How Queensland’s biggest family celebrates Father’s Day

 

 

QUEENSLAND dad Ray Bonell already has more than enough kids to fill a football team, but this year his Father's Day has been super-sized.

Already the proud dad of 16 children, tomorrow marks his first Father's Day as a grandfather after the family welcomed Aurora, 5 months, and Levi, 6 months, this year.

The Toowoomba-based electrician and his wife Jeni have one of the biggest families in Australia, the oldest aged 29 and the youngest just five, and the cute new additions are welcome.

"(Being a grandfather) is very exciting," Ray said.

"It's not the same as being a father, because you have to give them back."

But he and Jeni said the milestone was especially meaningful, given their family could have turned out very differently.

The Bonell family, who live in Toowoomba, have 16 children. Picture: David Martinelli
The Bonell family, who live in Toowoomba, have 16 children. Picture: David Martinelli

The newly minted grandmother, an avid writer and YouTuber, admitted when the two first discussed having a family, she was reluctant to have even one kid.

"I agreed to have one (child), maybe two, and then it was me who asked for number three," she said.

"Hubby wanted four, maybe six kids, and I thought he was nuts... it was the craziest thing ever to have that many kids."

Ray said he always wanted a few kids, but admitted "16 is a big number".

"But we wouldn't trade any of them in, they're a great bunch of kids," he said.

He admits having enough children to fill a football team can be a logistical nightmare when Father's Day rolls around every year.

Too many cooks in the kitchen means the Bonells have abandoned the traditional breakfast-in-bed for dad tomorrow.

Not that Ray is complaining.

"Usually the best gift is when they all come into the bedroom and they all jump on the bed and wake you up," he said.

"The gifts I like the best are the little hand drawn paintings that the kids bring home from school, the interesting presents they get from the father's day stall.

"Hopefully at some point (on Father's Day) I'll get some peace and quiet."

What a schedule looks like for parents of 16 children, and two grandchildren.
What a schedule looks like for parents of 16 children, and two grandchildren.

School drop-offs take an hour in the back of the family's 16-seater bus, there is 30kg of laundry to do every day and mum and dad are often awake until midnight and up at 6am to get the family moving.

But they would not have it any other way.

"It's about raising a family, getting the kids to all their sporting events and going to all their parent teacher events and teaching them how to drive - that's what it's all about," Ray said.

"The two of us just do what we have to do. We are devoted to our children, and we are devoted to one another too.

"The kids hopefully see that example."

Jeni said her husband has never wavered in his commitment.

"He's always been a very hands-on kind of dad, he's probably changed more nappies than I have," she said.



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