John Boydell’s colourful life

John Boydell's colourful and adventurous bush life

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Tribute: Former Queensland Country Life journalist John Boydell passed away aged 86 at Cleveland recently.

Tribute: Former Queensland Country Life journalist John Boydell passed away aged 86 at Cleveland recently.


Former Queensland Country Life journalist and rural identity, John Boydell, passed away at Cleveland recently aged 86.


MUCH-loved rural identity and former Queensland Country Life journalist John Boydell has died, aged 86, at Cleveland, where he spent the last 14 years of an adventurous and colourful life.

Born at Maitland, NSW, the youngest of seven children, he grew up on the family property, Caergwrle at Allynbrok in the Hunter Valley, which had been in the Boydell family since 1836.

Following schooling at Kings School Sydney, he worked as an overseer and stockman throughout New South Wales and Queensland, was a stock and station agent at Gloucester, and developed a sheep property with his brother Ted, later a stud stock agent with Primaries.

John was in his early twenties when in 1951 he was accidently shot while jackarooing on Clonagh Station near Cloncurry. Although the bullet remained lodged in his spine, he continued a busy working life in the bush.

John first joined QCL in 1955, before moving to Terrigal on the NSW North Coast in 1956 to help his mother and ailing father where he set up a real estate business.

He returned to QCL in 1964, based in Townsville, where he developed a fondness for Droughtmaster cattle.

In 1974 he was appointed executive secretary of the Droughtmaster Society at a time when the breed had gained great success in commercial beef production after early crossbreeding of Bos taurus and Bos indicus breeds by pioneer north Queensland grazier R. L. (Monty) Atkinson.

Secretary for 21 years, John travelled widely promoting the breed in PNG, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and China.

John Steele Boydell was remembered by his daughter Louise as a brave, resourceful and adventurous man.

“He was also a talented artist and writer,” she said.

“During his years as a stockman, he delicately carved emu eggs and later painted beautiful water colours of native bush birds. Also, his funny cartoons illustrated events in his life.

“He was a prolific writer and wrote a number of books, including a history of the Boydell family, an autobiography, and a history of the Droughtmaster breed.”

John is survived by his children Bill, Louise, Helen and Kate and five grandchildren. His wife Ann died in 2013.


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