A quiet and unassuming man, who was probably destined from birth to make his life in the Merino Industry, Forbes Murdoch’s 50 plus year Merino breeding career has been acknowledged in the 2019 Australia Day Honours with a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division for service to the wool growing industry.

Raised at Terrick Terrick Merino Stud at Blackall, Qld where his father was manager, Forbes started jackarooing at Athol, Blackall in January 1959, moving in 1960 to jackaoo at Haddon Rig, Warren, NSW with then Manager AB Ramsey.

Forbes was promoted in 1963 to establish and manage Haddon Rig’s breeding operation in Western Australia, where he was to remain for 12 years, returning to manage Haddon Rig, Warren in 1975; a role he continued in until his retirement in 2001. During his time at Haddon Rig, Forbes Murdoch became a well respected name within the Merino industry, the Haddon Rig bloodline increased its influence in the considerable medium and strong wool flocks around the country and the Champion ribbons won by the Haddon Rig sheep mounted up. Immediately following his retirement in 2001 Forbes was recruited to class the Boonoke Merino Stud at Deniliquin, NSW. He subsequently also continued his close association with the Haddon Rig sheep accepting the Stud Master’s role there. In 2004 Forbes was appointed Stud Master and Classer of the three Australian Food & Agriculture Company’s (AFA) Merino Studs; Boonoke, Wanganella and Poll Boonoke. Forbes took these significant stud flocks and reinvigorated them to again achieve industry prominence and market relevance.

In November 2008, almost 130 years to the day after the Peppin’s Wanganella flock was drafted up to complete the sale to Austin & Millear, who retained the Wanganella name, and Franc Falkiner, to develop his new Boonoke flock, Forbes Murdoch had the notable task of classing AFA’s two horned Merino studs back into a single horned Merino stud flock; the Wanganella Stud.

Colin Bell, AFA Chairman, says of Forbes Murdoch’s involvement with the Wanganella and Poll Boonoke stud flocks; “There is no doubt that we placed the future of our studs into safe and extremely capable hands when we brought Forbes onboard. There is also no doubt that there is nobody else in the modern industry to whom we could have turned, Forbes is a stand out for his skill, passion and natural Merino intuition and his place in our industry is unsurpassed.”

Open to innovation and a willing adopter of new technology, Forbes Murdoch has combined his talent and experience to safely implement new initiatives that assist with improving breeding outcomes and sheep husbandry; always insisting that wool, both quality and quantity, had to be the primary focus and balanced up with other breeding objectives in the sheep he classed. His Merino Champions are too many to recollect and have included the Australian Supreme Merino. Through the Haddon Rig Stud, and now the Wanganella and Poll Boonoke Studs, Forbes has influenced the development and quality of a significant portion of the Australian Merino industry.

AFA’s Livestock General Manager, Justin Campbell, observed that Forbes’ influence in the Australian Merino industry extended far beyond the stud flocks that have been under his direction; ”… with so many other seed stock breeders tapping into his knowledge and talent through genetic purchases for their own stud flocks.” Justin further added that; “Forbes has proved himself to be an instinctive Sheepman with outstanding Merino breeding expertise and this award rightly recognises the significance of his career in the Merino Industry.”