Live Export

Darwin smashes cattle export record

James Nason, 07/07/2015

The Port of Darwin has smashed the record for the most number of cattle exported in a financial year.

A live export vessel at the Port of Darwin.

A live export vessel at the Port of Darwin.

Early figures suggest that at least 613,473 cattle were shipped from East Arm Wharf in 2014-15. The final figure may yet be higher with some last shipments still to be included in the official data for the financial year.

That volume demolishes the previous fiscal year record of 406,055, set in 2013-14, and also the previous record for a calendar year.

A record 490,000 cattle were exported from Darwin in 2014, which surpassed the previous high of almost 450,000 cattle set way back in 1997.

Here’s a question for our readers: Would Darwin’s shipments for 2014-15 possibly constitute a world record for a single port?

Are readers aware of any other port in the world that has exported more than 613,473 cattle in one year? If so please let us know either via the comment box below or by email to

Contacts within the livestock export industry have told us that Brazil has previously exported more than one million head of cattle in a single year, and it is possible that more than 600,000 were exported from the Port of Belem near the mouth of the Amazon River in Para State in northern Brazil during that period. We’re making some inquiries and will provide an update soon.

As we reported last week the 2014-15 financial year was also a record period for cattle exports from Townsville. 297,000 cattle were shipped from the port during the last financial year. The previous record was 201,810 set in 2013-14.

Darwin also set a monthly record of 80,620 cattle exported in April 2015 as exporters raced to get cattle shipped to Indonesia under the just-released second quarter permits ahead of the peak Ramadan/Lebaran beef demand period.

Month No of head
TOTAL 613,473


As the below table shows, the bulk of cattle exports from Darwin in 2014-15 were to Indonesia (447,002), with Vietnam the second largest destination (110,730).



Record exports highlight Northern Australia development opportunities

The increase in live cattle exports from Darwin highlights the need to invest more in infrastructure to ensure the Northern Territory develops to its full potential, Chief Minister Adam Giles said.

Mr Giles met with Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss in Darwin today to discuss opportunities that could flow from the Federal Government’s White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.

“The Northern Territory has been unwavering in calling for sensible and long term development. It’s good for Northern Australia and it’s good for the entire nation – both now and into the future,” Mr Giles said.

“With the recent release of the Federal Government’s White Paper, the focus is now well and truly on Northern Australia and the Northern Territory is front and centre.

“We are determined to keep the momentum going to unlock the Territory’s full potential and create more jobs and opportunities for Territorians.”

Mr Giles said the live export trade is worth around $230 million annually to the Territory’s economy and Asian demand for Australian beef would only increase.

He said the NT Government was determined to ensure export growth continued, which was why it exploring opportunities for increased private investment in the Port of Darwin through a long term lease.

“Finding the right private sector partner to operate and grow our port is critical for Northern Australia’s development, and to ensure we create new business and new jobs in the Territory.”

Mr Giles said also he took the opportunity to push the case for the Office of Northern Australia, which will report to the Deputy Prime Minister and co-ordinate the implementation of the White Paper, to be shifted to Darwin.

Mr Giles said the Territory Government was pleased the Commonwealth had committed to a $600 million roads package with the Tanami Road, Arnhem Highway and the Outback Way identified as priority roads.

“Similarly, the $100 million commitment to improve northern cattle supply chains through the Northern Australia Beef Roads Fund is a welcome first start towards ensuring the Territory cattle industry has secure access to markets all year round,” he said.

In addition to visiting the Berrimah Export Yards, Mr Giles and Federal Member for Solomon Natasha Griggs took the Deputy Prime Minister on an aerial tour of Darwin to view the Darwin CBD, Tiger Brennan Drive, the new marine supply base and the Port of Darwin.

“We will take every opportunity we can to push the Northern Territory’s case and ensure policy makers in Canberra understand the need to make a long term commitment to grow the north,” Mr Giles said.


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