WHEN 16 year old Bill Hamilton was set to work digging post holes and tordoning timber by his dad on the family property Tawarri at Cracow, he thought there had to be an easier way.
So with his port in hand he made his way to the Cannon Hill Saleyards, where he signed on as a clerk with the then Dalgety NZL.
"The wage was $39.50 a fortnight and $28 of that went in rent," Bill laughed.
"I'm not sure how, but I survived.
"Fortunately we were provided with breakfast and dinner at Cannon Hill. We had to be going before dawn and couldn't go home before we balanced our books."
Fast forward to 2019 and Bill is now celebrating 50 years in agency game, marked by a special presentation during the inaugural Ruralco Race Day at Doomben on Saturday.
Bill kicked off his career in the agency game in 1969, when 14 selling agents operated out of Canon Hill and John Bellamy was Dalgety's head auctioneer.
"Stan Wallace replaced Mr Bellamy soon after I arrived," Bill said. "Vince O'Brien (now Shepherdson and Boyd), was the other clerk and we certainly learnt a lot from Stan. He really knew how to run a livestock business."
After two years of learning the ropes at Cannon Hill, Bill was sent by the renamed Dalgety Australia to Springsure as stock salesman.
"The great thing was the company provided me with a XY Falcon ute," Bill said. "Any colour I wanted... as long as it was white."
"But really, absolutely the best thing about Springsure was learning from the then manager Fred Nofke. He was another Dalgety manager who really taught me the fundamentals of being a successful agent."
The great thing was the company provided me with a XY Falcon ute. Any colour I wanted... as long as it was white.
It was also during his time in Springsure that Bill met Emerald nurse and his wife-to-be Jan. They recently celebrated their 46th anniversary.
As was the life of agents in the 1970s, after two years Bill was posted to Alpha to further develop his stock sales and merchandise skills. However, after seven months that branch was closed.
Then it was off to Surat where sheep and wool were added to the repertoire. Next was Kingaroy where Bill signed on as a junior auctioneer.
Bill said one of his greatest thrills was when he turned 21. That day the now accomplished stock salesman landed in Biloela and gained his auctioneers license.
"That's what I had my sight set on, becoming an auctioneer," he said. "Being up on the catwalk and looking after your client's cattle is really something special."
But with the full weight of the crippling beef slump bearing down on the industry, they were extremely difficult days.
"It was just so tough," Bill said. "Everyone had to pitch it. All our clients had to take second jobs on the railways or in the mines, if they could get them. But we were all in it together.
"I wouldn't want to see anyone ever go through that again, but looking back we really were one big, happy family."
It was during those tough days Bill built up from scratch a pig and calf business in Biloela. That included transporting up to 400 pigs a week to service the North Queensland butcher market.
However, when Bill received notice he was to be transferred to Dalby, a tough decision had to be made.
"I saw that as going backwards," Bill said. "There was no more money to pay for the accommodation."
Instead, the hard working 23 year old backed himself, setting up his own business: Bill Hamilton and Co in Biloela. That very successful independent agency sold to Mark Simpson in 2003, who now operates under the Ray White Rural banner.
Bill and Jan relocated to Yeppoon and kept working in the rural real estate industry before linking up with Ruralco Property.
"The agency game really is a wonderful industry," Bill said.
"It has plenty of excitement and throws up plenty of challenges - particularly with what has occurred over the past 50 years.
"But the best part about the job is the fantastic people we get to deal with."