A GOLDFIELDS grazier and livestock transport company founder best known for nickel and gold prospecting and a Kimberley cattleman who pioneered Droughtmaster bulls were recognised in Friday’s Australia Day Honours.
John Load Jones, Dalkeith, was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to the mining exploration sector through a range of roles, also for his lesser-known contribution to the livestock transport industry and the community.
Richard John Henwood, Gingin, known as John, ran the iconic Kimberley cattle station Fossil Downs for more than 50 years with wife Annette and was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the cattle breeding industry.
Mr Jones, 74, grew up on Hampton Hill station near Kalgoorlie with three brothers and three sisters – the third Jones generation on the property now home to his brother Burchell and his wife Margaret.
Through his family he also helps run Avoca Downs, Cowarna Downs and Yindi stations east of Kalgoorlie and through another family company, Hampton Transport, has an interest in Edjudina station north east of Kalgoorlie.
In 1977, together with Burchell and older brother ‘Boss’ Bart, Mr Jones started what became Hampton Transport Services, now one of WA’s major heavy haulage, mine and stock transport companies.
He also co-founded and was a director of Hampton Livestock Transport when it was hived off and is a director of Road Trains of Australia (RTA), Australia’s largest privately-owned stock transporter operating across northern Australia.
RTA is owned by Hampton Transport with two of Mr Jones’ nephews.
But it is mining where he is best known.
An amateur prospector, he discovered the Scotia nickel deposit north of Kalgoorlie at age 24 at the beginning of WA’s nickel boom.
He and his family operated Jones Mining from 1970 to 1988 before he continued on in mining exploration with Troy Resources, Anglo Australian Resources and in the past four years as a director of several smaller resources companies.
He was chairman of Troy Resources from 1989-2008 and has been chairman of Anglo since 1990.
His services to prospecting and mining also includes Amalgamated Prospectors and Leaseholders Association president 1973-87, Australian Goldmining Industry Council founding member 1985 and director 1987-97 and Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy member since 1977.
His community service includes Royal Flying Doctor Service Eastern Goldfields councillor 1974-87.
On Friday Mr Jones said he was “very humbled” by the recognition.
“It’s for Kalgoorlie really, I’m just part of Kalgoorlie, we (Jones family) have never left, our transport business is still based there,” Mr Jones said.
“It’s for 45 years in business, 45 years of searching, battling drought, changing economic circumstances, global meltdowns.”
He spent seven years working on Hampton Hill, “fencing, grader driving, mustering, all of those things” before branching out into mining.
When Western Mining Corporation discovered nickel at Kambalda in the 1960s he went prospecting with his family’s backing.
“I was the one who had been drinking beer in the Palace (Hotel, Kalgoorlie) with the miners,” he said.
“I went prospecting in ‘67, got lucky, did a few transactions and found Scotia north of Kalgoorlie and that turned out to be a successful nickel mine.
“The continuation of our family prospecting syndicate led to floating of a company called Jones Mining which got taken over in 1987 two weeks
before the crash, no more Jones Mining.
“I returned with Troy Resources and later Anglo Australian Resources.”
The Jones’ pastoral holdings were running sheep when three of the brothers bought a Scania prime mover and trailer stock crate to diversify into transport.
A big mining contract and his involvement in mining helped them consolidate and grow Hampton Transport.
The family’s pastoral holdings have not fared so well, Mr Jones said.
“Our station operations got badly wiped out in droughts with the rapid increase in wild dogs and dingoes coming in from the desert and Nullarbor putting an end to our ability to run sheep,” he said.
“It’s not possible to run sheep unless you are behind dog-proof fencing.
“We were up to 60,000 sheep on all those properties, but the 10-year drought just sucked the dogs out of the desert.”
For the past five years or more the Jones family has been transitioning to Droughtmaster cattle on its Goldfields properties.
As acknowledged pioneer of the Droughtmaster cattle breed in the Kimberley, John Henwood, 77, knows a lot about herd building.
When Hancock Prospecting, owned by Australia’s richest woman Gina Rinehart, purchased the iconic 394,000 hectare Fossil Down station near Fitzroy Crossing in 2015 it got more than just a showpiece property.
It also purchased one of the finest herds of 15,000 predominantly Droughtmasters in northern Australia.
The herd had been built up by Mr Henwood over more than 30 years.
According to contemporary breeders, he quickly realised the value of paying more for better genetics and specifically sought long-bodied, strong, well-muscled, polled bulls with good leg length so they could handle the extra distances and often rough terrain between water points.
In 2015 the Droughtmasters Stud Breeder’s Society made the Henwoods life members, the first time it had awarded the honour to a commercial cattle breeder.
On Monday the society congratulated Mr Henwood on his OAM on its Droughtmasters Australia Facebook page.
“John, and his wife, Annette, were well-respected identities in the pastoral industry in WA and were renowned for their Droughtmaster herd in the beef cattle industry,” the Droughtmasters Stud Breeder’s Society post said.
The Henwoods were strong advocates for the local cattle industry, helping to develop the live export trade now centred on Broome and helping to raise funds and support for other pastoralists hit by the live export ban in 2011.
In 2015, Mr and Mrs Henwood were co-recipients of the PGA WA’s Rural Achievers of the Year award acknowledging their significant contribution.
At the time Mr Henwood modestly said they were honoured but did not think they had done anything out of the ordinary to warrant an award.
“We are pastoralists and did what we could,” he said.
This week he was similarly stoic about his OAM.
“Awards like this are unexpected in the sense that you do the best you can to try to help the country, the Kimberley and the cattle industry, you don’t do it to get an award,” Mr Henwood said.