Beef2024 saw almost 120,000 people gather in Rockhampton, Qld, for this triennial celebration of the nation’s cattle industry.

Story + Photos Mark Muller

Ollie Lloyd-Jones from Downlands College in Toowoomba, Qld, is standing in the cattle sheds out the back of Beef2024 with a quiet smile on his face and 18-month-old Angus bull Fair & Square by his side. Two days earlier Ollie was fifth out of 250 in a prime stud judging competition and, without skiting, he’s happy about it. Ollie has travelled to Rockhampton with 14 other students from the school’s cattle team to help show Angus from the Exton stud outside Toowoomba. The 17-year-old is excited by the prospect of a career in agriculture and says Beef2024 is an inspiring thing to be a part of. “It’s my first time at Beef, and it’s great,” he says. “It opens up your perspective on how people present animals and how many pathways there are into the industry – everyone’s really encouraging.”

Also working in the cattle sheds and the centre ring is the NSW RAS’s 2024 Rural Achiever Grace Collins (p18). Grace is a few years further along her career path than Ollie and is a prime example of how involvement with both the sector and the event side of the industry yields valuable experience. Grace is working with a team of fitters looking after 17 head across 3 breeds of cattle from several studs to prepare and show them during the week, and she is also judging in the Hereford section. “I’ve always wanted to come to Beef – it’s the ultimate agricultural experience as far as the national cattle sector is concerned,” she says. “You meet people from all over and can learn a lot from them in a relatively short period of time.”

One of the overarching impressions of Beef2024 is that it is very much a distillation of a larger community, and that it provides a hub for that community to congregate and share knowledge. Cattle companies, studs, breed societies, tech companies, banks, schools and universities, artists, craftspeople, machinery dealers and industry bodies from across the country are among those at the event. Whether informally wandering and watching, or attending any of the numerous organised breakfasts, lunches, dinners, lectures, concerts, talks and information sessions, there is much on offer, and much to celebrate.

All up, almost 120,000 people came through the gates during May 5–11, including 617 international delegates from 35 countries, and more than 5000 schoolchildren. Around 12,500 ticketed meals were served at the various dining sessions and 1,300 head of cattle from across 28 breeds exhibited in the centre ring, with more than 1,600 head sold for a total value of more than $3.9 million during the Sale of Champions.

This story excerpt is from Issue #155

Outback Magazine: June/July 2024