In 1959, by invitation, Andrew “Boyle” Holden drove a team of bullocks across the newly opened Forster-Tuncurry Bridge. Not only was Boyle one of the last bullockies of the Mid North Coast but he and his son Leo were the last in a long line of Holdens who had driven bullock teams since 1870.
William and Jane Holden arrived in Australia from Norfolk, England in 1857.1 They initially settled at Shoalhaven before moving north. In 1870 the family were aboard the ketch “Isle of Thanet” when it wrecked at Port Stephens.2 Everyone survived, but the Holdens decided to settle on the Manning making Tinonee their base.3 William bought three bullocks and started working as a teamster.4
Bullock teams were used for hauling materials before roads were established. Many modern roads are based around the old bullock team tracks. In the Manning, bullock teams transported the rich sources of cedar, mahogany and rosewood to either sawmills or the river for shipping.5
The trade passed to William’s son Charles who in later life became the Taree Showground Caretaker.6 During WWI, two of Charles’ sons fought in France. His eldest son William was killed in action in Belgium while Edward survived the war but was later killed in a tragic tree-felling accident.7 In WWII, Charles’ sons Albert, Boyle and Cecil all saw active service.8 Boyle on his return took over his father’s teams and son Leo learned the trade before fighting in Korea where he was awarded the Military Medal.9 Boyle’s bullock team, one of the last of the Manning River was sold in 195910 and Boyle died in 1989.11
In 2015 during WWI centenary commemorations, Charles’ daughter Isabella, then aged 95, shared her family’s rich history.12
Author: Janine Roberts based on documents from Ian Gorton.
1 Ancestry.com.au, NSW Assisted Immigrant Passenger List, William Holden, May 1857, “Golconda”.
2 Evening News, 7 March 1870, 2
3 NSW Land Registry Services, Vol-Fol: 1103-185 and 1103-186.
4 PIX, 6 June 1959, 34.
5 The Australian Teamsters Hall of Fame, ‘The Bullockies’, http://www.athof.com.au/bullockies.htm
6 Ancestry.com.au, Australian Electoral Rolls, Lyne, Taree, 1943 and 1949.
7 NAA: B2455, Holden W F H 2084; NAA: B2455, Holden E J 3638; Northern Champion, 16 February 1938, 2.
8 NAA: B884, Holden Albert Charles N459034; Holden Andrew Boyle NX47392; Holden Cecil NX200053.
9 NAA: NMKM0037701, Holden Leo C.
10 PIX, 6 June 1959, 34.
11 NSW BDM, Death Index for Andrew Boyle Holden, No. 110234/1989.
12 Manning River Times, ‘Isabella’s link with World War 1 and Taree’, 14 October, 2014.