|Type of person|| Individual
Born 18th September 1924 and passed away 27th August 2016.
You can read the entire document, including photographs, by Dr. Val Partridge here.
Please click here to see more photos of Dudley Kemp.
I am descended from James and Sarah Kemp who, after their arrival in SA made their first home in a dug-out adjacent to the Woolsheds Flat Road (now the Balaklava Road) on Section 507. His second home was erected circa 1871 in the north-west corner Section 508. In 1874 James finally built his homestead “Springwood” on Section 508 adjacent to the road. The remains of the dug-out can still be found today under several almond trees. James worked as a shepherd on a station property owned by Mr. Uphill before purchasing his first 80 acre section where he sowed the grain with a seedlet, cut hay with a scythe, stacking and culling it with a hay-knife before tying same into trusses (sheaves). When carting the hay to Burra he would back-load with copper ore taking it to either Port Wakefield or Port Adelaide. James Sarah had 8 children
On August 30th 1858 a gathering of the Wesleyan pioneers of Woolsheds Flat met at the home of Mr. Howard (now the home of Brian and Maureen Kemp) to discuss the possibility of erecting a chapel. James donated an acre of Section 127 on which to build the church. Donations amounting to fifty pounds were received at the inaugural meeting and the men of the faith then carted by bullock drays, 100 loads of stone quarried by hand from a nearby rocky outcrop. Tenders were duly called and let for the sum of sixty two pounds three shillings and sixpence.
When Sarah died James married Elizabeth and later they retired to Riverton and lived in a cottage on Washington Road.
James’ and Sarah’s eldest child William married Sarah Jane Ellery and their son Theodore married Althea Ruby Bowden. They had 4 children: Howard, who died at the age of 2, Althea, who died at one day old, Malcolm and Dudley.
My father was one of the fifth generation of Kemps. His name was Theodore and was brought up on the family farm, ‘Springwood’, at Rhynie. He was the second eldest boy of the family of nine children – six boys and three girls. He left the family partnership and came to live in Gawler in the early 1900s. Initially, he lived in Bishop Street which was the street behind the Hutchison Hospital in Gawler. He also bought a property at Yatta Creek in the Barossa Ranges about five miles out of Gawler. He never lived on it but travelled out to the property when necessary. In about 1910 he bought another property at 9 Lyndoch Road, Gawler, where he lived and the property included a little block between Daly Street and East Terrace on a little lane now known as Kemp Street. This was where he used to keep the ponies and our milking cow, whose name was Glen Ewen. She was a stud Jersey cow and it was my job to milk her before school each morning.
Dad was married when he came to Gawler. He had married Althea Ruby Bowden who had lived a couple of miles from where he was brought up at a property called ‘Gibralta’, named after the big rock on the property which was on the Wakefield River. They had had two children before they came to live in Gawler and lost them both - Howard died at two years old and Althea died soon after birth. They had my brother Malcolm when they moved to Lyndoch Road, Gawler. I arrived 7 years later on the 18th of September 1924. My mother went back to Riverton to have me. I was the youngest of 4 children.
My dad was a live-stock dealer. He used to travel as far away as the West Coast to buy sheep which had been walked to Cowell by the vendor. Then they would be shipped from Cowell to Wallaroo and when they arrived there would be a drover waiting to walk them to the new owner’s property. Dad would get a ring from one of the stock agents who would say to him, “Is that you Theo?” “Yes”, dad would reply. “Have you got some sheep?” “Yes”, dad would say. “Well you’d better come up. The drovers are on the piss and there’s sheep all over the country.” So I would get two days off from school to go and help dad sort out the sheep. I loved doing that. That was the way I learnt the live-stock trade. I also used to ride my ponies from the little block we had in Gawler out to Yatta Creek to help dad or if anybody else needed help with something to do with stock, I was there.
In 1937 dad sold Yatta Creek and went to Two Wells on the Middle Beach Road and bought a property there with Reg Bosisto. They were partners for about 35 years. They traded under the name of Bosisto & Kemp. He was in the dealing side of it. Dad was more the sheep man and Reg the cattleman. They were both pretty versatile. They employed fella’s to help them. As there were no trucks to cart stock the live-stock were agisted here and there on other properties. I’d ride a horse out to shift them where-ever I had to and I loved doing it. I could bring cattle home in a day. Sheep took two days. I loved it! Of course having these older blokes on the horses they’d always put me on a young colt, which was a challenge.
Dad was a live-stock dealer all his life and made a reasonable living from it. Mum stayed home and looked after things there. Things were tough as it was the Depression. During that time, dad used to go to the south east on the Melbourne Express to Wolseley, then change trains and go and spend a few days down around Naracoorte, Penola and Mount Gambier wheelin’ and dealin’ at the local stock markets. They even bought cattle at Hamilton and Warrnambool in Victoria in the 1930s. They would go by car, often with a De Garis stock agent, then, after the sale they would walk the cattle to Bordertown. Then, because it was all undeveloped country, rail them to Nairne and then walk them to Roseworthy. They were traders.
Dad was a regular at the cattle and sheep market in Pooraka on Wednesdays but he always had to get home in time to have a game of bowls. He was a very keen bowler. He was also a Trustee of the Tod Street Methodist Church where he used to sing in the choir. I’d be riding steers while he was singing in the choir! I was the ‘black sheep’ of the family. All my other cousins agreed that I was the ‘black sheep’ of the Kemp family, but I have had a lot of fun being it. My father had a couple of brothers that never lived very long but the four that did survive were all stock-dealers. Riverton was a big market day. His brothers all had properties around the Rhynie township. My dad’s brother married my mum’s sister. Two brothers married two sisters. They were pretty successful dealers too. Dad would have a drink occasionally but he was pretty steady. He was a pretty respected stock dealer/agent I think. He used to buy for several of the butchers and exporters. He would buy stock on a commission basis for whoever engaged him. He was the middle-man. The buying and selling process is very different today.
MY GROWING-UP YEARS
I went to Gawler Primary School. I hated school and thought I was dumb. At every opportunity I had to miss school and help dad move sheep. The highlight of my life was being able to go to the travelling buck-jump shows that were often happening around the district. Then one day dad took me to a Kidman Rodeo which was held on Jubilee Oval, which was where Frome Road in Adelaide is now. I was about 8-10 years old. It was a milestone in my life. It was an exhibition of horsemanship and wasn’t competitive. It aimed to demonstrate the stock-riding skills performed by Sir Sidney Kidman’s best stockmen. That was in 1932. I was enthralled. From then on after school I used to try doing what they were doing. I was determined to do what those blokes did so I practiced and practiced. The Lillicrap boys, who lived in the next street, encouraged me a bit. My own pony was called Nipper and I learnt to ride on him. All the kids in Gawler East learnt to ride on my ponies and I learnt to ride on their bike. We had great fun.
As Yatta Creek was only 5 miles out I would ride my pony out there after school to help dad with the sheep or anything else he was doing. As I had two ponies sometimes a friend would come with me. Soon there were travelling buck-jump shows around the place and I realized that people were making a living out of it. At the time there were some famous names like Tex Morton, the Gill brothers, Thorpe McConville and others whom I hero-worshipped. All these travelling shows were held at night time so of course I would be there. I won my first event when the show was held on a vacant block behind Dr Hyde’s surgery. I rode a buck jump pony called ‘Electric Spark’ full time and had every body there cheering me on. I got a medal for my effort!
Every show that came to Gawler I’d go. A bloke called Johnny Snell did a lot of work for my dad and his partner was a champion horse-man and, of course, he was a very competent horseman too. He said to me one day, “I’m going to Victor Harbour Sat’dy to ride in a rodeo there. Want to come?” I didn’t need to be asked twice I can tell you! So he took me, Alec Oliver and Jack Tierney. We caught the train to Adelaide and then went on the bus to Victor Harbour. We got met by one of the blokes who were putting the rodeo on. Snelly won the Bronc Ride and I ran third and then I won the Steer Ride. And, of course, we had a bit of ‘fun and games’ afterwards, just like the teenagers do today. We missed the bus home so we stayed at the Central Hotel in a couple of empty beds. In the morning I thought, ‘I’d better ring my mum on the Sunday morning to tell her where I am’. When I did she said, “It’s alright I know where you are, I read it in the Mail.” I said, “We’ll be home sometime today.” From then on I loved that sort of business – rodeos.
The year I left school, in 1939 aged 16, I cut my Archilles tendon through with a scythe that I’d been using to cut lucerne for the horses. I had just hosed them down and had cut some lucerne for them and given it to them. Then when I went to pick the scythe up I fell on the blade and cut my Achilles tendon through the side. When my mum came home from the Saturday afternoon pictures she saw that I couldn’t walk. The lad that was with me led the horse into the yard where all the blood tracks could be seen. Mum said, “Where’s all the blood coming from?” I said, “I cut my leg.” I didn’t realize how serious it was. Mum said, “Let me have a look.” I said, “It’s stopped bleeding, it’s all right.” So I let it go till next morning. By next morning it was a hell of a lot worse.
Mum got the doctor and he went and got the Gawler Light Horse camp doctor. The camp was based on the Gawler Race-course as WW2 had just begun. Dr West was a specialist and he hooked the tendon together for me and I spent six months in plaster and on crutches. That really grounded me! I was not at all happy. That really ended my competitive rodeo aspirations. As rodeo riding involved lots of dismounting and lots of other things that would risk damaging the tendon again, the risk was too great. So I never played anymore footy either for that reason. I had only played a couple of games for Willaston. That accident affected my life greatly.
As a child I went to Sunday school and became a Cub in Boy Scouts because my brother was a Scout. I liked Cubs but when I got to the Scout stage the war broke out and Scouts dispersed a bit so I joined the Air Training Corps. When I got injured I got down graded because I couldn’t do all the activities. I learnt to shear when I was a kid with hand shears. I was taught by a fella’ called Charley Clark. Shearers were all blade shearers in those days. I learnt to shear in Nolan’s stable in Willaston I reckon, it was not in a shearing shed. When dad had some sheep agisted old Charley Clark, who lived in the side street, came and shore them. That was when I learnt the skill. I did anything for a quid. We used to get two pound ten shillings a hundred. Now they get about $2.10 each! I loved anything to do with animals. When I left school I went to work for a fella’ called Frank Best and he taught me to shear with the machines. Then I also went down to Kingsford, where they made the TV program called ‘McLeod’s Daughters’ a few years ago. It’s a property on the eastern outskirts of Gawler on the North Para River with a large homestead on it. A fella’ called Jacky Mitchell owned it then and I did a bit of shearing with his son. I never shore big numbers because of my injured ankle. I’d do anything for a job though, like stooking or carting hay that was all done with horse and dray.
MY BROTHER MALCOLM My older brother, Malcolm, who was 7 years older than me, wasn’t interested in dealing for a living. The only job he ever had was working for Elders Stock Company in Currie Street Adelaide. He started with Elders in about 1935. He was also a keen scout and in 1937 went to an International Jamboree in Amsterdam, Holland. He went on a ship called the Orana and came back on the Oronsay. He was away for six months. My dad never had enough money to pay for him to go so my Gran Bowden gave him the money to go. She was in the ‘time on’ period of her life then and she said to him, “You’ll never get an opportunity like that again.” I think he also saw the Coronation of King George VI.
