Surf and turf centre to life of cattleman
With only a few weeks until Christmas, Northampton cattleman Reg Teakle, who also has a lifetime invested in western rock lobster fishing, has a simple recipe for December 25.
“If so inclined, gents should enjoy a steak on the barbecue and treat their partners to a plate of lobster — it works every time,” he said.
Surf and turf, the iconic meal of steak and seafood, best sums up Mr Teakle’s career, which began in fishing and developed into his role as a Brahman studmaster.
Fishing and farming went well together for Mr Teakle and his wife Carole and their children, Nicholle, Jerome and Timm.
While the couple are in their 38th year of running Oakvale Brahman stud, the boys are now skippering their own cray boats.
While holidaying as a child at Horrocks Beach, the young son of Ern and Beryl Teakle caught the fishing bug early, catching lobsters for his mum to serve up.
Living on his parents’ sheep farm, the young seaward adventurer also enjoyed a good game of tennis and during his teenage years met his soon-to-be bride at a Northampton tournament.
The newlyweds were quick to secure their own farm, buying an 800ha Northampton property in 1969, in which they named Oakvale, as their new home.
“At first we ran Merino sheep but droughts hit us hard,” Mr Teakle said.
Taking advantage of the local opportunity of mixing fishing into the income stream, Mr Teakle bought an A-zone Abrolhos Islands licence to sink pots at North Island.
“To make matters worse, wethers were only selling for around $2 per head. “But our endurance paid off as today a lobster pot licence is worth $70,000 each.”
Mr Teakle decided to switch to a B-zone coastal licence in 1976, at a cost of $36,000 and an increased 90 pots. He benefited in being much closer to his farm work.
“I was fishing off Port Gregory early in the morning and farming in the afternoon.”
A year later, the Teakles decided to introduce Brahman cattle to the property after buying two stud cows and a bull.
“In 1977, we began our Oakvale Brahman stud,” Mr Teakle said.
Mr Teakle’s cattle choice was a bit different to the norm but he knew that Bos Indicus cattle were better adapted to the drier environment of the area.
The Teakles also ordered a new $100,000 boat in 1980, named Nicholle after their daughter.
“The bank manager said it would take me the rest of my career to pay off the loan but I managed to do it in three years with a lot of hard work,” Mr Teakle said.
At least the family were already familiar with the challenges of living off both land and sea.
“We sold bulls at the annual Broome sale for 21 years and after taking down the portable yards, we would all go to the Broome Cup — forgetting all our worries to just enjoy the lifestyle with our pastoral clients and mates,” Mr Teakle said. She was particularly fond of their annual trek to Broome’s big race because her father was the famous Geraldton jockey Lionel Parnan who won several Northampton Cups.
“He would race on the weekend and work for the railroad as his regular job,” Mrs Teakle said.
“Country life was so simple but meaningful back in what I call the old days, when we didn’t have all the luxuries or stresses of today.
“We worked hard, but always had time for a well-spent overseas holiday with the family.”
With the Teakles’ son, Jerome, working as a deckhand, another boat was soon in the planning and at a cost of $840,000, at a time of high 23 per cent interest rates, the risk was huge and lobsters were only worth $10/kg.
But again the investment paid off and an interest rate dropped to 16 per cent just six months later and with good equity in the farm land, the Teakles were soon out of hot water.
With both boys capable skippers, Mr Teakle retired from the boats in 1992 but is still is on the board of both of his son’s businesses and is invested as a major shareholder.
Mr Teakle and Jerome visited China recently to inspect the Geraldton Fishermen’s Co-operative’s bonded warehouse which houses a 20-tonne capacity tank of live lobsters. “GFC’s lobsters are placed in ice slurry to sleep them and 36 hours later after an air flight to China, they are awoken for a swim in the tank,” Mr Teakle said.
“We visited the FishEx — China’s international fishing and seafood expo and were encouraged with the GFC’s Brolos brand topping the popularity list of more than 500 entries from all over the world.
“I think we have the best lobsters in the world.”
With GFC’s Brolos lobster fetching upwards of $70/kg and 6000 tonnes sold to China annually, the Teakles’ hard work over the years has fully materialised, but work towards further turf (cattle) rewards continues.
“Many pastoralists are still in financial difficulty over the decision to ban live exports to Indonesia in 2011,” Mr Teakle said.
“We continue to invest in quality genetics for our 150 breeder herd and at this year’s Fitzroy Crossing Bos Indicus Bull Sale, we bought a top poll grey Brahman bull for $10,000.”
Oakvale also purchased the $8500 top-priced red poll bull at the Barlyne stud, Gayndah, Queensland this year. “The outcross bull is one of the best double-polled Brahman bulls I have seen so far,” Mr Teakle said.
The Teakles, who sell upwards of 60 herd bulls annually, are planning to offer 20 red poll Brahman bulls at the April 12, 2017, Narngulu Invitational Bull Sale.
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