Vale Percy Crumblin

Jon Condon, 08/01/2016

Respected northern Australian cattleman and industry identity Percy Crumblin passed away late last month, and was buried after a private ceremony in Mt Isa on December 31. He was 83.

Mr Crumblin spent a lifetime working across the extensive northern Australian cattle industry.

He broke his teeth as a drover during the Second World War, setting-up and operating his own droving plant at the age of 14 due to the lack of manpower available in the bush because of the war effort.

He moved cattle from the far west to markets and rail heads in Queensland and western NSW. One of his early clients was the legendary ‘Dolph’ Schmidt, a part owner of Nappamerrie in the Channel Country, from where Perc walked bullocks to the trucking yards at Quilpie.

An early image of Perc Crumblin on his horse Rivers - possibly taken at Brunette Downs.

An early image of Perc Crumblin on his horse Rivers – possibly taken at Brunette Downs.


His first station appointment in the 1950s was as head stockman at Alroy Downs and he went from there to Nappamerrie as manager a year or so later.

Perc was to work for ‘Dolph’ Schmidt, who later became the first managing director of AA Co, for the rest of Dolph’s life, and he spoke admiringly of the man as did everyone else.

Perc married Laura in the 1950s and had four boys Randy, Steven, Mick and Craig. All grew into fine strapping men and competent in every field of endeavour they took part in.

In the early 1960s Perc transferred back to Alroy Downs in the NT as manager. During this time he competed at the legendary Mount Isa Rotary Rodeo for many years, and served as a revered pick-up man along with his head stockman Gerry Hayes, a man he had trained from a youth.

About 1976 Percy and family transferred to Queensland and Northern Territory Pastoral Co’s Barkly Downs Station near Camooweal, one of the best black soil Mitchell and Flinders grass properties in Queensland. The QNTP pastoral inspector at the time was Arthur Bassingthwaighte, a man Perc was to work closely with for many years.

Around 1978 Perc and his family transferred to Lake Nash, adjoining Barkly Downs, sitting just inside the NT side of the border. Whilst managing Lake Nash for King Ranch QNTP he was also the pastoral inspector for the region, installing Gerry Hayes as manager at Barkly.

Former Stanbroke livestock marketing manager Roger Halliwell, who spent 37 years with Stanbroke from 1968, has vivid memories of cattle business dealings with Perc Crumblin.

He recalls flying with Stanbroke pastoral inspector Bill Hughes to Lake Nash in the late 1970s to inspect 3000 steers which QNTP was forced to sell due to drought – at a time when Stanbroke was looking for steers to place on Tanbar.

Perc Crumblin was the Pastoral Manager of QNTP at the time. He was not keen to sell the steers, but was under instruction to do so from his boss, Arthur Bassingthwaighte.

As they were coming in to land, Bill said to Roger, “This old bloke might be a bit prickly because he doesn’t want to sell these cattle, so we should go steady for a while.”

As the pair walked from the plane, Perc was there, arms folded, hat down over his eyes and making no movement towards them at all. Roger could see what Bill meant.

They walked up to Perc and before there was any handshaking or greeting, Bill put his hand on Perc’s shoulder and said “Roger, let me introduce you to one of Queensland’s – no, Australia’s – leading cattlemen, Mr Perc Crumblin.” The reaction was immediate, the hand came out, the hat went back, they went up to the house for smoko, bought the steers and went on their way.

In later years Perc acted as a consultant for banks, pastoral houses like Elders and appointed receivers in Queensland and the NT.

During this period of consultancy he inspected and reporting on grazing possibilities in China for Chinese and Australian interests. This was followed by a Rockhampton business wholesaling and retailing meat, which may have been an incomplete success.

During the 1990s Perc worked on a pastoral consultancy basis for Janet Holmes a Court’s Heytesbury Pastoral Co. He became a prominent figure during bull buying season buying large lines of Brahman herd bulls for Victoria River Downs and other large Heytesbury holdings across the NT and Kimberley.

He also worked with and managed some of Peter Menegazzo’s Stanbroke properties after AMP divested itself of their pastoral assets in 2004. He was to be associated with the Menegazzo empire until Peter’s unfortunate death in an aircraft accident in 2005.

“Perc was a man for whom I held a lifetime respect, and with whom I always shared the deepest, fondest friendship,” his friend of many years, Mt Isa identity John Molony said during his funeral.

“In the beef industry he was ‘Primus Inter Pares’ or First Among Equals. He was the best, and distinguished above the rest,” Mr Molony said.

Mr Crumblin, who retired in Emerald, passed away on December 21. At his request he was buried at Mt Isa, where he spent much of his early life, with a private ceremony held on December 31.





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  1. Mal and Dave Offen, 06/11/2021

    We enjoyed working with Percy mustering at Lake Nash during the early 1980’s.

  2. Bevan Pedrazzini, 11/01/2018

    He was my uncle and a gentleman

  3. Pat Smith, 04/02/2016

    Fond memories of my initial meetings with both Perc and Gerry when I started flying with Air Mt Isa/Helicopter Operators. Firstly on mail runs then as a mustering pilot. Percy taught me the basics of mustering cattle by helicopter. Fond memories of those days spent on Barkly and Lake Nash flying with Perc.

    • Tony Rigden, 25/06/2023

      What years were you with Air Mt Isa, I was their Radio Tech 1980-1982

  4. Geoff Niethe, 14/01/2016

    Perc will probably never get the credit he deserves for the eradication of TB and Brucellosis in northern Australia but it was his management skills, committment and perserverance that demonstrated that the job could be done when all else doubted the effectiveness of the test and when breakdowns were the order of the day. Alroy Downs was declared Confirmed Free for both diseases in 1977 – well in advance of any other infected properties in the N.T. He then went on to clean up Lake Nash and Barkly Downs giving confidence to all concerned that BTEC was indeed a reality in the extensively managed pastoral properties of northern Australia.

  5. Kevin de Witte, 12/01/2016

    Percy was a true and fair gentleman and a pleasure to work with in various capacities during the BTEC era. Condolences to the family.

  6. Sue Smith, 12/01/2016

    My husband, Dick Smith, ran the camp for Percy at Alroy in the late 60’s. A wonderful man and a wonderful boss. Percy taught Dick so much and he is forever grateful to be lucky enough to have worked for such a fine person and cattleman. The photo was taken at Brunette Races in 1968….we gave it to Percy just a few years ago. RIP

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