Storytelling at its best

by Jackie Gatt
Publish date
21 February 2011
Comments (2)

Jackie is a volunteer at Museum Victoria. She has been documenting and researching the Newmarket Saleyards Collection.

On Saturday Liza Dale-Hallett and I were lucky enough to head along to the 150th Newmarket Saleyards Reunion. It was a fabulous day under the shady peppercorns and oaks, with a turnout of over 250 drovers, buyers, transporters and auctioneers returning to share stories and catch up with old mates. Chequered shirts, moleskins and akubras set the dress standard for the day while a cold beer in hand was a necessary addition to any reminiscing.

Crowd at 150th anniversary Crowd at the 150th anniversary Newmarket Saleyards Reunion on 19 February.
Source: Museum Victoria

Although these days some of the ‘boys’ don’t get around that quickly, it was all too easy to imagine them striding around the saleyards, calling out to each other over the fences and down the lanes. They happily recounted anecdotes about their days at Newmarket – some were bold and some were bawdy, many were full of intrigue and most of them gave an insight into the tough life lived by drovers. Some chestnuts were enlightening, explaining things a city-girl would never otherwise know, while some memories were more sombre, recollecting mates that had passed on. I was regaled with yarns from Barney, Knocker and Marbuk; Bluey, Paddy, Waxy and young Strop. And while Jingles had me captivated with stories of getting up to no good, Dick warmed my heart with entertaining tales of his beloved dogs. Brothers Laurie and Lindsay were the gentlemen drovers, eloquent orators and fine historians; and larrikin Spot proudly showed off his new grandson. Men came from as far away as Queensland while others live just up the road and didn’t have so far to get home.

Three attendees at the 15oth Newmarket Saleyards Reunion L-R: Greg Nichols, Peter Woodhead and Graham Spargo.
Source: Museum Victoria

Volunteer Jackie with Dick Chandler at the reunion. Volunteer Jackie with Dick Chandler at the reunion.
Source: Museum Victoria

It was a day of storytelling and reminiscing at its very best and although there wasn’t a sheep dog in sight, it was easy to imagine Newmarket in its glory days as Australia’s premier saleyards.

Some exciting donations were made to Museum Victoria and we look forward to adding them to our Newmarket Heritage Collection.


Newmarket Saleyards Collection

MV Blog: Newmarket Saleyards turn 150

Comments (2)

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Travis 22 February, 2011 15:12
Wow I used to round up cattle for my Dad there when I was little. I was amazed at the drovers who used to sleep there;as truck's came in at all hours. Thanks for tapping the well of my memory.Hadn't thought about the place in years must tell Dad. Thanks. T
Doug Brockfield 28 February, 2011 14:16
What a great day. So many memories. I worked there as an auctioeer's clerk for AML&F in the late 1950's, and then for a few years as a buyer with JC Hutton. An amazing place with lots of characters. Will always be a strong feature in my memory bank.
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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.