Vale pastoral agency legend, Jimmy Matthews

Jon Condon, 24/10/2016

PASTORAL agency industry veteran Jimmy Matthews has passed away overnight, aged 81.

Mr Matthews, whose cattle industry career spanned 67 years, worked for Landmark and its predecessor businesses since 1989, where he had a roving brief across Australia’s pastoral regions in his role as national key account manager.

Jim Matthews. Image: Australian Campdrafting Magazine.

Jim Matthews. Image: Australian Campdrafting Magazine.

In this role he would make regular appearances across the length and breadth of the continent, becoming, arguably, the best known stock and station agent in the nation, at a national level. He could pop-up anywhere from southern Victoria to Cloncurry or Katherine, and was instantly recognisable and among friends wherever he made his presence felt.

Mr Matthews broke his teeth in the agency profession with the old Fiskin Read & Co agency, operating out of Newmarket Saleyards near Melbourne. He started at the age of 13, in 1949, and gained his auctioneer’s ticket by the age of 17, buying the Fisken Read business ten years later.

He partnered with Jack Coghlan and the two built the company into what was the largest private stock and station agency in the southern hemisphere, selling 210,000 cattle a year at its peak.

In a historical bookend, his great grandfather bought the very first beast to pass through the Newmarket yards, while Jimmy sold the last beast through the yards, before they closed in 1987.

Jim himself is immortalised in a mural on a walkway that passes underneath Epsom Road, on what was a key stock route into and out of the Newmarket saleyards.

After selling his agency business to Challenge Mercantile, he joined Dalgety around 1989.

As national key account manager for Landmark, which absorbed Dalgety, Mr Matthews had a ‘roving charter,’ dealing with most, if not all of the nation’s largest corporate-scale cattle enterprises, and gaining a reputation as a shrewd, tough, but fair advocate and negotiator for his clients – both buyers and vendors.

Over the years he did countless large cattle deals for the likes of Consolidated Pastoral Co, Stanbroke, AA Co, NAPCo, Kidman, Heytesbury, Western Grazing and others, as well as the north’s largest family-owned cattle enterprises.

In later years, he tended to specialise in the larger-scale pastoral regions of central, western and north Queensland, the Northern Territory, Kimberley and central Australia.

Mr Matthews had a struggle with throat cancer about 20 years ago, treatment for which involved the loss of his vocal chords. It’s hard to imagine a more serious obstacle to professional life as a stock agent, but in typical fashion, he adapted, using an artificial voicebox device to communicate. Many readers would be familiar with the scratchy, almost comical tone of the device he used, as he did business with clients, or had a beer at the bar, inevitably surrounded by mates.

Landmark’s general manager for meat and livestock, Mark Barton, worked with Mr Matthews more or less permanently for the past 20 years.

“It was his ability to deal with such a challenge as the loss of his voice, that really demonstrated his depth of character and determination – and people across the industry respected him enormously for it,” Mr Barton said.

“Jimmy was a colourful character, debonair, and always meticulously presented – popular and respected both by his peers and his competitors.”

“But I rate the greatest thing about Jimmy as being his ability to adapt,” Mr Barton said.

“He adapted to the enormous setback of the loss of his voice; he adapted from the old days of yards selling, pen by pen at Newmarket, to putting together huge deals out of the paddock from one part of Australia to the other; and he adapted as the agency profession changed over the four decades he was involved.”

“In an industry that is becoming increasingly sanitised and regulated, Jimmy Matthews was one of the industry’s last remaining true characters and individuals,” Mr Barton said

For many years Mr Matthews did valuations of large northern Australia’s largest pastoral assets, flying from property to property looking at pasture conditions and stock with pilot, Craig McNab, on Landmark’s behalf.

In his heyday, he was one of the most prominent bull buyers at northern Australia’s largest bull sales like Rockhampton’s Brahman Week and National Droughtmaster sales, buying enormous runs of herd bulls for northern clients as far distant as the Kimberley.

He was also a great supporter of the campdraft industry – his son Raymond won a Warwick Gold Cup – and was instrumental in the establishment of the highly successful Tamworth Stock Horse Sale, now approaching its tenth year.

Mr Matthews was loading heifers as recently as Tuesday, passing away at home overnight, following recent complications with blood clots.

  • See Beef Central’s separate post on a memorial service planned to mark Jim Matthews’ passing.



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  1. Kevin & Carolyn Corcoran, 24/10/2016

    Sincere condolences to Leanne, Ray & Sandra & families with the passing of Jimmy, from all at CorcoranParker. Jimmy was instrumental in guiding Trevor & I in the establishment of CorcoranParker in the 1980’s & always offered close & valued support throughout our 30+ Years in business. Jimmy will be greatly missed.

  2. Scott Richardson, 24/10/2016

    A true gentleman and a great loss to the industry.
    Condolences to all of Jim’s family.
    Rest in Peace.

  3. Garth Hughes October 24th 2016, 24/10/2016

    I thoroughly enjoyed 20 odd years in the friendship of Jim Mathews. A more honest, forthright wonderful friend you could not ask for. His experience in our industry, his enthusiasm and encouragement to those of us who had the opportunity by being in his company, will never be forgotten. R.I.P. good mate.

  4. Garth Hughes October 24th 2016, 24/10/2016

    I thoroughly enjoyed 20 odd years in the friendship of Jim Mathews. A more honest and forthright wonderful friend you could not ask for. His experience in our industry, his enthusiasm and encouragement to those of us who had the opportunity of being in his company will never be forgotten. R.I.P. good mate.

