Obituary by the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association
It is with deep sadness that the family of Peter Sherwin announce his peaceful passing on Tuesday evening in Brisbane, aged 88.
Peter Sherwin is best remembered as Northern Australia’s renowned Cattle King.
At one point he was the largest private landowner in the country, with 17 cattle stations accounting for more than one percent of Australia’s total land mass.
Coming from humble beginnings, Peter Sherwin was born and raised in the small Queensland town of Texas.
He was the youngest son of a drover. After losing his father at a young age, his mother ran a small dairy to support her four children.
He left boarding school in 1946 aged 16 and headed north to work as a jackaroo.
Within a few short years he rose to become a head stockman.
He went on to be a contract cattle drover in the 1950s and ‘60s, working throughout the Kimberley, the Northern Territory, into South Australia and Queensland.
Following years of hard work, Peter and his wife, Fay (Florrie), became landholders in 1958 when they obtained the pastoral lease for Wallamunga Station in the Victoria River District, followed by Mungabroom Station on the Barkly Tablelands.
During this time, they raised their young family and ran a general store and fuel station for around 14 years in the remote Northern Territory town of Elliott.
Their landholdings grew in the late 1970s and peaked in the 1980s.
At the height of their pastoral career, Peter and Florrie’s cattle empire had expanded to around 300,000 head of cattle roaming across their vast Northern Australian properties.
By this time, Peter Sherwin had traded his camp horse for a Cessna 182 and embarked on airborne reconnaissance of his expansive landholdings and future acquisitions.
His vision to manage and transport unforeseen stock numbers was responsible for the massive and innovative infrastructure upgrades and developments still in use across Northern cattle stations today.
Peter Sherwin also developed a substantial cattle trucking business, Sherwin Transport, and later, Barkly Transport.
Starting out with a Commer truck and semi-trailer, it grew to a fleet of 26 Mack prime movers and around 60 cattle trailers, tankers and freight trailers, that could be seen criss-crossing Northern Australia’s highways and station tracks around the clock.
Although better known for his achievements and success in the cattle industry, he was an astute businessman with an enviable instinct for timing.
He departed the cattle arena in 1989 and Peter Sherwin at Mungabroom Station in the 1980s continued his success in various business ventures.
Yet Peter and Florrie’s love for the cattle industry drew them back to cattle stations in the Territory time and again.
While always striving to keep a low profile in the quiet and remote Australian outback, he loved nothing more than the hype and excitement of handling big mobs of cattle — especially a few thousand head of fat bullocks.
At times considered controversial, Peter Sherwin was recognised and respected by many as a hard man, a harder businessman and an even harder worker.
His rise from a young jackaroo straight from school, to becoming Australia’s largest private landholder in the 1980s, is undeniably remarkable — as is his contribution to the Australian cattle industry.
His strong presence, extensive knowledge and significant influence will be sadly missed by his loving family, friends and long-time business colleagues.
Northern Australian cattle stations owned by Peter and Florrie Sherwin between 1958 and 2018:
Barkly Tablelands: Mungabroom, Anthony Lagoon, Walhallow, Creswell Downs, Eva Downs, Banka Banka, Brunchilly, Beetaloo / OT, Alroy Downs.
East Kimberley and Victoria River District: Wallamunga, Birrindudu, Gordon Downs, Flora Valley, Sturt Creek, Nicholson, Victoria River Downs, Delamere.
Queensland Channel Country: Cluny, Springvale, Diamantina Lakes, Keeroongooloo/Marama, Galway Downs.
Top End and Gulf of Carpentaria: Kerlin, Broadmere.
The Cattle King dies aged 88