Kalbar comprising 50 square miles (32 000 acres) joins Bendemeer to the west and was purchased by Albert Ernest Burnett (grandfather to John) in June 1931 as drought relief for Mount Douglas and run as an outstation. Twelve years later in 1943, Stephen Burnett (father of John) bought Bendemeer, 12 425 acres. Stephen continued to live and work at Mount Douglas going to Bendemeer only part time until he married Laura Daly in 1948, when Bendemeer became their home base. In the late 1950s Kalbar was transferred to Stephen.
In 1960 Aureate (now known as Miclere) was purchased in Laura’s name. This 10 000 acres of country adjoined Bendemeer on the south east and surrounded the Miclere Gold Fields which operated actively in the depression years and into the late 1950s.
In 1976 Bendemeer Pastoral Company was established and Kalbar was transferred to John and his brother, Ian. John married Jan Nicholson in 1979 and they too made Bendemeer their home. In 1981 in a ballot, Ian and Rhonda drew Barkool, an undeveloped irrigation farm at Emerald. They moved to live there with their family. Jan bought Ian’s half share of Kalbar. Stephen’s death came in 1987 after 4 years of illness.
When mechanical mining became more active in 1989 Miclere was sold and the following year John and Jan diversified into grain production purchasing Yackadoo, 3 900 hectares, as a mixed farming/grazing freehold lease and one of the 15 original Kilcummin ballot blocks put up for selection in 1957. Bendemeer was transferred to John and Jan. After enjoying 42 years living at Bendemeer, Laura moved to live in Clermont in 2000.
After their marriage in 1979, Jan continued teaching, firstly in Clermont then from February, 1982, at Kilcummin. Douglas (1983), Stephen (1986) and Emily (1988) all attended Kilcummin State School before heading to the Rockhampton Grammar School for their secondary education.
Doug studied Agricultural Science (Animal Studies) at the University of Queensland (St Lucia campus) then spent 15 months working and travelling in the UK and Europe. In July 2010 Doug married Amanda Lindeman. Doug and Amanda now manage Bendemeer & Kalbar as well as focussing on the bull breeding enterprise. Amanada continues to maintain her teaching interest by doing supply work at Kilcummin State School.
In 2004, Steve began studying at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) for a Bachelor of Business Management (Marketing). After almost 2 years working in his own marketing company, Australian Marketing Solutions (AMS), Steve returned to the family beef cattle business. In April 2011, Steve married Elizabeth Devenish. Steve and Lizzie manage the Monteagle/Kalang beef cattle enterprise. Additionally Steve manages the Frankfield Stockhorse Stud and Lizzie does part-time consultative work.
After completing her secondary education at the Rockhampton Grammar School, Emily chose to study teaching at QUT Kelvin Grove campus in Brisbane. Graduating as a Primary School Teacher in 2009, Emily continues to work in this field in south-west Queensland.
CATTLE & PROPERTY
To avoid long-term sustenance feeding or agistment during the extended drought of the late 1990s, Jo Jo, a 34 600 hectare property in the Alpha/Springsure area, was purchased in 1997. Jo Jo remains one of the main breeding properties in the Burnett Group, astride the Drummond Range at the headwaters of the Nogoa River catchment.
Monteagle of 36 200 hectares was purchased at auction by John & Jan in 2001. Strategically located to the Burnett family’s Clermont district properties and with Doug, Steve & Emily all showing interest in returning to life on the land once their formal education was completed, the purchase of Monteagle allowed an expansion of breeder numbers.
The sale of the Stanbroke Pastoral Company properties in 2004 provided the opportunity to purchase Frankfield, 68 000 hectares of high quality scrub soils, well suited to grass fattening steers on Buffel pastures at an early age. Frankfield Pastoral Company was established at this time, as a stand alone cattle breeding and fattening business.
In 2008, Kalang, which joins Monteagle along Mistake Creek, was purchased. This has provided greater access to fertile scrub soils along the creek flats and allowed the business to access the European market, through the Monteagle herd. A small area of irrigated pasture will be developed at Kalang to reduce the risk of drier seasons.
The cattle had developed from the Mt Douglas Polled Hereford herd which had been bred by the Burnett family since their move to the Belyando River property in 1927. By the early ‘60s, a fairly even quality of Polled Hereford based cattle had been established. About this time, Brahman bulls were introduced to improve environmental adaptability and to boost bullock weights. The last pure Hereford cow/ Brahman bull herd was phased out in the mid ‘70s. By this time, an even line of Braford cattle had been established. However, by the early 1980s Stephen, John and Ian realised that the herd was not achieving the same rate of improvement as it had done in the previous two decades. John recognised that changes could be made in the business and decided on a list of breeding and management adjustments required for the Bendemeer cattle herd.
A single-sire herd of the best Bendemeer Braford cows was selected and mated to a selected Braford bull. This herd has been used to provide genetic improvement in the base females and a good line of commercial bulls to mate with cross-bred females in the commercial herd. The rest of the original cows were then mated to Brahman bulls to produce ¾ Brahman content progeny with strong hybrid vigour. The females from this cross are mated to Simmental bulls, to again make maximum use of hybrid vigour, increase muscling, while still maintaining fair climate adaptability. These cross-bred heifers are mated back to the homebred Braford bulls. This program meant that now there were four separate breeding herds to manage, but has also shown improved growth rates, more marketing choices, and has provided the ‘horsepower’ for the expansion of the Burnett Group cattle business. The breeding herds at Bendemeer, Jo Jo, and Monteagle are all established on the same breeding principles but with genetics from other breeds included where appropriate.
Today, Bendemeer remains the administrative centre of the Burnett Group family business. Despite the droughts, bushfires and floods that continue to challenge us as they did our forebears, we firmly believe that the greatest threat to the future prosperity and productivity of our great country is government interference and incompetence. Bureaucracy threatens to choke enterprise and initiative, while allowing the destruction of vast areas of Australia’s agricultural lands for the short term benefits from mining.
"I worked with the Burnett Group for over 5 years and can not speak highly enough of the support and guidance that I received in this time. I was initially employed as a Stationhand, however then moved into the Headstockman position at Frankfield. My partner Holly and I were sad to leave, but we have left with a great memories and the knowledge to pursue other interests in the beef cattle industry."