Welcome to our Legends of Plaiting page. Here we will be adding over time a brief history on each Legend. I hope you enjoy reading their stories.
Master Craftsman – Doug Kite
On 6 August 2016 Landline, ABC broadcast a story about Victorian whip maker Doug Kite. You can read the transcript and watch the video here.
A Life Well Lived
Peter Bondfield OAM – 4 July 1928 to 13 November 2013
I first met Peter at a plaiters’ meeting in Toowoomba, Qld in about 2009, and from there through regular contact we became friends. 13 November 2013 marked the passing of one of whip plaiting’s true legends. My daughter interviewed Peter on 8 October 2012 and an excerpt from the interview is below. You can download the full transcript below the excerpt, or listen to the Voice of Stanthorpe tell his story in his own words below.
So we’ve got quite a few questions for you.
So there’s 15 I think.
They’re short. So –
Start from the very beginning.
Where were you born?
I was born in Queanbeyan on – the nursing home it was in Queanbeyan on 4 July 1928.
Yeah that’s good. Thank you. And what did you do when you were little, like a boy?
When I was little?
Well, I was dyslexic, I hated school and all I ever wanted to do was own a horse and a dog. So when I was about 12 I managed to buy a horse, unbroken, and my uncle gave me a dog. I kept the horse in my mother’s chook yard. So I used to go riding whenever I could. And I always wanted to be with horses.
How did you buy the horse at 12?
Well the horse cost me 7 pounds. But when I was a young fella going to school I had two jobs: one job was delivering papers all over Queanbeyan and the other job was delivering milk. We had a milkman there. I thought he was god because he had a big black horse that stepped out and rattled the milk cart. And he pulled up one day and offered me a job when I was 13 years old.
The Legend I’m adding is not a whip plaiter, but it’s where I got a lot of my skills from and a love of doing things with my hands.
The next Legend to be added to the Warwick Whips Legends page is my father.
McDonald Dale Bishop
Mac to all who knew him.
Born Narromine, NSW 1931 to Bill and Una Bishop and had one sister Shirley.
Lived at “Avondale” 14 miles west of Narromine. Dad’s name came from his dad’s mother’s maiden name McDonald and Dale came from “Avondale”, the property his father managed at the time. The family lived on “Avondale” for about 10 years. In that time dad and his sister would ride about 5 miles to and from school on bikes. The school was only a 1-room building with about 10-12 other kids. When he first started school there were not enough chairs so he had to sit on the floor for the first years. The children ranged in age from 5 to 12 years.
“Avondale” was a wheat and sheep property. Dad spent his time riding and chasing rabbits, emu and anything else he could find. As manager his dad received 10 shillings a week and had to keep the family going on that. His mum (Una) also had to cook for all the workmen on the place out of that 10 shillings. She made all the bread, butter and preserved fruit when in season, their lights were kerosene and they had a drip safe (fridge) which was a wooden frame covered with wheat bags and had water dripping on it to keep it cool. They had very little fresh meat as most of it was salted. They used to eat a lot of curries and always knew when the curry got hotter the meat was going off.
Living on “Avondale” as a kid was a great time for dad. He remembers at one time he was out riding and came out of a scrubby patch of timber. There was a bare patch of ground with a creek running through it and on the edge of the creek were about 20 Brolgas dancing – it was a wonderful sight, and all the years of working in the bush he never saw them again.
In 1940 Word War II started. It was about this time that dad’s grandfather died at the age of 65. He had a small property “Thisildo” which was 9 miles from Narromine. It was 500 acres which dad called the Starvation Block. The family then moved from “Avondale” to “Thisildo”, they grew 200 acres of wheat and ran 200 head of sheep. “Thisildo” had a better house on it as it was made of concrete blocks. Dad then went to Haberworth School where on every Sunday they would play tennis and every second Sunday a Presbyterian minister would come out and hold a service – most of the time he was full of rum.
In 1941 dad was given his own horse by a neighbour Mr Pat Buick and the horse’s name was Moonbeam. Dad won many races on her at Haberworth.
In 1944 the Rural Bank decided to sell “Thisildo” so the family had to move to Narromine where dad’s grandfather’s house was. It was a 3-bedroom house on 5 acres and dad’s dad (Bill) started work with S R McCutcheon who had a garage in the main street of Narromine.
Then dad’s mum (Una) decided to take in some boarders so she had 4-5 boarders.
With the few acres they had they were able to have 3-4 cows and it was dad’s job to milk and separate every morning so he would get up at 6.00 every morning, light the fire in the stove, make a cup of tea for his mum and dad, and then do his jobs and go to school by 8.30am. In the afternoon he would lock up the calves and cut wood for the stove.
School was very different in town. The teachers were very hard – you didn’t have to do much to get the cane. The first time dad got the cane he told his sister (Shirley), she told their dad and Mac got a belting for being a lout – so he never told his sister again.
At 14 he repeated Year 7 and his teacher at the time thought it would be better if dad went to work so his dad (Bill) got him a job at the Western Stores in the men’s department which was a great disappointment to dad as he wanted to go back to the land. At 14 he was earning fourteen and six pence per week. When he turned 16 his pay went to nineteen and six which was not a lot of money even in those days.
