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Errol Blair (Barney) Joyce (1908–1983)

by M. French

This article was published:

Errol Blair de Norman-Ville (Barney) Joyce (1908-1983), grazier and cattle-breeder, was born on 28 June 1908 at Bundaberg, Queensland, second of six children of Fitzpierce de Normanville Joyce, grazier, from Galway, Ireland, and his Queensland-born wife Rose Eileen, daughter of De Burgh Persse. Educated at home by governesses and at The Armidale School, New South Wales (1921-25), Barney worked on the family’s cattle property, Eidsvold station, in the Burnett district of Queensland. In the 1930s he travelled extensively in Australia and overseas, and investigated cattle-raising in Brazil and Argentina. After his father’s death in 1936 Barney, his brother Raoul and his mother formed the partnership of Joyce & Joyce. They acquired Gyranda, near Cracow, in Dawson River country; Barney managed Eidsvold and Raoul Gyranda. Their mother, who had a `good business head’, was reputedly a guiding force in the venture until her death in 1959.

On 1 December 1938 at St Mark’s Church of England, Darling Point, Sydney, Joyce married Joan Willoughby Dowling, granddaughter of Vincent Dowling. In 1942-45 he served as a private in the Volunteer Defence Corps. He was a member (1949-67) of Eidsvold Shire Council. In 1946-82 he was a board-member of Mactaggarts Primary Producers’ Co-operative Association Ltd (from 1977, Primac Holdings Ltd).

The Joyce properties initially ran and bred Hereford cattle, but after King Ranch (Australia) Pty Ltd introduced American-bred Santa Gertrudis cattle into Australia in 1952, Joyce & Joyce acquired four imported bulls in 1953-54, and ten heifers in 1955. These were crossed with Herefords to produce, over time, some ninety progeny, and the first cross-bred Eidsvold bulls were sold in January 1958. Thereafter Joyce actively promoted the breed. He clashed with breeders of `British’ cattle, most notably during and following a lecture on `breeding for the environment’ that he gave in 1959 at Armidale. A frequent speaker on the rural programs of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Radio Australia and the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Asia Pacific service, he was an early advocate of dehorning cattle and of flexible fencing. He worked with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock in experiments comparing Hereford and Santa Gertrudis cross-steers and provided field-work opportunities for agricultural students on Eidsvold station.

Helping to form the Santa Gertrudis Breeders’ (Australia) Association in 1955, Joyce served as a permanent councillor (1955-72), vice-president and deputy-president (1955-62), president (1964-66) and patron (1978-82); he was elected an honorary life member in 1973. While president he established a publicity fund; produced a booklet, Santa Gertrudis in Australia; instituted a formal studbook; and extended membership to breeders from Western Australia and the Northern Territory. A cattle judge at shows throughout Australia, he lectured on the Santa Gertrudis breed in Britain, the United States of America, the Pacific islands and Africa. He also promoted Eidsvold station, number two in the stud register, inviting such notables as Joyce Grenfell, Dame Annabelle Rankin, (Sir) Zelman Cowen and Prince Richard of Gloucester to open its well-publicised annual cattle sales. The Joyces twice entertained Prince Charles at Eidsvold and attended his wedding in 1981.

A patron of the arts, Joyce owned a highly regarded collection of Australian art by both established and emerging artists; he often displayed paintings at his cattle sales. He was a benefactor of the University of Queensland, donating money and paintings for a new music shell (1971), finance for Dutch stained-glass windows in Mayne Hall (1972), and funding for pathology laboratories in the department of veterinary medicine (1978). In 1971 he was appointed OBE.

Sometimes dubbed the `squire of Eidsvold’, Joyce was colourful in both dress and manner. He sported a distinctive thin white moustache and frequently wore a calfskin vest with a varied choice of hats. Often accompanied on tours by his wife, he was a consummate showman: charismatic, witty and charming, and equally at home with stockmen and royalty. He was neither a `shrinking violet’ nor a `quiet achiever’, believing it `better to be deplored than to be ignored’. He unabashedly promoted Eidsvold, Santa Gertrudis, and Australia—in that order. Survived by his wife, he died on 21 January 1983 at Nambour and was cremated. There were no children.

Select Bibliography

  • K. Nutting, The Joyces of the Overflow and Eidsvold (1972)
  • J. Hanley, Santa Gertrudis (1995)
  • Queensland Country Life, 1 Oct 1959, p 9
  • Santa Gertrudis Review, Dec 1982, p 27, July 1983, p 9
  • Sunday Mail (Brisbane), 23 Jan 1983, p 3
  • Times (London), 7 Feb 1983, p 12
  • The History of Eidsvold Station (booklet, 1969?, copy held at University of Queensland Library)
  • J. Francis, Mr Errol Blair de Normanville (Barney) Joyce, O.B.E. (typescript, 1983, University of Queensland Library).

Citation details

M. French, 'Joyce, Errol Blair (Barney) (1908–1983)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 25 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (Melbourne University Press), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


28 June, 1908
Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia


21 January, 1983 (aged 74)
Nambour, Queensland, Australia

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