Backward Glance – Horses, transport and companionship

Life for early settlers and their families in this region was hard, but never boring.

Though bullock teams assisted with cartage, it was the horse that provided fast transport and was relied upon in emergencies.

School teacher Ellen Beausang took up her first appointment at Conondale in 1912 and caught the train to Woodford.

Waiting for Ellen at the Woodford Station was Mr Ahern of Mount View Conondale with a horse for her to ride.

She got her first riding lesson on the way from Woodford to Conondale along Postman’s Ridge. It was a very rough track, not for the faint hearted.

The Conondale community was very isolated in early years and accidents happened.

A young Bob English dashed to Maleny on his horse, which took over an hour, to get an ambulance when Noel Raddatz was badly injured.

Bob English later became the Australian woodchopping champion in 1928.

Another member of the Raddatz family, Vic, rode his horse from Maleny to Conondale in November 1918 to announce excitedly to the farming community that World War l was over.

Horse-drawn wagons transported farm produce throughout the region, along distant roads in places such as Montville and Mapleton which later linked to Palmwoods Railway Station via a steep and narrow pass.

Routes such as this were improved in time but remained difficult.

Pack horses were a common sight in the range country, negotiating the narrow and often steep tracks in areas where wagons could not go.

Blacksmiths were important tradesmen of this era.

P. Pinkerton, a blacksmith from Yandina, was well known for his craftsmanship.

George Best, the local Yandina butcher, purchased one of Pinkerton’s wagons to deliver orders by horse and wagon.

George Best took over from Lawton’s butchering business at Yandina in 1894 and operated the business with the help of his sons, George Jnr, Arthur and Tim.

“Best Butchers” carried on their Yandina business until 1958.

Carts, sulkies and traps were used to transport families along the old tracks in the district.

In the Soldier Settlement regions of Beerburrum, the sulkies and carts made their way along Red Road and Gympie Road loaded with produce, particularly pineapples, bound for the railway station.

Sulkies and carts waited at railway stations to transport people and produce to their destinations as well.

Skilled blacksmiths were well patronised, providing an essential service to the community.

Word spread about who to go to if a wagon needed repairing or a horse with a difficult problem needed to be shod.

The blacksmith could look at the way a horse walked and remedy the problem.

He was able to make horse shoes to suit the horse and provide fitting, generally fixing a problem with his knowledge of horsemanship.

The newly built Gympie Road had a blacksmith at every coach stop to ensure speedy service was available when required.

Horse shoes were among the most important items constructed and replaced by blacksmiths.

They made tools for farmers, including nails, plows, shovels, hoes and axes, and also forged items necessary for daily life in settler’s homes, such as latches, hooks, and various kitchen utensils.

It was a hard, hot job but highly valued by the community.

During his timber getting days in the Blackall Ranges, John Simpson had selected Portion 14 Parish of Beerwah in 1876.

He relocated to the Peach Tree Range, later known as Peachester, building a slab bark home as well as a blacksmith and wheelwright shop which were vital for his own horse teams.

Well placed on the busy track, the business attracted teamsters from as far as the Maleny plateau.

Such was his success, he and his wife Elizabeth later branched out into hotels, owning the Coochin Creek Hotel and Beerwah and Mooloolah Hotels close to the railway line.

Horse paddocks were common on school grounds as children rode to school if fortunate enough to have a horse.

Some children rode many kilometres to their closest school, often by themselves.

The importance of an education became well established and bush schools built by communities had a horse paddock close by.

Resilience and common sense was taught from an early age as children played an important role in the hard-working operations of farming and general duties.

Horses provided a means for carting valuable resources and they often carted water from distant water sources in times of drought when the household tank became dry or crops needed water.

Without horses, many farms and crops would have been impossible to maintain.

The draught horse was the mainstay of the farm prior to tractors.

The draught horse, though of immense size, generally had a gentle nature and was valued due to its working capabilities.

Clementina Ferris loved horses and on her days off work, the young Clementina would ride her favourite chestnut horse named Gary to visit her grandmother Clementina Burgess at Bankfoot House on the Gympie Road.

Doris Tilney was the daughter of George and Annie Tilney from Conondale.

The Tilneys had a dairy farm located on Harper’s Creek Road.

Doris was an expert horsewoman, trained many horses and had her own team of draught horses, which she used on her own Conondale farm.

Alf Wirth and son Chris used their draught horse to pull Syd Hughes’ new utility out of the water at the Hell Hole, Diamond Valley Mooloolah in 1936.

The introduction of the “horseless carriage” in the district could sometimes see a proud new owner become bogged on dirt roads or stranded when the engine stopped crossing creeks.

The strong draught horse had no problem pulling automobiles out of trouble.

When Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester visited the Maroochy District in December 1934, during his official tour of Australia, he travelled by steam train from Brisbane to Nambour.

He was then driven to Buderim and accommodated for the weekend at Buderim House.

“Ringer” was the Duke’s choice of horse for a Sunday afternoon ride along Buderim Mountain.

He was accompanied by Captains Curtis and Kerr, Messrs’, Burnett and Mitchell, all on horses.

The party rode through picturesque tropical countryside into the fruit growing regions.

Up until the mid-1930s, the horse and cart co-existed with the motor car for transportation in many communities.

By the early 1950s, cars, trucks and buses were common and the sight of a horse and cart became rare.

Today trucks, cars and motorbikes can be seen on the Bruce Highway which was built in 1934, originally known as the Great North Road.

There are no horses allowed on this highway, only the horse power of a fast moving vehicle.

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library Officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.

Image Details

Hero Image: Leadbetter brothers on horseback in the backyard of Brighton Guest house, Picnic Point Esplanade, ca 1954

Image 1: Richmond Eugene Morris on a horse-drawn grass mower on his property at Eerwah

Image 2: Florrie Smith on horseback on her family’s farm at Wappa, west of Yandina, ca 1952

Image 3: George E. Adams’ coach building and blacksmith works, Cook Street, Eumundi, 1913

Image 4: Horse drawn wagon participating in Red Cross Carnival, Buderim, 1918

Image 5: Horse feeding on a Skerman family property, Maleny ca 1905

Image 6: Quarrie’s Blacksmith Shop in Main Street, Buderim, 1905

Image 7: Colin Loweke riding his horse ‘Patch’ on his first farm, Obi Obi Road, Kenilworth, ca 1953

Image 8: M. Twigg’s open melon race at the Buderim War Memorial Carnival, Buderim oval, Buderim, 27 June 1953

Image 9: Jack Pickering and Charles Lowrey handclipping a horse on Harry Gordon’s property, Kenilworth, ca 1925

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.