in the British Empire. 1933 Vestey’s acquired his Vic and the whole Angliss meat business except the QLD properties.


  • Vestey’s purchased Angliss meat business for £1.5M2
  • Improvements in refrigeration now made it possible to send chilled rather than frozen product6


  • Government requested in early days of war that Bovril (VRD) supply 400 head to Darwin per month at £5 each. Few stockmen left due to labour shortage and Bovril had difficulty filling this order7


  • Improved to meet stringent USDA (USA Dept of agriculture) hygiene regulations4
  • Combined with Katherine – capacity of 60,000hd per year, first time NT had export killing capacity3


  • William Angliss and Co began building Central Abattoirs at Ten Mile abattoir reserve. This was to serve as a central killing works for Darwin with the aim of adding an export annex5


  • Angliss began to trial Buffalo, product shipped to Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and some into the domestic market.(Pg 44)13
  • At this time feral buffalo could be shot in the field and the meat used for export as long as the carcase was at an abattoir within an hour(Pg 44)13


  • Prior to this abattoir (1963) and Katherine abattoir (1964) being built stock were walked along stockroutes to railheads in Alice Springs or across to Wyndham abattoir, QLD. Murranji stockroute last stock use was 1967 as cattle now went to Katherine and Darwin8
  • During this period road transport began to dominate and stock routes less used8
  • Vesteys opened4
  • Paid 6 shillings and half pence a pound, Hong Kong export market couldn’t afford to match paying 5 shillings and half pence a pound4


  • Robert Bright would capture wild baby pigs feed up and sell to Berrimah (then called Angliss abattoir) (Pg 241)12


  • Laurie Howard supplied Buffalo’s from Dorisvale station (then managed by Leo Whitely) (Pg 189)12
  • Manager at abattoir – George Welch, took over from Peter White (Pg 190)12


  • Buffalo were now required to be to delivered live to an abattoir for slaughter.(Pg 44)13


  • Berrimah abattoir not in operation (Pg 245)12


  • Couldn’t meet USDA standards – lost export licence, so did Broome,Derby, Wyndham and Katherine3


  • Berrimah closes.10



  1. ‘100 years of Northern Beef production’ Nth QLD Register 22.11.12
  2. Angliss, Sir Willam Charles – Australian Dictionary  of Bigraphy.
  3. ‘Sailing ahead’ Annabelle Coppin 2009
  4. ‘The Australian Livestock export trade’ Nigel  Austin 2011
  5. ‘Wild Cattle, Wild Country’ Ann Marie Ingham 2007.
  6. ‘The Rise and fall of the house of Vestey’ Phillip Knight 1993.
  7. ‘The Big Run – The story of VRD station’ Jock Makin 1970.
  8. ‘The Murranji track – Ghost road of the drovers’ Darrell Lewis. 2007
  9. Personal communication of person who supplied abattoir. 04.11.13.
  10. ‘New abattoir for $500,000’ Top Paddock newsletter #1 Sept 1993
  11. NT DPI Annual records dated 2000.
  12. ‘The Privileged Few’ Jeff Hill. 2008
  13. ‘World on a plate – A history of meat processing in Australia’ Stephen Martyn 2013

Katherine #1


Other Names

  • Bovril meatworks

Current Operation

  • Never completed to start operations.


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

Australia. Katherine

Map. Katherine. jpg


  • Bovril Australian Estate (English) owned VRD at the time(1947)


  • An abattoir was begun to be built and due to lack of government backing was stopped and demolished before even finished

Katherine. Bovril.Source – Northern Territory Library

Katherine #1 Abattoir – Bovril works, Photo dated 1951. construction was never completed

Is now the site of BOC gas, Bovril Street. Cement posts are still evident but roof is now a flat roof.