He no sooner got back from Holland when war looked inevitable. Before the war broke out he joined the 27th Battalion and had to wear a Scottish kilt. He trained at Woodside. Then when the war started he transferred to the Air Force. After 8 weeks he was sent to Rhodesia and trained at a place called Bullawayo with Ian Smith who was well known in Rhodesia because of his radical political views. He then moved on into the North African campaign and then moved on to Malta where he stayed for some time. He was then in the 451 Air Squadron. He won a DFC for his exploits in the Middle East and got mentions in dispatches. He was flying ‘Hurricanes’ in that area. When he went to England he fought in the Battle of Britain and was flying ‘Spitfires’. He got a French decoration, the Croix de Guerre, from that campaign. Unfortunately, because he was away so long I never had a lot to do with him in my growing up years. When he did come home he discovered that the girl he was engaged to had got some-one else. As a result he became a bit of a loner. People used to say ‘he’ll never get married.’ Then he met an officer (female) at the Willaston Air Force camp just before he was discharged and married her. He and Agnes had four children, Malcolm, Phillip, John and Althea.
They decided to marry in the Methodist Church at Woolsheds, even though Agnes was a Catholic, thinking that the wedding would be a small one. As there hadn’t been a wedding in the church since my Uncle Arthur Kemp and Auntie Rita Bowden were married there after the First World War, it ended up being a big one as everyone in the district came! My great grandparents gave the land for it to be built on and the building is now under the protection of the National Trust. Special events are occasionally held there, such as district re-unions and the annual carols night which we look forward to attending each year.
When Mal came back from the war he went back to work with Elders, then one day he came home and said to dad, “Bugger Elders, I am going to pull the pin, I am going to get a job in the Airways and fly a plane anywhere.” I think he must have said to my dad, “I’m not going to have a young bugger kicking me around anymore, I’m sick of it.” When he came back from the war he found that everyone else was above him and he had to start at the bottom again and work his way up. However, dad must have spoken to the right person saying, “If you want him you had better give him some responsibility and something he likes doing.” So he went to work in Elders Wool Store at Port Adelaide. He had a lot to do with a Union fellow who gave him a hard time but that didn’t matter, that was how it was. He later got promoted to being the State Wool Manager. That took him to a lot of places. Then when the merger between Elders and Goldsborough Mort came he had the job of representing Elders and had to work in partnership with the Goldsborough’s representative as they didn’t want two managers in all their branches. It wasn’t an easy job for him to demote an employee. However, he got by. Then he got a few promotions and he finished up Assistant Manager in Victoria.
We went over to see him one New Year’s Eve and he wasn’t real happy and he said, “I’m not going to let these Victorian bastards kick me around. It’s different over here.” Then one night I get a phone call and he said, “How are you? I’m coming back to Adelaide and I’m going to take a demotion. I’m coming back to Adelaide as Finance Manager.” That’s where he finished up. I admit we never had a lot to do with one another growing up because he was away so much and because of the big age difference but we made up for it in later years. When mum and dad both passed on within about six months of each other in 1968, we never had any arguments about dividing their assets. We had a get-to-gether and shared everything. We tossed a coin for everything we wanted and split the money that was left. Then he went his way and I went mine but we still kept in touch. Soon after he retired from Elders he died aged 67. Now I keep in touch with his youngest son more than his other three because he is more stock orientated. Lately, he’s been working for Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard (Prime Ministers) for about a year. He’s done everything – like me. He’s travelled a lot to visit all the other states in the course of his job to assess the rural situation, and been to the Middle East where he was involved in the live sheep trade there, so I find he’s very interesting to talk with.
MY DROVING DAYS
When I was still in my teens my dad and his partner and another guy called Bill Reid, bought 700 cows from Undoolya Station, which is up north out of Alice Springs and railed them to Maree. I was allowed to go with the droving team to walk them out to Mona Downs Station. I was so excited. My dad took me down to R. M. Williams’ shop/factory at 5 Percy Street Prospect and bought me a brand new saddle, neck-bag and water-bag. The water-bag is still over in my shed today. I had R.M. boots as well. My dad said to me that day, “This will teach you, going up there. It will be a wonderful experience for you.” And it was. It was my first time being part of a droving team. We went out and branded the cattle when we got there. I had to do the early watches as I was too much of a lad. Those on watch had to be on the horse for 2 hours straight at night and see that none of the cattle strayed.
That drove occurred at the start of the partnership between Jim and Claude Oldfield who were later to become very well known owning large tracts of land in the far north. Their property was called Mona Downs Station. Before they became partners they had been drovers for many years. They had gotten the opportunity to lease this land and it had magic feed on it. After six months we had to give them 20% of the cattle as payment for the drove. When we went back after six months the cattle were all in prime condition with calves at foot and the Oldfield brothers didn’t want to see us take them. So they offered to buy them. The partners, Bosisto & Kemp, agreed that if they could come up with the money they could have them. They got finance from their stock agents so we never ever brought them back down here. The Oldfield partnership has lasted for several generations. Sadly, one of their boys died several years ago in an aircraft accident on the property.
While the war was on those lads who weren’t eligible for service were assigned to the ‘Man Power’ service. You weren’t allowed to be idle. There was no dole then. I worked on farms mostly, droving sheep, carting hay or feeding stock in the abattoirs. I did a few trips train-droving stock down from the Alice Springs area to Gepps Cross. Then I’d catch the Broken Hill express on a Wednesday night to Terowie and get on the empty freight train next morning to Rumbalara and get up there Friday night or early Saturday morning, load Sunday morning, and then we’d train drove the cattle down to Adelaide and get home the following Saturday. We used to have to come to Maree, which was the stock depot where we’d have contractors help us feed and water the stock before sending them on to Dry Creek. Or, if the stock were coming down from the Alice Springs area we’d spell them for a few more hours and give them a drink before loading them onto the train to come down to Terowie. In those days the railway line was narrow guage to Terowie and then standard guage to Adelaide. This meant having to trans-ship or change cattle trucks and trains again. Our job was called train-droving which entailed travelling on the train, then, when the train stopped we’d have to walk along the cattle carriages and check the stock and stand fallen stock up etc. We used to take a tucker – box with us on the train with Camp-Pie and anything cold that we could eat. We’d boil a billy when we could. One of the hardest jobs I did was when I brought some sheep down from Crown Station and they were loaded at Abminga on the border of SA and NT. They’d been shepherded by Aborigines and there was an old fella’ called Ted Colson there and I found that he had been the first man to cross the Simpson Desert with camels from Flood’s Creek Station to Birdsville. He had coped with flooded creeks along the way. There were no mobile phones in those days to call for assistance. He did it on his own with sheer guts, ability, determination and bush knowledge.
We’d call into a lot of places along the way when we were going from Maree to Mona Downs droving. They’d have the old pedal wireless there and we’d give the next place an estimated time of arrival and if you weren’t there then they’d come and look for us. They’d be on the look-out for us for sure. Droving is a different ball game now. Today of course, droving is done with aircraft and helicopters. In the old days there was no vehicle to help with train droving. We had to walk stock in to the railway siding to be loaded and if the rail-head didn’t have water to refuel the engine then you didn’t have sheep did you? It was very different then.
Eric Oldfield used to run cattle droves for tourists that went from Birdsville to Maree so that others could experience what droving cattle is like. I went up there for that first cattle drive and took my grandson Ben with me. We didn’t ride in it, but it finished up being a very big trip camping out and ending with a huge party at Mungaranie Station. Then we went out to Birdsville and had a BIG session! I said to Ben the next day, “We’re going down to Innaminka.” So we did, but there was hardly anyone there that I knew so I took him out to see the ‘DIG’ tree from Burke and Wills’ expedition and all that. I did a silly thing though, I didn’t have a map with me and had only looked at the map in the pub but I had a rough idea where we were going. When we left Innaminka I thought we’d slip across to Tibooburra on the back tracks. Along the way we passed a couple of road trains and found that with all the oil and gas survey going on out there that there were vehicle tracks going everywhere. It was confusing. Then it got dark on us. I said to Ben, “We’ll have to get off the road and we aren’t going to go anywhere till day-light. I know where we are, we are on Epsilon Station, so light the fire and we’ll stay here till morning.” Next morning, we got to Tibooburra, met a few chaps and had a bit of a debate on rodeos and about famous buck jump horses such as Curio. We had a problem with the lights and couldn’t get them fixed there so we came on down through Pack-Saddle Station and into Broken Hill where we got them fixed and then set out to get Ben home. I had to get him home as he had something special on at school the next day. It took us many hours to make it, but we did. I did what I had to do.
I remember going to the Roseworthy Gymkhana and a lad got bucked off a horse. I was the secretary then. I said, “Give the ruddy thing to me. I had a pair of spurs on and I thought I’d give them a bit of a show. The spurs slipped up over where I had the bad leg and busted it again. I was in a bad way so they took me to the Gawler Hospital. They fiddled around with my wound and nothing they did worked. Dr Rice said, “This is beyond me.” So I was sent to Calvary Hospital where I was under Sir Ivan Jose. They shaved my leg and I had an anesthetic on the Thursday morning and the sister in charge of the ward gave me a big dose of ether. A couple of hours later I’m back in the ward and she said to me, “What’s your dad’s phone number Dudley?” I told her then she said, “Well, when Dr Jose saw what a mess they made of shaving your legs he wouldn’t attempt to do the graft.” So in other words I had a whiff for nothing!
I came home for a fortnight and then I went back again and they did it again but it wouldn’t heal. So they decided to graft the skin from one leg onto the other. I had one leg set over the wound on the other leg for three weeks so the skin would graft from one leg onto the other leg. Then they found that it still didn’t heal well enough so they took some seeds of skin off the good leg and put little spots of skin on the wound. I spent six months in and out of Calvary Hospital while it healed. When I came home I had to go to the Gawler Hospital to get it dressed daily. After a while, when it was going alright, Dr Rice said, “you can dress it yourself now can’t you?” Course I could so they gave me the necessary bandaging etc to do it. One night I took the dressing off and there was blood on the dressing. I thought, what has gone wrong with it now! Then I saw an open safety pin stuck in it and I didn’t even know. I still haven’t got much feeling in now you know. I had to wear a high heel for a long while as the ankle muscles had become stiff. Then gradually the muscles softened. It’s OK now.
In the war years I also spent a lot of time travelling to gymkhanas far and wide. There were no floats to cart the horses around. We’d ride them there, compete and ride home afterwards. We went as far afield as Kersbook, Mt. Pleasant and Hamley Bridge – where-ever they were on we were there. We had a lot of fun. One particular one I can recall was in 1944 when there was a gymkhana on the Gawler Racecourse in aid of the Red Cross or War Service Associations and trophies were donated for 1st Prize, 2nd Prize and 3rd Prize. The trophies were displayed in a shop window in Gawler. My wife, Ellen, did her homework and said, “Look at those lovely Pyrex dishes for 2nd prize and a riding whip for 1st prize in the ‘Walk, Trot and Gallop’ event.” In that event we’d walk a furlong, trot a furlong and gallop two furlongs. I was riding a pretty smart horse and I could have won the event but I had to run second because my wife wanted the Pyrex dishes. When they presented the trophies the guy that won the event got a riding whip and I got the other prize. He got so mad because he reckoned they had switched the prizes.
‘R.M.’ (Williams) was good to all us boys. We’d wear his gear even if we didn’t compete. I became very involved with R.M. as we called him. Back then if you were riding a buck jumper after 8 seconds you had to dismount the best way you could. He brought Jack Reilly, who was a big time rodeo man then, from Sydney and he introduced ‘pick-up’ work in to South Australian rodeos at the Kensington Oval in 1945. From then on when we went to rodeos I became a pick-up rider who lifted bronco riders off their horses when they had stayed on their horse for the required 8 seconds or who lifted riders on the ground away from a dangerous situation. I had a lot of fun doing that work. Reg was my team-mate.
