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Saturday, 03 December 2011


The official newsletter of The Drover's Camp Assn Inc. Camooweal

VOL # 8 Issue 5 November 2011

Seasons Greetings

President's Report

G'day All,
Another year almost done and dusted! What a great year! Money is still rather tight as stock is building in the store, but hopefully with Christmas and at the beginning of the tourist season our cash flow will improve.
I went to Townsville earlier this month for the Events Queensland conference. George Peach attended with me and we picked up some good pointers for the Drovers Camp.
Bushfires have been raging all over the state, but luckily for some, this area has had some good early storms. Hope we get a good wet season from now on.
Well folks, I want you to be aware I am NOT standing for president next election in August 2012 due to health reasons (Col is 80 in January and we feel it is time to move), so please put your thinking caps on for a new president. I feel the president should be caretaker as well as this is becoming a much bigger business and there are times when on the spot decisions have to be made.
Well, folks I wish you all a merry Christmas and prosperous New Year and don't forget the dates next year - 24th, 25th and 26th August 2012. We have included our Christmas catalogue and some interesting old articles Carmel found on scanned newspapers on www.trove.nla.gov.au.

Yours in droving,

The 2011 Drovers Camp Festival is supported by
Events Queensland

(By W. C. Little)

Part of article from The Townsville Bulletin (newspaper) 18th June, 1938.

Last week, in Cloncurry I happened to run across Messrs Harry and George Watson on their annual visit to their property, Gregory Downs. They talked of old hands of the early days of the Gulf, mention of whose names revived pleasant memories. Later I ran into another former Gulf acquaintance, Mr. Tom Dowling of Violetvale, who had come in to take delivery of a new motor car, and we talked of men who had strutted their hour on the stage. Still later, George McAuley, known to the old generation of Northern racing men, dropped in on me, and we talked of our first meeting at the old Buffalo Club races a third of a century ago.

They brought back reminiscences of an era that has departed, never to return - the days of the horse and of picnic race meetings, where men raced for the love of the game; when they loved to pit one of their own breeding against the best their mates could produce. These meetings were the only relaxation for the men who were carrying on the work of opening up the far North-west.

Principal of these meetings were the annual reunions of the Buffalo Club held at Gregory Downs. From North, South East and West contingents from the Gulf cattle stations made for this Mecca of racing men. The week was given up to sport and gaiety. They did not race with the object of increasing the bank balance; they brought their strings, in some cases a couple of hundred miles for sheer love of the sport. Victory and defeat came alike to them, and the victor was sure of the congratulations of the vanquished.

The course was down the beautiful river a short distance from Mrs. Barrett's pub; then recognised as the best conducted hotel in the back country. The vegetable garden was a veritable show place. Accommodation at the pub was at a premium, shakedowns were the order of the day, and numerous camps were pitched near the running stream.

Among these old enthusiasts were Bill Beaumont and his sons Willie and Alex (Undilla), Edgar Burke (Punjaub), T. B. Macintosh (Lawn Hall), F. W. Briggs (Gregory Downs), George Shadforth (Armraynald), Arthur Finlay (Thornton). Gunny Blakeney (Riversleigh), Harry Shadforth (Gregory Downs), George and Bill Douglas (Turnoff Lagoon), Norman Mclntyre (Augustus Downs), Bartel Doyle (Fiery Downs), Jack Carrington (Planet Downs), Bob Walden (Egilabria) with strong contingents from Camooweal and Burketown. All brought along strings of horses, good utility types with a fair turn of speed and up to welter weights.

When, gentle reader, you next visit that beautiful island resort, Alma Den. ask the genial host Mr. Hugh Griffith about Moses, Moonlight Blackbird, Lascar and company. Hughie was horse buying in the Gulf in those days and purchased hundreds of good class remounts for which he had a ready market in Charleville.

And the horsemen of those days. What a galaxy of talent. Harry and George Shadforth, Broughton Hogarth, Bob Walden, Bill and Alex Beaumont and Arthur Finlay could hold their own on any course in Queensland.

