A STORY can be told in a thousand different ways and John Gilfoyle was one of the best at it.
The former stock and station agent wrote and published six bestselling books including Bloody Agents, Bloody Jackeroos, More Bloody Agents, More Bloody Old Agents, Remember Cannon Hill, And They Came to Roma Saleyards and then, in collaboration with John Robbins, You’d Better Bloody
John got his first taste of the rural lifestyle at the age of 10 when he was enrolled in the Marist Brothers School, Tamborine Mountain, on the Gold Coast hinterland.
John’s mother died when he was seven and for three years his father struggled to raise his three children with the help of a housekeeper. In the end, the three children were sent to boarding school – John to Tamborine Mountain and his brother and sister to Toowoomba and Brisbane respectively.
Life on Tamborine Mountain was fun for a young John, who enjoyed being barefoot, donning pyjamas while riding calves in the dark, and having dung fights with the 100 or so other “misfits”.
John held the Marist Brothers in such high esteem that when he finished primary school he went on to study for six-and-a-half years to become a Marist Brother himself.
However, at the end of his study, John didn’t believe he was good enough to take the vows and become a Marist Brother. He was only 20 years old at the time and with his life now lying unmapped before him and university not a financially viable solution, John decided to take an aptitude test.
The test came back and said John should either seek employment with an oil company or a pastoral company; he chose the latter and decided to look for work at a stock and station agency.
John worked at three stations out West – as a bookkeeper for Australian Pastoral Company (APC) at Homeboin Station, Mitchell, and a jackeroo at Yeppara, Quilpie and RV Barnes and Company’s Longreach property, Rivoli Downs – before he got a job in Elders’ stock department in Brisbane.
He worked primarily at the Cannon Hill Saleyards – the beginning of a 46-year career with Elders and John worked his way through the ranks – from a clerk in Charleville, salesman in Richmond, onto manager of the Quilpie, Hughenden, Richmond and Townsville branches.
In 1962, John met schoolteacher Lurelle in Charleville. Two years later, they were wed in Lurelle’s hometown Bowen.
Although John primarily worked in the North in his early days, he returned to Brisbane, where he managed several divisions including Elders real estate, insurance and special projects, which included video auctions and CALM, the precursor of AuctiosPlus.
John was also the market reporter at the Roma Saleyards for a number of years before he retired to Brisbane in 2008.
His last book, You’d Better Bloody Believe It!, written in collaboration with John Robbins, was printed in 2011 with sale proceeds donated to the Marist Brothers – a small return for the years they invested in John.
When the North Queensland Register spoke to John last year, he said there would be no more books as he had to battle on. That battle ended on June 2 when John passed away peacefully.
John’s funeral service was held at the Marist Brothers Chapel, Ashgrove, on June 7, at 10am.
Our deepest sympathy is extended to his wife Lurelle, children Jeanette, Steve and Anne Marie, his eight grandchildren, and extended families.
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