Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Mourners Farewell Big Man

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Mourners Farewell Big Man

Article excerpt

Byline: Emma McBryde emma.mcbryde@capnews.com.au

EVEN as the rain poured down on them, mourners took off their Akubras and held them to their hearts as cattle king Graeme Acton's coffin was carried through a sea of friends and family yesterday.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Premier Campbell Newman joined more than 3000 people to say their final farewell to the man respected by all, and loved by many.

They praised the 63-year-old father of four, and grandfather of 14, in front of a crowd of MPs, Rockhampton councillors, and a host of other community and national leaders.

The touching funeral was fittingly held at Mr Acton's beloved Paradise Lagoons, near Rockhampton.

The fourth generation Central Queensland cattleman built it for campdrafting, the rural sport that combined three of his greatest loves -- horses, cattle and competition.

The arena plays host to Australia's largest campdraft annually.

"On my first trip to Paradise Lagoons he said to me, 'I think you'll be better at running a country than you are at riding a horse'," Mr Abbott said of Mr Acton during his tribute.

"The hat, the voice, the face, the walk, marked him out as almost an iconic Australian."

Mr Newman smiled as he said Mr Acton, of Acton Super Beef, had him on speed dial.

He said Mr Acton was never afraid to call if he felt something was wrong, and always had a wise solution on hand.

"In every sense of the word, Graeme Acton was a man who rode tall in the saddle," Mr Newman said. "In riding tall he saw further than others."

But it wasn't just friends and family who overflowed from the facility.

Some people had not even met the man hailed as a visionary, but knew of all he had done -- for the beef industry, campdrafting, fundraising, advocating for pastoral colleges, and more.

Mr Acton's daughter, Victoria, said her father would be both proud and humbled to know how many lives he had touched.

She and her siblings, Tom, Hayley and Laura, realised from a very young age their father was "someone special". …

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