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The quiet passing of admired cattleman and industry leader John Underwood AM, has left heavy hearts but a significant legacy across the NT and northern cattle industry and community.
Aged 77, John Underwood went to rest in Darwin on Friday 16th March during the portentous quiet before Cyclone Marcus put an exclamation mark on a life lived with similar dynamism.
In acknowledging Mr. Underwood’s immense legacy to industry, NTCA President Tom Stockwell recalled, “For more than 50 years John Underwood has been a central pillar of the Territory cattle industry, contributing at all levels from the development of Riveren Station in the VRD from scratch, through to representing the NT at the national level.”
In 1998 he was awarded in Queen’s Birthday Honours Member of Order of Australia in the General Division for service to primary industry, particularly the cattle industry, and to the community.
A Founding and Life Member of the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association, John Underwood was the inaugural Chair of the Katherine Branch and NTCA President from 1990-93. He represented Territory interests at both National Farmers’ Federation and Cattle Council of Australia.
In presenting the life membership in 2010, Ken Warriner said: “On behalf of NTCA, I salute inveterate cattleman John Underwood for his exceptional family contribution and personal dedication and leadership.”
He contributed and led across the spectrum of the pastoral and NT community. Whether it was research, education, bushfires, land management or racing, John was committed.
He was an inaugural member of the Kidman Springs Advisory Committee during the 80s and the first Chairman of Katherine Pastoral Industry Advisory Committee, Chair of the Katherine Rural College, and member of Landcare and Bushfire committees. John cut his teeth as President of the Kimberley Goldfields Amateur Jockey Club from 1966-69.
A stalwart of the introduction of Brahman genetics into NT herds, he represented the NT on the Australian Brahman Breeders Association.
Apart from all the industry related contributions, the Underwoods were pivotal to bringing the Katherine pastoral families together through their long time support of the Katherine School of the Air.
Despite how busy John was and how many important roles he was carrying out, at home and away, he always had time for a yarn and a smile for the shy bush kids from all over the region as they gathered at school functions.
“John’s selfless contributions from the family property through to the national industry started with a 600km drive to Katherine. His commitment to family and community is a lesson and legacy for us all”, Mr Stockwell said.
The celebration of his life will take place at St Mary’s Cathedral Darwin on Thursday 22nd March 2018 at 2.30pm. A private burial will take place in Perth on Monday 26th March 2018.