AT HOME IN EIDSVOLD: RM Williams mastered many skills during his successful life.
AT HOME IN EIDSVOLD: RM Williams mastered many skills during his successful life.

10 big achievers you may not have known were from Bundy

Content originally published in the Bundaberg Hall of Fame publication, written and edited by former NewsMail editor Christina Ongley.

BUNDABERG has been home to many greats over the years.

We're all familiar with the big names like Bert Hinkler and Gladys Moncrieff, but what about some of the lesser known, but equally as famous, Bundy identities?

We decided to count down 10 of our most notable locals.

1. RM Williams, the man behind the popular retail label

EGINALD Murray "RM” Williams was a stockman, entrepreneur, lover of the bush and storyteller, but he is perhaps best known for the famous leather boots and clothing chain that took on his name.

Born in 1908 in Belalie North, South Australia, where his father was a pioneer settler and horseman, Williams moved to Adelaide with his family when he was 10 so he and his sisters could receive a better education.

Aged 16, he became an apprentice builder, which is how he discovered his love for working with stone, and he later packed up his swag and headed into the desert of northern South Australia as a camel boy.

Part of his contract involved ministering to local Aborigines, an experience that shaped him, and he worked hard for Aboriginal advancement during his life.

Williams married Thelma just before his 21st birthday and they later moved to an Aboriginal mission in the Gammon Ranges, where they lived simply and he dug wells to help sustain the people there.

The hardships of the Depression era would also have a great impact on the way he would choose to live his life.

While in the Gammon Ranges, he met a horseman called Michael George Smith (also known as "Dollar Mick”), who taught him how to make a pack saddle, and together they experimented with making boots out of a single piece of leather.

This was how the famous RM Williams boots were born.

Williams returned to Adelaide, where his father let him use his shed to make more saddles and boots, and he started advertising made-to-order elastic-sided boots for 20 shillings, later opening his own factory.

During the 1930s and 1940s, the RM Williams factory grew steadily (as did his and Thelma's family), and he also became involved in gold mining in Tennant Creek.

By now he was a wealthy man who lived in a fine home and moved in high circles, something that never sat comfortably with him.

In the 1950s his marriage to Thelma fell apart, and he sought to return to the simple life he loved, buying his Rockybar property at Eidsvold, where he lived from 1955 to 1972.

Two sons remained at Rockybar when Williams and other members of the family relocated to Toowoomba, where his second marriage ended.

It was in 1978 in Toowoomba that the first RM Williams store was opened, and around this time he started writing books about his life and bush crafts.

There are now more than 50 RM Williams stores and the company exports to more than 15 countries.

Williams died in 2003, aged 95. He had been married twice and had nine children.

The company is no longer in family hands, but son Peter still runs cattle at Rockybar and is also involved in organising endurance rides from the property.

The RM Williams Bush Learning Centre, at Eidsvold, was opened in 2010 and remains a special tribute to Australia's most famous stockman and his love of the bush.

Florence Broadhurt
Florence Broadhurt Photolab Imaging Services

2. Wallpaper designer Florence Broadhurst

FLORENCE Maud Broadhurst was many things throughout her varied and colourful life, but she is best known for her graphic and wallpaper designs that are still sold today.

Born in 1899 at Mungy Station, near Mt Perry, Broadhurst's early life was dominated by music and singing, winning several eisteddfod prizes as a child and, aged 23, setting off for China and South-East Asia to perform as part of a comedy sextet called the Globe Trotters.

She performed with other groups while in Asia, winning acclaim for her singing and Charleston dancing, and remained in Shanghai, where she set up a school in 1926 offering tuition in fields including violin, piano, singing, various forms of dance, and journalism.

Broadhurst started her foray into design in the 1930s in London, when she and then-husband Percy Kann were co-directors of Mayfair outfitters Pellier Ltd.

In 1939, she married second husband Leonard Lewis, and did some voluntary work during the Second World War, as well as supporting various women's art movements.

In 1949, Broadhurst returned with her husband and son to Australia, where she took up painting. Some of her artwork was exhibited in high-profile galleries in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra.

During the 1950s, she and her family ran a motor sales business in Sydney and, in 1959, she established Australian (Hand Painted) Wallpapers in premises behind it.

