Darwin Celebrates Export of 15000 cattle

In May, cattle exports in Australia were at their highest point for several months. 88,424 cattle in total were exported; the highest export figure since October 2020 when a figure of 90,754 was achieved. One of the main reasons for the healthier numbers was figures for export to Vietnam returning to normal.

The number of cattle exported to Vietnam was 25,499 including breeder, feeder, and slaughter animals. A further 40,582 feeder cattle were exported to Indonesia, 8,513 breeders were exported to China and 7,175 feeders were exported to the Philippines. One of the ports that has seen exports rise again this year is Darwin.

Key points

  • Cattle exports in Australia were at their highest point for seven months in May.
  • More than 118,000 cattle have been exported from Darwin port this year.
  • At the end of June, more than 15,000 cattle were exported from Darwin in one week.
  • Professionals from the cattle export industry have worked to COVID-19 safety rules in order to ensure the safe and timely exporting of cattle from the port.

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Export of 15000 cattle from Darwin in one week

More than 118,000 cattle have been shipped from the port of Darwin so far this year. This includes 26,935 head exported in May. Really good news for the port happened towards the end of June with 15000 cattle exported from Darwin in a single week during COVID-19 lockdown.

The Northern Territory (NT) cattle that were exported had a value of more than $20 million. In total, 100 train movements were involved in transporting the cattle to the sheds at the port. Around 7,500 of the cattle transported for export came from the Brett family’s Coomalie export yards. Others came from export yards like Berrimah and Noonamah.

The cattle were loaded onto the Wellard-owned ship The Ocean Drover which had arrived in Darwin from Townsville carrying 7,500 cattle. At Darwin, exporter AUSTREX loaded a further 11,500 cattle which meant that when the ship left for Indonesia it was carrying 18,500 head.

The same week saw the Ganado Express leave Darwin carrying 3800 cattle which were loaded by exporter Halleen Livestock. The ship was bound for Jakarta.



These impressive export figures meant that this was a successful week for the port of Darwin. Several factors came together to enable this success to happen.

Communication was key to the success of these export operations. The NTLEA coordinated the efforts and ensured that the NT Government was aware of the situation which meant that checkpoint officials knew they were expecting a high volume of cattle. This advance knowledge meant that delays could be avoided.

It also helps that livestock supporters and other professionals in the export supply chain are classified as essential workers, so they are able to work through any pandemic restrictions.This means that the personnel required for export operations are available.

How safe delivery of cattle was achieved

Even given the availability of essential export personnel, there are many potential challenges facing those involved with cattle exports from Darwin. For example, at the end of 2020 and the start of 2021 several crew members of a live cattle ship that docked in Darwin tested positive for COVID-19. This sort of incident has the potential to cause major problems.

However, professionals involved in the export process are helping to ensure it progresses safely.  Drivers from Road Trains of Australia (RTA), Schubert Transport and Barkly Transport have played an important part in this by ensuring the safe delivery of cattle to the port in full adherence with COVID-safe practices. Drivers remain in their cabs, so they do not come into contact with anyone else thereby reducing the risk of transmission.

Stevedores at the port have also been heavily involved with the successful export process. They work in accordance with safe practices while still ensuring that the welfare of the cattle is key.

The Darwin cattle exports towards the end of June took the figures for the month to over 30,000. More than 25,000 of those cattle were exported to Indonesia with feeder steers exported to that country obtaining an export price of $4.10/kg.



Currently, several areas of Australia are experiencing problems with the spread of COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions have been implemented in some places. These issues have had some impact on the Darwin area. However, even against this background, cattle producers and exporters are confident that they can continue with their business safely and maintain numbers to major export destinations such as Indonesia.

This can only be good news for cattle exports from Darwin port and positive cattle shipping figures are also likely to be seen at other Australian ports.

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