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Barraclough, Leslie Bernard (Toby) (1922–1988)

by Jonathan Richards

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Leslie Bernard (Toby) Barraclough (1922-1988), drover, was born on 30 June 1922 at Cunnamulla, Queensland, fifth child of William Arthur Barraclough, labourer and bullock-driver, who came from Wilcannia, New South Wales, and his Queensland-born wife Florence Ethel, née Reid. `Toby’ moved with his family to Cloncurry, where his father worked in a copper mine. Leaving school at the age of 12, he began droving at 18 and became a head stockman at 23. In World War II he tried to enlist in the armed forces but was not accepted because his droving skills were considered important to the war effort. He met Alma Douglas, a domestic whose mother was Aboriginal, when they were both working on Corella Park station, near Cloncurry; she was aged 17 when they were married on 15 October 1945 at the Cloncurry Presbyterian Church. About that time a horse fell on him and broke his right leg in several places, leaving him with the `best set of bow legs south of the Gulf’. An accomplished horseman, he was head stockman at Corella Park for about twenty years. In the late 1950s he tried kangaroo-shooting in the Cloncurry district, before returning to droving.

Despite having a permanent home at Cloncurry, from 1974 the Barracloughs were mainly found as contract drovers, along stock routes in Queensland and the Northern Territory. Alma was the camp cook. Her father had been a fencer; as a child she had led an itinerant life and was used to camping. At first she and Toby took little more than their swags, but over the years conditions improved as they acquired well-equipped vehicles and a caravan. Eventually Alma travelled with a kitchen sink, gas stove, refrigerator, generator and sewing machine. Toby usually had a team of five men: three to tend the cattle, one to look after the horses (about forty), and a driver. On the Barracloughs’ longest trip, in 1983, when they were accompanied by two of their children, they moved 1500 cattle in a five-month drive from Miranda Downs, near Normanton, to Bulloo Downs, south-west of Thargomindah. In 1987 on a journey lasting ten weeks, they drove 1500 bullocks from Rocklands, north-west of Mount Isa, to Tanbar station, south-west of Windorah, for the Stanbroke Pastoral Co. Pty Ltd. That year the journalist Lyndall Crisp described Barraclough as one of the few `experienced boss drovers left in Australia’.

Thin and wiry, with a leathery complexion, Barraclough was a man who enjoyed life despite several falls which resulted in back and neck injuries. In 1986 he underwent major surgery for cancer. He died on 27 February 1988 at Cloncurry and was buried with Catholic rites in the local cemetery. His wife and their three daughters and two sons survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 8 Aug 1987, p 5
  • Times on Sunday (Sydney), 20 Sept 1987, p 27
  • private information.

Citation details

Jonathan Richards, 'Barraclough, Leslie Bernard (Toby) (1922–1988)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/barraclough-leslie-bernard-toby-12181/text21831, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 18 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

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