Tweed treasure “Ken” honoured at Murwillumbah Show


A TRIBUTE to the late John Kenny “Ken” McDonald OAM took place at the 116th Murwillumbah Show for the official opening on Saturday, November 5.

The Weekly ran a full tribute to Mr McDonald OAM on page 44 in this week’s edition and have included the story below.

READ THE STORY OF John Kenny “Ken” McDonald OAM:

THE TWEED lost an outstanding citizen on Friday, October 29, after the passing of John Kenny “Ken” McDonald OAM.

Mr McDonald led an amazing life in the cattle industry and was awarded the Medal of Order of Australia in 2011, for his services to the Cattle Industry and  the Tweed Shire.

Born in Murwillumbah in 1926 and the son of pioneering parents, Ken was educated at Mt St Patrick Primary School then Woodlawn College Lismore, before returning home to pursue his love of the land.

The family farm Kendonvale, near Murwillumbah, was already a well-established Jersey stud established by his father Frank and Ken joined him in striving for ever-higher standards.

The later addition of younger brothers Brian and Pat formed the partnership F. R. McDonald & Sons, and Kendonvale cattle became successful and well known throughout Australia.

Kendonvale Jerseys were exhibited with great success at major North Coast shows and Sydney and Brisbane Royal Shows, winning not only Championships but also Type and Production classes against All Breeds.

In 1965, Kendonvale exhibited the first Jersey Champion Cow at Sydney Royal to come from the North Coast of NSW, winning against strong competition from exhibits from four states.

In recent years Ken moved from his beloved Jerseys to raising less labour-intensive beef cattle.

Ken was a member of the Royal Panel of Judges of the Australian Jersey Herd Society for many years and his expertise was keenly sought.

He officiated as a judge at the Royal Shows of Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne, at National Dairy Shows and at many Feature Shows throughout the Commonwealth. He also judged at the World Conference Show in Hamilton, New Zealand.

As a Delegate to two World Conferences Ken had the pleasure of inspecting the best cattle throughout the UK, Jersey Island and NZ.  A highlight of his UK tour was a visit to the Royal Farms at Windsor, where delegates were joined by Queen Elizabeth, who is Patron of the Jersey Cattle Society of UK.

Ken has had a long and dedicated relationship with the Tweed River Agricultural Society and Murwillumbah Showground Trust.

He was elected to the Committee (now Board) of the Show Society in 1951 and served as a board member until 2000, twelve of those years as President.

Much was achieved on the showground during Ken’s office, including the connection of sewerage to the ground and construction of the concrete road.  Ken was awarded Life Membership of the Tweed River Agricultural Society in 1981.

Ken became a Trustee of the Murwillumbah Showground in 1958, and served as Chairman of the Trust for over 30 years.  He has always maintained a keen interest in the improvements and general management of the ground.

In his role as President of Tweed River Agricultural Society Ken welcomed many notable guests, but the highlight was extending the official royal welcome to Prince Charles when he visited Murwillumbah to open the 1977 Show.


In recognition of his long-standing involvement with the Show Society and Murwillumbah Showground Trust Ken was awarded the honour of officially opening the Tweed Centenary Show in 2000, and a grandstand is also named in his honour.

Ken also served the community by accepting a Ministerial Appointment to serve on the Murwillumbah Local Land Board from 1973 for over 30 years, as well as serving many years on the Board of Lavender Drainage Trust and Murwillumbah Swamp Drainage Union.

With a keen interest in Murwillumbah Probus Club, Ken served the Board in several capacities including Chairman, and was honoured with Life Membership.

He also received a Vocational Excellence Award from Rotary International District 964, and was a Life Member of The World Jersey Cattle Bureau, Tweed/Richmond Jersey Breeders Association and Far North Coast Jersey Cattle Club.

Ken was a devoted husband and family man, and is survived by his wife Norma, his sons Paul (Fr Paul McDonald), Michael and Peter and their partners Vicki and Marissa, son-in-law Michael Hession and his extended family of stepchildren, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his brothers Noel and Pat, and sisters Colleen (Sr Colleen McDonald PBVM) and Noreen.

Ken’s wife Hope and their daughter Anne predeceased him, as did his brother Brian.
Perhaps it is appropriate that Ken’s great interest in the Show Society and Showground is carried on through his son Peter McDonald, who is Ring Master once again for the 2016 Murwillumbah Show.