Community and Lifestyle

Revered stud stock agent Dave Watkins passes away

Jon Condon, 15/03/2017

LEGENDARY Queensland stud stock auctioneer, Dave Watkins, passed away yesterday at Yeppoon, aged 88.

Over a 45 year agency career with Elders, Mr Watkins became universally known and much loved across the Queensland cattle industry.

Dave WatkinsGifted with a natural, easy-going auctioneer’s banter and a love of people, he left an indelible impression on the agency and broader cattle industry, stretching from far north Queensland to the NSW border.

Born in Blackall in 1928, Mr Watkins spent his entire working career as a stock agent, joining the old Australian Estates company in Roma in 1948 after leaving Brisbane’s Anglican Church Grammar School, where he boarded, and Gatton Ag College.

He transferred to Rockhampton in 1950, where he rode the wave of expansion following the arrival of Brahman cattle, and the establishment of the tropically-adapted bull breeding industry. He did a lot of work over the years with both the Brahman and Santa Gertrudis breeds – where he sold at Yarrawonga and Cumberland sales over many years – but treated all beef breeds with equal respect.

Through the agency company mergers that followed, Australian Estates became AML-Estates, Elders AML and ultimately Elders, but Dave remained a one-company man for his entire working life. He retired in the early 1990s, but returned in guest auctioneering roles for some considerable time after that.

He sold as far north as Charters Towers, and pushed south as far as Victoria selling for long established bull-breeding clients, but Gracemere Saleyards outsdie Rockhampton was his true ‘office.’ In the early days of his career, he sold at numerous King Ranch Santa sales for the Baillieu family, and in association with Scott Hallam, also kicked-off the Rockhampton Quarter Horse sales.

In earlier times in the 1950s to 70s, he travelled widely selling at feature store sales through Eidsvold, Moura, Rolleston, Taroom and other large cattle centres.

Close friend and fellow stud stock agent, Eddie Chambers, said Dave was one of the best stud stock auctioneers the industry has ever seen.

“He was dedicated to what he was selling, and the work and effort that went in behind the scenes to get the detail right before a sale was often not widely appreciated,” Mr Chambers said.

“He had a nice, natural banter when selling, and he just loved the job of selling cattle.”

As an extrovert and larger-than-life character, Dave Watkins gathered many close acquaintances across the cattle industry over the years, and wherever he travelled with work, he was always amongst friends.

One of his great passions was John Wayne movies, and an occasional line or two from a well-known western would sneak into his selling banter.

Mr Watkins was pre-deceased by his wife, Joyce. He had no children.


  • Dave Watkins funeral will be held at Rockhampton Crematorium on Wednesday, 22 March at 11am



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


  1. David Barker, 31/03/2017

    When I left school in 1961 I stayed with David and Joyce I Rocky where he attempted to teach me Cornish wrestling and the auctioneers song played on a banjo. I’d go down to the office on the river with him , pick up work related stuff then of to Yeppoon at a fair rate of knots to the Yeppoon house, near our little shack actually, he was a brilliant human being, larger then life in many ways, go in peace you gentle giant

  2. Dianne Purcell (nee Mills), 30/03/2017

    My Mother and Father, Bill and Enid Mills, were very good friends of Dave and Joyce Watkins when I was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s. Our family always enjoyed visiting them either at their Rockhampton house or at their Wreck Point house at Cooee Bay. They always made a great fuss of our Family and were wonderful and generous hosts. David and Joyce didn’t have their own children but I know they would have made wonderful parents as they always really enjoyed interacting with me, my 2 brothers and my baby sister during our visits. David was Manager of Australian Estates at the time I got my first job at the then Queensland Primary Producers, now Primac I think, and it was obvious to me how he was highly respected and loved by his peers and by the cattle industry, in general. I was very pleased that he accepted when I asked him to be Chairman at my wedding to James Purcell and I think he was very chuffed as well. When my Father passed away in 2004, David was very supportive of my family. I was very sad to hear of his recent passing and I know he will be sadly missed by all who have known and loved him. Dianne

  3. Pat Shaw, 20/03/2017

    I first met Dave enroute to school, Churchie, on the train from Blackall. Don’t tell anybody but we smoked on the train!!! We kept in close contact over those 70 odd years through cattle etc and many visits to Yeppoon and Gracemere. Very fond memories. Will be looking out for you Dave as ever, Pat.

  4. Garth Hughes, 16/03/2017

    Not only was David Watkins a great auctioneer he also had a wonderful personality and sense of humour. His enthusiasm for the cattle industry was
    infectious. A grand bloke with whom I shared the rostrum on many, many occasions, which I thoroughly enjoyed and regarded as a privilege. Together with 3 other ex Australian Estates members we visited Dave at Yeppoon a couple of weeks ago and shared plenty of memories. Vale Dave

  5. Gerald C Mayne, 16/03/2017

    None could come to the height that Uncle Dave, as all my family knew him, in judging good cattle, and assessing what they would bring. I had a car trip from Brisbane to Wallumbilla with Bob Templeman with David in the back studying the pedigree of the animals he was to sell that day. Vale David from us all.

  6. Kenrick Riley, 15/03/2017

    Lovely fella. Big voice. (“Sold the bull”, he’d say at the end of each lot.) Remember him well from my junior days of reporting at bull sales in the west. I don’t know how much he moved around in the agency business for Estates, but he seemed to be in Rocky for a hell of a long time. Last saw him after he’d retired on the verandah of Russ Boadle’s house. Still yarning!

Get Beef Central's news headlines emailed to you -