In 1948 we went to Angaston at the time when they were holding their first Vintage Festival. R.M. and some of the cohorts up there put on the Australian Rodeo Championship on the Angaston Oval. I was one of the pick-up men there. The Henschke brothers from Mildura were the other pick-up riders because there were a lot of competitors. Today you only get a few competitors but in those days you needed several pick-up riders. In 1952-54 Allan Bennett from Naracoorte was the top Australian Rodeo Champion then. I have his book here. He had a sad life and ended up dying broken-hearted. He was buried at Longreach Stockman’s Hall of Fame Queensland. I attended his funeral.
One year R.M. said, “What about coming to Warwick (Qu) as it is the best Rodeo in Australia.” I didn’t have any money so he said, “I’ll pay your fare.” So he did and Mr. Harold Rowett, a foundation member of the Marrabel Rodeo paid my accommodation. About the week before we were due to go I get a card from someone at the Roseworthy Post Office. I picked it up and there was this packet with directions to take so many pills each hour for air sickness. When I opened it up I found it was a packet of 100s and 1,000s! It took me a couple of years to find out the bugger who sent it too! I thought it was R.M. but it wasn’t it was from an old chap called Cliff George, who had bought land for me. He used to like playing tricks on people. When RM and I got to Warwick we found that the rodeo was washed out so we didn’t get to see it. Instead, we spent a couple of days watching the cricket because we had to wait for another plane to get back home. But it was a wonderful life. ‘R.M’ was a great mate and he never lost touch with me.
R. M. Williams was born in 1908 and raised on a farm in the mid-north of SA. He left home at an early age. With a natural resourcefulness, he learnt basic bush survival skills while working in remote areas of the outback as a lime-burner, gold-digger and camel boy for the missionary William Wade. He explored much of Central Australia where life is as tough as it gets. So, in order to survive the harsh conditions, he learnt bush-lore from the Aborigines and stock-handling and horse skills from the bushmen on isolated cattle stations north of the Nullabor. In 1932 while camped in the remote Gammon Ranges in the northern region of SA, ‘R.M’ as he was known, fashioned his first pair of riding boots with the help of his mate Dollar Mick. Being a bushman he made his boots suitable for horse-riding and tough enough to outlast the harshest conditions, yet handsome enough to polish up and wear into town. In time, this skill developed and expanded into a multi- million dollar business. He also built ‘The Stockman’s Hall of Fame’ at Longreach Queensland. He died aged 95 in 2003. He was a special friend.
LEARNING MY TRADE
The Coles Bros sales yards were alongside of the blacksmith shop and both were opposite the Bushman’s Hotel in Cowan’s Street in Gawler. As I was pretty interested in the horses on the farm I used to attend the blacksmith shop to get my horses shod and while they were being shod having a couple of beers at the Bushman’s was the next best thing. Sometimes the farrier didn’t approve of me knocking around with some of those guys at the hotel and he used to hook me into gear smartly. I’ve never forgotten him for doing that. Tom Sandicock was his name. 1944 was the time when horses were going out and tractors were coming in which meant that there were horse sales there on a monthly basis and sometimes fortnightly if there was a surplus of horses around to be sold. People would come to buy these horses and say to me, ‘Come on get on and have a ride and turn it on.’ I was about 20 then and used to hang around the sale yards and when the blacksmith noticed me hanging around with a guy he didn’t approve of he would say, “Hey! Kempy, don’t you hang around with him. He’ll get you into trouble. Don’t you disgrace your parents.” I wasn’t the only one he said that to either. There were two or three of us lads of the same age that used to get hooked into gear by Old Tom.
When I first used to hang around the abattoirs my dad, who had had a life-time of being there selling sheep, also said to me, ‘You’ll see some funny things going on down there. If you think they’re shocking don’t get involved. Just remember one thing, boy, it’s easy to get a bad name and it’s hard to get a good one. He was spot on I reckon.
I got my driver’s licence a day or two after I was 16. I did the written test and paid the required amount of money and I got my licence. There was no practical test. As easy as that! My dad had a 1930 Pontiac and my mother had a 1938 silver Pontiac which I was keen to learn to drive. I took one to the dances occasionally but petrol was scarce so sometimes we’d use petrol to start the engine then switch it over to power kerosene. When there was no petrol we went back to using the horse and cart. We took the horse and cart to a few dances and my girl-friends came too. At that time I didn’t have many girlfriends as I spent nearly two months when I was 18, living on Thistle Island off Port Lincoln, doing cattle work for Christopher Wade.
The people who lived on Thistle Island prior to him bred ‘remount’ (horses to be sent out to India for their army) horses so that when Wade’s bought it they wanted to get the horses off the island. We were employed to go out there and round up the horses and teach them to lead and be tied up so we could load them on the boat. We had to lead them to the shore, hook them on behind the dingy, tow them out to the boat, where the crew on board the boat slung them on one by one so they could be taken to the mainland. We also did that with some cattle too. That was in 1942. The horses were then transported by boat to Port Adelaide then railed to Coles Bros Gawler sale-yards and sold.
I remember that we went out on a boat called the ‘Florence’ and Ray Welfare was the skipper. As my mother used to tell me off for smoking we took plenty of cigarettes but smoked them all the first month we were there. No boats would come out there because the weather was too rough and shark fishing was a sport in those days. As we couldn’t get off the island we did fencing and crutching and anything else to keep out of mischief. I have not smoked since!
When I came back home I went back to the same old job of doing a bit of stock-work and then in 1944 my father gave me an opportunity to join the ‘Bosisto and Kemp’ partnership. My mother wouldn’t hear of me going into the partnership as she knew that if dad took me on the other guy would want to take his son into the partnership too. As his son had had a few starts at things and buggered them up she felt the proposal would not work. Instead dad bought me 346 acres at Hamley Bridge and I used to go up there and camp and drove cattle out there. It was a good start but it had a problem. We only owned the land on one side of the river. It was the River Light. The people on the other side were cropping people and my stock used to get across the river at ‘Murphy’s Crossing’ into their crops. I handled that alright until 1946 when my dad bought me 135 acres at Roseworthy. It was close to the railway line where the silos now stand. I worked there for 2-3 years and the first year I was there I had 70 cattle on it. My dad said, “Have you got those cattle insured for fire, because if the train dropped a spark you’d never have time to get them out.” So I insured them against fire. Guess what? We had four and half inches of rain and the railway dam overflowed and drowned seventeen of them! I could ill afford to lose the money. As Ellen and I were thinking about getting married I sold the place at Hamley Bridge and battled on at Roseworthy.
While I was still going to high school I had a couple of games with the Willaston Football B Grade team to fill their team. I loved it. Unfortunately, in the summer time I cut my Achilles tendon through with a scythe which took a long while to get better. That was in 1939. That ended my football days. Until 1948 when I went to live in Roseworthy I tried to have a few kicks with the boys because I was told not to play. The team was always short of players so I said, “I’ll have a go. I mightn’t get many kicks but I’ll make it awkward for the others.” However, despite my old injury, I played in 1948 and we were lucky enough to go top in the B Grade. Being Premiers in 1948 was a great thrill. And then in 1949 again they were always short so I’d fill in for them. I used to wrap my bad leg up in bandages so that I looked like a broken down racehorse and played. My right arm was also bandaged, as I had had a broken wrist. It used to give me a bit of trouble as it was a bit stiff, but I had a lot of fun trying. We were lucky enough to go top again in 1949.
Then we went into the doldrums for a couple of years and then in 1955 I was lucky enough to play in another final on the Roseworthy College Oval. At that time there was only one thing that beat us - it was old age - as we led for three quarters. We had one teenager, but the average age of the side was 29. We just ran out of puff! From then on I only played when they were very short. About that time Salisbury and Elizabeth were forming clubs so that there were 18 teams in the Gawler Association. There were 8 A Grade and 10 B Grade teams. Then, as soon as Elizabeth got strong enough they formed their own association and broke away from Gawler in about 1960. That caused quite a problem for the Gawler Association because some of the teams that thought they were pretty good went to the Adelaide Plains Association while others went to the Elizabeth Association and that left only 3 A Grade teams in Gawler - Willaston, Centrals and Lyndoch.
1961 we got belted week after week by 25 or 30 goals. We didn’t have any good players! Then we heard that Elders were going to put another man at Gawler. As my brother, who had a fair bit to do with Elders, and as I had bought a fair few sheep through Elders, I said to Elders, “For God’s sake send some-one who can play football will you! So they sent us a guy called Tony Sorrell as second-in-charge at Elders. We found board for him at the Roseworthy Pub. He had a bit of a look at our team and he said, “Would you mind if I brought a couple of me mates up?” I said, “Well, who’s going to pay them to come and play?” He said, “They will only want travelling expenses.” So we had a committee meeting and he brought up Frank Howard and Colin Rowett from Glenelg, Brian Hanks from Sturt and Peter Koerner from Norwood.
The problem was that we had to pay them. The committee decided that we had to fund-raise. So I bought 300 sheep and gave every farmer in the district 20-30 to feed. As time went by and they got their crops in Kempy soon found he had all the sheep back again at his place. So we did our best with a bit of agistment and then sent them all back to Gepps Cross to the sale and made enough money to pay the imports. And guess what? We went top in 1962! It was the greatest thrill of my life! It was bottom to top in one year! We even went on a football trip by bus to Port Lincoln. I said, “Bugger going in the bus, you never know when you are going to get there and when you are going to get home.” I had a Statesman motor car at the time so I selected a few of my drinking pals and we drove to Port Lincoln on a long weekend in October. Guess what? The bus got home Monday night and Kempy got home Thursday night. It was a BIG weekend! It was one of the greatest thrills of my life winning that premiership.
One Tuesday we had this turn-out, and I knew I had to go to the abattoirs the next morning so I got home about 11 o’clock and I got up next morning at 6 o’clock to get ready to go to the market and I could hear one bloke still talking! He had the school teacher up against the wall and I could hear him without even going over to the footy shed because it was right opposite our house. I went over to see who he had baled up and found it was the school teacher. I was talking to the school teacher later in the afternoon down at the pub and I said, “Gee you were very quiet this morning Des.” He said, “Never have I wanted to say so much and never got a chance to say it!”
The next year we got to the preliminary final again but disappointingly we got beaten with about 8 seconds to go. Then in 1964 we went top again! - Another great thrill. From then on it got harder to have a club because we lost our Roseworthy Oval due to the government compulsorily acquiring some of the land. Some of the players went Wasleys way and some went Freeling way to play footy. Most of the footy team were children from the railways with no transport. I used to take them to the matches on the back of my truck. There was no insurance or anything then. I took my turn at being secretary and treasurer of the Roseworthy Football Club. I even knocked back the job of being President. I was also made a Life Member of the Club.
It was a great social club. When some-one got married we’d have some ‘fun and games’ and if we had a blackboard lecture or a meeting or something we’d always have a few grogs afterwards. Then in 2008 we had a 60 years re-union of the Roseworthy premiership side at the Roseworthy Pub and seven players turned up along with the time-keeper who was 90! There were two apologies and it was a wonderful day.
1965 I joined Central Districts Football Club and we had a lot of fun there too. We had 15 picnics at my place to fund-raise and the ‘poms’ used to love it. We had steer riding and bull-dogging and the mobs were calling out, “Get them in again Kempy! Get them in again!” The trouble was that when they were watching the steer rides they weren’t drinking any beer, and that’s what we were there for! However, we raised a lot of money for Centrals.
At one of the picnics I said, “Tell everyone I’ll shear a sheep blindfold with the blades.” So I got the mob together and everyone rushed over to see Kempy shear the sheep blindfolded. I pulled the sheep in and got the shears all ready then I blind-folded the sheep! And I stole the show! The bloke that used to be MC at the picnics was a radio announcer called ‘Pilko’. He loved to come to the picnics. He finished up working for the radio only this week (December 2010). I have a photo of him.