It was wallpaper that made her famous. Known for her high-quality, bold designs featuring geometric shapes, peacocks, stripes and flowers, by 1969 she had expanded, moved and renamed the business

Florence Broadhurst Wallpapers. She had parted ways with Lewis in 1961.

Broadhurst was exporting her work to countries including England, France, the US and Peru, and her repertoire of designs at this point was said to comprise about 800 designs in different colours.

In 1977, she was bludgeoned to death in her Paddington studio. Her murder has never been solved.

Following her death, Broadhurst's life and designs could have fallen into obscurity, but her legend has recently been revived.

In 2005, Sydney company Signature Prints acquired her collection and have since sold her designs on items such as bedspreads, rugs and other prints and homewares.

They retain strict control over her work.

In 2006, author Helen O'Neill published a multi-award-winning biography called Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret and Extraordinary Lives, and the same year renowned Australian director Gillian Armstrong made a docudrama called Unfolding Florence: The Many Lives of Florence Broadhurst.

BRAG Bundaberg is based off Florence's designs.
BRAG Bundaberg is based off Florence's designs. Brian Cassidy

When the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery (BRAG) rebranded and relaunched in 2009, it used Broadhurst's "Turnabouts” abstract design to give the building its distinctive black and purple look on its Barolin St side.

The design also inspired the new BRAG logo.

FLOWERY: Bundaberg region gerbera growers Eric and Connie Bauer.
Photo: contributed
FLOWERY: Bundaberg region gerbera growers Eric and Connie Bauer. Photo: contributed contributed

3. Eric Bauer made modern-day gerberas what they are

NURSERYMAN Eric Bauer and his wife Connie spent 50 years developing the magnificent gerberas that they eventually patented and sold across the world.

The gerbera was first found growing in the Barberton district in the Transvaal in South Africa.

The plants Bauer started with were pink and cream and only about 5cm across.

The breeding was done by trial and error while Bauer worked as a dairyman, delivering milk across the district.

By the 1950s he had bred plants producing full double flowers up to 20cm in diameter and in a multitude of colour and colour combinations.

The Bauers spent decades working on gerberas.
The Bauers spent decades working on gerberas. Che Chapman

They progressed to bigger blooms in the 1960s and 1970s with blooms up to 25cm in diameter and in 400 colours and colour combinations.

Though many horticultural societies and judges were reluctant to accept the new varieties, the hybrids became popular with plant growers and were sold across Australia and overseas.

During the 1980s the Bauers produced a new species of incurved gerberas known as the Bauerii Bundabergia, which were later patented in Australia.

A company called Biotech Plants agreed to tissue-culture and market the plants in Australia and overseas.

Other varieties developed were the Bauerii Nobleflora and the Bauerii Marguerite.

Mary Hannay Foott.
Mary Hannay Foott. Contributed

4. Famous poet Mary Hannay Foott

MARY Hannay Foott was a poet, journalist and teacher who lived out her days in Bundaberg.

Born in 1846, in Glasgow, Scotland, she emigrated in 1853 with her family, who settled in Melbourne.

She was educated at Miss Harper's private school, after which she taught drawing at several schools before being among the first students to enrol at the National Gallery School.

While studying there, she supported herself by contributing poems and articles to several Melbourne publications.

In 1874 she married livestock inspector Thomas Foott, with whom she ran Dundoo cattle station in south-west Queensland while she continued to write.

Thomas died in 1884 after a long illness.

In 1885, Foott published her best-known collection of poetry, Where The Pelican Builds and Other Poems. The title poem - dealing with bush exploration in the mystery lands where pelicans build their nests - was a widely celebrated work that has been reprinted many times over in Australian poetry anthologies.

After brief teaching stints in Victoria and New South Wales, she returned to Queensland and, in 1912, moved up to Bundaberg to be near son Arthur, who had secured a job on the Bundaberg NewsMail.

Foott became a governess, kept up many literary friendships and continued with some painting and writing.

Arthur enlisted for the First World War and was killed at Passchendaele.

Other son Cecil rose through the ranks to become a brigadier-general.

Foott died in 1918 from pneumonia.

Member for Isis and Premier of Queensland Jack Pizzey, circa 1968.
Member for Isis and Premier of Queensland Jack Pizzey, circa 1968. Courtesy of John Oxley Library

5. Former Queensland premier Jack Pizzey

JOHN Charles Allan "Jack” Pizzey was a long-standing State Member for Isis and briefly Premier of Queensland.

