The Northern Territory live export trade is mourning the loss of one of its most respected founding identities following the passing in Townsville of Alan Woods.
Mr Woods was a founding member of the Northern Territory Livestock Exporters Association (NTLEA) in 1980 and succeeded founding chairman and good friend Angus Adnam to become the association’s second chairman from 1985–95.
He also served as a vice-president of the Australian Livestock Exporters Council in the 1990’s.
In 2006 Mr Woods was inducted into the Australian Livestock Export Industry’s hall of fame and earlier this year he was presented with life membership of the NTLEA, along with Mr Adnam, Steve Ellison and David George.
Mr Woods began his career in the northern cattle industry in the 1970s as an accountant for the Katherine Meatworks, and then worked for the Jimmys Creek buffalo and cattle abattoir at Point Stuart on the flood plains east of Darwin.
An official history of the Australian livestock export trade authored by respected rural journalist Nigel Austin last year described Mr Woods as an acknowledged leader of the modern Northern Territory cattle trade, and a pioneer and great contributor to the industry.
The publication records that Mr Woods and his friend Brian Smith started the North Australian Cattle Co in 1980, exporting to Malaysia, then The Philippines and various other places.
“Mr Woods owned the company outright in 1986 and was doing well when he sold a quarter share to emerging stock and station agent Challenge Mercantile.
“When it went into liquidation, Woods bought the share back.
“He sold the business to Elders in 1989, by that time exporting about 8000– 10,000 cattle a year.”
Mr Woods agreed to stay working with Elders for a further five years. When he left NACC in 1994 Mr Woods established Top End Livestock Exports Co while also forging a relationship with Fares Rural, with which he had worked until 2006.
“By then, he estimates, with 30 years in the industry, he had exported between 800,000 and a million cattle, as well as buffalo, horses, donkeys, camels, sheep and goats,” Mr Austin wrote.
In presenting Mr Woods with life membership earlier this year the NTLEA also acknowledged the major role he played in establishing the association’s export and quarantine yards located at Berrimah, which were regarded as a major cornerstone in developing the industry in the 1990’s.
NT live export industry veteran Sid Parker said Mr Woods was a significant contributor to the successful establishment of Australia’s cattle export trade into South East Asia.
“He and I and Ross Ainsworth who was living in Darwin in those days travelled extensively through South East Asia together when we were starting off the feeder trade into Indonesia and also the Philippines,” Mr Parker told Beef Central.
“We were having small hiccups all through there and the three of us used to jump on a plane and go up and put the fires out that were being lit all through there in those days.
“He had a lot to do with the success of the trade into South East Asia.”
Mr Parker said Mr Woods was a founding member of the NTLEA at a time when 23 exporters were based in Darwin, running 34 ships out of the city.
“He was very well respected as the owner of NACC,” Mr Parker said. “Alan was always very helpful to everybody.”
Fellow livestock export industry Hall of Fame inductee Steve Ellison said Mr Woods as "one of the most genuine people" ever to work in the trade.
Mr Woods died in Townsville after a long battle with cancer.