Bullocks teams of yesteryear not forgotten as part of Australia’s bush heritage alive

From the ABC Mid-Coast. 9-1-2018

Bullock teams were the backbone of Australia’s colonial workforce, but they are now a part of the country’s history many have forgotten.

Bullock drivers across Australia are keeping the bush tradition alive though, including one at a heritage theme park on the New South Wales mid north coast.

Timbertown, at Wauchope, is home to a team of 10 bullocks which can still be seen hauling heavy logs in a daily demonstration, under the firm, but affectionate guidance of passionate bullocky, Craig Lockwood.

They do not have to work under the tough conditions of days gone by, when bullocks helped clear land, and hauled logs, supplies and goods over long distances, but they are a skilled and strong team.

Mr Lockwood presents them at Timbertown as a working replica of a timber getting team of bullocks and his role also includes their daily care and training, something he said he finds very rewarding.

Bullock teams were the backbone of Australia’s colonial workforce, but they are now a part of the country’s history many have forgotten.

Bullock drivers across Australia are keeping the bush tradition alive though, including one at a heritage theme park on the New South Wales mid north coast.

Timbertown, at Wauchope, is home to a team of 10 bullocks which can still be seen hauling heavy logs in a daily demonstration, under the firm, but affectionate guidance of passionate bullocky, Craig Lockwood.

They do not have to work under the tough conditions of days gone by, when bullocks helped clear land, and hauled logs, supplies and goods over long distances, but they are a skilled and strong team.

Mr Lockwood presents them at Timbertown as a working replica of a timber getting team of bullocks and his role also includes their daily care and training, something he said he finds very rewarding.

“I love working with animals, I have always had a passion working for animals, although I didn’t know I was going to end up working a bullock team, I don’t think anybody had a goal in this era to actually work a bullock team,” he said.

Mr Lockwood believes his bullock team is currently the only existing full-time demonstration team.

“This team we think at the moment is possibly the only full time demonstration team in the world at the moment, so these boys standing here are a pretty special bunch of fellows.

“There’s about 20-25 bullock teams in Australia, there are no commercially viable teams, to keep up at two to three miles an hour with a bullock team, with modern machinery today team is pretty much impossible,” he said.

“There’s a lot of hobby teams though, and fellows doing it for themselves, whether their parents and grandparents and great grandparents were bullock drivers, so they are keeping the history and trade alive and there’s probably three or four demonstration teams in Australia, they are only seasonal.”

Important bond between the bullocky and the team

The steady leaders of the Timbertown bullock team are mature nine-year-old’s Spur and Banjo, while the heaviest bullock on the team is Captain, at a huge 900 kilograms.

According to Mr Lockwood bullocks are far more intelligent than most people give them credit for, and while verbal commands are important, much of the communication between him and the bullock team is unspoken.

“Yoking up is pretty hard and they are big boys, they knock you around a little bit, they are not dangerous but they are heavy, so you have to be fairly staunch to be working around them,” he said.

“You can have all the knowledge in the world, but honestly it’s in your heart.”

“There’s verbal commands, but even my persona around the bullocks, the way I stand, it’s a reflection of everything that goes together, so it’s pretty personal.”

Mr Lockwood also gives his bullock teams plenty of love and attention.

“I’ve trained all these boys, a couple of them I’ve seen born in this team.

I started Albert and Mick at two years old and they are 15 now,” he said.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-09/bullock-teams-keep-alive-australian-bush-heritage/9312036

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