  • Bovril moved equipment and some infrastructure from Manbulloo site1
  • Bovril leased 2,260 acres, land close to racecourse area and began erecting ‘Bovril meat extraction plant’2
  • Meatworks never used. Rumour was Vestey’s were going to take over or Bovril Estates3


  • Project abandoned – Cost £300,0004


  • Extraction plant construction stopped and started several times finally abandoned 3rd January 19512
  • “To this day, the enormous concrete shell still stands, only now it houses a multitude of trades, including a panel beating shop, a mechanic and a furniture factory. Also standing a short distance up the road, are the staff quarters and engineer’s house which were erected by Bovril and which are now part of a caravan park”2


  • Victorian company Preston Meatworks & William Say & co. Considered purchase of Bovril equipment to build a plant between Elliott & Darwin, small scale to start them to eventually process 30,000 hd a year4. This never happened!


  1. ‘Pastoral Australia: Fortunes, Failures & Hard Yakka: A historical view.” M. Pearson, J Lennon. 2010
  2. ‘Katherine abattoir finally put down’ ABC rural 15.09.11
  3. ‘Meat Monopolies’ Northern Standard 07.03.47
  4. ‘Meatworks project for N. Territory’ The Canberra times. 21.11.52

Robb Jetty

Other names

  • Fremantle Freezing and Meat works7

Current Operation

  • Closed, is now a historic site with a preserved chimney of the original meat processing works.6


Source – http://www.mingor.net/

Robbs Jetty meat processing site, historic chimney that has been preserved at the site.


  • Fremantle Freezing and meat works7

Australia. Robb Jetty

Map. Robb JettySource – Hema Maps. Australia Truckies Atlas.


  • Fremantle Freezing and Meat Works7
  • Western Australian Meat Preservers7
  • Western Australian Meat Exporters7



  • Processed cattle and sheep
  • Had access from sea for unloading barges and railhead for inland animals
  • Export2
  • Operated originally by the WA Meat co-operative
  • had a long pier/jetty going to the ocean – named Robs Jetty.
  • Cattle transported from North WA, barges would unload onto jetty and animals walk to abattoir.
  • Closed due to population pressure, other abattoirs & prices



  • Meat houses constructed in the area to service the convict establishment at Femantle Gaol7


  • Duracks (Kimberley’s) through agents Francis Conner and Dennis Doherty shipped cattle to Fremantle5
  • Dame Mary Durack- ‘Sons in the saddle’ – cattle originally swam to shore, now offloaded onto a jetty5
  • Cattle getting £3 a head in south markets, started their own Live Export to Manila5
  • Slaughterhouses established in the area, known as ‘Kimberley Meat Ring’, they had a monopoly on meat supply to metropolitian and Goldfields7.
    • Forrest, Emaual and Co
    • Conner, Doherty and Durack


  • Railway was built from Fremantle to Robb Jetty6
  • Same period abattoir was built in Fremantle – consisted of offices, holding yards, freezer and chiller facilities6


  • Robb Jetty constructed – prior to construction animals unloaded into the water and swam to shore7
  • Robb jetty abattoir constructed, portion being the preserved chimney – Known as Fremantle Freezing and Meat works. Capacity limited to few thousand lambs per year7
  • Abattoir also was cold store for potatoes, fruit, manufactured ice and carried out wool scouring7


  • Robb Jetty company in financial strife, Commonwealth government stepped in to provide help.7


  • Company bought out by government, changed name to Western Australian Meat Preservers’ latter to ‘Western Australian Meat Exporters’7
  • Abattoir diversified to include fruit storage, egg pulp, turtle and crayfish processing7


  • Ship – Centaur,passenger liner that carried 4000 sheep below decks. turned every fortnight from Singapore, Kuala Lumpar & Perth, return trip would pick up at Broome from Emaual stations and taken to Fremantle, sold at Robbs Jetty saleyards5 Pg 25


  • Jetty dismantled, possibly in 1960’s6


  • Abattoir closed by the National Party3


  • Numerous attempt to revive competitiveness failed and was shut down7


  • Equipment removed from building.7
  • Chimney is only part remaining, listed on the State register of Heritage Places.6