Pizzey was born in Childers in 1911 and attended Childers State School, Maryborough Central Boys' School and Bundaberg State High School.

He became a teacher, with his posts including the school where he started his education.

He was also a talented athlete, heavily involved with tennis, rugby and cricket, and was even selected to represent Queensland in the Sheffield Shield against Victoria in 1931 - but rain cancelled the match and he never again got the call-up.

He did get the call-up to the Second Australian Imperial Force, however, serving in the 5th Field Artillery Regiment in the Second World War from 1940-1945.

It was on his return from war that he became more interested in industry and politics.

He became involved in representing the interests of sugar cane farmers as manager of the Childers Cane Farmers' Co-Operative and secretary to the Isis District Cane Growers' Executive.

This representative role encouraged Pizzey to have a tilt at parliament, and in 1950 he won the safe Country Party seat of Isis in the Legislative Assembly.

Pizzey became the long-time education minister in Frank Nicklin's government in 1957, after a split in the Labor Party forced an election that the Country-Liberal coalition won.

He also assumed other portfolios including migration, police and Aboriginal and Islander affairs.

When Nicklin retired as Premier in January 1968, Pizzey succeeded him, but his premiership was cut short just six months later when he suffered a sudden heart attack, aged 57.

Pizzey's death led to the ascension of arguably Queensland's most controversial premier of all time - Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

DISTINGUISHED SERVICEMAN: a 1921 oil portrait of  
Brigadier General Charles Brand, courtesy of Australian War Memorial.
DISTINGUISHED SERVICEMAN: a 1921 oil portrait of Brigadier General Charles Brand, courtesy of Australian War Memorial.

6. War hero Charles Brand

CHARLES Brand was Bundaberg's most distinguished soldier in the First World War.

Born in 1873 in Ipswich, Brand lived in West Bundaberg during part of his childhood education and went on to be a school teacher, teaching at Bundaberg Central and North state schools.

In 1898, aged 25, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Queensland Volunteer Infantry.

On the outbreak of the Boer War in South Africa, he enlisted as a private in the 3rd Queensland (Mounted Infantry) Contingent.

While sergeant in charge of an outpost in June 1900, he was promoted to lieutenant for meritorious service.

In 1905, Brand joined the permanent forces as a lieutenant and joined the Administrative and Instructional Corps in Melbourne. He was promoted to captain in 1909.

Brand joined the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) as brigade major of the 3rd Infantry Brigade in August 1914.

His 3rd Brigade was the first ashore at Anzac Cove on April 25, 1915 and he was sent to Lone Pine, where he organised the capture of three Krupp guns before the Turks could withdraw them.

In May-June 1915, Brand took over command of the 8th Infantry Battalion, being promoted to lieutenant colonel.

The next day he was wounded when a German naval shell struck his headquarters, but remained on duty.

In June 1915, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, the first of the Gallipoli campaign and the First World War.

Brand's battalion was garrisoned at Steele's Post, one of the highest and most exposed positions on the Gallipoli Peninsula, from July until the evacuation in December.

In France in 1916, he was promoted to Brigadier General commanding the 4th Infantry Brigade.

Before the Battle of Bullecourt in May 1917, Brand opposed the British plan to provide covering fire for his attack with tanks only, and not the proven artillery barrage.

This was an experiment with tactics and they had not trained with tanks. The resulting debacle cost his brigade 2339 casualties out of 3000 engaged, of whom about 1000 were prisoners.

He was said to be devastated at the outcome.

Brand's 4th Brigade fought in most of the major battles in France and Belgium with distinction, until the Armistice in November 1918.

Also in late 1918, he was invested at Buckingham Palace with a string of honours: Companion of the Bath (CB), Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG), and he was officially presented with the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) he had been awarded in 1915.

Throughout the war he had also been mentioned in dispatches eight times.

At the end of the conflict, Brand was aide-de-camp to King George IV and was later promoted to major general.

He became the army's Chief of the General Staff in 1926, retiring in 1933.

He was elected into the Victorian Upper House in 1934, and fought hard for ex-servicemen's rights until he retired from politics in 1947.

Brand died in Melbourne in 1961. He was survived by wife Ella, also a schoolteacher, and two daughters.

His grand-niece, Nina Higgins, is a well-known community member in Bundaberg.

