Forbes Murdoch’s 50 plus year Merino breeding career has been acknowledged in the 2019 Australia Day Honours with an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in the General Division for service to the wool growing industry.

When asked how it felt to receive an OAM, Mr Murdoch said he felt “very honoured.”

Mr Murdoch, 77-years-old, was raised at Terrick Terrick Merino Stud at Blackall, Queensland where his father was manager.

He started jackarooing at Athol, Blackall in January 1959, moving in 1960 to jackaoo at Haddon Rig, Warren, NSW with then manager AB Ramsey

In 1963, Mr Murdoch was promoted to establish and manage Haddon Rig’s breeding operation in Western Australia, where he worked at for 12 years, before he returned to manage Haddon Rig, at Warren in 1975.

He continued in this role until his retirement in 2001.

During his time at Haddon Rig, Mr Murdoch became a well respected name within the Merino industry.

He has trained over 200 jackaroos during his illustrious career.

“You can go to agriculturual college.. but first you’ve got to get to the nitty gritty,” Mr Murdoch said.

Following his retirement in 2001, Mr Murdoch 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, he was appointed Stud Master and Classer of the three Australian Food & Agriculture Company’s (AFA) Merino Studs; Boonoke, Wanganella and Poll Boonoke.

Mr Murdoch 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 and Millear, who retained the Wanganella name, and Franc Falkiner, to develop his new Boonoke flock, Mr Murdoch had the notable task of classing AFA’s two horned Merino studs back into a single horned Merino stud flock; the Wanganella Stud.   

Technology was one of the biggest changes he has seen over the years, Mr Murdoch said.

“AI has made a big difference in breeding… and allows you to access other genetics,” he said.

Mr Murdoch has combined his talent and experience to safely implement new initiatives that assist with improving breeding outcomes and sheep husbandry.

Wool quality and quantity, had to be the primary focus and balanced up with other breeding objectives in the sheep Mr Murdoch classed.

He has won many Merino Champions, including the Australian Supreme Merino.

Through the Haddon Rig Stud, and now the Wanganella and Poll Boonoke Studs, Mr Murdoch has influenced the development and quality of a significant portion of the Australian Merino industry. 

“I’ve worked with very good people.. I’ve been very lucky,” Mr Murdoch said.

Mr Murdoch is currently living and working at Evans Head on the NSW coast.