Men of the Queensland Bush: Sepia Saturday 249


Sepia Saturday 249This week’s Sepia Saturday is about the horse, the cart and the drivers. While my Denis Gavin from Kildare and Dublin worked as a bullocky out west when he first arrived in Queensland I have no photos of him, or his bullock dray. Many of my ancestors also rode the iron rails but today’s photo is of none of these.

This photo is one I included in my Kunkel family history. It was given to me by Dad’s cousin and shows a bunch of dodgy looking blokes hanging around the 20th century cart and horse…a truck. I know my grandfather’s brothers worked as carriers but the cousin couldn’t identify which was her father, Matthew David John (John) Kunkel. If I was guessing I’d say it was the bloke on the front right, and strangely she wasn’t sure…or perhaps he was the photographer. Actually I’d have expected John’s brother Ken to have been with him as they were very close.qld mafiosi men incl john kunkel

But isn’t it a great photo?! All dressed in their Driza-bones and wearing hats with character. The front row are crouched in the typical bushie pose that Dad always took up when waiting for something. Time was I could do it too, but sadly I’m no longer that flexible or agile. The pipes remind me of my grandad who would sit on the back steps of their house tapping the tobacco out, refilling the pipe then having a quiet smoke, looking over the back yard.

The Darling Downs is the lime green area on the bottom right.

The Darling Downs is the lime green area on the bottom right.

While these men would have probably given anyone in need a hand, you can’t help feeling you wouldn’t want to meet them on a dark night. I’d place a good bet too that many, if not all of them, were returned service men from World War I. If you recognise anyone in this group, please do comment as I’d love to know about it.

It looks to me like a silo behind the men, which would fit with it likely being taken on the Darling Downs. To the right is a typical old Queenslander house, on stilts, with its two tanks and no doubt a slow combustion stove to cope with the chilly weather typical of winter on the Downs.

Gallop over to see how other Sepians transported themselves this week.

28 thoughts on “Men of the Queensland Bush: Sepia Saturday 249

    • Sharon, MDJ as I call him, or John as he was known to the family had already had a tough life. His parents died when he was small and he was a youngster when he went to WWI…even under the hat he reminds me of grandad.

      Driza-bones are derivative of these traditional oilskins I think. Should have used that term instead, historically.

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    • It finally dawned on me Wendy that it was probably a really cold day on the Downs hence the oilskins. Like most people out west they probably had their hats pulled low to shade their eyes. I just live this photo – one of my faves for it’s possible interpretations.

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  1. I was feeling a little guilty for thinking the group looked a bit seedy until I read your remark about perhaps not wanting to meet them on a dark night, & laughed. As you say, they were likely good men who wouldn’t hesitate to help someone in need. One would like to think that, anyway. Great picture.

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    • I’m sure they would have done anything for anyone in trouble…the hallmark of a true bushie. I’m thinking they must have been cold with their coats on and hats pulled low to shade their eyes from the glare.

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  2. They certainly do look like a great bunch of characters, and I think the chap squatting in the light coloured trousers on the left looks friendly enough too.

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  3. They may look dodgy to city slickers but dodgy, no way, Any one of those blokes would say “Do you need a hand luv?”, mend your tyre, or tow you out of a ditch and wave you on your way. Bless ’em all, I say.

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    • Absolutely, I smiled at your comment! They would have given anyone a hand I’m sure and expected no thanks. They’d also be the sort of blokes you’d want on your side in a stoush, or in the ranks with you at battle. They would each have amazing stories to tell.

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