Bundaberg's Les Kiss.
Bundaberg's Les Kiss. Christophe Ena

7. Footy legend Les Kiss

LES Kiss is a former professional rugby league player at NRL, State of Origin and international level, and is now a successful rugby union coach.

Born in Bundaberg in 1964, Kiss played as a youngster for Brothers and went on to play 100 first-grade games for the North Sydney Bears.

Known as one of the best defensive wingers in the game, he played four State of Origin matches and represented Australia five times.

His games for Australia included being a part of the undefeated Kangaroos side that toured Britain and France in 1986.

After he retired in 1993, Kiss became assistant and later head coach of the London Broncos.

He then switched codes to rugby union in 2001.

Kiss took on a role as defensive coach for the South African Springboks in 2001-2002, followed by six years as assistant coach with the NSW Waratahs.

In 2009, he became defensive coach for the Irish national rugby team, helping them to two Six Nations victories, including in 2014 - also the final match for Irish backline legend Brian O'Driscoll.

After the 2014 Six Nations victory, he told the NewsMail he had always credited Mick O'Brien, of Brothers, for giving him a start.

And he praised Bundaberg State High School's John Rae, who helped him on his way to first-grade football in Brisbane and Sydney.

He said winning big matches as a coach was just as rewarding as doing it as a player.

"When I played for Queensland and Australia it was great - I will always savour the memory of that,” he said.

"But now I am helping these young men live their dreams.”

Mark Callaghan, of GANGgajang, wrote the words for famous song Sounds of Then sitting on the back deck of his Kalkie home.
Mark Callaghan, of GANGgajang, wrote the words for famous song Sounds of Then sitting on the back deck of his Kalkie home. Contributed

8. GANGgajang member Mark Callaghan

MARK Callaghan is the frontman and guitarist for seminal Australian band GANGgajang, whose most famous song was written on the back deck of his Bundaberg home.

Callaghan was born in 1957 in Aldershot, Hampshire, England, the son of a British Army officer, and arrived in Bundaberg with his family in 1972.

He attended the Christian Brothers school (now Shalom College), where he tried to adjust to life in a new country among Aussie kids suspicious of his "Pommy” accent.

He became involved in plenty of sport in his teenage years, joining clubs such as Bingera FC, and during this time he penned the words to a poem from the deck of his Kalkie home (later owned by the late Member for Hinkler Paul Neville), surrounded by scrub and cane fields.

Those words would one day become Sounds of Then, with the memorable chorus: "Out on the patio we'd sit, and the humidity we'd breathe. We'd watch the lightning crack over canefields, laugh and think, this is Australia.”

Callaghan left Bundaberg at the end of 1975 to study architecture at the University of Queensland, where he formed a band with classmates that eventually became The Riptides in 1979. He quit uni after four years of study, once he had gained his diploma of design.

In 1984, he collaborated with former Angels band members Graham "Buzz” Bidstrup and Chris Bailey to write songs for an ABC music-drama called Sweet and Sour, and it was this collaboration that led to the birth of GANGgajang.

Sounds of Then featured on the band's debut eponymous album in 1985, but it wasn't one of the album's singles and no music video was made for it because at that point it was "just another song”.

When it was released, Sounds of Then charted at 35 and made a ripple of impact, but it wasn't until Coca-Cola used the song for an advertising campaign and the Nine

Network adapted it as the theme for promoting its 1996 season of programming that it was re-injected into the consciousness of Australians and a new generation of listeners.

The song has continued to grow in popularity - and has had a slight name adjustment along the way.

"When it was released, it was just called Sounds of Then, but it's now Sounds of Then (This is Australia),” Callaghan told the NewsMail.

"That's largely because there used to be a bit of confusion about the title. People would go into record shops and say to the guy behind the desk, 'I want the Out on the Patio song' or 'I want that This is Australia song'.”

While Sounds of Then is the band's best known tune, there are others Callaghan wrote that evoke memories of Bundaberg, including Ambulance Men and To The North.

GANGgajang went on to make four studio albums and three compilations.

Callaghan has returned to Bundaberg a handful of times since his dad left the city in the late 1970s, including playing in a flood benefit concert organised by Bundaberg Rum in 2011.

He now calls North Sydney home.

Callaghan is married to Margo and has four children, Cal, Kitty, Sam and Monty.

