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A Shipload Of Kimberley Bullocks Made History
Messra. George Booth. Car. ui&k Agnew and Arthur booth examining a loading .chart.
Towards the end of last- week, a big party of Australian emigrants stared with large brown eyes upon the summer blue waters of a strange and historic tropical island republic. Sailing between the Pacific Ocean and the China Sea, they passed through the 7,083 islands of the Philippines where Spanish, American and Japanese concuerors have trod. REACHING the largest of the islands, Luzon, last Satur day, their small, blunt-nosed. low-lying craft, the Wan Kuo. glided into the flourishing port of an old Spanish capital, the walled cathedral city of Manila. We can scarcely blame them if the rich history of their sur roundings failed / to impress. them. They were making his tory themselves-these 578 bul locks from Anna Plains station in the West Australian Kim berleys. Descendants of pioneer cattle which swam ashore from a de livery ship on the 80-mile beach [ByW. MITCHEIL between Port Hedland and Broome last century, they made their exit from this self-same beach. Droved into a wartime landing barge, which beached itself upon these sands, they are the first .West Australian cattle to be exported in this way direct from station to market. Their arrival brought to frui tion nearly nine months' think ing and planning. It will earn American dollars for Australia. and temporarily ease a critical meat shortage in the Philip pines. The Beginning It all began last December in the mind of a 23ear-old West Australian university student, the Australian swimming cham pion, Mr. Garrick Agnew. Studying business management at Harvard University, he had met 35-year-old Mr. Gus Trippe, former U.S. major, who joined with a one-time squad ron-leader in a post-war trad ing partnership known as Hen derson, Trippe, Manila. Trippe was doing a pdst graduate refresher course to fit
himself for wider business activ ity, and when he went back to Manila Agnew went with him on a 12-month contract. At Manila, working for Hen derson, Trippe, the idea of cattle shipments from Aus tralia grew on Agnew and his talks with the partners were spurred on by a - Philippines Government decree. This was a ban, Imposed last March, on the slaughter of the Philippines caribou (water buf falo), a vital unit in the re public's primitive agriculture. Killed for meat at the rate of 2,500 a month. -the caribou was declining in numbers. The Deal Trippe recalled in Perth re cently that the Philippines Government immediately allo cated dollars to purchase cattle for slaughter from any source. The Philippines Minister in Australia asked for an emer gency allocation of cattle, and a provisional grant of 2,000 was made by the Federal Govern ment after consultation with Britain, with whom there is a long-term meat coptract. Meanwhile, back at his par ents' home in Nedlands after the end of his Manila contract, Agnew says he began to think of Anna Plains station, as a "natural" for the sort of cattle shipment he had in mind. When Trippe came to Aus tralia on other business, Agnew put the proposition and they went to work on it. During negotiations, an ex perienced Fremantle cattle handler, Arthur Booth, flew North to lend his knowledge in the fixing of average weights and prices for the cattle. His brother Stan, who travel led to Manila in the landing barge with the cattle, culled them from 1,000 head before loading. He will stay with them in Manila until they are sold. Together, under the direction of their father, Mr. George Booth, president of the Fre mantle Trotting Association, the brothers combed the coun tryside for "100 tons of hay in a hurry" to send away as fod der with the cattle. Using The Tide Working quietly in the back ground all this time on calcu lations vital to the success of the project was Agnew's father, a Perth City Council engineer. Agnew, sen. also flew to Anna Plains with his son and Trippe to take important tidal measure ments. By the simple method of sinking stakes in the sand at low water, and observing exactly the rise and fall of the twice-daily tide, he helped to ensure the success of the ven ture. Using the known tide move ments at Port Hedland as a guide, he drew comparative graphs estimating (very accur ately, as it turned out) the time of high and low tide during days when the cattle were to be loaded. After initial beaching troubles which delayed the shipment, the -landing barge, at the peak of high tide, nosed cleanly into a specially-built cattle race on the shore, and opened its bows. The tide receded, leaving it firmly beached. The cattle were loaded during two da2ytime low tide periods on Sunday and Monday, Aug ust I and 2. About 40 per cent were penned on the open deck and about 60: per cent below. Trippe -and Agnew estimate that future loading could be
done easily in one tide, now that certain lessons have been learnt. They are also negotiating for supplies of fodder froms the cattle stations themselves. Two of these, with hay balers, have indicated that they could pro vide ample supplies of the sta tion pasture, buffel grass. Big Dollar Market Steps to arrange future ship ments are. now being taken. Trippe has spent the past week in Canberra. He says the Commonwealth has been extremely helpful in making possible the first ship ment, but has been naturally cautious pending its outcome. The fact that it was carried out successfully, he feels, should support his case* for exports* to the Philippines at the rate of 600 to 800 head a month. He points out that each ship ment would have a gross value of 75,000 to 90,000 dollars Monthly shipments would create a 1,000,000 dollar market. Trippe and Agnew take the view that, with many Australian abattoirs killing ~,more cattle a day than it is hoped to ship to Manila in a month, there should be little trouble filling the or der. The cattle shipped from Anna Plains were in good trade con dition and paid for on the basis of Australian trade cattle rates. In other words, the undisclosed price was about 20 per cent higher than if the cattle had been droved 180 miles to Port Hedland, shipped to Fremantle and sold as store cattle at Perth markets. Trippe and Agnew are natural ly keen salesmen for their pro ject. They are quick to point out that their type of deal gives the station owner a firm price on the property, without- the risk, weight loss and market fluctua tions possible during transit. They realise their shipment in directly affects Perth markets but claim that shipping for that outlet is inadequate anyway. Other Shipments Another important factor, they say, is that the good, firm prices payable for cattle sent to the Philippines can encourage fur ther steps by station owners to make possible increased turn off. Better to do that and gain a market, they add, than leave production with only the home and British markets to provide incentive for progress. They agree that West Austra lian cattle stations are hamper ed just now by the need to re stock after drought years in the Kimberleys, but they have been told the weather conditions would probably prevent ship ments between November and April. Trippe says he is already in vestigating the possibility of shipments from other parts of Australia, possibly the Cape York Peninsula, during those months. However, he says many north ern pastoralists are interested in the present shipment, and he is confident of supplies if the Australian Government feels it is right to grant permission. The fate of this. venture of young men now lies with Can= berra and the British Govern ment..