By Leigh Pritchard
Grafton became the venue for a rural reunion yesterday as beef producers and auctioneers flocked to the city for Elders Moy and Darby's 40th annual store cattle sale.
They converged on the Grafton Livestock Selling Centre to sell and buy cattle and renew friendships.
Elders, Moy and Darby made the 40th annual sale a special occasion by enticing cattlemen from throughout Eastern Australia.
Elders branch manager John Pankhurst said more than 500 people attended, including buyers from Queensland and Victoria.
Some producers who had attended the first sale all those 40 years ago were there, along with former staff of Moy and Darby. As many as 200 head of cattle went under the hammer.
At 10.30am the co-founder of Moy and Darby, Mick Moy with his former staff Kevin Mulligan and Rex Thompson, sold the first yard of charolais bullocks for $1050 per head.
Co-founder Brian Darby joked if Mr Moy continued to sell as well, he could stay on to auctioneer the rest of the sale.
Before the sale began Mr Darby spoke about the foundation of the company and its progress over the 40 years.
Mr Pankhurst said: "I was very moved by the support shown by long-term vendors". "I am particularly pleased with the quality and condition of the cattle."
Alex Llewellyn, of Barretts Creek, said he and his brother Ron had been to every annual sale, except for one during a flood.
"It has changed, but in ways it is the same," Mr Llewellyn said.
"It is just as tough as it was years ago, but the prices are better."
He said 40 years ago he sold 50 head of hereford cattle at the sale and was there to sell the same at this sale.
Mr Llewellyn said he only sold cattle at the Grafton Livestock Selling Centre and he enjoyed the social aspect of the sales.
"There are people here who I only get to see once or twice a year, but a lot of them have been going here for years," Mr Llewellyn said.
One of the original vendors at the first sale, Malcolm Tym, said three generations of family were at the sale yesterday.
Mick Moy has sold hundreds of Mr Tym's cattle over the years.
His daughter Bronwyn Macrae said she remembered coming to the sale when she was very young, before the cover was put over the saleyard.
"I loved the atmosphere and all the colourful characters," she said.
"They were all happy to speak to me."
Mr Pankhurst said he was looking forward to the 50 year anniversary.