Remembering an icon: Eric Nobbs

Remembering an icon: Eric Nobbs

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A visit to the Brisbane Exhibition was a ritual for Biloela cattleman Eric Nobbs for almost 60 years. Mr Nobbs celebrated his 97th birthday the day before he attends the Brisbane Royal Show, and marked the milestone by catching up with old friends in the centre ring.

A visit to the Brisbane Exhibition was a ritual for Biloela cattleman Eric Nobbs for almost 60 years. Mr Nobbs celebrated his 97th birthday the day before he attends the Brisbane Royal Show, and marked the milestone by catching up with old friends in the centre ring.

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QUEENSLAND Country Life's final feature length interview with Central Queensland cattleman, Eric Nobbs.

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LEGENDARY cattleman Eric Nobbs passed away at the Biloela Hospital, surrounded by his family, on Thursday afternoon. Queensland Country Life interviewed Mr Nobbs countless times over the years; below is our final feature length interview with Eric, first published on July 30, 2014, when Helen Walker spent time with him at his beloved property, Lyndhurst.

HE is one of central Queensland’s most respected cattlemen, and at the age of 96, Eric Nobbs maintains a hands-on role in his family’s beef business - showing no signs of retirement.

Still living on his beloved 2810 hectare property Lyndhurst, on Biloela’s outskirts, Mr Nobbs can still be found keeping an eye on both his stud and commercial cattle, checking watering points twice a week, and more importantly watching his oats crop strike through the ground that was planted in March.

“You know it’s only been in the past 12 months that I have stopped mustering by horseback, so I now do the practical checking around here in my ute these days,” Mr Nobbs said.

Mr Nobbs currently runs 1500 cattle predominately Grey Brahmans and Charbrays at Lyndhurst, which is brigalow scrub country improved to buffel, that he and his late wife Val bought in 1953.

As well as running 700 commercial breeders, he also maintains the Lyndhurst Brahman Stud (registered stud number 127), overseeing the joining of 200 stud breeders, breeding bulls catalogued for sale at the Nobbs families Moura Bull Sale, Rockhampton Brahman Week, as well as selling paddock bulls to some of the leading pastoral companies.

However, it was due to a drought crippling much of southern Queensland including the Nobbs family property Warrawee, situated 20km outside Jandowae that beckoned this adventurous young 19-year-old bushman into central Queensland, in 1937.

It was while looking after the family cattle that were sent to Jackson in the Maranoa district looking for feed, that a relation encouraged Mr Nobbs to put in an application for a land ballot block situated just outside Moura.

And while he missed out of the initial ballot, a re-draw was later held and he was successful in obtaining 1417 hectares (3500 acres) of undeveloped forest and brigalow scrub country, he named Burrawarra.

After spending the next 13 years developing Burrawarra, and marrying Val Lewis, also from Jandowae, he sold the property and moved further west to Springsure.

“I saw a place out at Springsure that looked alright, and I went out on the train, - it took me four days to get out there and back again, and I bought it,” he said.

“The property was Allambie, situated about 45 miles from Springsure, and was often difficult to access, with four creeks that would cut the road, so someone would have to ride to town for supplies.”

In 1953 Mr and Mrs Nobbs decided to move closer to Biloela, and bought Lyndhurst, and moved there with their young children Helen and Chas.

At the same time Mr Nobbs spent much to his time travelling back to Allambie to carry out the stock work.

After moving to Lyndhurst, Mr and Mrs Nobbs welcomed children Stewart, Linda and Roger to the family.

Mr Nobbs bought 80 purebred Brahman females which had previously been registered but were sold without papers, and these formed the foundation of the Lyndhurst Brahman stud registered in 1964.

“I bought my first Brahman bull back in 1949, and have continued to stick with Brahmans as they can live on harder country, and don’t have ticks which are their main attribute,” Mr Nobbs said.

“Over the years I have invested in 10 imported Hudgins (US) sires, and bulls from leading Brahman studs in Queensland.”

He engages in a no-calf no second chance policy with his females, and tries to cull for age at about 10 years.

“However there is one exception, if they are still calving at 15 to 17 years, they stay and I have some of those too,” he said.

In the 1960s, Mr Nobbs put both Allambie and Lyndhurst on the market to buy into the Moura/Bauhinia district, and as it was Allambie that sold first, they retained their home property.

It was then they bought Wingara in 1965, and Cordelia in 1968, in the Moura/Bauhina district, which was country that had always appealed to him.

“Cordelia was partly cleared, while Wingara has not been developed at all,” he said.

And it was back to the same district which had given Mr Nobbs his start 30 years earlier.

Since then the Nobbs family holdings have grown to include 10 central Queensland properties including Yandaburra, Lake Salvator, Beauchamp, Glen Rock at Springsure, Delargum, Stanford Park, Ruddlea, Cordelia, Yoman, and Wingara in the Bauhinia district, and Lyndhurst and adjoining properties at Biloela.

At the same time the family’s stud operations have continued to grow to include the annual Nobbs family bull sale at the Moura Saleyards each September.

Mr Nobbs was made a life member of the Australian Brahman Breeders Association in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the Brahman breed, in 2002.

Over time, Lyndhurst cattle have achieved great results at the Brahman Commercial Breeding Female Sale include most successful exhibitor in 2012 and 2013.

Sadly Mr Nobb’s wife, Val, passed away in 2010, after a loving and steadfast marriage lasting 61 years.

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