At one meeting a remarkable exhibition was given by Harry Shadforth, the doyen of Northern riders. He was on a colt named Alarm in the Bracelet, and to make the overweight as light as possible rode him in a 6lb. pad, although told the colt was something out of the box in the buckjumping line. While doing the prelim, the colt suddenly propped, and in a twinkling the spectators were treated to a display of equine acrobatics that one reads of but never sees. Up above, the super horseman never shifted in his seat, and after about 20 seconds of fireworks, Alarm decided to call it a day, but Harry thought it advisable to teach Alarm manners. It was a sick looking colt that returned to the paddock after his lesson. Had this display been given at Randwick it would have been a peg on which Banjo could have hung his lyre.

Many of those mentioned have gone to that Valhalla where all good horsemen are supposed to go and where (let us hope) they have good 'uns to carry their colors. They were horse-lovers and horse-masters all.


3rd January 1926 - 7th September 2011

Frank passed away on 7th of September, 2011. We offer our condolences to his family and friends.
This is his story.

Frank was born on 3rd January 1926 at 18 Main Avenue Wilston, Brisbane to Dave and Mabel Hennessey who were dairy farmers. He was the youngest of 5 boys. As a toddler his parents would stand him in a cream can to keep him out of the way while they milked the cows.
His young life was spent at "Oakvale" Delaney's Creek on a dairy farm. He started school at Delaney's Creek School in January 1931. The same school that his grandfather petitioned to have opened and his mother was the first pupil to attend in 1892.

Whilst jumping at the school sports, Frank came down on the bar with his left leg. A couple of weeks later my mother remembers Frank crying on the verandah for 3 days before, on his 10th birthday being taken to the Mater Hospital where he spent 15 months and had 23 operations. The bone had to be cured with leeches and maggots. He continued his studies by correspondence as he was never out of the bed. Frank had to wear an iron frame and boot on his leg for 12 months so that the bone would strengthen. When he came out of hospital he had to go to a new home as his Mum and Dad had bought a property at Mount Delaney. Every day he rode 6 miles with a bad leg, to Neurum School, where he met his life long friend Keith Murtagh.

In 1940 he went down and boarded with Auntie Vera and went to a private College where Bookkeeping and English were his main subjects. He was called up for the army and after training, was sent to Cairns in the office of Land and Communication Office. After about 8 months with the war turning for the better, he was sent back to Brisbane for discharge.

At the age of 19 he ventured out west and went to Lucknow Station, half way between Winton and Boulia. There he did the station's books and tutored two boys.
From there he worked on Windorah Station where his friend Keith Murtagh joined him. They both then moved on to Waverney Station and eventually bought a droving plant - droving 700 head of cattle from Waverney to Quilpie (5 weeks) or Waverney to Yaraka (4 weeks).
After a holiday they decided to buy a Dairy Farm and ended up on Potters Farm on the Tewantin Road. They settled into Cooroy really well and Frank enjoyed the dances, Show Society, and Tennis Club.

After returning from a two year contract in the Solomon Islands he got the job as bookkeeper on Walhallow Station in the Territory which also serviced Cresswell station, an outstation with a large community of Aboriginal people. During this time Frank became the Secretary of the Brunette Races, a job he held for 9 years. After a South Pacific Cruise he finally gained the courage to propose to Shirley Allery, a long time sweetheart from Cooroy. Four days after being married they flew out to Mt Isa and on to Walhallow Station. After recovering from the numerous wedding parties Shirley settled in and enjoyed the outback way of life. They became the surrogate parents to numerous young jackaroos, governesses and wayward soles. Their place was always the social hub of the station.

Frank and Shirley moved to Caboolture for 2 years where he gave real estate a go. Two years later he returned to the west, to Barkly Downs Station south of Camooweal. They both had a wonderful time there as they were only 1 hour drive to Camooweal and 1½ hours drive to Mt Isa. It was during this time I was very fortunate to spend time with Frank and Shirley as I was teaching in Mt Isa.