I’m still a Central District Football Club member and supporter. In the past I have been a member of the Vice Presidents Club. As a matter of fact I go to the cattle market every Monday and wear my red, white and blue Central District cap and people rubbish me a bit and I say, ‘if you can’t beat them you had better bloody well join them!’
When Glenelg Football Club went top about 1973 Bob Wilson from Wertaloona Station who was a great Bay supporter, thought he’d put on a picnic race meeting to wind up the season out at Wertaloona. John H. Ellers was the chairman of the Bays at the time and Graham Ferrett was on the organising committee. The rules were ‘no ring-in horses’ - they had to be neighbouring horses off either Frome or Wertaloona. So Bob and his stockmen selected the best team they could find and so did the others. I went up two or three days before and helped him number and name the horses ready for the day. I was the starter on the day too. The meeting was on a straight course down the air-strip. The jockeys were the station-hands, black and white. They were great. They had a Lady’s Race too. There were 8-10 in a race and it was fun. You could have an illegal bet if you wanted to.
The Glenelg Club sent up an advance party to set up a marquee for the dance, a barbecue and ‘fun and games’ at night. A lot of people came from Adelaide. There was a band and every thing in the shearing shed. ‘Cornsey’ (Graham Cornes) was a team member and Neil Kerley was the coach of Glenelg at the time. The day before Bob and I had taken some horses down to the horse paddock and were just coming back as the advance party were setting things up and noticed John H. Ellis was shifting a drum. Bob said, “What’s that bugger think he’s doin’!” So he put his heels into his horse and went straight up to him and said, “Put that back!” John said, “I want it over here.” Bob said, “I want it where it was and I’m the bloody boss.” John said, “I’m John H. Ellers.” Bob said, “I’m Bob bloody Wilson and I’m the boss while you’re up here. Put it back!” So he did. I don’t think the Bays have been top since. However, that weekend we had lots of ‘fun and games’ - especially after the dance! Bob loves the grog but he wouldn’t have any grog until the show was finished. Next morning they were kicking on a bit, Neil Curley was there, and I thought well, if I get caught up in this I won’t get away today. So I went back and got my gear together and jumped in my car and went past them and called out, “See you next year, boys!” They said, “Come back here Kempy!” I said, “No way. I’m getting home.” I gave Ellen a real surprise getting home early. It took me seven hours.
Our first night out was on the 20th October 1942 to the local dance in the Roseworthy Soldiers Memorial Hall, which was an important part of the community in those days. At that time there was a dance each weekend at places like Wasleys, Freeling, Hamley Bridge and Roseworthy. I had already told Ellen’s father that we were getting married and they were happy about it. We bought an engagement ring at Budgen’s in Adelaide after having to get a bit more money from Elders to pay for it. I was married on the 25th of October 1947 in the Tod Street Methodist Church after five years of courting. Ellen’s attendants were her sister Joan, who is still alive today, and Valma Hansen. They were matrons of honour. Valma was one of Ellen’s school mates. My best man was my brother Malcolm and my groomsman was Ashley Day, who was a great mate of mine. We did a lot of things together over the years which were mainly associated with horses. Ashley is still alive today at 85 and we see him occasionally. The last time I rode a horse I was 81 years of age and I rode it to the Roseworthy Pub. Ashley came out from Willaston and Doug Bennett also came and had a counter lunch there with me. Our wedding reception was held in the Tod Street Church Hall. After we were married we spent our first night at the Sir John Franklin Hotel in Kapunda. Then we went in a Hilman ute to Renmark for a couple of days, then drove down the river to Mannum, Murray Bridge and finished up at Victor Harbour. Money restricted us doing any more as it was tough in those days. We’ve always tried not to get in debt.
We lived the first three years with Ellen’s parents. As Ellen’s parents were getting on a bit Ellen cared for her mother which was good. They lived at Waterside, opposite where Ahren’s Engineering Company is now, on the Kapunda road in the old house there. We moved to Roseworthy in September 1950. The contract price for building the house was two thousand five hundred and fourteen pounds. We wanted to have our own home. Ellen’s parents were very good to us. They even gave us a couple of cows and some chooks. One night I came home from work and everyone was unhappy as the bloody crows had taken the eggs. “That’s alright,” I said, “We’ve got wet sheep tomorrow, I’ll get him.” So Ellen says to me, “Its still there down the yard.” So I got my gun and stuck it through the window, aimed and pulled the trigger - ‘Bang!’ The crow flew away and I got a white leghorn fowl instead! I picked the chook up, put it in the corn crusher and put a bag over it. The next thing Ellen says out the window is, “Did you get him?” I had to tell her the truth as there were white feathers blowing all around the yard. She straightaway said, “Don’t throw it away it’s only a young one. We’ll eat it!” So we did. We plucked it and ate it. At the time we still got around in horse and cart. I shore at most of the farms around there then. I stacked and stooked hay and sewed bags of grain - anything for a dollar. Even so, as we were building the house we only could afford the bare necessities so we furnished only what we could afford to furnish first.
Peter arrived on the 28th of November 1948. We went to church on the Sunday afternoon and I was down milking the cow when Ellen’s mother came over and said, “I think you’d better take Ellen to hospital.” I said, “Just wait till I’ve finished milking the cow.” She said, “You haven’t got time to wait!” We christened him Peter Malcolm because he was born in the afternoon or the ‘PM’ part of the day. Ellen was a very good left-handed tennis player. She even won the Gawler Singles Tennis Championship when she was three months pregnant. She was always good at sport – much better than I was. Then in 1952 Alison arrived in the morning so we called her Alison Mary (AM part of the day). We took our children every where we went, we didn’t like leaving them with anyone. When Alison was 10 months old she had a very unfortunate accident. She pulled a teapot off the sink when the tea had just been made so she got all the boiling water over her arm. I did the worst thing possible - I took her woolly jacket off and took all the skin off with it. We took her into the hospital and the doctor dressed the burn and told us to bring her back in a few days. Two or three days later in the middle of the night she put on a hell of a turn and for a while I said, “Wait till morning.” But she was trying to pull all her things off so we just had to go to the hospital. When we got there we found that it had been infected. She never had any grafts and probably should have. But the fortunate part about it was that when she pulled at it, it didn’t damage the joint at all. It’s on the upper part of her arm. She still has the scar today.
When the children were small Ellen coached the Freeling basketball (netball nowadays) team in the pavilion at Freeling. On practice nights I used to go with her and look after the kids. I’d nurse them and mind them while she did the coaching. They were some good years at Freeling.
I taught Peter to ride a horse but he was never really keen on it. He was brought up in a different era from me. I was brought up in the horse era. He just loved the trucks though. They both went to Roseworthy to school and then on to Gawler High School. Peter used have lunch at my mother’s who lived right alongside the school when it was on Lyndoch Road. Alison went to the new High School on Barnett Road. Peter worked on the farm after he had finished school and Alison worked for Brereton’s jewellery shop in Gawler. That was the only job she ever had.
Our son Peter married Annette Coles at Lyndoch in Holy Trinity Church of England on 26th September 1981. Annette grew up in Broken Hill and when her family came to Gawler she worked for ‘Lyndoch Motors’ at Lyndoch and that’s where Peter met her. Annette had had a lot of horse experience competing and riding in shows and horse events in Broken Hill. She even went back to Broken Hill judging after she got married. Her father trained trotters in Gawler. They had two boys, James and Ben. James was very like me, very keen on riding in rodeos. When I’d come home from the market James used to say to me, “Papa, Kevin (his friend) and I, can we ride those ‘poddies’ (calves) you brought home?” I would stall and say, “No, I’ll take them back Monday and I’ll get you a couple of better ones.” I kept doing that for two or three years then one night I put him on one and the first ride he had he broke his arm. I wasn’t very popular, but never mind. He and Kevin went on to become quite competitive in the second division bull riding and they had lots of fun. They went on from there and became pretty good novice bull riders. He was quite good actually. He went around to all the rodeos and competed in them. They won a couple of bull rides. James won at Wilmington and Kevin won at Carrieton. As he got a little bit older James wanted to become a diesel mechanic so he worked for Kenworth Trucks and qualified as a diesel mechanic.
He married a girl called Kylie Prestwood who was a rodeo rider too. The day after they were married he died. He was married on a Saturday afternoon and they had intended to go to Port Douglas for their honeymoon the next day, however, because of the weather up there, the tour company recommended they wait till mid week. So while they waited he went for a ride with one of his mates on his motor-bike on the road. There were no signs on the road to indicate that it was closed off or anything so when he went over the crest of the hill he found too late that it was fenced off and went straight into it. He was killed instantly. It was a terrible shock to us all. We were all devastated. After a couple of years Kylie remarried and she now has a little boy, Thomas, and both are still part of our family. She competes in the calf roping and barrel racing still and is very good at it.
Alison was very involved in Rural Youth and had a lot of friends including Peter Will who lived at Williamstown. She and Peter married in the College Chapel at Roseworthy on 19th of April 1974. Peter bought a property at Bangham in the South East, south of Bordertown. Unfortunately, Peter’s father passed away the following August 19th so we stepped in and helped them clear the country. Since then they have gone on to achieve a lot in their lives there, which is pretty important to them and to us. They had two boys, David and Robert who are both married. The eldest one David has four children, Kelly & Josh (twins), Anna and Daniel. Robert has two boys, Campbell and Jack. I’m very proud of them all.
Peter and Alison still live on the farm at Bangham. David, Kristin and their 4 children live on the farm also in a new house that they built about 8-10 years ago. Robert is now a deisel and header mechanic and lives in Bordertown with his wife Tina and two children.
My other grandson Ben now works in the family trucking business with his father. He drives trucks where-ever he is needed, carting cattle or pigs. He also helps on the farm. He’s pretty versatile – there’s no substitute for experience. I’m very proud of him too. He is single. Peter and Annette have a property of their own as well and Ben is just in the process of moving up to live on the property. To do this, we (D. & E. Kemp & Son) sold the property near Ahren’s Engineering Company which was part of Ellen’s parents’ estate, and bought the property at Roseworthy where Ben is going to live. The last new truck we bought that Ben drives is called a ‘Kempworth’ – not a Kenworth.
Then one day in 1950 I went to a gymkhana in Adelaide with Graham Parham and he said, “I’m going to work on the picture “Kangaroo” as a stockman. It was to be the first Australian made movie and was to be filmed at Port Augusta. I said, “Half your luck!” He said, “I’ll get you a job if you want it.” So when I got home that night he rang and said, “Be ready to go at ten o’clock in the morning.” It was Christmas day! Leaving a little fellow like my son Peter, was pretty hard to do. He would have been two. So we went to work at Port Augusta. I travelled up with Laurie Evans on the back of a ute and we camped at the various filming sites around the Port Augusta area.
There were four of us whose job it was to look after the horses. The star’s horses were kept in individual yards and all the others were hobbled out over night. It was our job to saddle them up and make sure they had the same gear they had had the day before otherwise it would show up in the film. Then next day we’d take the horses to the various locations where-ever they were filming. We had seven hundred cattle from Billakallina Station to care for that we used for the stock-work, stampedes, bull dogging and whatever was required.
The fellow that was directing the outdoor scenes, was an American called Nate Watt who had directed all the ‘Hop-a-Long Cassidy’ films which were very popular western films at the time. Everything he wanted done had to do be done ‘damn fast’. At one stage they had a bloke from Sydney falling off a horse a couple of times but he wouldn’t fall off fast enough, so he said to me, “Will you have a go Kempy?” I said, “I’ll give it a go if you want me to.” He said, “You’ve got to land in the right spot and if you do you get twenty five quid. If it’s not where we want you you’ll have to do it again.” Well, I’ve been bucked off horses plenty of times for nothing but I’ve never got anything for falling off in my life! I did it and got twenty five pounds.
