In it together

Like many families from the land, Ben (RGS 2006), Jack (RGS 2008), Sally (RGS 2010) and John (RGS 2011) Speed are not just siblings, they are colleagues.

Along with their parents John and Marg Speed, the four siblings are the heart of the family’s Redrock Cattle Company, an extensive breeding and fattening operation which incorporates nearly a dozen properties throughout the Northern Territory and Central Queensland.

Growing up on the family’s cattle property Redrock, 55km from Rolleston, the four siblings attended Rolleston State School before heading off to boarding school at RGS. 

Now as adults, Ben, Jack, Sally and John (affectionally known as Goodgie), all have a hand in the family business.

Ben, the eldest, is settled on the family’s Kullanda property near Rolleston, with his wife Emily and children Lucy and Alexander.

Jack is based on the family’s Dourialla property in the Arcadia Valley, with his wife Meg (nee Wilson, RGS 2005), and their children Mia and Roxy. 

John, the youngest of the tribe, bases himself out of the family’s Northern Territory properties most of the year. 

Sally took a different path to her brothers, attending university at QUT and Bond University after school, then relocating to Newcastle where she works as a psychologist with children and adolescents. A country girl at heart though, Sally tries to get home as much as she can. 

“I miss so much about home,” Sally says. “The beautiful views, the sunsets…but mostly it’s quality time with family that I miss the most.”

Our family unit is lucky that we all get along so well. It’s our strength.”Jack Speed

When asked about their childhood at Redrock, all four recall the experience with fond recollections.

“There are so many great memories,” recalls Ben. “Going mustering in the choppers and racing my brothers and sister to school on the motorbikes stand out. It’s not your average childhood, and I think we were really lucky.”

“It was like being free-range kids,” quips Sally. “Rainy days were the best though. We would take our boogie boards and tractor tyres and play in the water while dad would yell ‘send her down’ at the sky – I smile just thinking about it.”

While growing up on a remote property can sometimes be isolating, Jack says he never felt that way.

“There were always a lot of people in our lives. Whether it was family, staff, bank managers, stock agents or whoever. There was always a lot of people from different walks of life involved.”

All three boys are licensed pilots, which bodes the family well when it comes to mustering season. As well as managing and operating the family properties, Ben and Jack own and operate a helicopter mustering business – Speedy Muster. 

“We’ve always been interested in flying,” says Jack. “And the (helicopter mustering) business works hand-in-hand with our Cattle company, so it just made sense.”

When it comes to working so closely with family, the siblings agree it comes with its challenges, but ultimately, it has been their greatest strength in business. 

“We probably argue a bit more than most workmates,” says John. “But it always ends well because we think alike and want what’s best for everyone.”

“The advantage is that we all have the same goals, so it’s easy to get things rolling quickly if we have to,” says Jack. “Our family unit is lucky that we all get along so well. It’s our strength.”

While the boys have dabbled in a variety of fields and trades, they say they always knew they would end up in the beef industry.

“I always knew it would be my career,” says Jack. “I did try my hand in the mines just to get some more skills – but I always knew where I was headed.”

“We were always fortunate to be around the business side of things growing up,” says Ben. “But I think the point where I went from being ‘one of the kids at home’ to taking it more seriously as a career was when I finished my trade and came back home to work.”

While Sally has taken a different direction with her career, she acknowledges that growing up on the property has taught her many life lessons that she has carried with her.

“I learnt not to take things too seriously and have a laugh at yourself. At home, everyone is always joking around and laughing at each other, so it’s best to just laugh along, even when it’s at your expense. I guess it taught me to have thick skin.”

The siblings all agree that while it comes with its challenges, they are proud to be part of the beef cattle industry.

“There’s plenty of opportunities in the beef industry and the market is booming at the moment. It’s a great business to be involved in,” John commented.

Ben agrees that the beef industry is brimming with opportunity.

“You never know what will be around the corner. One minute it’s drought and floods, the next it’s high cattle prices – it’s never a dull moment.”

Jack says the best part of the beef industry is its diversity. 

“There are a million and one ways to make a buck (in the beef industry) and none of them are completely right or wrong. It’s a continually evolving industry.”

Ben, Jack, Sally, Goodgie, John and Marg look forward to catching up at Beef 2021.