Icon of state’s Channel Country dead at 79

KING of Queensland's Channel Country and famous Nudgee College old boy Sandy Kidd has died, aged 79.

Mr Kidd, sent to boarding school at St Joseph's Nudgee College in Brisbane as a nine-year-old, became a skilled pilot at age 22 and, in his beloved Cessna 172, spent the next four decades flying around central west Queensland, dropping off supplies to remote homesteads, performing daring search and rescue operations, and saving countless lives.

He was awarded the British Empire Medal for his endless good works, which he performed voluntarily.

Pilot and cattleman Sandy Kidd.
Pilot and cattleman Sandy Kidd.

Mr Kidd, who spent most of his life on a cattle station in Windorah, 1200km west of Brisbane, also pioneered aerial mustering after seeing how cattle caught in the channels during the flood of 1963 reacted to a plane flying above them.

A remarkable aviator, he was hired by the RAAF to teach its pilots how to navigate in flat terrain.

Known for calling a spade a shovel, Mr Kidd was quick to stand up for what he believed in, including protecting Cooper Creek, the second longest inland river system in Australia and where Clancy of the Overflow went "a-droving" in the "wild erratic fancy" of legendary poet Banjo Paterson.

Cooper Creek was mooted for irrigation for cotton in the 1990s, but Mr Kidd successfully opposed the plan on environmental grounds and to protect the cattle industry.

In a 2012 video, Sandy Kidd, a Life in the Lake Eyre Basin, for Desert Channel Digital, he said: "I've really got the feeling for this country, otherwise, you know, I should have been an airline pilot, but it gets in you.

Sandy Kidd with his dog Sally on his property at Windorah. Picture: Helen Commens
Sandy Kidd with his dog Sally on his property at Windorah. Picture: Helen Commens

"Just remember, we've got a very, very fragile land and I just beg all young Australians to look after what we've got, to treasure what we've got, and thank Christ before we let big developments go (ahead)."

Mr Kidd was born James Alexander "Sandy" in 1940 to Jim and Mary Kidd, who established the sprawling property Mayfield, since renamed Ourdel Station and now a popular Queensland tourist attraction for its red sand hills.

While the property remains in the family, Mr Kidd relocated to Croydon, in northwestern Queensland, eight years ago to live with his son Thomas after being diagnosed with dementia.

In February he moved to a Brisbane nursing home where he died.

He is survived by his wife Anne, children Catherine, Thomas, Denise, Helen and James, daughters-in-law Helen and Jane, and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

His funeral service will be at Ourdel Station tomorrow, at 2pm and afterwards at the Windorah Community Hall. A memorial service will be held in Brisbane at a later date.

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