His horse, So Solo won the Camooweal Centenary Cup in 1984 and then in 1985. I still have vivid memories of a very proud Frank drinking beer from the huge trophy as it was passed around the room. Another of their horses, Spanish Wonder won the Ladies Bracelet in 1990. Frank was an extremely hard worker who never let his disability stop him from doing the things he wanted to do. 'Hoppy' as he was sometimes called would spend a few days in the saddle at the camp, mustering even when he was into his sixties - showing the young jackaroos or bucks as he called them, a thing or two.

In 1993 they built a house outside Wondai on 45 acres on the Stuart River. It was built as their dream home and had land for Dollar, the Camp horse and a retired Spanish Wonder. Unfortunately in 1993 Shirley became unwell and they moved to Nambour.

Frank remembers 2003 was his worst year as he lost his last 3 brothers in 4½ months which hit hard and then in 2004 Shirley lost her Mother and in September Shirley passed on. Frank remained in their house in Nambour until becoming unwell himself in 2010 and spent his last year in number of care homes where he was cared for with much compassion and dignity.

When I was asked to present the eulogy I started thinking about what Uncle Frank meant to me and have jotted down a few memories.
He loved:
His family and Shirley's family. He was very proud of their achievements.
Spinning a yarn - he had plenty of stories and could make them come to life - regardless of political correctness - a glint of laughter in his eyes throughout.
Animals - Makka the kangaroo, Bullet and Jacko the dogs, Tomless and Chloe the cats, Henrietta and Boy George the piglets that he reared as orphans - the race horses - just to name a few. Mum remembers even as a child Frank always had a shoe box with a few chicks he was raising.
Adventure - he would be in almost anything.
To voice his opinion - I'm sure that he would have some words of wisdom for Julia on the boat people.
His religion - his faith was very important to him.
To listen

But mostly he loved people and having fun. People from all walks of life, as we can see, by the people gathered here today. He particularly loved young people as he always seemed young at heart. He had great faith in young people. He became Uncle Frank to half of the teachers and young people in Mt Isa as he would come to the disco with us and have us all to stay at Barkly - frequently outlasting us at parties.

He had a keen sense of humour, loved good clean fun, pranks and stirring it up. He loved laughing.

Frank was like a brother to Geneviere - my mother who was his cousin - he taught her to ride a horse when she was four by helping her up on to a sugar bag saddle and giving the horse a good slap on the rump - he got his own slap on the rump from his Dad as a result. He would send in all sorts of presents from out west - useful things like dogs, opal rings, friends, coloured bed sheets.

He was like an Uncle to me. As a child I remember him as an Exotic Conjuror who would sweep in every year or two with a suitcase full of Sari's, woven bags, radio's, cowboy hats, Safari Suits, Toupee's (that had a habit of ending up on dance floors) and one year even an exotic Solomon Islander named Hearty, who spoke no English, smiled a lot and had this huge head of Fuzzy Hair. As an adult he managed to conjure up helicopter mustering, windmill climbing, dingo shooting, horse breaking and winning horse races.

I clearly remember having a boyfriend come from Sydney to experience country races - he was a very tall fellow who Uncle Frank disliked on sight (in hindsight he was a good judge of character). After winning the Camoweal Cup - the ladies stayed in the hotel and the men slept in their swags on the back of the Ute's just out of town. Uncle Frank terrorised this poor soft, city boy all night with stories of people being attacked and worse as they had slept on their Ute's in just that area. Other stories he related included deadly brown snakes and death adders that climb up onto the tray back and wild pigs. By morning this boy hadn't slept a wink and was as white as a ghost. Uncle Frank had a smile from ear to ear and had thoroughly enjoyed himself. He was sure that the city boy would not be back.

Relationships were very important to Uncle Frank and in his final years he was very fortunate to spend much of his time with Lurlene, Mark, Tyson and James whom he was very proud of, always relating stories of their achievements. He was truly blessed to have them to do such a wonderful job of looking after him when he needed it most.

