Memorial service for the late Ross Brunckhorst

Beef Central, 28/06/2018

MEMORIAL service arrangements have been finalised for former general manager and director of the North Australian Pastoral Co, Ross Brunckhorst, who passed away last Friday, aged 83.

Ross Brunckhorst

Mr Brunckhorst joined the North Australian Pastoral Company in 1977 as assistant manager, and was promoted to general manager in 1982 at the retirement of Ken Moore.

He served as general manager for 13 years, to 1995, and remained as a company director on the NAP board through to 2009.

Up to the 2016 retirement of immediate past chief executive Nigel Alexander, NAPCo had had just three operational heads (either CEOs or general managers) over the previous 60 years, since 1956.

During his 32-year association with the company, Mr Brunckhorst witnessed enormous progress within NAP’s operations, from open-range mustering to the highest standards of integrated large scale cattle production and livestock handling.

Among his many achievements, during his tenure at NAPCo he:

  • Saw the Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Program through to a successful completion
  • Oversaw an increase in the company’s property portfolio from six to thirteen stations. Acquisitions included Connemara and Kynuna (1986), Boomarra (1989), Vergement (1990), Coolullah (1992) Roxborough Downs (1994) and Dagworth (1995).
  • Initiated NAPCo’s adventurous (for the time) move into large-scale composite genetics, establishing the original Alexandria composite in 1986, taking the company away from its earlier Shorthorn and Santa roots. A second Kynuna composite was established in 1995. The program that followed made NAPCo a world-leader in large-scale composite cattle breeding, and the company continues to reap the rewards from its composite program, delivering greater fertility, growth and carcase performance, while retaining most of the advantages of first-cross hybrid vigour
  • Was instrumental in the purchase in 1985 and early development of the Wainui feedlot near Bowenville on the Darling Downs. At its time, NAPCo was one of the first corporate-scale northern cattle producers to invest downstream in lotfeeding, both as a drought mitigation measure and to deliver an integrated, assured supply of grainfed beef each year.

Born at Warwick in 1935, Mr Brunckhorst was raised on a farm at Loch Lomond on the southern Darling Downs. Following education at the local school and in Brisbane, he studied wool classing while working at Grazcos, a sheep shearing and wool pooling company. In 1952 he was sent to Augathella by Grazcos, and worked at various properties including Oakwood Station.

After National Service with the RAAF, he worked for a period for Burns Philp in Fiji, before joining the United Graziers Association in 1957. At the time, Bill Gunn (later Sir William) was UGA president, and when Mr Gunn formed Gunn Rural Management in 1965, he invited Ross to join as one of his first members of staff. He stayed with GRM until starting his career with NAPCo in 1977.

Mr Brunckhorst was well respected by his peers across the northern Australian pastoral industry, and had many friends and acquaintances outside the company in wider industry circles.

He represented NAPCo and the cattle sector on a number of industry committees, and was awarded honorary life membership of the Northern Territory Cattlemens Association in 2000 in recognition of his contribution to the northern industry.

Mr Brunckhorst’s fairness and thoroughness were his trademarks. He was also known for his sense of humour, his ability to relate to people from all walks of life, and his fierce loyalty to the company for which he worked for so many years.

In May 2016, QIC Ltd (a Queensland government owned investment corporation) acquired a 80 percent interest in the original family-owned NAPCo business, with members of the Foster family owning the remaining 20 percent.

  • A memorial service will be held on Friday 13 July from 10am at Yeronga Uniting Church, 58 Karumba St Yeronga, Brisbane.





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  1. Chris Lilford, 02/07/2018

    I was appointed by Ross in 1983 to assume responsibility for the Mount Isa depot operation. For the period up to his retirement and beyond, I was always reassured and mentored by his support, clear vision of progress and encouragement.

  2. Andrew Turner, 26/06/2018

    Ross was a great friend of our family after first meeting my Grandfather whilst working as a purchasing officer for the UGA. Ross gave me my first job, I can remember going into his office and after the ensuing interview being told “well you’re up to Alexandria, that should get you sick of cattle”, well my old friend it didn’t! Thanks for the opportunity you gave me and plenty of others to work for a great forward thinking company like NAPCO.

