Craig Lockwood brings our Australian heritage alive in his role as the Timbertown Bullocky. We talk to Craig about his passion for Bullocks and how it has changed his life.
> What is your role at Timbertown, Craig?
My role at Timbertown is known as the “Bullocky”. As the Bullocky I present the Timbertown bullocks as a working replica of a timber getting, bush working team of Bullocks. The role also includes the daily care of the animals, feeding, health maintenance and training of the bullocks. Public Relations is a big part of my role as Timbertown is a community asset and tourist park. This includes liaising with tourists, large groups from seniors to school students and especially the local community. During the two demonstrations at 11:30am and 2pm daily I depict the history of bullock teams in the Hastings and throughout Australia to the best of my knowledge. Over the past 12 months I have become the Timbertown ‘Character’ that appears on TV, in magazines and at promotions outside of Timbertown.
> How long have you been the Bullocky?
I have been the Bullock Driver at Timbertown for almost four years and have been at Timbertown for five years.
> Why did you decide to get into that profession?
Fate! – I’ve always had an interest in working with animals and was working at the Maul and Wedge Restaurant and watching the demonstrations and bullocks on the Timbertown Arena. I took a liking to the bullocks and decided that I’d like to have a go at driving them so when the opportunity arose I got my chance. Once I started I got very interested in the history and the work these animals did in literally building Australia.
> Is there any training needed to be a Bullocky.
Definitely. I spent four weeks with Alwyn (Jake) Flanagan (Former Timbertown Bullock Driver and 4th generation Bullocky) we spent every day together getting to know the bullocks’ personalities and the commands you use to control the team. I also had to learn how to control the bullock whip. My time with Alwyn gave me the basic skills to get the team going. Bullock Driving is an ongoing learning process. The bullocks have a mind of their own, this can create some interesting situations. I’m lucky that I am in contact with the Australian Bullock Drivers League and have many Bullocky’s to call on, especially Harold Blanche from Bulahdelah who has taught me to work with a professional bush-working team of bullocks.
> What is the thing you love most about your job?
My greatest passion is the bullocks themselves. They have a variety of personalities and need to be dealt with individually, They are great animals and respond to training very well. The best part is training young bullocks, watching them learn and grow and start working in the team. We have broken in three pairs in the past four years. The first pair ‘Spanker’ and ‘Cocky’ are now five year old’s (we start them at two years old) and they are now leading the team, ‘Dusty’ and ‘Ranger’ are three year old’s and are coming up through the ranks. The newest additions are ‘Albert’ and ‘Mick’, both two year old’s which have just finished their basic training. They look like they might make another pair of leaders. These six bullocks were all bred at O’Leary’s “Glenmore” Devon Stud at Kundabung. Not only can the breed itself be dated back to 150 AD, these six bullocks have bloodlines back to 1907.
> What is involved in one of the bullock shows?
The bullock demonstrations are held twice a day, we attach the team to a log truck which is loaded with a blackbutt log. The truck is made from iron bark which weighs about three tonne. The bullocks stand in front of the grandstand while I give the visitors to Timbertown a talk on the breed (Red Devons which were one of the traditional breeds used in the past), how the team works, the equipment and the history of bullocks in Australia. I love to get questions from the crowd; some of these can be surprising. We then give them a demonstration of the team working with the bullocks pulling the log around the oval. We have a ‘public relations’ bullock in each team to allow people to come down after the demonstration to pat him and talk to me. My talk is known to make a few visitors laugh. 🙂
> What other shows and demonstrations do you have at Timbertown?
The Bullock Drivers give whip-cracking lessons, a shingle splitting demo, pit saw demo, and we call for volunteers to help with the cross cut sawing. Timbertown has a Blacksmith Demo, Woodturning Demo, Horse and Carriage Tour, Street Theatre performers and Steam Train Rides. For those over 18 there is the Timbertown Winery for wine tastings, I can highly recommend the old Loggers Port. For the Kids, Timbertown has pony rides, an animal patting pen and paddle boat rides.
> How do the bullocks contribute to the unique heritage environment of Timbertown?
Timbertown represents a timber getters village from the late 1880’s, and since the bullocks main function during this time was the transport of timber, they would have been a regular sight in this type of Village. Timbertown has the only bullock demonstration team throughout Australia and possibly the world, which can be seen seven days a week. We have 16 bullocks altogether and run generally a team of eight at Timbertown. The other eight bullocks are sent to have a spell at King Creek on 50 acres on the river. Bullocks are not only part of the Timbertown Heritage but also a part of the Australian Heritage – they not only brought timber to the mill, they were also used around the mill. Bullocks were used in every major construction prior to the 1900’s. The main four cargoes they carried were wheat, wool, sugarcane and timber, but there is nothing they haven’t been used for during this period. Since the main industry during the 1800’s in this area was timber, hundreds of bullock teams would have worked up and down the coast and in any area where timber was harvested.
> Do you still see yourself as a Bullocky in five years time?
I’ll still be the Bullock Driver at Timbertown and I’d like to think I’d have a Bullock Drivers Museum at Timbertown up and running. I’d always be involved with bullocks and am in the process of starting my team at home; hopefully my own personal breeders will have some little bullocks this season. I am involved with the Bullock Drivers League and hope to hold next year’s annual meeting at Timbertown, as well as the World Devon Breeder’s Conference.
> Where were you from originally. How was your life different to now?
I was born and bred on the Central Coast of New South Wales. I grew up on push bikes and sailing boats on the Tuggerah Lakes. My wife and I moved to the Wauchope area in 2001 and decided that we liked the farming lifestyle.
Most of my working life has been spent behind a bar and doing security in clubs and pubs. This is how I started at Timbertown working at the Maul & Wedge restaurant doing customer service during the day and working behind the bar at functions. I’ve done some Agricultural courses at a Jackaroo school near Tamworth and of course my Bullocky training with Alwyn Flanagan and Harold Blanche.
> You have an interesting trick that many people can’t do?
I can ride a penny farthing bicycle!,.. Which you can see on the streets of Timbertown. Unfortunately at the moment our penny farthing is being restored, but I cannot wait till it is back on the streets again.
> Thank you for your time Craig.