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Cedric Alfred (Syd) Bayliss (1899–1983)

by G. P. Walsh

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Cedric Alfred (Syd) Bayliss (1899-1983), hawker, whip-maker and saddler, was born on 27 July 1899 at Wangaratta, Victoria, fourth of seven children of Victorian-born parents Albert Ernest Bayliss, farmer, and his wife Florence, née Everitt. Nicknamed `Shig’ as a boy and known as Syd from about the age of 20, Cedric grew up on his family’s Boorhaman station and attended Boorhaman State School. A good horseman, he often spent long periods alone in the bush, hunting, shooting and learning bushcraft.

Following the example of his two older brothers, Raymond and Ernest, both later killed in France, Cedric enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 13 March 1916; he was 16 years old, almost six feet (183 cm) tall and 10.5 stone (67 kg) in weight. He arrived in France in November with the 37th Battalion and was allocated to the 10th Machine-Gun Company next month. Gassed on 26 May 1918, he was hospitalised in France and England. He was discharged from the army, medically unfit, on 29 January 1919 in Melbourne. On 13 August he enlisted for seven years in the Royal Australian Navy. He served as a stoker, 2nd class, at HMAS Cerberus, Westernport, and in HMAS Australia before deserting on 14 April 1920 in Sydney.

Having been employed on properties in Victoria and western New South Wales and on Oaklands station near Urana, New South Wales, in 1921 Bayliss and a mate worked their way up the Queensland coast to Townsville and out to Dobbyn, north of Cloncurry. At Dalgonally station near Julia Creek he obtained a job as a ringer in mustering camps, taught himself plaiting and made rough green-hide whips and bronco ropes from cattle hides cured with salt and alum. After a few months in the Northern Territory in 1925, he worked his way south on various stations, including Eulolo, Connemarra and Mount Margaret in Queensland and Wingadee in New South Wales, and finally took delight in riding his horse onto the steps of the Melbourne General Post Office.

On 23 June 1927 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Cootamundra, New South Wales, Bayliss married Grace Margaret Dolan. They were to have three sons, one of whom died in infancy. In August, leaving his wife with relatives in Sydney, he returned north and for about two years worked on Brunette Downs station in the Northern Territory, where he learned the `double American’ plait. In 1931, after a fall from his horse, he went into business as a leather craftsman. Using a four-horse wagon with covered sides that opened down to make a display area, he hawked stockwhips, belts, hatbands, watch and knife pouches, together with tobacco and other items, from station to station. He also did saddlery and harness repairs. As he travelled he shot kangaroos and tanned the skins in casks of wattle-bark liquor fitted to the sides of his wagon.

Bayliss’s stockwhips, from 4 to 64 strands and from 5 ft (153 cm) to 50 ft (1530 cm) long, were popular in much of Australia. A consummate craftsman, he could plait the owner’s name into the whip handle. After some years at Jerilderie, New South Wales, about 1940 he moved to Tumut, where he set up a tannery and saddlery store, the Valley of the Whites Trading Post, which he operated with his wife and their son John. He enjoyed teaching plaiting and boomerang-throwing and served on the Tumut rodeo committee. Craftsman, bushman and storyteller, Bayliss died on 1 February 1983 at Tumut and was cremated. His wife and their younger son survived him. A posthumous portrait by Howard Barron is held by R. Taubman, Murringo, New South Wales.

Select Bibliography

  • R. Taubman, One of the Last (1989)
  • Tumut and Adelong Times, 8 Feb 1983, p 8
  • series B2455, item Bayliss C A (National Archives of Australia).

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Bayliss, Cedric Alfred (Syd) (1899–1983)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 14 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (Melbourne University Press), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

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