Esme Gollschewsky, one of Australia's best known short story writers in the 1940s. Courtesy of Ian and Annette Gollschewsky
Esme Gollschewsky, one of Australia's best known short story writers in the 1940s. Courtesy of Ian and Annette Gollschewsky Courtesy of Ian and Annette Goll

9. Short story writer Esme Gollschewsky

ESME Gollschewsky was one of Australia's most respected short story writers - but for many years she was thought to be a man.

Born Esme Alma Strathdee in Bundaberg in 1917, Gollschewsky was surrounded by stories about the bush. As the seventh of nine children on a large property between Rubyanna Creek and the Burnett River, she was always hearing tales about the early days of the Bundaberg district and its pioneers.

Encouraged by her parents to pursue her own interests, she attended Bundaberg South State School and started submitting stories to the Bundaberg Daily News and Mail from the age of just 10 years old.

She also sent some of her stories to other Queensland papers, but she didn't pursue writing seriously until she was married and raising children.

In the 1940s, she took up her pen again and began sending stories to women's magazines such as The Australian Women's Mirror and The New Idea for Women, either under the names of Esme Strathdee or Esme Gollschewsky.

Sometimes she would send multiple articles to the same publications, but with different bylines, so she had a better chance of being published.

When sending articles to the more "masculine” journals, however, such as The Bulletin, Meanjin or Overland, she deliberately obscured her identification by using the name EA Gollschewsky. She wrote so convincingly about life on the land and in rural Australia that editors believed only a man could have produced the work.

Gollschewsky - known to her family and close friends as "Mimi” - wrote some of her best work from the time she, husband

Harold and children Beris and Ray moved in 1943 to grow bananas in Deepwater, where third child Ian was born.

By 1946 she was recognised as one of the country's leading short story writers.

That year, Coast to Coast - an annual publication bringing together 10 of Australia's best short story authors - included her piece Hans and the Bull.

Another, The Salmon, remains highly regarded internationally, although her favourite was always said to be Proudly, My Son.

Later in life, Gollschewsky started a novel, Seed Within Itself, but it remained unfinished and unpublished.

She died in 2001, aged 84.

While many of her works are now out of print and difficult to source, Gollschewsky's talents are still recognised as being among Australia's finest in her field.

Bushranger James MacPherson, circa 1866, also known as the Wild Scotchman. He roamed from Bowen in North Queensland as far as New South Wales and was captured near Gin Gin in March 1866. Courtesy of John Oxley Library
Bushranger James MacPherson, circa 1866, also known as the Wild Scotchman. He roamed from Bowen in North Queensland as far as New South Wales and was captured near Gin Gin in March 1866. Courtesy of John Oxley Library Courtesy of John Oxley Library

10. Infamous bushranger James McPherson

JAMES McPherson became famous across Queensland and New South Wales, but for all the wrong reasons.

Better known as the "Wild Scotchman” bushranger, McPherson had been a regular marauder of the mail coaches in the Burnett district and further afield, and had numerous times evaded capture or escaped custody.

But his luck ran out near Gin Gin on March 31, 1866, when he was waiting for the mailman and was recognised by locals including John Walsh, of Monduran Station.

Walsh then gathered a small party in pursuit of the bushranger and, with a horse too fatigued to outrun his pursuers, McPherson surrendered once they started to fire shots.

Gin Gin Station manager Nugent Wade Broun gives an entertaining account of the capture in his Memoirs of a Queensland Pioneer, explaining he was quickly sworn in as special constable by the owner of his

station when he heard there had been sightings of McPherson.

Broun said he rode towards Monduran with his Westley Richards double-barrelled carbine in hand, but eventually encountered the mob who had apprehended the bushranger. Broun said he took official charge of him.

He added: "Afterwards, (McPherson) expressed his great satisfaction at surrendering to civilians and not the police.

"The disposition of McPherson ... was not really an evil one - he was guilty of nothing more serious than occasionally 'sticking up' the mail, or stealing a saddle or horse. The mailman, Pat McCallum, was his most favoured victim.”

McPherson was sentenced in September 1866 to 25 years in jail on St Helena Island, Moreton Bay, but was freed after eight years following a public petition for his release.

He later married, had six children and moved to Burketown, north Queensland, where he died in 1895 after falling off his horse, aged 53.

Today, Gin Gin still holds the regular Wild Scotchman markets.

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