Frank a truly larger than life character, has left us all a legacy of memories, stories, sayings (kangaroo toes, a death adder in the sink - for those who are reluctant to wash up, jumping the broom - getting married) and smiles. What wonderful things to leave.

Article from the Townsville Daily Bulletin (newspaper) 15th November 1917

Camooweal Notes
(For the North Qld Register)
CAMOOWEAL November 4
Since last writing, we have had some very good showers, the best fall being an inch last Thursday in the town, Rocklands Station 139 points, Avon Downs 31, and Austral 27. The rain was a boon in more ways than one, besides the grass it will make; it has put out the many bushfires which were raging round the town and district. These fires were getting quite a spread on, and burned several miles of good grass. One fire burnt Reilly's horse paddock and the cemetery. Fortunately no stock have been lost through them.
The heavy rain at West Leichhardt has evidently extended along the Camooweal Cloncurry road as the mail coach has not yet arrived.
Drover Hugh Johnston has just returned, and reported a very successful trip with Brunette's bullocks to Hergott Springs in South Australia.
Drovers Fernie and Gordon have received instructions to proceed to Vergmont, with the Herbertvale cattle.
Miss A. Synnott, Misses Doreen and Rhoda Reilly, and Mr. W. Beaumont left per motor last Sunday for Townsville.
Mr. J. G Edge (well known of Carrandotta Station) arrived.


From Peter Jones
I am writing a history of the National Trust property "Jones Store" at Newcastle Waters and am looking for information/stories on drovers Charles & Charlotte Mackinzie who operated the store/butcher shop, from August 1949 to April 1953.
Would it be possible to ask your readers?

From Robyn Tully
I am looking for family history information on William Jonathon ANDERSON (B. 1863 approx), who may have been a drover in Qld. Any help or suggestion of where I could get any further info would be greatly appreciated.

If you have information that could help Peter or Robyn in their quest for information please contact The Drovers Camp at the contact details on this site.

Ellen Finlay received this poem and thought it might spark a few memories for some!

Old Drovers

The sounds of bells behind the town,
Have been drifting through the air,
They come floating through my window
As I sit in my office chair.

I stop my work and listen
And allow my thoughts to stray,
As a drovers plant and cattle
Are not too far away.

Somewhere down the Diamantina,
Thereís old Cooper with Lorraine's
And Bob Smith there from Gympie
With a thousand Rockland Plains.

On the big flats from Winton,
Where the Western rivers run,
Thereís Clarke and Hall from Dalgonally
With two thousand DM1ís.*

Reg Thompson with Kamilaroiís
Where the Leichhardt River flows,
Followed by Reg Fickling
With twelve hundred 2ROís.*

Dougal Cameron with the Valleyís
Are nearing Julia Creek
And a mob from off the Norman
Have been quarantined a week.

The Nelson boys and Charlie Williams
Are chaps I have never met,
Travelling down a stage apart
With a mob each from Brunette.

The Rockland bullocks are on the road;
Walter Cowan takes the lead,
And is followed by Jack Carrol
With a thousand VCTís.*

I heard of these drovers coming down,
And felt a trifle pleased
I can almost mark the stages
By the letters I receive.

Iíve been working in my office
Doing books up all the week.
But I cannot work at figures
While these bells are on the creek.

My mind will somehow wander
For Iím longing to be out
Sharing hardships with these drovers
Along the great stock route.

This poem was written by Tommy Bravason (or Brabason) in 1929.

Tommy worked in Venessís Stock and Station Office in Winton. His father owned Elderslie Station on the Diamantina, not far from the old Forty Mile Pub on the Boulia Road.

*DM1 - Cattle brand of Dalgonally Station, Julia Creek.
*2RO - Cattle brand of Cooloolah Station, Cloncurry.
*VCT - Cattle brand of Rocklands Station, Territory side, Camooweal.

Leonie Winks Photography

PostOffice Hotel

Branded Hatracks

Dematini and Young

Last Updated ( Saturday, 03 December 2011 )
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