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Claude Bowhay (1907–1970)

by S. J. Routh

This article was published:

Claude Bowhay (1907-1970), sheep-breeder, was born on 21 June 1907 at Cumnock, New South Wales, son of George Henry Bowhay (d.1937), hotelkeeper, and his wife Anne, née McCormack. Educated at St Stanislaus' College, Bathurst, Claude later managed his father's merino stud, Buckinbah, at Yeoval. At St Joseph's Catholic Church, Orange, on 21 July 1938 he married a book-keeper Clarice Elizabeth Kell.

The Bowhays aimed to breed big-framed sheep whose wool would have bulk, density and a soft handle. In the mid-1930s they brought Uardry and Haddon Rig infusions into what had been basically Wanganella blood. A Buckinbah ewe took the grand championship in 1936 at the Sydney Sheep Show; by 1940 the stud's group entries had thrice been runners-up in the Stonehaven Cup. After the sale of George Bowhay's land in 1945, Claude removed the family stud to St George, Queensland, and renamed the new property Buckinbah. On its first entry in the Queensland State Sheep Show in 1960, Buckinbah showed the supreme champion ram. From that year to 1967 (with the exception of 1966) the stud won the prize for aggregate points. At the Sydney Sheep Show in 1964 a Buckinbah ewe was the first Queensland merino to win a grand championship and the stud was ranked second in the Stonehaven Cup. Bowhay judged at shows throughout Australasia, frequently in Sydney, and in 1968 at Palermo, Argentina.

By 1970 Buckinbah was selling more rams than any other Queensland stud and Bowhay's wide, commercial, wool-growing experience gave him great influence in the industry. A councillor from 1940 to 1946 of the New South Wales Sheepbreeders' Association, in 1962 he was invited to rejoin the council in an unprecedented tribute to an interstate 'expatriate'. He was a councillor (from 1946) and president (1959-62) of the Queensland Merino Stud Sheepbreeders' Association, and president (1965) of the Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders. As a United Graziers' Association councillor, he represented the Central Graziers' Association of Queensland and was a member (as one of the three delegates from the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers' Council) of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. In 1969 he was appointed C.M.G.

Like his father, Claude Bowhay had been active in local government. In 1942-45 he served on Amaroo Shire Council, New South Wales. From 1951 he was a councillor of Balonne shire, Queensland. During his chairmanship (1954-70) the shire (which carried some 10 per cent of Queensland's sheep) became one of the most prosperous in the State. Its electricity scheme was among the largest administered by a local council, and, in Bowhay's term, water supplies were expanded, towns sewered, facilities improved and St George was linked to a bitumen highway. Jovial and weatherbeaten, with dark, merry eyes under bushy brows, Bowhay was characterized by intelligence, conscientiousness, patience and a genial charm.

Survived by his wife, son and three daughters, he died of cancer on 15 October 1970 at Chermside Hospital, Brisbane, and was buried in St George cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • G. O. Armstrong, In Mitchell's Footsteps (Brisb, 1968)
  • G. Simpson and W. C. Skelsey (compiler), The Queensland Merino Stud Sheepbreeders' Association 50th Anniversary Souvenir Book 1983 (Toowoomba, Qld, 1983)
  • C. Massy, The Australian Merino (Melb, 1990)
  • Pastoral Review, 14 June 1935, 11 June 1940, 18 Sept 1961, 18 Nov 1970
  • Balonne Beacon, 21 Oct 1970.

Citation details

S. J. Routh, 'Bowhay, Claude (1907–1970)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 14 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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