Capricornia – Beef Central In Australia (Part One)

Posted on Sun 10/09/2022 by

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By Anton Lang ~

I recently read an article at the Australian ABC News site about Texas Longhorn Bulls here in Australia, and a number of things coalesced, and spurred me to write an article, which then turned into two articles about beef cattle. I’ll get to the Texas Longhorn article in a little more depth in Part Two of this Series, but have a look at this image of just one of the Texas Longhorn Cattle being raised at the N-Bar Texas Longhorn Stud at a property in Banana in Central Queensland.

(All images have been sized to best fit the page. If you click any of the images, they will open on a new Page and at a larger size.)

Longhorn Steer from the N-Bar Texas Longhorn Stud (Image from ABC Capricornia: Erin Semmler)

My good lady wife and I lived in Rockhampton in Central Queensland for eight years. Rockhampton is in the region called Capricornia, named for sitting directly under The Tropic Of Capricorn. We moved there from The Gold Coast (440 miles to the South) so we could be closer to our Granddaughter as she grew up. We moved back here to Beenleigh in 2018, but perhaps some of the best years of our lives, we spent there in Rockhampton. We knew that the city, and by extrapolation, the Region was referred to as ‘The Beef Capital Of Australia’. Every third year they held an Expo in Rockhampton called Beef Week, and people came from all across Australia for that week. The whole region is famed for its beef cattle. There is a huge sale yard at Gracemere, not far out of the city, and while the whole region is also well know for its coal deposits in the vast Bowen Basin to the West of the city, the beef cattle industry is a large and very important part of the area.

One of the quirky things I first noticed about Rockhampton when we moved there was the large number of statues of Bulls throughout the city. While there are six major statues, a number of businesses have also added statues of cattle to their buildings as well, so you can drive around the city and see quite a number of them in your travels. In the weeks after moving there in 2010, as I was getting back to writing Posts for our site here, one of the first Posts I made in fact detailed some of these statues of cattle. Now while I drove around the city and environs and took photographs of nine of these sites where I found the Bulls, there was in fact a number of them that I missed, and over the eight years we lived there, I found even more of them, and I was reliably told that even then, there were some I missed.

Here’s the link to that original Post from August of 2010, and shown directly underneath that link is one of those images I took myself of the main Statue on the huge roundabout as you approach the City from the South.

Rockhampton – The Beef Capital Of Australia

Not long after making that Post, I wanted to track down some of breeds of cattle, as the statues were of different breeds. I had a layman’s idea of some of them, but not that I would recognise them from first sight, and the main one I knew was of the Brahman. Of those six main statues, two were Brahman, and three of the others were bred with Brahman in them, Braford, Droughtmaster, and Santa Gertrudis. I had an idea that Brahman were from India, and that was in fact incorrect, as the Brahman is an American breed of cattle, and they were developed from four breeds of cattle from India in the early 1800’s. The breed was tolerant of hot weather, and, because of that, they were imported into Australia back before the Second World War. (WW2) The Brahman breed is also well suited to cross breeding, and in fact two of those cross breeds were developed right here in Australia, both of them in Queensland, and one in fact from near Rockhampton itself. Brahman were crossed with Herefords to give Brafords, and they were the breed developed close to Rockhampton. The Droughtmaster breed was developed in North Queensland, crossed with Brahman and Shorthorn cattle, and as the name indicates, they are very tolerant of Drought, a common thing here in Australia, and are also tolerant to another problem with cattle, ticks. Another two American cross breeds are the Santa Gertrudis, also a Brahman Shorthorn Cross, and the Brangus, a cross between Brahman and Angus. Nearly all of those cross breed developments and importations here in Australia were in the decade immediately following the end of WW2.

Now, like a lot of people I love eating beef, and here we were living in ‘Beef Central’, and I can honestly say, the beef, especially the steaks we had during those years was almost certainly the best I have eaten. We found a good butchers, (Boodles) a large butcher’s outlet store who had access to a local supplier, or two, or more, and not only was the beef beautiful to eat, it was also way cheaper than where we lived previously, due solely to the closeness to the direct source, and no need to transport it those long distances, and the freshness of being within a very short time from ‘hoof to plate’, something you just don’t fully appreciate until you actually taste it. There are just so many cuts of beef that you could never tire of them. The steaks were just a part of it really, Rump, Eye Fillet, Rib Fillet, Sirloin, even the humble T Bone, now almost a relic of the past. There’s the roasts, Rump, Topside, Bolar Blade, the cheaper steak cuts, Blade and Round, and the lesser known, but just as nice, Brisket. And I have a favourite of so many decades now, Corned Silverside, and it’s not easy finding a butcher with a good ‘recipe’ for that. I had a very close friend, Bob, (now sadly passed) who lived in Stockton in California, and he told me in the lead up to Thanksgiving one year, he had got hold of the usual Tri Tips piece of beef he was going to put on the grill. Now, even though I shared emails with Bob on a daily basis for fifteen years, and sometimes even up to ten and more emails a day, and for those fifteen years, this was almost a foreign language to me, and is part of the reason we corresponded so often on that daily basis. Even though both our Countries (the U.S. and Australia) were from an English origin, there were so many things that, seemingly the same, were completely different between our two Countries. What in the U.S. they refer to as a ‘grill’, here in Australia the same thing is referred to as a barbecue, same thing, just a different name. As to the Tri Tips, he couldn’t explain it to me. He was older than I was, and this Tri Tips done on the grill was a Thanksgiving tradition in his family going back many many years. Bob had been cooking this Tri Tips on his grill now for more years than he could remember, and now his extended family, three children, and many grandchildren, would now gather at his home for Thanksgiving every year, with now anything up to fifteen family members in all. Everyone would bring something, and Bob’s wife Kay would do the huge turkey, and he would always cook on that barbecue what I later found out was quite a large piece of beef, the Tri Tips mentioned. I went along to our local butchers, the Boodles I mentioned above and asked about it. Now, at any one time, there were between six and ten people behind the counter, almost all of them butchers, as this place was just so popular, and so big. I asked the first person who served me, and she then asked an older Butcher if he could assist me. First up, he mentioned I had got this from someone in the U.S. He then told me that while most cuts of beef are similarly named both here and in the U.S. some cuts are specific to Australia, and some specific to the U.S. and Tri Tips was specific to the U.S. and virtually unheard of here in Australia. Here in Australia, it is called the bottom part of the Sirloin, and is mainly used for steaks, rather than as a whole for cooking in one piece, and Bob would usually get a Piece of around two and a half to three and a half Pounds. I sort of suspect that Bob and his sons would adjourn to the ‘grill’ outside with a couple of beers while the ladies fussed over the turkey and everything else inside. (Gee, I miss Bob)

