On The Land

15 October, 2023

Legendary auctioneer makes last call at sales

AS the first port of call for anything cattle-related, there are not too many people on the Tablelands who do not know Mark Peters.

By Ellie Fink

Mark Peters was an icon in the Mareeba Salesyard and has now retired after over 30 years with Elders and 40 years working in livestock.
Mark Peters was an icon in the Mareeba Salesyard and has now retired after over 30 years with Elders and 40 years working in livestock.

After more than 30 years with Elders, the Mareeba branch manager has finally hung up his trademark hat and pink shirt, put his house on the market and is preparing to purchase a gooseneck trailer to travel with his wife, Jane.

Starting out as a carpenter, Mark spent his early days chasing work in a struggling industry during the 80s before finding his passion for the livestock industry.

He then moved on to be a salesperson in the horticultural industry, where he would “pull up the white socks, shorts and slippers and off you went to work”.

After completing a stint at the mines, Mark returned to Mareeba where he began working for Alan McKenzie at Primac and also his career in livestock.

“He said to me, ‘did you want to do some relief work for me?’ and I said, ‘yeah, why not?’ and then he asked me if I would be interested in a full-time job, so I did,” he said. 

“That was in ‘87, and as time went on, I progressed … in the first couple of months of my employment, I got pranged off me horse and broke my collarbone.

“Alan wasn’t particularly happy that he had a wounded soldier wandering around, but anyway, we all got over that.”

After a few years, the Primac regional manager at the time reached out to Mark, offering him a job managing livestock in Hughenden.

Being young and adventurous, Mark accepted and spent from 1989 to 1991 in the woolsheds out west. 

At the time, the wool industry was in disarray, with Mark describing it as “absolutely diabolical”.

“It was a pretty tough period because the whole industry was in disarray as they had a set full price for wool,” he said.

“It meant sometimes, it (wool) could be sitting there for a long, long period of time, and as the stockpiles got bigger, it seemed to get worse.

“The sheep had to be destroyed because they just couldn’t sustain it, and it was a horrible thing I had to do … it was probably the last job I did before I left Richmond.” 

When a position became available in Mareeba again, Mark jumped on it, kick-starting his career as an auctioneer and branch manager, where he stayed until last month. 

“There was an opportunity to come back and to do something that I would have liked to do anyway,” he said.

“I had always wanted to be a livestock auctioneer and a salesperson in the livestock field, and that is what happened. I came back (to Mareeba) and kicked into gear, and at the time, the position of branch manager came up.”

Throughout his time at Primac, now Elders, Mark saw many changes, many highs and many lows, which made the industry one he loved.

He spent hours on the phone, helping farmers with their stock, helping sell cattle, whether that be privately or in auction, or having a good laugh. 

He established relationships with hundreds of people, including two of the biggest show societies in the region – the Cairns and Innisfail shows.

Mark said it was hard work, but the hard work paid off, and he has many happy memories of his time on the catwalk he will carry with him for the rest of his life. 

One of the biggest changes he saw was in 2004, when the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) was established, bringing the industry into a new era of technology. 

“That’s when we changed from the old wraparound tail tag to identify what property cattle come from,” he said.

“That was a big change in itself … to … become more electronic and find a different way to do things while still selling cattle at the end of the day.”

Handing over his phone and his keys, Mark has passed the reins onto the next generation at Elders and is ready to sit back and relax. 

Any of Mark’s clients can still call the number and get in contact with a member of the Elders team, who he believes will do a great job.

Now using up his remaining annual leave and long service leave before he is officially retired early next year, Mark is off on an adventure and ready to see what the next chapter of his life brings him. 


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