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John Gilfoyle p1

Readersvoice.com aims to collect a few interesting reading tips. Author John Gilfoyle worked as a stock agent in the Queensland cattle industry for many years. His books are an interesting and entertaining history of the industry, full of colorful anecdotes. Titles include And They Came to the Roma Salesyards!, Bloody Agents! and Bloody Jackaroos!. His latest book is a collection of bush yarns called You'd Better Bloody Believe It!.

In this interview John Gilfoyle gives an overview of life in the cattle industry, in the past and today. He talks about his life as an agent. Agents arrange the sale of stock from cattle stations to meatworks or to other stations. He starts by recommending a couple of his favorite books, and explains how he researched and gathered material for some of his own books.
Visit johngilfoyle.com.

READERSVOICE.COM: Could you list some of your favorite books of all time?

JOHN GILFOYLE: Over the Top with Jim by Hugh Lunn and Complete Book of Aussie Yarns by Mike Hayes.

RV: How long have you been working on your current project, your book of yarns?

JG: Three months; it will take another two to three months to be ready for the printer.

RV: Where did you get the stories from?

JG: The book is being done with John Robbins. So far, most of the stories are ours – that is, his stories and my stories. Then we have stories about street kids in Manila from Br Paul Murphy (whose charity will benefit from sales of the book), then there are stories from different people we know.

RV: How did you research And They Came to the Roma Saleyards! and get photos?

JG: I worked at Roma Saleyards for 17 years and was the Market Reporter there from 2000 to 2007. As the market reporter I took as many as 10 photos every sale (Roma sells twice a week) and distributed these to six to eight different newspapers in places like Charleville, Roma, Toowoomba etc as well as the Rural Weekly and Qld Country Life. I also met hundreds of visitors, thousands of cattlemen and agents. To do the book I used some of the photos and interviewed a cross section of all those who go there – truckies, tourists, buyers, agents etc.

RV: Can you describe what a jackaroo is, and how you got a job as a jackaroo?

JG: I wanted to be an agent but I was nearly 21. The agents could get 16-year-olds to train so they didn’t want someone like me who was untrained and whom they would have to pay adult wages. So I went jackarooing to learn skills they would be interested in. In those days, a jackaroo was an “apprentice station manager” and the idea was you were taught how to do all that was necessary to run and maintain a property. The “lucky” ones married the boss’s daughter.

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-copyright Simon Sandall