Wetherby Station, the home of Wetherby Brangus was established when the current homestead was built in 1878, making it one of the oldest in the Mareeba district of Far North Queensland.
Current Owners - John and Kathleen Colless
John and Kathleen purchased Wetherby in 2006 and initially bred commercial Droughtmaster cattle, which they ran in conjunction with their ecotourism business. Then, in December 2014, the decision was made to move to breeding stud and commercial Brangus. Embracing Brangus was made relatively easy due to the stud and grass fattener market demand for the breed.
The foundation Wetherby Brangus herd sire was selected and purchased from Telpara Hills Brangus stud, in the form of Telpara Hills Conroe 541D14. He has been used over Wetherby Brangus stud females, as well as Droughtmasters to produce great F1 first cross steers and replacement heifers. The F1s find a ready market with butchers and feed lot and grass fatteners.
The stud was established utilising the very best American and Australian Brangus genetics available, which have been developed by the Pearce family’s Telpara Hills stud at Atherton.
Elite, Embryo Transfer (ET) females selected were:
• Telpara Hills Ms Blanda 468J6 • Telpara Hills Ms Thurston 541J48 • Telpara Hills Ms Houston 541K13 • Telpara Hills Ms Gladstone 145J
A successful ET program has been undertaken with Dr Ced Wise and his wife Rowena. By utilising these females genes, matched to the top, available international AI sires- Csonka, TH Real McCoy, TH Van Damme, and other sires Wetherby Brangus has achieved a great start with excellent calves on the ground.
State of the art breeding tools have been adopted in the form of ET (Embryo Transfer), FTAI (Fixed Time Artificial Insemination), EBVs (Estimated Breeding Values), US (Ultrasound)- for pregnancy testing and foetal aging.
Looking to the future, the breeding objectives at Wetherby Brangus will be to select the best available Brangus genetics to improve and stabilise the stud, to cull as necessary so as to be able to provide proven, sound and elite bulls and females to stud and commercial breeders.
Original Wetherby owners – William and Elizabeth Groves
Originally known as “Weatherboards”, due to its design and building materials utilised, the Wetherby homestead was built by George and Elizabeth Groves for their family of 10 children.
Located directly on the iconic “Bump Track”, it was the only access road/track to the Hodgkinson gold fields en route from the port of entry - Port Douglas. Many travellers, gold seekers and coaches made for “Weatherboards” for accommodation and food.
Maurice and Elizabeth de Tournouer
The property was run as a cattle breeding enterprise, including the period of the Cattle Tick outbreak of 1896-97, up until 1935 when the two surviving spinster Groves sisters sold out to Maurice de Tournouer and his wife Elizabeth.
Maurice established one of the two foundation Brahman studs (Stud number 2) as Wetherby Brahman Stud in 1940, in conjunction with Ken Atkinson of Wairuna Stud (Stud number 1)
“Weatherboards” was bought in 1935 by Maurice de Tournouer, who was one of the founders of Australian Zebu Association in 1946 – the forerunner of the Australian Brahman Breeders Association (ABBA). The property name was changed to Wetherby because Weatherboards was not considered appropriate for a stud, so it became Wetherby - Brahman Stud No 2.
Mr de Tournouer and associates started their studs with Zebu bulls when they realised that traditional British breeds were unable to withstand the ravages of northern Australia’s cattle ticks, tick fever and drought.
By breeding Brahmans, Maurice de Tournouer also became a contributor to the gene pool which helped in the development of the Brangus, Droughtmaster and other bos indicus based breeds.
In the 1940’s, a purebred Brahman from Wetherby Station was put with Robert Rea’s Kirknie herd at Home Hill. Rea was developing a herd suitable for the Queensland environment, in tandem with the pioneering Droughtmaster breeding program with Atkinson at his Mt Garnet Property. Rea started with a red half-bred bull from St. Lawrence followed by the purebred Brahman from the then Wetherby Stud.
Wetherby was run as a commercial cattle breeding operation up until 2006, after the station and the stud Brahman herd were sold by de Tournouer in 1960, following the tragic, accidental deaths of his two sons John and Maurice. .