Central Australia's beef industry has lost one of its icons with the passing last Friday of fourth-generation pastoralist Jimmy Hayes.
The 76-year-old has left a lasting legacy at Undoolya Station, near Alice Springs, where he spent much of his life as well as in the inherited passion his family has for the beef industry and the red dirt country.
The Hayes family are synonymous with Central Australia first coming to the area in 1884 and buying Undoolya in 1907.
Jimmy's childhood was spent on Undoolya and after leaving school he worked for his parents Ted and Jean there.
He often spent weeks at a time out mustering on horseback, in those days it was a week-long train trip to truck their cattle south to Gepps Cross.
In 1965 he married his school sweetheart Gail Ride.
The couple had four children; Richie, Andy, Jayne and Ben.
They continued to develop Undoolya and in 1995 the family purchased the neighbouring station, The Garden.
Ben says his father was a forward-thinking man who was quick-witted.
"He loved to play practical jokes especially on the young kids," he said.
Jimmy was proud of the family's history but always had innovative ideas from growing lucerne in the 1970s, to chairing the Centralian Beef Producers Consortium which planned to export boxed beef to Indonesia in the late 1990s.
Another idea he had to drought proof the station was diversifying into table grapes.
In 2002 the family planted 160 acres at, Rocky Hill, a freehold block in the middle of Undoolya.
Jimmy met royalty when Princess Anne made a visit to Undoolya in 1975 and he rubbed shoulders with celebrities such as Tom Selleck, but Ben says it was his family who were everything to him
As well as their four children Jimmy and Gail have 13 grand children and nine great grandchildren.
"He wasn't really one for the limelight but if he had to he could talk to anyone about anything," Ben said.
"The only thing he didn't like was a drunk person spluttering all over the place and he didn't like men swearing when women were around."
Poll Herefords were another of Jimmy's great passions and he remained loyal to the breed for the doing ability of the cattle.
In 1946 Jimmy's grandfather imported five cows and a bull from New Zealand and over the years Jimmy continued to improve the herd with bulls from SA, Vic and NSW studs.
"He (Jimmy) always said good bulls breed good calves so don't ever be afraid to spend the money on them," Ben said.
Allendale stud's Graham Day, Bordertown, remembers the Hayes family first buying Poll Hereford bulls from them in the 1950s when they were still based at Alma in the Lower North.
He described Jimmy as a "wonderful man" who was always welcoming of anyone from the beef industry.
Jimmy was a great character to deal with, always having a bit of fun and along with Gail gave great hospitality at Undoolya.- DOC CUNNINGHAM
"The Hayes family have been wonderful for the cattle industry around Alice Springs, such lovely, friendly people with a beautiful station," he said.
Retired stock agent Doc Cunningham, who now lives in Strathalbyn but spent decades in Alice Springs, says Jimmy was a "good cattleman who had a respected association with the northern cattle industry".
"The quality of the Undoolya Hereford herd goes back a long way and to Jimmy's credit with a good eye for good bulls he has kept that quality to a high standard," he said.
"Jimmy was a great character to deal with, always having a bit of fun and along with Gail gave great hospitality at Undoolya."
Jimmy generously gave his time to many industry and community groups. He was a founding member of the Bushfires Council and on the NT Pastoral Land board.
He was patron of the Central Australian Show Society and in 2019 was made a life member of the Northern Territory Cattleman's Association.
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