Vale John Dunnicliff

Beef Central, 29/03/2016

TRIBUTES are flowing in from stakeholders across northern Australia following news that innovative Northern Territory cattleman John Dunnicliff has passed away over Easter, after a battle with cancer.

Mr Dunnicliff is remembered across the region as a best-practice producer, an innovator and a deep thinker with the courage to try new technologies and techniques in optimising the productivity of his land.

Picture: ABC News

John Dunnicliff. Picture: ABC News

“He had the courage to blaze trails and break new ground, investing in emerging technologies and methods for land and cattle management,” NT Cattlemens Association chief executive Tracey Hayes said in a statement this afternoon.

“In success or failure he shared his knowledge and learnings, providing practical examples and evidence, inspiring others and leading industry,” she said.

Former NTCA president, David Warriner remembers Mr Dunnicliff as an operator who has applied his trade from King Island in the south to the Kimberley in the north, and all that lies between, with great success.

“John is remembered as well-known among the large cattle traders of the 1980s who bought cattle in the north and sold them in the south on a continuous basis, for an increased per kg price as well as the weight gain,” Mr Warriner said. “He always looked for alternatives to the norm, and endeavoured to exploit them, usually with success. He was rarely happy with the status quo and it would be safe to say he is an advocate of the quote “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result,” Mr Warriner said.

“If John was not satisfied, something was invariably about to change.”

In recent times Mr Dunicliff focussed on a major water infrastructure development project on his property Beetaloo, on the Barkly Tableland, designed to spread grazing pressure more evenly across the landscape and better utilise available feed, especially during drier times of year.

As reported on Beef Central last October, the Dunnicliff family own Beetaloo Station, Mungabroom and OT Downs, which collectively span one million hectares on the Barkly Tablelands. With financial backing from billionaire Australian retailer Brett Blundy, they have invested millions of dollars to increase the number of watering points on their Barkly properties from just 40 in 2002 to 600 today.

The ambitious development project has now been completed, and has increased the holding’s carrying capacity from 20,000 cattle 10 years ago to 85,000-90,000 today.

Mr Dunnicliff told Beef Central at the time that his family had been developing properties in different areas for a ‘fair while now’, and it had worked for them.

“The real thing that holds everyone back is whether you’re game enough to chuck the money at it, and get in and do it,” he said.

A similar development is also underway on neighbouring property Amungee Mungee, which is owned in partnership by Brett Blundy as the majority shareholder and minority shareholders Emma and Adrian Brown, daughter and son-in-law of Mr Dunnicliff and the owners of Northern Stock Water in Katherine. Click here to read Beef Central’s earlier report.


Mr Dunnicliff’s life will be celebrated on Tuesday 5 April, at 11am at Holy Name Parish, 35 Billyard Avenue, Wahroonga, NSW.




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  1. Paul farrell, 15/07/2018

    A great man I fenced upper wantagong and was very appreciative of work from a true gentleman

  2. Brian Richard Allen, 07/04/2017

    Vale, John Dunnicliff. Thank you for your life. My own life is richer that you passed though it. Rest well, Beautiful Man. Prayers, ‘Trish and condolences.
    — Brian Richard Allen

  3. Sorrel Wilby, 08/04/2016

    Just reading over an article I wrote about Isis Downs many, many years ago for Australian Geographic…and remembering how beautiful John and his family were while I was on the station. My thoughts are with you Trish (and the girls) at this time. With love, Sorrel

  4. Annie Crawford, 01/04/2016

    Johnny was also an incredible and loved uncle. I know I can speak on behalf of all my cousins when I say he will be deeply missed. He brought so much to our lives, especially when we were children. !! He was our fun, generous and naughty uncle- we loved him so much. As adults we now admire his courage, his innovation and his vision We can learn so much from him.

  5. Liz paton, 01/04/2016

    Trish and family, heartfelt condolences from simon and I, best love, liz

  6. andrew and roxanne olive, 31/03/2016

    Thinking of you all ,so sorry to hear of John,s passing,he will be dearly missed by one and all who knew him. A great man with a great vision.

  7. Tracey Munckton, 31/03/2016

    Condolences from the Munckton Family, We are devastated to hear of John;s passing, if there is anything we can do for you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

  8. Diane Glenn, 30/03/2016

    Sympathies being sent from the USA. Met John over 40 years ago through my sister and her husband, Laine and Gus Conduit.

  9. Michael Vail, 30/03/2016

    A true Pioneer, and Innovator: driving change … RIP

  10. Anne Bisset, 30/03/2016

    Darling Trish..I’m devastated to hear of John’s passing over the weekend. My love and thoughts are with you and all the family at this dreadful time.
    Much love
    AnnieB xx

  11. Steve Ellison, 30/03/2016

    Very few if any of his ilk today, and the industry poorer for it.

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