On the weekend dad would drove for a local butcher for some extra cash. On one of his trips he had to go to a property about 25 miles out of town to pick up a dozen horses to go back to town to the rail yards. He didn’t think these horses had seen man as they were as wild as brumbies and it took him about an hour to get the horses onto the road after a lot of hard riding. He had a half grown cattle dog with him so when he got the horses on the road he put the dog to them. He never saw the horses or dog until about 10 miles out of town, the horses and dog completely knocked up and he had no more trouble getting them to town.
1951 was a big year for dad: he met a young lady from Trangie named Marie Ferrari.
After the harvest in 1952 dad moved back to town as he and Marie were engaged, and on moving back to town dad worked for a couple of stock and station agents.
October 1953 mum and dad got married, but first he had to do something about a house so he did the rounds of the banks and finally the Commonwealth Bank loaned him 1700 pounds and he built his first home on Dandaloo Street, Narromine where mum still lives today. They spent their honeymoon in a Sydney hotel called The Great Southern and when they got home they had enough money left over to buy a bedroom suite and that was it.
That was all dad had written in a diary before he was too sick to write anymore, but he went on to live a happy life in Narromine where they raised 4 kids: Robyn, Cathy, Michael and David, and later 10 grandchildren; and 3 great grandchildren – whom he never got to meet. Dad passed away on 21 November 2006 and I think about him every day.
This has inspired me to make a belt in his name. As a kid he would always threaten to get the belt to us so I have named the new Warwick Whips Belt the MAC STRAP which you can find in our belts section of the Shop.
Our first Legend is a man for whom I have a lot of respect. He is always willing to pass on the art.
George was never a man who was going to sit in a rocking chair after he retired. At the age of 65 he started to learn to plait whips from a neighbour, Bill Glasgow. George took to plaiting like it was second nature, and now produces outstanding 12- and 16-strand roo hide whips with full-plait handles.
George was born during the Depression. His parents were dairy farmers out at Miles, Queensland. His first job was on Tathra Station, Cambooya, Queensland where he worked until 1951, when he went to Sydney for training in the Navy for the Korean War.
After the war George worked for a number of stock firms and when retirement came around, he was saleyard superintendent at Toowoomba, Queensland. Since starting to plait whips, he has sent them all over the world: America, Canada, Scotland, Ireland and Germany – and of course around Australia.
George and Bill, both members of the Australian Whip Plaiters & Whipmakers Association, are keen to share their knowledge with anyone interested. Both have travelled extensively instructing at plaiting schools across Australia and at the Cobb & Co Museum in their hometown of Toowoomba.
To add to George’s fame, a poem written by friend Don Crane was presented to him framed with a plaque inscribed with the words “World’s Greatest Whipmaker” – not a tag George attaches to himself!
Standing in his workshop, smoking his rollies, talking about his mates and plaiting is where he feels at home the most, and he’s always ready with a cuppa.
Here is the poem about George written by Don Crane.
You’ll find them on the top rail of a stock yard way outback,
Or draped across some drover’s arm along the Canning Track.
You’ll find them ’round the sale yards from Hughenden to Hay,
Or see them at Toowoomba Show – competing – on display.
From Aramac to Charters Towers, from Ballarat to Bourke,
On Channel country stations where our finest stockmen work.
From the bottom of our nation up to Cape York’s northern tip,
You can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll find a Yorkston whip.
His red hide whips are made to last – not play things built for show.
The eight plait thongs are durable as those who use them know.
And many stubborn bullocks who have riled the station ringer,
Had weals raised on their cursed hide by a Yorkston leather ‘stinger’.
The roo hide whips – his specialty, true craftsmanship displayed,
Are products made with pride and care by a master of his trade.
Sixteen strands, all plaited tight, make whips with perfect ‘fall’,
Not two toned showy patterned things to hang up some wall.
At Clifton where whip-crackers meet to show their style and flair,
Where the sound of ‘Sydney Flashes’ and ‘Crossovers’ fill the air.
Where aspirants and champs display their skill with showmanship,
It’s certain that they’ll have in hand their favourite Yorkston whip.
George Yorkston – lifelong bushman, and a horseman of renown,
Well known around the camp drafts and the saleyards of the town.
Retirement finds him trav’ling down another road to fame,
As buyers clamour for the whips that bear the Yorkston name.
‘Tis oft I’ve sat and watched this man as patient hands and strong,
Cut out another roo hide whip and plait the tapered thong.
The cotton cracker neatly fixed, the fall well trimmed to suit.
A full plait handle, turks head knob, truly another ‘beaut’.
Most stockwhips that are sold today possess no class at all,
El cheapo is the leather used, no balance in their fall.
When looking for perfection, ‘plaited beauty’, take my tip,
The surest place you’ll find it’s in a Yorkston roo hide whip.
(c) Don Crane
Footnote: Thanks to Don Crane for his permission to include his great poem in its entirety.