Farm, family his life

Farmer and grazier Alec McFarlane.
Farmer and grazier Alec McFarlane. CONTRIBUTED

Alexander John 'Alec' McFarlaneNovember 22, 1923 - December 20, 2015

THE death of farmer and grazier Alec McFarlane in December last year was keenly felt by family, friends and the Septimus farming community he was a key part of for more than 60 years.

Alexander John McFarlane was born on November 22, 1923, the eldest son of Peter and Katie McFarlane.

He was raised on a farm at Oakenden that had been settled in 1908 by Alec's grandfather, also named Peter, and taken over by Alec's father after he returned from the First World War.

Alec first met Irene Matsen when they were students at Oakenden State School together.

After primary school he went on to the Mackay Intermediate School and later to Gatton Agricultural College. On returning to the farm he carted 1000 tonnes of cane with horses as the full crop of 1937.

Alec's mother was crippled with rheumatoid arthritis and Irene came to work for her.

Because his younger brother, Peter, could now help on the farm, Alec volunteered for the Royal Australian Airforce during the Second World War.

He trained in Sydney and served on the home front and was a leading aircraft serviceman on Bougainville Island, but during the war he never fired a shot.

Irene and Alec were married on May 4, 1946.

They had two children, Valerie and Maxwell, when they moved to Septimus in November 1950. Alec wanted a farm that was flat, with no rocks and permanent water.

He, John Luscombe and George Menkens pioneered irrigation at Septimus and he was grateful for good neighbours Bert Bradshaw, Fred Collins, Stan Kane, Gordon Waterson and MrLuscombe, all of whom shared machinery and farm work.

As the Ferguson tractor took over and phased out horses, more land was available to be cleared and planted.

Alec's farming story followed the progression from horses to harvesters and billet planters, all of which he enthusiastically embraced.

Two more children, Peter and Orrell, were born after the family moved to Septimus and all four children were educated at Septimus State School.

Later, all but Valerie were able to attend Mirani State High School when it had recently opened.

When his father died in 1954, at the age of 60, Alec diversified into cattle.

Neville Pasfield, a permanent employee, had experience with butchering and Alec bought the first Brahman bull from de Landells Cherokee Stud at Yeppoon in 1958 and increased his herd on properties at Eungella and, later, Nebo.

Once Max and Peter left school a bigger property was needed, so the family purchased Farlane Park at Middlemount.

A common sight on the Dingo-Mt Flora Beef Road was an old fella with a green Ford truck, with a molasses tank on the back, stopped to have smoko.

Alec carted cane for 70 years with two-tonne trucks, three- and six-tonne bins and was very proud of fitting 31.8 tonnes on four bins of Q-124 plant cane and 17.6 CCS.

In his time he supplied cane to North Eton, Pleystowe and Marian mills. His love of machinery is reflected in his collection of Fords, cars, trucks and tractors and antique machinery.

With his brother Peter he often attended swap meets.

Alec never threw anything away, as the shed at Septimus testified. Any steel with a hole in it, especially worn base cutter blades, were a godsend for his repairs.

Fixing things with wire and baling twine was great - until the boys introduced him to cable ties.

Alec and Irene had been married for more than 69 years when he died on December 20, 2015, aged 92.

He leaves behind his wife, Irene, their four children and their partners, Valerie and Angus, Max and Dawn, Peter and Robyn, Orrell and Col, 14 grandchildren and 33 great-grandchildren.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.