We’d have to water the cattle at night which was quite a problem because they watered from the pipeline to Whyalla and the water was too hot for them to drink. The water would have to be run into our tanks and then it would be run down a drain till it was cool enough for them to drink. A local called Con Kirby would watch the cattle at night because we had no yards to put them in, and then we would move them on to the next location wherever that was the next day. That went on for nearly the three months I was there. When the film was finished six of us brought the cattle from north of Port Augusta and drove them over the old Port Augusta bridge to Stirling where they were railed back to Maree. There the Oldfields walked them out to Mungaranee Station to spell them as we had knocked a fare bit of condition off them during the filming.
First up we went to Mount Brown, as that’s where the film company had built a house to do all the inside filming. In the early parts of the movie there were a lot of Aboriginals from Ooldea Mission involved. They performed their dances and a corroboree. The main actors in the film were Americans. Maureen O’Hara was the leading lady and Peter Lawford was leading gent. Dick Boon was double trouble but a lot of fun. Then there was Finlay Currie, a Brit, who was the older gentleman and property owner in the story. Chips Raffety and Bud Tingle (both Australian actors) and several other stand-ins also came from Sydney. Some things which would take a few minutes to show on the film would take a couple of days to do all the preparation for it. For example, the sun had to be right and the cloud had to be right. While Nate Watt directed all the cattle scenes another guy called Paul directed all the glamourous scenes. I had to fall in this hole (for which I was paid twenty five quid) and while I was there they cut down a tree to rescue me. Once the tree was in place I had to get out so that Peter Lawford could get into the hole, as I was a stand-in for him for that particular bit. Then Maureen had to crawl out on the sapling to rescue him and then wash the mud off him and all that. It was quite fun. To rescue him she tied all the whips together and put them under his arms and dragged him to safety. It all took hours but on the film it was only a few minutes.
We had a lot of fun. Maureen was a lovely lady. For one scene one of the other stockmen in the camp had to be a stand-in for her as she had to fall off her horse, so to do that he had to get all dressed up in her gear. Most of the horse stuff was done with the stars riding the good looking horse for all the close-up stuff while us guys that were doing the rough stuff would be riding any sort of a donkey because it was far away and you couldn’t tell who was riding the horse. When Finlay Currie was riding in the stampede he was riding on a saddle strapped onto the rig on the front of the truck so that they photographed him only from the waist up. Percy Thorpe was the bullocky in the film. He brought his bullocks up from McLaren Vale as that’s where they all came from. It was a wonderful experience.
Most of the flood scenes were done on the west side of Port Augusta. To do this they covered the road from the Western Hotel to the Augusta Hotel with drift sand so that all the rain-making scenes could be shot in front of the Augusta Hotel. I think I rode every horse in the camp at some time as there were those who said they could ride, but really they ‘couldn’t ride in a butcher’s cart with the door shut!’ I used to get sick of the producer persevering with them and saying, “Give that horse here and I’ll give it to some-one else.” So I would say, “Give me the biggest bloody donkey in the town to ride as long I don’t have to change its gear all the time!” Changing gear all the time used to get so monotonous and time consuming. When the filming was finished all the horses were brought to Adelaide and sold.
We mixed with the stars a lot. They had a place in Port Augusta near the Pastoral Hotel which they called ‘Zanuckville’ and we used to have ‘fun and games’ there. They would send taxis out to the camp to pick us up so we didn’t have to worry about getting home. They were excellent to us. It was so much fun. After three months I arrived home with enough money to furnish the house. They had a premiere of the movie later in Gawler as well as in other places. When it came to Gawler Graham Parham and I were the ‘hierarchy’ or ‘stars’ for the night.
WHEELIN’ & DEALIN’ IN LIVE-STOCK
After I got back from Port Augusta I went back to milking cows, feeding pigs and cleaning eggs. We milked up to 20 cows with a machine. I also worked at loading and lumping grain and trucking hay. I worked with Vic Goss and Jack Dunn and we worked for N.R. Fisher & Co. The numbers of bags of grain per day that we handled were anywhere from 1,500 to 2,500. The number of trucks we got controlled the day. It was hard work. While we had all this going on I contracted brucellosis from the cattle. I went from nearly fourteen stone to ten stone six. One day I went to the Gawler market feeling all right then I found that I had to stagger down to Dr Rice’s surgery in Murray Street. When he saw me he put me straight in his car and took me up to the hospital. He didn’t really know what was wrong with me. He reckoned I could have got it from picking up an aborted calf or taking the after-birth away. Brucellosis was common in those days. I might have had a scratch on my hand that allowed the infection to get into my body. Its symptoms were something like malaria. It is called undulant fever in humans because of the highs and lows experienced in your body temperature. You’d get up feeling OK then all of a sudden you could feel it come on. I had it for several months. I don’t know how Ellen held the fort for all that time. She milked the cows and did everything as I was too sick to help.
Ellen and I have had a wonderful life together. I give her half the credit for what I have achieved. Truly! In the early days we milked cows for cream, gave the skim milk to the pigs, the cream went to the factory and we sent eggs to the egg factory in Gawler. That was our cash flow as we got a cheque every month. It was a regular income. Today with a crop harvest, you need to spend a heck of a lot a month to lay it out, and then hope you are going to get a crop. Then, in 1959 we had our cream condemned by Taylor Bros Gawler Butter Factory inspector. That set us back quite a bit as a bacteria was found in the water we used which probably occurred because we had pigs and a trough overflowing. So we had to sterilize everything. Ellen and I did everything we thought was right but the next week our cream was still ‘off’. I said “Right. That’s the end of it. The cows are going to the market on Monday!” So that’s what we did. We got rid of the lot. When the inspector came out he tried to persuade us not to give up by telling us they needed our cream, but I said, “Too late mate. They’ve all gone!”
About that time, 1958, Johnny Ridgeway was sent to Elders Gawler to be manager (followed by Bob Clifton) and he could tell that I was a bit of a punter so he supported me for three years in a row buying woolly sheep, shearing them and selling them. As he could see that we were making a dollar he kept encouraging me to do it. He was a wonderful agent. Although I only had 135 acres I shore 13,000 in ’59, 17,000 the next year and 13,000 the next year. I made a BIG quid so I bought some land in Roseworthy with the money. I was not a wool classer but I had shorn enough sheep to know whether they’d cut six pound or twelve pound of wool. All I ever worked on when buying sheep was the average price of the previous sale. Most of my sheep were bought in the SAMCOR Gepps Cross market. A bloke called Ross Sanders carted them home for me and Ellen would spend three days a week cooking for shearers while we got them shorn ready to be sold again. I would be out handling the stock or shedding them up ready to be shorn. A man called Norm Elliot who lived on Lyndoch Road, got talking to my dad one day and said, “I wouldn’t mind giving Dud a hand a couple of days a week.” Originally he came from Cleve on the West Coast, to retire in Gawler and give his children a high school education. Well, he came to work for us for three days and ended up being with us for about 15 years. He was a wonderful man. Between him and John Ridgeway they put Ellen and me on the map!
My first shearing shed was nothing more than an old stable or rather an old house. We put a huge grating in it and two stand plant. All the wool was pressed with an old AJAX Wool Press. The shed was on Main North Road at Roseworthy. Most of the sheep were railed to Roseworthy then walked through the town up to the shed to be shorn. Sometimes they were transported by others from Gawler or from the abattoirs. All the wool off the sheep we shore in the late 50s and early 60s was carted to Roseworthy in an old Holden ute and railed to Elders Port Adelaide Wool Store. One day before Xmas we put on an extra stand so we could finish and have it all done before Xmas. It was 104 degrees and we had a few schooners after then we had a hell of a storm and the temperature dropped and we lost quite a few sheep with the sudden change, even in December. Those sheep came off Mount Vivian station in the north west of SA. Back then a lot of the country was sheep country not cattle country as it is now.
I can remember my dad buying sheep at Reedy Creek in the South East. They were scrub wethers and they had tick, which was like a crab and they liked cooler weather. They were always found near the jugular vein on the neck where there was plenty of blood. We used to call them ‘keds’ when we were young fellas.
Ellen worked very very hard cooking and organising all the food to feed the men while I organised the outside work. We turned the sheep around as quickly as we could. They weren’t always in full wool. Shearers were no trouble to find because Metro Meat Co. were shearing sheep at Virginia before transporting them by ship to supply the overseas market. Lots of shearers that were getting near retiring age didn’t want to go away in the teams anymore and used to follow me around a bit looking for a job. I never tied myself up to any one shearer because the sooner I could get them all shorn the quicker I could sell them and get some more. I was constantly turning them over and selling the wool. I’d sell the wool to Elders. The sheep were mostly merinos. Wool was the ‘in’ thing in those days. Dad used to say ‘You’ll never go broke taking profit son.’ I traded on that theory. Sometimes we’d have a few sheep over from the sale and I’d put them on a bit of land I had close to the railway-line, then later we’d hold a monthly sale to clean up all the leftovers that we couldn’t sell earlier. It worked. We made a big quid.
Then the tide changed and prices dropped and so I got into something else. I took on agisting cattle that came from the Northern Territory for Elders. Because the cattle would have been travelling a long time they would need to be spelled before they went to market. At one time we had 800 cattle in one hit that had come from Mount House way up near Derby in WA, at our property at Roseworthy. They had been road transported to Alice Springs then railed to Roseworthy as we were on the main railway-line in those days. Then a friend called Brian Muldoon, who was an Elders agent, used to take me to Alice Springs where we’d organise mobs of cattle to be railed to Roseworthy. We did our best to look after them. I loved doing it.
My first trip to Alice Springs by road was in 1964 with Max Nankivell, who was the Bennett & Fisher agent at the time. The Alice Springs area had had 5-6 years of drought so we drove up for hundreds of miles through the Rankine Bros. country where there was not a blade of grass. We went to the Alice Springs Show while we were there and had a lot of ‘fun’. On the way back Max said, “What about a coming out with me to a job I’ve got to do at Curtain Springs?” So we went out to Curtain Springs Station which was near Ayers Rock. We called in and walked around it as well as climbing it. There were some magic Aboriginal paintings round the base of the rock and in the caves. Unfortunately, they had been pretty vandalized but it was a wonderful experience.
Back then, many of the station managers had tourist accommodation on their station. At the time there was a corroboree at Angus Downs Station and the Aboriginals wanted to sell us some of their boomerangs. To avoid that we came back via Mount Ebenezer Roadhouse that was just being built. When we got to there we found we had to stay there for a couple of days because of the wet conditions. There was no bitumen road then so on the way home Max Nankivell told me and another fella’ called Dudley Goodwin who was with us, to roll up our trousers to our knees and walk along in front of the car to test how deep the water was before we drove through it. We pushed the car through many a spot to get home. The car was new when we left and a wreck when we got home. It was an unforgettable trip. That was my first trip by road but after that I went on a few trips up to Alice Springs with Elders and we’d fly out to stations in a light aircraft teeing up cattle that would have to come down south to be agisted here. It was short term agistment. We’d spell them, mother the calves, draft them up and get them ready to be presented for sale.
In 1948 Ellen and I became a formal partnership, D.F. & E. Kemp. In 1966 when Peter turned 18 he was made an equal partner in the business. Then we became D.F. & E. Kemp & Son. Peter liked a bit of farming but liked truck driving more, particularly transporting stock. Our business has grown and is still growing and today he mainly carts pigs.