I mentioned at the top that a number of things coalesced into prompting me to write this Post.

I have been noticing quite a few related articles at the (Australian) ABC News site, all writing about the cattle industry here in Australia. What you need to know here is that the ABC is the Australian National Broadcaster, and is funded by the taxpayer, so it is a free News site. All of the other main news sites in Australia are behind a paywall, so the ABC has an absolute monopoly on ‘free to air’ News reporting, and as you can see at the site at this link, it is actually quite huge. All of these beef articles are from the ABC Rural team, or the ABC Capricornia team. Now, the articles are, all of them, pretty much general interest, and some of them are related to the families in this Cattle Grazing Industry. The strange thing about these articles (well, to me anyway) is that they show up at the main ABC Home page for only a short time. Some articles remain at that home page in one form or another for days on end, but all of these Rural cattle related articles are only visible on that home page for a very short time. Now, if you scroll right to the very bottom of the page, and it’s big, the last section shown there is the Rural Page, and there are just four articles showing there, and even they come and go quite quickly. So, it was mainly luck that I started to see these cattle related articles, early in the morning when I first sit down at the computer, because, sometimes they disappear pretty quickly.

Okay, so it could be put down to ‘coming out of the Pandemic’ that this is the first year back at full operations. It could also be put down to the recent seasons of good wet weather, hence no drought and good conditions for raising cattle. There’s also probably a little bit of the cynic in me that says there’s not all that much to write about when it comes to politics, now that the left side of politics is in office at the Federal level, and the left leaning journalists need something distracting to write about, so articles like this have more space to show up at the ABC News main home page, but naah! surely it wouldn’t be that.

So, in the lead up to the article about the Texas Longhorns, I have noticed these five fairly recent articles (just five of quite a lot really)  come and go rather speedily at that News page, and here, It’s worthwhile taking the five to ten minutes or so to read the articles at each of the links because they actually are well worth reading. What is also a nice thing here is that each article has a few images as well.

Hereford bull Mawarra Ultra Star sells for $130,000 at National Hereford Show and Sale (13May 2022)

Bull prices up by 20 per cent on last year’s sales despite foot-and-mouth disease threat (4August 2022)

Millions spent in world-record-breaking bull sale as Australian cattle market booms (2September 2022)

Droughtmaster bull breaks breed world record, selling for $220,000 at Central Queensland Livestock Exchange in Gracemere (14September 2022)

Bull prices break records in flying start to spring sales, driving farmers to buy now. pay later schemes (29September 2022)

Now, each of these articles deals with a different breed of cattle, and here, when you read the article and see some of the prices (record prices in fact) being paid for these bulls, it was only a few years back that people were paying those similar sums of money for ….. a house.

I could show images from each of the five articles, but here, I’ll just show one of them from the Droughtmaster article, and this is the bull in question which sold for that record price of $220,000.

‘Oasis A Long John’, a Droughtmaster bull from Oasis Droughtmasters in central Queensland, sold for $220,000. (Image Supplied by Adam Geddes)

Now, even I know that it’s such a corny thing to say, but ….. That is a lot of bull!

You get the impression, as someone who lives all their lives in the city, without ever seeing a cow in the flesh so to speak, that being around a bull might be a pretty dangerous thing to do, but if you only go to one of the above articles, go to that one about this Droughtmaster Bull. The image shown here was taken by Adam Geddes, and he and his wife own the property, Oasis Droughtmasters at a town called Dingo, just 70 miles West of the Gracemere yards where this bull was sold. That couple have three young sons, and at the article, the second image below this featured image above shows those three boys sitting on top of ‘Long John’, who is having a little rest, as peaceful and docile as you please. Seriously though, this story of the Geddes family getting this price for their bull is one of the better feel good stories I have read in recent times, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer family, having gone through some tough times recently.

And now we come full circle to the Texas Longhorns at the top of this Post, and I’ll be writing about that in Part Two of these Posts.

Anton Lang uses the screen name of TonyfromOz, and he writes at this site, PA Pundits International on topics related to electrical power generation, from all sources, concentrating mainly on Renewable Power, and how the two most favoured methods of renewable power generation, Wind Power and all versions of Solar Power, fail comprehensively to deliver levels of power required to replace traditional power generation. His Bio is at this link.

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