  5. Jill Temple, 23/10/2016

    We were saddened to hear of Jim’s passing. Jim was a supporter of the Qld Country Life Miss Showgirl Awards and was instrumental in gaining us Landmark sponsorship for a few years.
    Lorraine Crothers, Elizabeth Wilson and I looked forward to our annual reunion with Jim during Ekka time, catching up for a drink or two at the Brisbane Riverview Hotel. Jim was a true gentleman and friend.

  6. Jihn Crerar, 23/10/2016

    Rarely do you met someone that is larger than life itself, Jimmy Matthews was one of those people. It was a privilege to have known you Jim. Condolences to all Jim’s family. RIP old fiend.

  7. Marg kelly, 22/10/2016

    Great supporter & character at the Finley cattle sales for many years.
    R.I.P. Jimmy

  8. Mike Wilson, 22/10/2016

    Jimmy Matthews, a lover of life and a lover of people.
    I will forever remember the bar times, Jimmy, Garth Hughes and I, the stories, the laughter, the battery voice, the white handkerchief.
    Must be a big cattle sale in the sky, God has called his best man home.
    Goodbye old mate, I’ll miss you.

  9. Jeremy Gaylard, 21/10/2016

    A remarkable man in the Stock and Station industry. He will be sadly missed.

  10. Glenda Dodson, 21/10/2016

    Condolences to Ray and family. I believe Larry Dodson and Jimmy have one foot on the rail discussing the lot to send to the feedlot. RIP

  11. Tony Fountain, 21/10/2016

    There is an age old comment the “they don’t make e’m like that anymore” and this fact is glaringly obvious when you compare Jim and his like as characters with so many of todays tech savvy guru types.
    Jim’s word was his bond, he walked the allowed lanes of Flemington and was equally at home in the board rooms of “the suits” where he was acknowledged as a man who “knew his oats”.
    Farewell old mate, I’ll miss your gravely voice and incisive comments and thoughts!
    RIP – and go easy on them up there!!!

  12. Robert Woodward SWAN HILL, 21/10/2016


  13. Robert Woodward, 21/10/2016

    I was shocked at Jimmy’s passing. I thought there was at least another 10 years in him. He was as active and full of business as a man 20 years younger. We spoke regularly, 3 or 4 times per week. Jimmy was a prominent feeder cattle buyer for me and really enjoyed the job. Jimmy was a long time personal friend and colleague of both myself and my father Jack Woodward, who operated at Newmarket for many years.
    I have lost 3 great mates in recent times, the others being Peter (Pluto) Tudor and Kevin (Boondy) Healy – all legends in their own rights.

  14. Susan Salmond, 21/10/2016

    Will miss your big welcoming smile followed by a hug and a kiss at the campdrafts Jim. RIP

  15. Tim Francis, 21/10/2016

    I was sent to Newmarket to work for Jimmy Matthews in 1980 at the age of 15. I had the upmost respect for Jimmy, he was a tough but fair boss . Jimmy was in his prime when we first met and there was none better …. I use to enjoy driving him to Flemimgton on a Wednesday for the races or staying at Newman Park when he was away, Jimmy was a remarkable man with many talents… RIP Jimmy

  16. Ian McKenzie, 21/10/2016

    An icon of the live auction days & a character that will be remembered as a true Australian

  17. Bill Sullivan, 21/10/2016

    Jimmy was one of nature’s gentlemen, a real mate who never forgot a favour.
    A genuine cattleman of the old school, never reneged on a deal, his word was his bond. RIP Jimmy in the great stock route in the sky.

  18. Elizabeth Faulkner, 21/10/2016

    Such a shock to read this, thinking of Ray & all the Family.

  19. JennyGosbell. Beasley, 20/10/2016

    What wonderful childhood memories of holidays football and sale yards !!! We had wonderful times together condolences to you all.. Our parents
    Aunts and uncles have special places in our lives time we caught up again.


  20. Jamie Inglis, 20/10/2016

    Jimmy was a remarkable man, with so many qualities. in life one meets many great people but rarely does one experience the likes of Jimmy Matthews.
    Jimmy was always optimistic, he possessed a wonderful sense of humour, was a great entertainer and had the near perfect personality.
    Obviously Jimmy was an outstanding stockman and horseman, however he will be remembered as one of the greatest agents this country has ever seen. He improved the lives of many people.
    It has been an honour and privilege to have known Jimmy.

  21. Arthur Angliss, 20/10/2016

    A true friend who will be greatly missed. One of natures
    gentlemen in every aspect. Vale Jim.

  22. Reddas, 20/10/2016

    A great Boss always a pleasure to work for at Fisken Read A closing of an era RIP JRM

  23. Jim GUNN Sevenbardot Poll Herefords, 20/10/2016

    The last of the great characters of the agency game. Will be sorely missed by all who new him
    Jim Gunn

  24. John & Lynette (Bullock) Bade, 20/10/2016

    Sorry to hear of the passing of a legend

  25. Dennis Scanlon, 20/10/2016

    A truly great operator, who made an enormous contribution to the Livestock Industry over so many years – and his word was his bond.

  26. Will Abel Smith, 20/10/2016

    He will be sorely missed! Certainly one of the giants of the agency business. A great deal maker and a great man to have a beer or meal with. Always a gentleman and with a great understanding of the cattle and property game, particularly in the north, which was unusual for a man from the south! So good at making and keeping contacts, would always ring to suss out what was happening. In later years after his throat operation, my kids would answer the phone and scream ” Dad, Darth Vader is on the phone again”, he didn’t mind. I very much enjoyed a friendship doing business with Jimmy – Vale.

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