Well-known horseman Kevin Mulligan.
Well-known horseman Kevin Mulligan. Contributed

Moy & Darby turns 50

FEBRUARY 14, 1966 was a significant day in Australia's history. The introduction of decimal currency was a major milestone. The day also marked the commencement of a fledgling stock and station agency business which was to operate for the next 30 years.

Under the banner of Moy & Darby Pty Ltd, a band of young men, led by Michael Joseph Moy in Grafton staged their inaugural sale at the resurrected "Bostobrick" saleyards on the property of the late Jack Gilbert.

Records will show that Mick Moy, Brian Darby and John Muldoon had until then been conducting the agency business for Dalgety's at Grafton and Dorrigo. Allan Turner was recruited from a local Dorrigo business and was to become a vital part of the Dorrigo operation, adaptable to all areas of the business, apart from auctioneering.

Mick Moy and Brian Darby.
Mick Moy and Brian Darby. Contributed

The rural scene had been, for an extended period suffering drought but with this memorable advent came the rain, and a significant appreciation in values. Times were good and in the ensuring few years the new company extended its interests into Casino, Coffs Harbour, Macksville, Ebor and Guyra. Notably, Ebor became a major selling centre and with the advent of fertiliser was to become recognised as one of the major fat cattle centres in the state.

Bloat was a major problem and in endeavours to avoid losses, sheep were introduced, in the form of crossbred ewes producing fat lambs. Sheep yards were built at Ebor adjacent to the cattle yards and regular sales of fat lambs were conducted. The bloat problem to some extent was solved with the introduction of bloat-free pastures, and the lamb sales were short lived. Many local producers did however retain their interest in breeding lambs with most sold in Brisbane and regularly topping the market.

Grafton hosted regular weekly fat cattle sales and monthly store cattle sales. Annual store cattle sales were a feature with the week commencing with the pig and calf sale on Monday, the regular fat cattle sale on Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday comprising of up to 4000 mixed store cattle.

Well-known horseman Kevin Mulligan returned from the north to take up the position of manager of the newly acquired Bellingen branch and new saleyards were built at Raleigh with regular sales conducted, yarding up to 500 head. Gordon Weick was the auctioneer and with an office girl they were a formidable team.

With the opening of the Guyra branch, Kevin Mulligan transferred to Guyra and, ably assisted by local beef breeder Aubrey Newberry, conducted a strong and successful business for many years.

Moy & Darby in the space of seven years had unbelievable success and was recognised as the leading private stock agents in NSW.

Brain and Laurie Darby, Dorrigo Saleyards.
Brain and Laurie Darby, Dorrigo Saleyards. Contributed

It would be an injustice if mention was not made of Mary Kell. Mary controlled the engine room at Dorrigo with remarkable efficiency. She played a major role.

The opening of a branch at Macksville became the responsibility of Edward (Ted) Alderman and while the venture was very successful, the viability was, as with the entire industry, in tatters with the major beef recession which commenced in 1973. Only those involved that lived through that recession could understand. Many did not survive, and that applied to a considerable number of stock and station agencies.

Survival of this still-young company was largely in the hands of the accountant, John Muldoon. At that time he was spending a large amount of time in the bank manager's office, struggling to keep the company afloat. He was successful but the effort came at a huge cost. His health was affected, the scars of which remain today.

In the space of four years Moy & Darby interests were reduced from a little empire to the original two branches at Grafton and Dorrigo.

As in all spheres of life, there are good and bad times and from 1973 to 1982 it was survival of the fittest.

In 1984 Mick Moy handed the reins to John Pankhurst and entered semi-retirement. John quickly adapted and relished the added decision making and responsibility.

The years to follow seasonally were no exception and Moy & Darby was to remain in business until 1997, when with no interested siblings wishing to take the reins, the decision to sell the business became reality.

Primac Elders purchased the business with Brian Darby remaining at Dorrigo and John Pankhurst at the helm in Grafton, both managing for the new owners. Both remained until 2007, when Brian Darby retired to his North Dorrigo property and John Pankhurst transferred his interests to real estate.

The success of the company is indebted to many, no more so than Mick Moy who passed away in September 2008 at age 83.

Other major contributors were Brian Darby, Allan Turner, John Pankhurst, John Muldoon, Bill Ditchfield, John Moy, Ted Alderman, Kevin Mulligan, Dick Freeman and Aub Newberry. Not forgetting the women behind the scenes that sacrificed much more than anyone knows.

The ringmen and yardmen were unique, it was as if they had their own money invested, so much was their dedication. Involved were Kevin Mulligan, Boxer Walters, Rex Thompson, Eric Collins and many others. The contribution, in later years, from Robert Thompson was significant. John Moy, brother to Mick, played a major part as his all-round ability was significant.

The real estate component was a major factor in the success and it would be fair to say that Moy & Darby featured in many of the major sales in the state.

Over the years Grafton's duties were shared by Jim Muldoon and Stan Pitkin and the success is indicative of the dedication of both these men and their loyal staff.

Real estate in Dorrigo was the duty of Allan Turner, who had tremendous support from Bill Ditchfield who in the opinion of many, had the broadest experience of agents in the real estate industry. He served the company with distinction from 1985 to 1995.

From the Grafton branch, Mick Moy and Kevin Mulligan are no longer with us. Mick's wife Pat is in an aged-care unit on the Gold Coast.

John and Pat Muldoon, John and Lyn Pankhurst, Ted and Denise Alderman are all now located in Queensland. Kevin Mulligan's wife Marie remains on the property at Coutts Crossing. Allan Turner and his wife Gwenda are in Dorrigo, as are Brian and Laurie Darby. Dick Freeman passed away some years ago, as did Aubrey Newberry. Aub's wife Phyllis remains on the property at Guyra.

The changes in 50 years are extraordinary but the success of the agency industry remains the same.

It has been a remarkable journey; it has been hard, it has been cruel but it has been rewarding.



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