Mick Moloney, known across the length and breadth of the northern Australian cattle industry over half a century as ‘Mr Southern Cross’, passed away last week, aged 84.
Mr Moloney sold Southern Cross windmill and pumping equipment across the Northern Territory, northern and central Queensland and the Kimberley since the 1960s, and established firm and lasting friendships with many of the cattle producers he dealt with.
He rarely missed at Darwin Cup or a NTCA annual meeting, even well after retirement, maintaining close contact with friends and colleagues across the industry he loved.
Close friend Noel Haug has written the following tribute:
Over the period of 45 years I have known Mick in business and socially, he has lived a full life as a lover of the northern cattle industry and its people. This has been seen in many ways, but mainly through his hands-on work in the vital business of providing and servicing stock watering facilities through his beloved Southern Cross Foundry.
His interest and support in rugby (both codes), along with his wife Edna, gave him the attributes of no nonsense, mateship, loyalty and of course the ability to socialise. He didn’t have to network in life; he was the network. He was a raconteur extraordinaire leading many up the garden path until they became victims of the punchline.
I got to know Mick through my work in procurement with Stanbroke in the 1970s and later with AA Co in the 1990s. I quickly learned that throwing windmill purchasing open to tender to the titans Southern Cross and Comet flew in the face of tradition, made no one happy – particularly station managers and the suppliers themselves and myself, the meat in the sandwich.
My fondest memories of Mick were him conducting our station managers and head stockman on tours of the Toowoomba Foundry. The pride and manufacturing skills of Southern Cross workers on the floor was palpable and with Mick being their spokesmen and salesman in the bush, it was a formidable team.
It was a fine example of a successful organisation to our managers and leaders of men on stations.
Mick took advantage of another Toowoomba icon, the Weis restaurant to entertain after the business of the study tour. Sadly, both the working foundry and the restaurant are no longer with us. Mick was hands-on and years later I co-opted him to carry out training of AA Co headstockmen in stock water management on Canobie Station in the Gulf.
No doubt he gave his knowledge freely to many other organisations such as Vesteys, Hooker, Stanbroke, NAPCo, AA Co and Kidman as well as countless others including individuals.
Of course Southern Cross was renowned for its windmills when wind was just a resource and not a renewable energy source. With the cost and difficulty of maintaining large mills safely, Mick oversaw the switch to engine-powered pumps including submersibles and helical rotary pumps.
It was not for the faint hearted to get into a shout with Mick in the heyday of the Cattlemen’s Bar last century at the Ekka. Owners, managers, jackaroos and ringers rubbed shoulders, with Mick and his booming voice in the thick of it. On one occasion we went home together and at our place he inadvertently put his foot through my wife’s prized glass cabinet. Years later when he continued to generously give us tickets to rugby games at Ballymore and Lang Park, I was never quite sure whether it was because of his friendship or remorse.
In those days the only ticket in town at Ekka time was the Southern Cross cocktails with Mick being sure that the ladies were well catered for.
Mick received many accolades for his service to the northern cattle industry including the NTCA and Katherine Show but one of this most prized was being awarded Bull of the Ball at the Brunette Downs Races. He treasured books, poems and memorabilia about the characters and life on northern cattle stations.
Mick had his ups and downs health-wise and on more than one occasion when I visited him in hospital he was conducting water and cattle yard business from his sick bed. He was the king of recyclers and his apparent inexhaustible supply and delivery of railway line for cattle yards was a mystery.
When visiting him last week, I hoped that he was still in the business of recycling, but sadly it was not to be.
Vale Mick with fond memories of a larger than life and illustrious career.
Family and Friends are warmly invited to attend a Requiem Mass to Celebrate and give thanks for Mick’s Life, to be held at St Fabian’s Catholic Church, 6 Wilkie Street, Yeerongpilly (Brisbane), on Thursday, 12 May, 2016, from 10am.