COURSING & TROTTING
When I was a young fellow, a teenager, I raced pigeons. I only ever won two races, one from Parachilna to Gawler and the other one from Keith to Gawler. Then my interest changed as most of the farms around here had grey-hound dogs for coursing. Greyhounds were a poor man’s race horse. It was a hunting sport, a blood sport. Most small farms had greyhound dogs and in the winter time coursing was pretty big entertainment, just like hunting was a sport for huntsmen. Mechanical hares or speed coursing wasn’t permitted by the government. It was a gambling venue and therefore wasn’t permitted by the Playford government. So everybody had greyhound dogs which you could bet on at the meeting (unofficially of course) because if you wanted to have a bet on the trots you had to go to the Trots to have a bet, unless you knew an SP at the pub who would give you a price.
Dickie George gave me my first greyhound called Margaret’s Queen. I used to ride for hundreds of miles as I was in the ‘beat’, because all of those who could ride a horse would ride in the ‘beat’ to try and hunt up a hare. The ‘slipper’ would have two dogs on a release buckle and when we’d hunt a hare up the ‘slipper’ would release the dogs and the mounted judge in his red coat would follow them and judge them by giving them points for a turn, a wrench and a kill. That practice went on for a good few years. The Waterloo Cup became the highlight of greyhound racing in South Australia. It was usually held at Langhorne’s Creek. We used to go down there each year and then at one stage in the War years, it was held at Reeves Plains which is not far from Roseworthy. We had a lot of people at those race meetings. When I had the land at Hamley Bridge I used to ride a horse from Gawler to Hamley Bridge, yard some cattle, then ride from there to Reeves Plains where we had lunch at Hall’s Bar. It was a mighty lunch too! The ladies used to cater for it to fundraise for the district. Then we’d have coursing in the afternoon for the Waterloo Cup. I won one stake with my bitch called Margaret’s Queen. Speed coursing was permitted in Broken Hill so we leased her to a bloke in Broken Hill and she won 6 races. I got part of the stake each time she won.
One Cup day Ellen drove the grey horse out in the jinker to meet us out Reeves Plains. We had a pretty good day. Then when it came time to go home I thought, ‘My old horse has had a pretty big day, it would be a good time to put him in the sulky and drive him home.’ So we are driving down the road and after we had gone down there for a couple of miles I said, “Isn’t he going lovely?” The words were hardly out of my mouth and he started to kick! He broke the shaft of the jinker so we had to scrounge around and find a bit of wire and a couple of sticks and pinch a couple of droppers out of the fence to fix the shaft. Then I put the quiet horse back in it to come home. I never put my horse in harness again. He wasn’t meant to be a harness horse. As coursing meetings were a winter sport most people in the area had dogs for the sport. Then when the blood sports were cut out we changed over to speed coursing which meant that the dogs chased a lure which was mechanically operated. Hunting after foxes was not permitted either. It wasn’t nearly as exciting as paddock/field coursing.
When I was droving sheep for my father and his partner I got involved in breaking trotters in for people who lived in Adelaide. I had to give them a bit of handling and stock work to get them used to the traffic etc so they could take them to Adelaide. We broke in a fair few trotters for different people over the years. Some were good and some were not so good. I went to the first ever trotting meeting held in Gawler in 1937. I was still going to school then. The first meeting was held at the Willaston Football Club. All the trotting horses arrived by train from Adelaide, not by floats. The train stopped at the Gawler Oval siding where they were unloaded. The horses had to be led down over the river and the trotting bikes (carts) and the gear had to be carried across to get to the track. One day we were allowed to leave school and go down to see them unload the trotters from the train and a guy said to me, “Would you mind taking this bike down there for me?” So I took it over across the river and onto the track and then I forgot to go back to school. So I soon got a bit of a ‘thing’ for the trots.
The first meeting was held in a paddock that is now the Willaston Football Club and the running rail was made up of iron droppers and binder-twine! Then after that I broke in a good few horses for different people. In 1954 the club wanted a man to be the pick-up man or catcher at the Gawler Oval. I got the job. I used to ride a horse in from Roseworthy or put him in an old truck and take him into Coles Bros. sale-yard, unload him and then ride down to the track on the oval. There were many people who used to walk to the Trots in those days because there weren’t any TABs or betting shops. If you couldn’t go to the trots you couldn’t get a bet. I did this job from 1954 to 1967 when they moved out to their own ground on Weaver Road on the Gawler By-pass. It was named after the original secretary of the club.
When they moved out there I spent twenty years on the committee. During that time we built the facilities and it was such a shame when it all got knocked down for the new Northern By-Pass to go through because a hell of a lot of work had gone into it over a long period of time. I enjoyed being on the committee and during that time I was given the honour of becoming a Life Member of the Gawler Trotting Club.
I raced a few different horses too over the years. The first one I had was a horse called Vaurian and the second one was Just Tom. Then I had New Clue. I never trained them I just broke them in then handed them on to the trainers. I didn’t have time to train them. The last trotter I had was called Campanile. While we were in New Zealand I bought a horse called Staff Nurse and she had a foal and I called her Naughty Nurse because I’d known a few naughty nurses in my time. I actually won about three or four races with Naughty Nurse. The best horse I ever broke in was a horse called Machine Again and Dorrel’s Way was another. They both finished up very fast horses and won plenty of races for us. I had a lot of fun with them. I’ve always treated everything as fun. I loved every minute of being involved in the Trotting Club. Ellen always accompanied me as she was keen on it too.
Then in 1974 Ellen and I went to South Island in New Zealand to an Inter Dominion trots meeting. The final race was won by a horse called Romadel. We stayed at Christchurch and while we were there a guy said, “You’re a bit interested in live-stock Kempy, would you like to go out to the market place?” So I went and saw the cattle sold and sheep being shorn. It was the roughest shearing I’ve ever seen in my life! I thought they took the wool off with a knife and fork! - they were that rough! I learnt later that it was because of the snow. They had to leave a little bit on to keep the sheep warm so they left more on where it shouldn’t normally have been left on. We didn’t do the North Island which I regret. We travelled all round the South Island right down to the bottom with a tour that included Mt Cooke. It was a lovely two or three weeks. That was my only trip away from Australia.
Well then a few years later Ellen and I did a trip to Perth to the Inter Dominion Meeting there. We left a week before and drove over there. On the way we went to Esperence, then travelled down to the bottom end of WA to Albany and then up to Fremantle. We got to Perth on the Friday night and went to the Inter Dominion Grand Final on the Saturday night. Then on the Sunday morning we left Perth and drove through to Carnavon and I saw the biggest mosquitoes I think I’ve ever seen in my life! During the night I got up and began clouting them with a pillow so that Ellen said, “Shut up! You’ll wake everyone else up!” Next day we went on to Monkey Mia and had a look at the dolphins then pushed on and finished up at Broome. We had a couple of days there then went on to Kununarra where we flew out over Lake Argyle and the diamond mine which was a wonderful experience. Then we went up through to the Kimberleys and around the top of WA. We came south to the ‘Three Ways’ and went across to Mt Isa into Queensland, missing Darwin because we had been there before, then came down around the eastern coast to home. We probably took about a month to do that and we were glad to get home.
Initially Ellen and I formed a partnership shortly after we were married. It was called D.F. & E. Kemp. Until Peter got married I was the controller of the business even though we had made him a partner in the family business when he turned 18. From that time on the family business became known as D.F. & E. Kemp & Son. Now his role is manager of the family company.
By the time Peter was 18 he was truck driving and doing some farming as well. Eventually, I just managed the live-stock side of the business and he managed the trucking and farming side. Peter has always been interested in farming and driving trucks and doing the country markets. He started driving trucks as soon as he was old enough to get his truck licence at 16. He just loved truck driving. From then on he got a few jobs with Elders to cart stud sheep that were going overseas to Europe. He’d take them from Adelaide to Fremantle where they were quarantined before shipment. He also took sheep to Melbourne which were then flown to China.
When Peter got married at 30, I said, “This is where the work is you had better live up here in Roseworthy and I will go and live at Quindoo Park.” So that’s when we shifted down here. His wife Annette, who had a fair bit of business experience from working at Lyndoch Motors, took over the management of the accounting side of the business. By about 1970 we bought our first semi trailer, it was a second-hand one, and now we have four semis and a tray-top. Soon we were carting stock to Wertaloona for agistment as well as carting other stock to various places and inter-state. Now we also employ other drivers. Peter employs two full-time drivers and one part-time one. We started with a small truck and then the business got bigger and bigger. We get our mechanical work done by Chris Edmonds of Willaston who gives us top service. Annette still does the book-work and I am still in the company. I am still involved with the live-stock and check the cattle every morning. It’s the first job Ellen and I do every morning.
Peter’s son Ben is also interested in driving trucks and carting livestock. He started driving long trips when he was about 18 and went up to White Cliffs out of Broken Hill the other day by himself and that’s a long haul. He took cattle up and unloaded them and got back to Broken Hill and then came home next morning. He loves it too.
The main job for the business now is carting pigs to Port Wakefield or to Murray Bridge abattoirs, which are the big slaughter places. We cart a few pigs and cattle into Dublin to the markets to be sold but our main job is carting pigs from the big piggeries to slaughter. Those that are not going to slaughter are carted from the breeding place to the fattening property. It is a full-time job. The only day they don’t cart pigs is Friday because there is no kill Saturday. Ben has taken over from where James left off. He is not part of the company at this stage.
As stated previously, my dad and R.S. Bosisto were partners and they traded as ‘Bosisto & Kemp’ for about 35 years. They also owned 1,700 acres of land together at Two Wells. My dad also had a small holding of land of his own at Yatta Creek, 5 miles out of Gawler. When his health started to fail he offered me the chance of being a partner. I said, “I don’t want to be a partner.” So he bought me a bit of land at Hamley Bridge to set me up. It was 346 acres and had a river boundary which was a nuisance for what I wanted to be involved in. I had to ride a horse from Gawler up there to look after it as I didn’t have a car. I ran cattle on it. A bloke called Reg Sires share-farmed a bit of it. Then, in 1946 dad bought me 135 acres at Roseworthy where the silos now stand. I found Roseworthy suited me better so I sold the Hamley Bridge property to build a house at Roseworthy. When I bought the land in 1946 I ran some cattle on it and lived with my in-laws for three years until the house was built. Then I went on milking cows and raising pigs and cattle for the next few years.
In 1957 I bought 68 acres from the Dahlitz’s Estate on the outskirts of Roseworthy. As I was starting to deal in livestock it helped me have a bit more land to manage the sheep I bought instead of agisting them around the area. Shortly after buying Dahlitz’s we bought Maloney’s paddock of 122 acres which joined the bunkers in Roseworthy. We did pretty well and then in 1960 I decided to sell the house and ten acres of it to Ray Blackwell to give me a bit more money to keep the business flowing.
In 1962 Farmer’s Union had a property that belonged to Lowe’s that they had been trying to sell for a long time. The parcel of land was too big for most people to buy at the time. So I did a bit of home-work and approached some others about splitting it up. One fella said, “I’ll have that paddock.” And I said, “I’ll have those paddocks.” Then I went and saw the Farmer’s Union agent in Gawler and said, “I’ve got the sale pretty well organised. I’ve teed up other buyers to buy sections of it”. He gave me credit for organising it. The property was divided up and sold in a flash. The section of the Lowe’s farm which we bought was about 180 acres and other people took other portions of the original holding. I put that land in Peter’s name.
Then Peter wanted to buy a new tractor so I made a big mistake of selling the house and 10 acres of the Lowe’s holding to buy the tractor. I paid cash for it. That property changed hands a few times and then the new owner, Bob Atkinson, made it into a Dog Cemetry in Roseworthy. The bloke made a living out of it collecting dead dogs and cats from the vets from Victor Harbour to the Barossa Valley. Police horses were also buried out there. He had a furnace there as well and did an excellent job. People would pay big money and Bob would do the burial and he’d put the gravestones on the graves. He even had a rose garden there and people would come and visit the graves of their pets. It was very nice.
