SUL ROSS -- A Sul Ross State University graduate was recognized by the Australian government as an outstanding member of the community.
The following comes from Sul Ross State University:
Jack Fletcher, a 1949 Sul Ross State University graduate and recipient of one of the university’s first Distinguished Alumni Awards, can add another highlight to a long and legendary career.
Fletcher, who lives in Perth, Western Australia, recently received the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in the General Division for his agricultural developments in the Kimberley of Western Australia. Fletcher, 91, formed the Australian Land and Cattle Co. (ALCCO) in 1967, developed seven cattle stations with 100,000 head over a 4.3 million acre area, built feed lots and packing plants and cultivated over 40,000 acres of grain sorghum, cotton, sunflowers and other crops.
“Jack Fletcher’s achievements in the Kimberley read like a fictional account of someone’s dreams,” wrote his friend Ron Horner in the Australian publication, TradeFarmMachinery.com.au.
He negotiated an Act of Parliament to develop Camballin Farms, documented and developed an aquifer the size of Spain, and created agencies for Shell, Goodyear and road train freight for the Kimberleys. Fletcher’s efforts helped develop the Port of Broome in 1980 from a tidal port into a deep sea port.
A story by Mal Gill in the Australian publication Stock and Land, noted: “His attempts to transfer big ideas from Texas to the West Kimberley in the 1970s and 80s, when parochial State and Federal governments were not prepared to listen to a man with a Texas accent and wearing a cowboy hat, earned him his OAM.”
In addition to his Australian efforts, he discovered the world's largest artesian basin in Libya in 1960 with the water ultimately piped 4000 kilometres across the Sahara Desert to Benghazi and Tripoli.
At one time, ALCCO was responsible for nearly 40 percent of all Kimberley cattle exported through the ports of Derby and Broome.
“They say $1 in every $3 in circulation in the Kimberley at that time was due to ALCCO,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher has written two books about his efforts in the Kimberley, “Texas Jack’s Australian Outback Dream: A Pioneering Investment Journal,” and “To Dam or be Damned: The Mighty Fitzroy River.”
His interest in Australia stemmed from World War II service, when Fletcher, serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, traded beer rations to Australian soldiers for tales of Down Under.
In 2012, Fletcher returned to his hometown of Spur to receive an honorary high school diploma at the age of 86. He had left high school in the middle of his senior year in 1942 to enlist in the Marines.
The link to the Stock and Land article is http://www.stockandland.com.au/story/4427566/big-honour-for-texan-cattle-pioneer/?cs=4582.
To read the Trade Farm Machinery article, go to: http://www.tradefarmmachinery.com.au/industry-news/1701/order-of-australia-for-texan-kimberley-king.