10 May 2023

Tributes flow for respected Cape York cattleman

| Troy Rowling
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FRIENDS and employees of Cape York beef industry icon D’Arcy Byrnes remember the pioneering cattleman as a generous gentleman of the bush.

The Byrnes Quality Meats patriarch passed away peacefully last week on his 84th birthday.

Beginning in 1960 with a small butcher shop at Atherton, Mr Byrnes built a million-acre beef empire that included three stations around Coen, two Cairns-based butcher shops, an abattoir at Tolga and cattle-fattening blocks on the Tablelands.

Cattleman Matt Jorgensen, who spent more than a decade contract mustering across the Byrnes properties, said workers were amazed at Mr Byrnes’ workload and stamina well into his senior years.

He said Mr Byrnes was still seen working at the properties, even after breaking his leg.

“He was a good boss and he led by example,” Mr Jorgensen said.

“He had his finger on the pulse of everything happening in the Cape and was up to date with all the latest developments in the beef industry.

“He never lost his enthusiasm, never tired in his work and was a real inspiration for all the younger generations across the region.”

Former employee Louise Price grew up on nearby Southwell Station, which her family have operated for more than three decades.

She said the Byrnes’ properties became a reliable source of employment for many families in the Cape, with her own employment for Mr Byrnes beginning when she was just out of high school.

Ms Price said the kindness and encouragement towards young beef industry up-and-comers inspired strong loyalty among workers.

She said she had such affection for Mr Byrnes’ management style that she convinced all four of her sisters to also work at his properties at various times.

“He loved to see young people come into the beef industry,” she said.

“He always took the time to ask them where they were from, what their interests were and gave well-worn advice about cattle work that only an old hand can share.

“He took a real joy in encouraging the next generation to work hard and appreciate the northern beef industry.”

Ms Price said while Mr Byrnes was one of the hardest workers she had ever known, he always took some time out to look over his beloved herd of Grey Brahmans.

“He would stand quietly and just watch the cattle with a look of real peace on his face,” she said.

“He was a true gentleman. I am still thinking about him every day. It’s hard to put it into words, but he is going to be sorely missed. He left a huge mark on our region.”

Mr Byrnes is survived by his wife Raylee, son Victor, daughter Darcia and six grandchildren.

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