Well, after selling the 10 acres of Lowe’s land I bought the tractor and set Peter up with a new tractor. We had pretty good value out of it. Then we went on a bit longer and after a while another property came up for sale across the road owned by Pengilly’s. It was still too much for me to buy but I’d had a pretty good year so I bought 200 acres of it which we still own. We call it ‘Pengilly’s’. It has been a wonderful asset to us. We sow crops and have 90 acres sown to Lucerne which we graze. One of Peter’s main businesses is making good hay as you can always sell good hay.
We bought Quindoo Park in 1963. It was quite a big property but I could only buy 109 acres and another bloke bought the green paddock at the front of the place which was 46 acres. Then two years later I bought it from him because it originally belonged to Quindoo Park. We always wanted to come and live here. I was a bit stuck for finance at the time and an old bloke that I used to help said, “I’ll lend you the money. If you’ve got half, I’ll lend you the other half.” He was an old single fella’. Then he said to me, “The interest will be due on the 1st of January and the 1st of July, not on the 9th or the 10th of the month.” He was wonderful to me but I had been wonderful to him over the years too. He did a lot of hard yacka scrubbing cattle for bugger-all.
We had a few tenants then a workman lived here for a time and then when Peter got married we said, “Peter this is where the work is you’d better move here to Main North Road and mother and I will go and live at Quindoo Park. We lived like the Flintstones in the old house while the new house was being built. We decided to leave the big room from the old house which we have found very handy for when we were doing the baby-sitting for our grandchildren and when we have a few friends over. It’s a beautiful big room.
Shortly afterwards we bought another 109 acres from Don McKay who used to be in partnership with Colin Hayes, the famous racing trainer from Tanunda. It was not far away from the Dahlitz property.
When Ellen’s parents died in 1967 they left their property to be divided evenly between their four children. It was agreed that Ellen should take one paddock of 100 acres which we controlled for a few years and the other brothers took the other paddocks. However, we found that with the development around Roseworthy, it was very hard to run stock on it because of all the traffic on the main road. At the same time Peter had been share-farming for Bob Parham and his wife Ivy on her property at north of Roseworthy. She had always wanted Peter to share-farm it. So he did that for some time until they decided to sell as their son was not interested in farming. Then we decided to sell Ellen’s paddock at an auction in the Roseworthy Hall in order to buy 560 acres of Parham’s property, which we did. That is where Ben is going to make his home. Currently we crop it and run cattle on it. Now, between Peter and the partnership we own approximately 1,500 acres. We’ve achieved a fair bit over the years but I don’t like to brag about it.
MY BIG RIDE – HAWKER TO ROSEWORTHY
In 1975 I was in the Roseworthy pub one day when my neighbour who lived across the road and who had a couple of kids in the Gawler River Pony Club, said, “We’re trying to raise money for our Pony Club. What about coming for a ride, Kempy?” I said, “Where to?” He said, “One Tree Hill.” I said, “I can ride a bloody horse out there in an hour! If you want to make a quid I can ride a couple of hundred miles for you in four days.” So the deal was on. They got a bloke to say I couldn’t do it and they got the money to say I could do it.
So in October 1975 I travelled to Hawker and slept in the swag that night, then next day I rode my horse from Hawker to Orroroo, which was 70 miles. I had ‘fun’ on the way of course. While we were there we met a few blokes at a sale and had a bit of ‘fun’ with them and a lot of the stock agents didn’t think I’d get to base two. Well we stayed at the Orroroo Pub that night. About half past nine I said, “I’m going to bed. You blokes can kick on as long as you like, but I’m off.” They were playing cards and doing a bit of gambling and having a bit of ‘fun’. About 2 o’clock in the morning I was dead to the world when I woke up to find that they had stuck a bloke in the same room as me and he was shouting, “I’ve been robbed! Kempy, I’ve been robbed by some bugger in this pub!” I said, “Shut up and go to sleep for God’s sake!” But he kept on harping how he’d been robbed so that I couldn’t sleep. So I decided to go down and feed the horse, then, I decided that as soon as he had eaten his tucker I would get going. So I am walking back down the passage when I meet my strappers, Kevin Hahsey and Brian Holness who said, “Where do you think you are going?” I replied, “I’m going to go and feed my horse and then I’m getting going.” They said, “We just fed him.” Brian said then that the bloke had written a cheque for $100.00 and lost it. The joke was that Brian had put an extra 0 on the cheque so he thought that he had lost $1,000.00.
So off we went down the road to the old Yattina Pub where we had a barbecue breakfast - the agents were still with me from the day before. Then I set off again and jogged along. I only cantered the horse once on the whole trip. I would walk a couple of white posts and trot five, because the more you canter the more you take out of your horse. I just kept on like my old drover days, jogging along. So before long we got down to the Railway Hotel in Jamestown. We found people there who were old Gawler identities so we had a counter lunch and a couple of beers with them. Then I said, “Listen, I gotta’ get to Spalding tonight.”
So I got on my old nag and jogged along to Spalding. When I got to Spalding it was pub time of course, so I had a couple of beers and then the copper came around and he said, “I know you. I used to be at Hamley Bridge.” His name was Dennis Ireland who had been the copper there. So we finished up having a barbecue up at his place at the Police Station. When it came time for a camp it was raining so we fed and hobbled the horses then unlocked the two cells and slept there for the night. We didn’t get locked in either! Next morning we were up and away again. I rode from Spalding to Clare before breakfast and from Clare to home after dinner. I could have done it in 3 days but it had been arranged that the Pony Club would meet me on the Sunday morning. So next morning we met three miles north of Roseworthy and we all rode down to Quindoo and had a barbecue. We raised about $1,000. Dr Hahn, the president of the club, was delighted that we’d made the effort. It was fun. The distance I travelled from Hawker to Roseworthy was 215 miles. We did 70 miles the first day, 65 the second day and 80 the third day. I used 2 horses to do it.
MY KIMBERLEYS & DARWIN TRIP
In 1985 Ellen and I and George and Dulcie Helps from Owen went on a trip to Darwin together. Before I went I got my nephew to check the car out and put everything right saying, if anything needed replacing, like new belts, do it and put the old ones in the boot in case we break down so that we have got replacements. On the way up we went out to Ayers Rock and while we were out there we enjoyed ourselves very much for a couple of days then, when we came to go to Alice Springs, we blew a hole in the radiator cap. It was the only spare part I didn’t have! So we had to take it very steady. We’d do a few miles and the car would warm up, then we’d have a spell to cool it down. We did that all the way to Alice Springs and of course couldn’t buy a radiator cap there. They said they’d get one up. As we couldn’t hang around there for too long and as we knew another car that was heading north, we chuffed along to Katherine. When we got to Katherine we struck a bloke who said, “I can fix that for you.” So we put the new cap on and from there we went on to Darwin.
We had a few days there and went to Kakadu, then, when we were leaving Darwin I noticed that I wasn’t feeling as good as I would like to and soon realised that I was having a relapse of my undulant fever. The further I went the worse I got. We came down through the centre and out to Three Ways then went on to Camooweal. By the time I got there I was a cot case. So I spent the night in the Aboriginal Health Centre where the nurse was from the hospital. She booked me into Mt. Isa Hospital next morning. I felt a bit better next morning so we pushed on to Mt. Isa where the doctor gave me permission to head on saying, “Just take it steady and I think you will be all right to go on.” At that stage I thought I might have to fly home. We took our time driving down along the eastern coast on heading for home, but then, once we started to head for home we found we couldn’t get home quick enough! Despite the hiccups, it was a wonderful trip. I haven’t had another relapse of the undulant fever since.
A FISHING TRIP
I used to like fishing and dragging the net, well, on this particular time Win Hockey said to me, “Would you like to come fishing Kempy? We’re going down snapper fishing at Souter Point (on Yorke Peninsular).” So we left Roseworthy on the Friday night and had a bit of ‘fun’ on the way down. Then Saturday morning it was too rough to go out. So we went to the Warooka Pub and had a couple of beers and brought a bit back and got some periwinkles to use for ground bait. The Sunday morning we went out towards Corney Point where we caught 20 dozen whiting! They were beautiful fish. (There were no bag limits or anything in those days.) So we get back to the shack and Win Hockey unloaded all the gear and said, “We have to do three things – we’ve got to clean the house, we got to clean the boat and we’ve got to clean the fish.” So we cleaned the boat and put it away, cleaned the house, went down on the beach with our catch, put trestles out and Win said, “Dunnicliffe you scale ‘em, I’ll fillet them and all you’ve got to do Kempy is wrap ‘em up in fillets of a dozen and put them in the eskies and keep the beer up to us.” And I did an excellent job!
I got home at a reasonable time and as Ellen was in bed I thought I’d better do something for my sore feet as they were pretty sore from climbing over the rocks the day before. I thought ‘I’ll rub a bit of Metho’ on my feet before I go to bed.’ So I get the Metho’ out and the Sunday Mail and while I’m rubbing me feet with Methylated Spirits I’m having a read of the Sunday Mail. Then I go to bed and have a good sleep. Next morning Ellen got up first and then came racing back up the passage saying to me, “Did you get stuck into the sherry last night?” I said, “No, I rubbed me feet with Methylated Spirits.” She said, “It wasn’t Methylated Spirits boy, the bottle is still on the table. Now come and have a look at my lino.” When I did I saw that I had left footprints like a dinosaur on the lino where I’d walked around the kitchen with sticky feet! I had rubbed my feet with Solero Sweet Sherry! It must have had a lot of Metho’ in it because it fixed me feet up!
A DROVING TALE
In the drover days (1940s), before trucks, old Fred Gramp from Orlando in the Barossa, used to buy a few cattle from Bosisto & Kemp every year. It would be my job to drive them out along what is now the Gomersal Highway and sometimes the weather was better than others. It was about a day’s droving. This time I rode a half broken in horse to drive the cattle out there. When I got there old Fred Gramp said, “Would you mind taking them up to the top of the hill boy. I’ll buy you a drink when you come back.” It was a very hot day. So I took the cattle up to the water and when I came back he invited me in and gave me a couple of drinks of different kinds of wine. He said, “Try this and try that.” I did and it was lovely! But I’m not a wine drinker. When it was time to ride home he had to hold the horse and put me on it so I could! I got home.
I had a very sad call one Sunday night when a sixteen old year old girl rang me up. She said, “Can you come down and help me Mr. Kemp. Mum has shot through and I’m left with the rest of the family.” There were 8 of them. Dad was working in Tennant Creek and mum had shot through and the eldest girl was left with seven other siblings to look after. They had hardly any food. The youngest of the family was 18 months. She was crying when she rang me. I cried when I got there. I did the best I could. We took Kim and had him for about 10 months. He would have been about 10 or 11, I would say. So a couple of other families in the district had a couple of the kids and we had Kim, the oldest two children were old enough to work and the grandparents took the baby. Ellen used to take him to basketball practice and he was a good little sports person. Ellen used to say, “I’d like to put a skirt on him!” Sometimes he used to fill in to make up the numbers in the team.
His father used to ring me regularly and ask me “How are you getting on with the kids? I can’t afford to give up my job because I’m the bread winner for them. One day I’ll come and pick them up.” After about ten months Bevan (father) rang me and said, “I’ll be down at the weekend to pick the kids up. I’ve got a house-keeper and we’re going to go to Wudinna to live. I’m going over there as the mechanic.” He arrived and rounded up his family and took them to Wudinna and they all grew up good kids which was a great thrill to the people who looked after them in their sad time. When he got married we stood in for his parents. He has never ever forgotten us! He has now got a couple of lads himself who have probably also got children of their own now. Kim and his boys were footballers for Willaston.