  3. Ian Wells, 26/06/2018

    I worked with Ross during my time in BTEC and then as Qld CVO. Ross had an unrivalled understanding of beef production in northern Australia. With it, he was indeed an extraordinarily capable manager and a true gentleman.
    He had a great eye for opportunity, and the very timely Napco purchase of Connemara was just one example of that – to the benefit both of Napco and the overall BTEC scheme in Queensland at the time…
    I have caught up with him in retirement from time to time in recent years, and it has been sad to see his increasing struggle with health.
    A fine man!

  4. Mark Ritchie, 26/06/2018

    What a great loss to the pastoral industry. I had the privilege and pleasure of working for Ross for many years during the 1990’s as NAPCO’s first property planning officer and Ross was instrumental in shaping much of my career. Ross’ good humour, fairness and ability to remember ever detail of station life and activity, and his keen sense of direction was quite extraordinary. There were many a good year spent in the old Mary Street office in Brisbane, complete with the slowest lift in Australia I think. Ross’s ability to make everyone comfortable and feel part of the broader NAPCO family was the mark of a true gentleman. He will be sadly missed by station managers, NAPCO staff, past and present and many throughout the pastoral industry. I look back fondly on a wonderful time under the direction and guidance of a great man.
    Mark Ritchie

  5. Noel Haug, 26/06/2018

    What a wonderful tribute to Ross and his steadfast influence on a venerable pastoral company and its people.

    I had the privilege of spending a little time with Ross in recent weeks and despite his illness and awareness of its outcome, his recollections, anecdotes and interest in people were undiminished. He continued to make new friends at his recent home at The Village.

    I know he was endeavouring to make arrangements to write a memoir which I hope will be completed to show more light on the life and times of a true gentleman.

    Noel Haug

  6. Lee McNicholl, 26/06/2018

    Alexandria’s transition from a primitive open range cattle harvesting operation started in 1972 with a BTEC weaner segregation and testing programme which was based on a progressive fencing, watering and yard building programme, achieving clean status in 1988 as I recall. Being responsible for that mammoth programme across all the NAPCO properties during that 17 year period gave me the great privilege of getting to know Ross from 1977 onwards. He was a forward thinker and took NAPCO to the next level while getting the best out of people he worked with along the way. His engaging smile and wry sense of humour, at its best after a few drinks at Alex after a managerial inspection, is one of my enduring memories of a great contributor to the modernisation of the northern Australian cattle industry.

  7. Ross Peatling, 26/06/2018

    Ross Brunckhorst (Bronco) appointed me as manager of Napco’s Alexandria Station in the NT in January 1991. He was instrumental in putting Napco where it is today, as a leading cattle company. Bronco will be remembered by me as a mentor and friend. A great man.

  8. richard Ham, 25/06/2018

    I wonder if Ross was related to Mac Brunckhorst, also from rural Queensland, who was Managing Director of the ANZ Bank in the 1970s (at the time of the formation of the Primary Industry Bank of Australia Ltd (PIBA))?

  9. Simon Winter, 25/06/2018

    It was my great pleasure to work with Ross to conclude BTEC (known as TFAP- the Tuberculosis Freedom Assurance Program). Ross’s understated nature and friendliness did not reduce his ability to ensure the best outcomes were delivered for industry. Many fond memories from that time.

  10. Dennis Scanlon., 25/06/2018

    A trail-blazer, lateral and forward thinker, totally genuine and supportive of all whom he saw to be ‘doing good’ for our great Pastoral Industry – and a humble, charitable and greatly respected human being.

    Ross will be so long remembered, by so many people, with whom he shared his lovely smile and his always positive outlook.

  11. Tony Gleeson, 25/06/2018

    I had the pleasure of working with Ross in the 1990s when he was a member of the Meat Research Corporation Northern Australia Research Advisory Committee.
    The Committee and I benefited greatly from his contribution. A true gentleman.
    Tony Gleeson

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