The McDonald family has a long association with rural Australia dating back to 1827 and the first shipment of cattle to Tasmania. The current MDH aggregation of properties was founded by A.J. (Jim) McDonald who searched for cattle country around Cloncurry in the 1940s. Jim McDonald purchased Brightlands Station in 1946 after deciding the sugar industry was encroaching on his pastoral holdings around Mackay. Over the next 60 years the family acquired properties strategically located throughout Queensland to drought proof the cattle operation.
The McDonald family still live and work on the founding property Brightlands and nearby Devoncourt Station which is where the head office and beef marketing division is based.