THE FRIGHT OF MY LIFE
The biggest fright I’ve ever had in my life occurred in 1973 when I was at Wertaloona Station working with Bob Wilson. We spent a week out in the mustering camp, where we had cattle on agistment, and living in the swag. The plan was that the other stockmen would take the cattle not for sale back to the paddocks at the bottom end of Wertaloona while Bob and I would take the yearlings to Sand Hill dam to load on the trucks to be transported down south. So we pushed along with 300 hundred yearlings until we thought it was time for a cuppa’. So we sat down near a coolibah tree and boiled the billy. No sooner had we eaten a bit of tucker and had a drink when Bob Wilson started to scratch himself and within half an hour he was unconscious. What would I do? I had 300 cattle I had to make sure didn’t go back looking for their mothers and I needed to help Bob.
So I jumped on my horse and blocked them off then sat with Bob, dragging him around under the shade of the coolibah tree so that he would be in the shade. I felt his pulse and was relieved to find that he still had a pulse but he was unconscious. I sat with him and kept wetting a handkerchief with water out of the water-bag on the horse trying to keep him as cool as I could, in between dragging him around a bit further when he got in the sun. After about an hour he opened his eyes and said, “What happened, Kempy?” I said, “I don’t know what happened. How are you going?” He said, “I don’t think I’ll make it.” This scared me. I decided to go and block the cattle off again and when I came back he said, “Don’t leave me Kempy, I’m done.” By that time the cattle had started to break again so I went and blocked them up again and when I came back he wasn’t much better. Time ticked away, I reckon we were there doing this for about three hours. I didn’t want to leave the cattle because it had taken us a week to muster them.
Then finally I heard one of the transports go into the yards which were three miles from where we were. So I lapped the horse and told Bob, “I’ve got to get some help.” When I rode into the yards no-one was the there and the vehicle we had used to cart our gear out had gone. It wasn’t long before the driver turned up. He had driven out to where he had seen us on his way in and found Bob along side the tree where I had left him. He was still alive. He radioed Mrs. Wilson at the station, which was about 25-30 miles from where we were, and she radioed the Broken Hill Flying Doctor Service and they radioed us to tell us how to cope. We finally got him into the Toyota and drove him to the station where Mrs. Wilson worked on him further with advice from the Flying Doctor. Despite this attention, he didn’t get much better.
At 9 o’clock that night they decided to send the air ambulance to pick him up, so it was all hands on deck to put the flares out on the strip and make sure there were no kangaroos or animals on it. The plane came in and picked him up. When they loaded him in the ambulance I cried. I was so relieved and thankful that he was still alive. I was very stressed by it all. He was a very very good friend of mine and it was just a bit more than I could handle. They kept him in hospital for about a week and all they could find responsible for his condition was a couple of marks on his elbow where they reckoned he’d been bitten by a spider
Where we had mustered the cattle there were a lot of bushes that had massive webs hanging between them and we used to ride through them. However, to make a long story short he recovered. So the next time I went up to see him I took a couple of flagons of Four Crown Port and I wrote on them ‘SPIDER BITE VACCINE’. So we got stuck into them and had very fond memories of our experiences and celebrated his recovery. It was the biggest fright I’ve ever had in my life for sure!
THE DUBLIN STOCK-YARD OPENING
My dad used to talk of the days when he went to the abattoirs at North Terrace in Newmarket, Adelaide. He bought stock there then went on out to Gepps Cross to buy sheep as that was his life - sheep dealing. He put in many years there making his livelihood. Because of my family’s long association with those sale yards when the new Dublin Market sale-yards were to be opened they selected my grandsons, as they were the fourth generation of Kemps, to sell the first pen of sheep. So we picked the best number of lambs we could find (15 or 20) for James and Ben to sell. They made a $118. They were bought by Glen Kyle. $118 a head had never been seen before. People said you would never see that again. But now the auctioneers start the bidding at $140 or 50 a head! But we take pride in that theirs were the first ones to get over $100.
In 1996 one of my very good rodeo boys and friend, Alan Bennett, passed on. In his time he became an Australian Champion Rodeo Rider in 1953-4. He was known as the best and toughest rodeo contestant anywhere in the world. He was an outstanding all-rounder, a great rodeo clown, humourist, reciter of bush poetry, character and legend in his life-time. He came from Naracoorte in SA and won contests in America, NZ and Australia and also held the record on ‘Curio’ at Marrabel Rodeo in SA. I had a lot of respect for him as a stockman and as a ‘pick-up’ man I think I’ve picked him off more than anyone else because he stayed on longer. I wanted to go to Longreach for the service and pay my respects to him, so my son-in-law Peter Will and I took off from Bordertown in a brand new Toyota, which I’ve still got. We travelled up through New South Wales to Longreach in Queensland. We arrived there for the funeral service and his ashes were laid to rest in the rose garden at the Longreach Stockman’s Hall of Fame.
R. M. (Williams) was a great pal of mine and a great help to Longreach. He was the instigator of the Longreach Stockman’s Hall of Fame. It may have happened in South Australia had he not ‘pulled the pin’ and gone to Queensland. He had had a political dispute with Playford (who was Premier of SA at the time) and said, “I’m leaving South Australia and I am going to Queensland to do what I want to do.” And he did. I thought the Hall of Fame was wonderful. It brought back so many memories. We also went across the road and had a look at the QANTAS Museum and spent some time there. What impressed me most was to see how far QANTAS has gone from the museum part of it to what it is today. It was so interesting.
When we were coming home we came down through Stonehenge to Junda which is on the track to Birdsville from Queensland and called in to see an old friend who used to be a great cowboy - a fella’ called Ray Wilson who was one of the early day rough-riders who came from Owen. He then changed over to hunting at the shows. He had a great horse called Landscape which he rode and did very well on in the Adelaide Shows. I had a bit of kick last year as he came to see me. He originated from Salter Springs which is near Hamley Bridge. When I went to see him out at Junda I said, “Where are your horses?” He said, “That’s my horse.” He pointed to a small light one-man aircraft called an Ultra-light, that he used to get the sheep in with as he had two or three properties around there. He said, “It saves a lot of time. I don’t go up very high.” How times have changed!
SOME OF MY LIFE’S ADAGES:
When others give me a bit of cheek I say, “Oh well, the old dogs for the hard road and the pups for the gutter.” Another great saying of mine is: “Count your blessings. You have to think positive.” My philosophy about stock is: “If you can’t look after them don’t have them.” My dad said: “It’s easy to get a bad name and hard to get a good one.” “Never growl about old age – some never make it.” “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
I’ve always thought of myself as the ‘Black Sheep’ of my family. I did things differently and didn’t fit others expectations of me. From an early age I was passionate about horses and live-stock and the excitement involved. This passion has been life-long. I always took extra risks, grabbed at opportunities, worked hard and thought positive and that attitude has generally paid off for me. My life has been full of challenges – I’ve looked for them and been given them and I’ve done my best to meet them. I soon learnt not to take on more than I could chew! I have refused to get into debt so paid for what I got and worked hard to get it. I believe I have been successful.
All my life I have been a great family man. Birthdays and Christmas celebrations were always held at home when the children were growing up, then later, have been held at my children’s home or at our home. It gives me great joy to have my family around me whenever it can be arranged. When Alison’s boys were growing up we used to travel down to Coonalpyn which was half-way between Roseworthy and Bangham to celebrate their birthdays. They were fun days.
Some of the special occasions in my life have been: My 60th birthday which was a great day spent at home with family and close friends.
Our 40th wedding anniversary in 1987 when we had an Open House held at Peter and Annette’s place on Main North Road Roseworthy. I gave Ellen a ruby and diamond dress ring which I organised on my own from Brereton’s Jeweller’s Gawler. Joan Geue who was matron of honour at our wedding brought her original dress to the gathering and Alison wore it.
Our 50th wedding anniversary in 1997 was celebrated with a family and relations Sunday lunch at the Roseworthy Hotel. I gave Ellen a ruby and diamond eternity ring to match the 40th anniversary ring. It was a great day
My 80th birthday was celebrated at home with family and friends. It was a wonderful day too.
Our 60th wedding anniversary in 2007 was a surprise lunch for us held at the Ridley Arms Hotel at Wasleys. All my immediate family was invited and a lovely day was shared by us all. Five great grand-children were an added bonus at this gathering. The older children performed a little song which is included below. Another two great grandchildren were added in 2009. What a joy they all are! We even received a letter of congratulations from Queen Elizabeth!
Ellen and I were tickled pink when Alison’s three eldest grand children (our great grand-children) Kelly, Josh & Anna sang this song to us. They sang it beautifully. It made our day very special. We have been so lucky.
Currently my days follow a pattern: The first thing I do every morning when I get up is have breakfast then Ellen and I go round the roads to check our stock and their water. We also check the fences to see if any ‘hoon’ drivers have been through the fences over night, which is quite common in our area. If any do go through the fences they never report it to us so we’ve just got to make sure we find out before the stock find the gap and get out on the road. If there’s anything wrong I have to ring up a workman or my son to come and help me put things right. That’s the first job of my day. The next job is to come home and have a cup of tea.
Every Monday morning Ellen and I go to the Dublin cattle market. It means an earlier rise but we’re a bit afraid they mightn’t have it if we don’t turn up! We’ve been going there for many decades now. I love going to the market and keeping up with the stock prices and occasionally I get to help with the cattle. Livestock is in my blood – still! Then we have a cuppa’ with my friends there and then come home. Ellen sits in the car and does the Crossword while I have a bit of ‘fun and games’ with my mates. Going to the market is the highlight of my week.
I also enjoy a drink with my mates at the local Pub. In the winter I follow the footy – especially my beloved Centrals. We don’t go to the matches any more but stay home and watch it on TV. I enjoy showing my mates my Central Districts Football Club membership badge saying to them when they hassle me, “If you can’t beat ‘em, you’d better join ‘em.” That’s what I preach to the opposition fellows. I love reading too, particularly the Stock Journal on Thursday night and the Bunyip each week where I keep up with all local gossip. I also enjoy the Outback Magazine which is a good read.
I’ve had a wonderful life and I still enjoy it and am thankful that I have good health that allows me to. I’ve been thankful for my wonderful family and that I could always ‘think positive’. I believe both are very important in life. My greatest joy has always been and is my family. I am very proud of them all. I say and feel that ‘it’s not what I’ve done in my life it’s what we’ve done.’ I couldn’t have done what I’ve done without them.
I have made many wonderful friends along the way whom I value highly and we’ve enjoyed some great ‘fun and games’ together – some forgettable and some unforgettable! But my constant passions have been my horses, working with live-stock and my family. I’ve had a good life and enjoyed every minute of it and for that I can count my blessings and give thanks to all those who have contributed to it along the way
“He is a great family man. In family gatherings, immediate and extended family members are always included if at all possible. He always enjoys visitors and provides great hospitality to them. He is a remarkable man.” (Alison)
We were extremely saddened to learn that Dudley passed away in his sleep 27th August 2016.
Memories of Kemp Dudley
Gillianbarnard remembers: My father as talked about by Dud (as we knew him) was the weekend at victor harbour. Dad and Dud went out on the town and had a bit of fun and Johnny Snell or Jack Snell as he was also called gave the local constabulatory some unasked for advice and he got shoved head first into the motorbike side car and locked up for the night,Dud later told me how he had to lie to his Mother and tell her that is was all Johnny Snells fault that they got into trouble.They were great mates Johnny and Dudley