John takes stock of 50 years

Local stock and station agent John Mooney clocked up 50 years in the stock and station business yesterday (Monday), doing what he knows best: selling livestock at the Cooma sale yards.

Mr Mooney has seen the boom and bust cycles repeated on the Monaro many times during his long career as a stock and station agent.

"It's been a time of highs and lows for me and the rural industry," Mr Mooney said.

"Prices never stay down or up forever and the seasonal conditions are the same.

"The boom years of 1988 - 1990 with high wool and Merino markets and then in 2010 and 2011 were the best two years for sheep and lambs that I have experienced, selling to $200 a head.

"But I have crossed a few dry gullies as well. I experienced the 1965 to 1966 drought in Nyngan, the cattle crash of 1974 - 1976, and the big drought of 1979 - 1983, in particular 1982.

"In 1991 we were shooting sheep and giving them away for nothing and twenty years later similar sheep realised $150 a head. The 1990s were tough years with recession, dry times and falling livestock and property values."

Mr Mooney reckons tough times toughen agents up and make them wiser and better able to deal with what the future brings.

Mr Mooney said he has always enjoyed his career and it has never seemed like work.

"I started out as a stock and station agent with A.M.L. & F. Cooma with Jim Quodling, on December 17, 1962," Mr Mooney said.

"Jim Quodling was my first mentor."

Mr Mooney spent the next seven years with A.M.L. & F. working in Orange, Nyngan, Cowra, Gunra and Forbes.

"I was trained in all aspects of the business and gained experience in book keeping, merchandise, insurance, livestock and auctioneering.

"It certainly doesn't seem like 50 years ago when I walked into A.M.L. & F. in Cooma at 9am and was handed a broom by Jim Quodling to sweep the footpath," Mr Mooney said.

"Jim was a great boss and so was Frank Montague.

"I returned to Cooma as an agent with Pitt Son & Montague in 1970 and became manager of Pitt Son's in 1976 when Frank moved to Canberra."

In 1983, the firm became Elders Pitt Son, AML which Mr Mooney managed and set up the new business in Massie Street where Elders is today.

He opened his own business, John Mooney & Co, in 1986 as a stock and station agent, real estate agent and registered valuer.

"I enjoy the variety, the outdoors and fresh air and the contact with people. No two days are the same.

"I have many long time and lasting friendships with clients, buyers and agents alike.

"I am also fortunate to have loyal clients who have trusted me with their business for more than 40 years in Cooma."

A true local, Mr Mooney is a fourth generation Mooney on the Monaro in the rural industry.

His family on his mother's side settled on the Monaro in the 1830s at Rock Flat at 'The Springs' where they farmed for more than 100 years until 1963 when it was sold to the Haylock family.

The Mooneys on his fathers side came here in 1850.

Mr Mooney was born in Cooma and went to school at Saint Patricks Parish School and later Monaro High.

Monday December 17 marks Mr Mooney's 50 years in the stock and station industry including 44 years in Cooma. He acknowledged the support of his wife Gaie and family [of four boys and a daughter] over the years, putting up with the endless phone calls through the night.

Former Associated Agents president Graeme Boller said he started in the business in the 1970s under John Mooney.

"He was a good boss and a mentor. He has really good ethics and morals and really upholds the standards in the industry," Mr Boller said.

Mr Mooney said it is great to see the Monaro looking so good at the moment after two outstanding seasons following so many dry years.

"The Merino sheep and cattle on the Monaro are as good as any in the state and it is satisfying to have people locally and away wanting to secure them.

"There is a lot of substance in the words 'Monaro bred'," Mr Mooney said.

"A lot of water has passed under the bridge and we've seen a lot of agents come and go over the years on the Monaro. But I have always been here for the long haul and will continue until the concrete at the saleyard gets too hard."

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