Ken Landsberg: from cattleman to construction

CAREER CHANGE: From cattle work to construction, Ken Landsberg has tried his hand across a range of trades.
CAREER CHANGE: From cattle work to construction, Ken Landsberg has tried his hand across a range of trades. Rachael Conaghan

AFTER 76 years of life, Ken Landsberg has no regrets.

He's a man who has embraced every chance to "get up the ladder", and it's taken him across Queensland and into everything from cattle work to horses, sheep, construction and even pineapples.

"I've had a full life, it's been pretty diversified," he said.

"There was always someone offering me another job or a couple more dollars or more cows."

He's been retired for five years now but has been kept busy for the past couple of weeks as the Yeppoon Show Society president.

As the show parade went by, he made it his mission to thank and shake the hand of every member of the band, every person driving the cars and every member of the showman's guild.

"People need to know you appreciate them. I've been brought up that way," he said.

A new pavilion built at the showgrounds this year carries Ken's name in honour of his contributions, which started with his role as a cattle steward five years ago.

Ken left school at 13 and started working around the Marlborough district where he grew up, before getting work on cattle properties around Central Queensland.

He then moved out to Barcaldine and worked on his uncle's sheep farm for a few years before moving to the Dawson Valley for cattle and horse work.

During his time in Barcaldine, Ken, along with his cousin, spent about 12 months as a drover of both cattle and sheep.

With sheep they were able to put in breaks with wire and steel posts to keep them in, but droving cattle meant they took turns riding around all night to keep them from wandering off.

Despite the long nights, Ken preferred cattle.

"Sheep are very slow, you have to be patient," he said.

"If it was a cloudy day and there was a patch of sunlight on the ground they'd get spooked."

Ken also managed a property near Capella and another north of Dingo before getting married.

The Dingo property had no telephones and no proper roads, so when their first daughter was about a year old they moved to a small farm near Cawarral.

Here they got involved in horticulture, with produce including paw paws, pumpkins, pineapple and tomatoes.

In 1971 they took over a bigger farm in Tanby, near Yeppoon and started growing pineapples commercially in a family partnership.

A decade later, when the price of pineapples fell, he went into business with his brother-in-law in the construction industry.

Some major projects include the Gracemere Exhibition Centre, schools across Rockhampton, some of the first buildings in the Gladstone Marina and North Keppel Island as well as the jail complex in Woorabinda.

Ken still owns a 50 ha property at Tanby, but now grazes cattle on it.

Today he has about 30 commercial steers, but used to run about 30 breeders.

"We fatten about 30 bullocks out there each year no problem, probably more this year because of the rain, but I don't like to overgraze," he said.

He uses a rotational grazing system to shift the cattle between paddocks every couple of weeks.

"I'll come down on the quad and they'll be waiting for me to open the gate," he laughed.

Ken was on his way to Europe for his 76th birthday back in April, when his younger brother joked he had two birthdays - one in Singapore, and another in Prague due to the time difference.

It was only fitting for a man who has fitted so much into his years, that he should have two days to celebrate.

Topics:  livestock rockhampton yeppoon show