A bullocky & his team near Rosewood Railway Station c. 1882
(Photo: State Library of Qld)
In our days of motor cars, trains, trams, motorbikes and bicycles it is difficult to picture the images in the mind’s eye of the old-timers in those faraway days when the pioneer was hard up for any kind of conveyance.
It begs the question. How many of us today would have the grit and determination of those pioneer men, women and children? It is astonishing what people can endure when their backs are to the wall.
Faced with dense, virgin scrub and only hand tools it must have been a testing time for the settlers. Horses, two horse drays, wagons, carts and “shank’s pony” were the only means of transport. Many men walked or rode long distances between towns just to have a look at a tract of land that had been opened up for selection.
It was not unusual for people to walk the twelve odd miles (approx. 20km) from Rosewood Gate to Ipswich and back before the railway line came through. In fact many of our pioneer immigrant families walked from Ipswich to the Scrub to make it their home.
Rough tracks were cut through the scrub which housed some dangers for “new chums”. Negotiating these thoroughfares was an art in itself. Often times it would be a very long way around to get to a destination e.g. to a creek to get water, to a railway station, to a church gathering or to simply to visit a neighbour. Some settlers in poorer circumstances had neither horse nor cart in their worst times.
The first supplies to townships were transported by pack bullocks before bullock drays became the universal method of transporting goods. The bullock driver and his team was a common and harmonious sight in the Australian landscape. What would the settlers have done without them? To the observer it looked as though the bullocky hadn’t a care in the world, ambling along slowly at walking pace. Anybody could drive a horse, but it wasn’t everybody who could drive bullocks. It was solely by the “holt” and the movement of the whip that they were handled. A spade and an axe were essential items out on the track. The driver’s eyes were continuously focused on the beasts and a good dog was of invaluable assistance. They travelled about 10-12 miles a day (a “stage”) and the sheer size of some of their loads was a sight to behold. It could take weeks or months to get to a destination.
Next morning a start was made for Laidley and the next the Little Liverpool had to be negotiated and the night found the camp-fire lighted at Bigge’s Camp, now Grandchester. Then by eight to 10 mile stages through Rosewood, the Seven-mile with its mile of logging, calculated to shake out our pole-pins; then Three-mile where Johnnie M’Grath kept a pub, and the One-mile, where his brother, Jimmie kept another, and a camp was made between Jimmie s and the river. But when a thirst was on the river wasn’t in the race. Then loaded with supplies at Hassell and Ogg’s, J. and G. Harris, John Panton, or other merchants and forwarding agents for Drayton, Toowoomba, Warwick, Dalby and Downs and western stations. [Daily Mail 14 August, 1923]
by Jane Schy