  • State Government supplied $50,000 for restoration of chimney.7


  1. Personal Communication #1 28.01.13
  2. Parliament Hansard. S. Thomas. 17.08.05
  3. Parliament Hansard M Trenorden 17.08.05
  4. ‘Brief History of the WA Lamb Marketing board’ www.wammco.com.au
  5. ‘The Australian Livestock export trade’ Nigel Austin 2011
  6. ‘South Fremantle, Western Australia’ Wikipedia, 24.06.13
  7. ‘Interim Heritage listing for Robb Jetty Chimney’ Richard Lewis, Ministerial Media statement. 23.08.96


Other names

  • Baron Meatworks

Current Operation

  • Closed                           


      Australia. Biboohra jpg    

  Map. Biboohra


  • Cairns District graziers
  • Alligator creek meatworks company
  • MJ Munro


  • operated on/off 25 yrs


  • Butcher shop is still standing that was meatworks and wood stove in Mareeba museum

1896 – 1897

  • Established as Baron Meatworks,


  • Liquidated and sold to Alligator creek meatworks, operations extended.


  • Liquidated sold to MJ Munro Cairns


  • Closed


  • Reopened


  • Closed, operated as a cannery in last days



Alice Springs #1 (The Gap)

Current Operation 

  • Demolished 1968. New abattoir built Alice Springs #2 (Ghan Rd)


  •  North of The Gap, South of  Gap view Motel. Area is now a grassed reserve.

Map. Alice Springs




Source – National Archives – Dated 1958


  •  1st abattoir- The Gap
  • Built by army2.


  • South Australian Government undertake building a telegraph line from Adelaide to Darwin to link with the international system coming from the Far East4.


  • March 11. A gap is found through the MacDonnell Ranges, Area now called Alice Springs4.


  • First Pastoral lease of the Alice Springs area is granted4.
    • Undoolya station, Aboriginal meaning ‘Shadow’

War years

  • Abattoir was built by the army and handed to government administration after the war5


  • Central Australian Pastoral lessees Association approach Commonwealth government to establish a meat works in Alice Springs3


  • Alice Springs butchers apply for increase in price of all meat to cover increased government fees of slaughter and inspection charges conducted at the abattoir5
    • Cattle
      • Old fees. Inspection 1/6, slaughtering 3/65
      • New fees. Inspection 5/-, slaughtering 33/65
    • Sheep and Goats
      • Old fees. Inspection 6d, slaughtering 33/65
      • New fees Inspection 1/6, slaughtering 6/65
    • Pigs
      • Old fees. Inspection 9d, slaughtering 1/95
      • New fees. Inspection 2/-, slaughtering 15/65
    • Increases amount to an extra £3,000 per year, 800% increase on previous rates5.
  • Up to the 30/06/1954 following numbers of stock were slaughtered for  local consumption5
    • Cattle 788 head5
    • Sheep 2,770 head5
    • Pigs 381 head5
  • Government had maintained the abattoir at a loss5
    • employed one man full time to clean and maintain the facility5
    • Stock inspector visited 3 times per week5


  • Major drought in the region4
    • Became the worst in history at the time, not breaking until 1966



Source. Alice Springs Library. Town Planning 1963

Town Planning map of 1963 showing the location of the Slaughter reserve in ‘The Gap’ area of Alice springs. Now the area is a grass reserve


  • Major drought that began in 1960 is broken by one fall of 6″4
    • further rains followed several weeks later


  • Buildings sub standard and no longer met hygiene standards2
  • Demolished and new abattoir site Ghan Road. Alice Springs #2.


  1. Removed
  2. ‘$370,000 abattoir’ Centralian Advocate 23.03.68
  3. ‘Pastoralis want meat works here’ Centralian Advocate 29.07.1949
  4. ‘Pastoral Properties of Australia’ Peter Taylor 1984
  5. ‘Butchers hit by abattoir fee increase – apply for a price rise’ Centralian advocate 13.08.1954