The young manager of CPC’s Bunda and Kirkimbie stations, James Beale, is earning wide respect across the Top End.

Story + Photos Ken Eastwood

When James Beale was just 22 years of age, he was appointed manager of CPC’s Kirkimbie station in the north-west of the Northern Territory. Some 2300 square kilometres in size, it carries about 11,000 head of cattle. 

Being so young, Jimmy not surprisingly faced a bit of resistance from some of the older blokes who’d been working there, and some of them moved on. But five years down the track, Jimmy certainly holds no grudges. Instead, he maturely and humbly says, “It was probably me learning to deal with them, I think”.

Now 27, Jimmy is not only in charge of Kirkimbie, but also the adjoining 1788sq km Bunda station, which CPC bought in 2015. Throughout the Top End he’s gaining a reputation as a high-achieving station manager: dynamic, ferociously smart, unwaveringly calm and hardworking. He pilots aeroplanes and helicopters as needed, and rarely seems stumped by anything. In 2017 he and his partner Shannon Chatfield won CPC’s Station of the Year award. 

“I’ve never ever seen him stressed out,” says Shannon, 25, who met him on Kirkimbie five years ago. “And he’s the smartest person I know.”

“I’ve worked with Jimmy for about the past three years,” says CPC’s chief executive officer Troy Setter. “He’s a very valuable member of our team, and he’s very innovative. He’s one of our younger managers but certainly has significant maturity and experience compared to many peers of his age. He’s a good leader – he’s developed some good head stockmen and some of his team have been promoted to other positions, which is a sign of a good leader. He’s also a good thinker and challenges the status quo.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #120

Outback Magazine: August/September 2018