Live Export

Chopper crash claims life of popular NT cattleman

Beef Central, 15/06/2015
Brett family

Dougal and Emily Brett with their children William, Sophie and Lachlan at Waterloo Station.

The northern Australian cattle industry was this morning coming to terms with the shock loss yesterday of popular NT cattleman, transporter, pilot and active industry advocate Dougal Brett.

The 40 year old husband and father of three from Waterloo Station west of Katherine died in a Careflight plane enroute to the Royal Darwin Hospital early yesterday afternoon after the R44 helicopter he was flying crashed into a riverbed near Timber Creek about 11:30am.

Mr Brett and his wife Emily co-owned the 2000 square kilometre, 20,000 head Waterloo Station with his parents Colin and Alison and brother Hamish, a veterinarian.

The family moved from Northern Queensland to Waterloo Station after buying it from Wallco Pastoral Company in 2004 and have since become integral and highly respected members of the Northern Territory cattle industry.

In addition to their cattle operations Dougal also ran a livestock transporting business and was a mustering pilot.

Dougal and Emily became the faces of the northern cattle industry in the aftermath of the 2011 live cattle export ban to Indonesia, having the courage to share the story of the impact and featuring in numerous news reports and television programs on behalf of other producers and businesses effected by the ban.

Dougal and Emily Brett.

Dougal and Emily Brett.

Emily and Dougal’s Brett Cattle Company is the lead applicant in the still-yet-to-be-resolved live export class action filed against the Commonwealth in October last year.

Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association chief executive officer Tracey Hayes described Mr Brett as a much loved character, a hard working family man and an industry leader.

“It is an enormous loss to his family and to the northern industry,” Ms Hayes said.

“I think Australians feel like they know the Brett family and have grown to love them through their journey with the live export ban.

“People feel connected to their story and very much feel what they are going through.”

She said the NTCA had been inundated by calls this morning from people from all over Australia who felt like they knew the Brett family and wanted to pass their best wishes on to them.

“He was an active member and very supportive of the industry, Ms Hayes said.

“The reality is that he just worked very hard, if he wasn’t flying his helicopter he was driving road trains.

“He was a very funny guy, very jovial and a much-loved character.”

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority is investigating the cause of the crash.



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  1. John & Jasmine O'Neill, 15/08/2015

    Dear Colin Alison Emily Sophie Will & Lachlan,
    Deepest thoughts are with you all, Such an inspirational real life genuine man,mate & boss taken from us all far to early. Gunna miss ya “bull” ,

  2. Bill Andrews, 25/06/2015

    Dear Colin & Alison,

    Deepest sympathies for your devastating loss. Fine man your boy.

    Warmest Regards, Bill Andrews ( Ex Greenvale ).

  3. Annie & Andrew Hacon, 19/06/2015

    So many memories of catching up at weddings etc over the years, making us laugh, listening to you play the bag pipes at Sarah and Pauls wedding and smuggling in fireworks!. But the memory we will hang onto is drafting heifers for you at Granada for your new start in the west. It was the cheeky smile, that booming voice at the crush, our common goal, the enthusiasm, your love of the industry and good cattle that we shared. You were living your dream, and you knew it. To Em, William Lauchlan and Sophie, Colin and Alison, how proud you must be, our thoughts are always with you.
    Love Annie and Drew Hacon “Cubbaroo” Cloncurry

  4. John S Croker, 18/06/2015

    I am saddened at your loss and not ashamed to admit shedding a tear at your devastating loss. My wish for you all is that you continue Dougal’s work and may love and courage carry you through this ordeal.
    AGAIN please accept our deepest sympathy from my whole family.
    John and Mary Croker

  5. julie moore, 17/06/2015

    To Col Alison Emily William Sophie Lachlan and other family members we are shocked to learn of the tragic loss of Dougal. Please accept our heartfelt condolences at this sad time. Michael and Julie moore from Dorrigo

  6. Tony Martin, 17/06/2015

    Please have our deepest sympathy and some extra thoughts of care to all your family at such a terribly tragic time.
    We have never met you but Nicky has mentioned your family to me.
    We are Nicky Lorimer’s Mum, Lin and Tony Martin.
    Sincerely, Tony Martin

  7. Alf Collins Sr, 16/06/2015

    My condolences to your whole family, and prayers for your comfort in extreme circumstances. May your courage and faith carry you through.
    Sincerely, Alf.

  8. Christine Glenn, 16/06/2015

    Our deepest sympathy to Emily, William, Sophie and Lachlan and Brett clan. Glenn Family. Pilbara. WA.

  9. Edgar Burnett, 16/06/2015

    So sad for this to happen to a great family – may Dougal rest in peace. And commiserations to the Brett family

  10. Belinda Brett, 15/06/2015

    lovely article … Comforting at this horrendous time..
    Dougal is/was my much loved younger brother…

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