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8 May, 2022

Half a century behind the knife

AFTER half a century behind the butcher’s knife, local Mareeba butcher Phillip Cleall refuses to take a step back as he continues to serve his loyal customers at the age of 82.

By Rhys Thomas

Phillip Cleall has been working as a butcher his whole life and even at the age of 82, doesn’t see an end to his work yet.

AFTER half a century behind the butcher’s knife, local Mareeba butcher Phillip Cleall refuses to take a step back as he continues to serve his loyal customers at the age of 82.

Phillip has been sharpening his butchering craft since he was 14 years old, working across Queensland in the meat industry in a range of different butcheries, shops and meatworks.

Butchering hasn’t been the only work Phillip has seen during his life as he spent a season cutting cane by hand and working on a cane harvester.

He also raised his own cattle on a Julatten station before opting for a change and switching to his current Chewko station.

Phillip stamped his name on Clealls Butchery in Byrnes Street in 1978 after buying the shop off Smorgans, a Melbourne-based company that owned a bacon factory and two butcheries in town.

“It was a fairly big step for me to open my own shop, at the time this was a very busy town – it was a good meat town,” he said.

“I’ve seen people come in here when they were kids, now they’re bringing their kids in.”

Despite turning 83 in August, Phillip remains in his shop working 12-hour days from 6am to 6pm, day in day out.

The first face you see when entering Clealls Butchery is none other than the man himself, ready to help you find the best cut of meat for what you need.

Phillip plans to remain in the shop toiling away for as long as he can, saying the only reason he would take a break would be due to his health.

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