Lynne Mowbray |
Lawrence resident Ross McLeod alias “the bell man” is selling his extensive bell collection which has been open for public viewing in the small village; thus ending his lifelong hobby.
Ross said that his interest in bells came after he worked as a stockman many years ago at Isis Downs, in south-west Queensland.
“There were probably 10 or 15 of us working on the station and we used to have to use bells on our stock horses, so that the nightwatchman could find them in the morning,” Ross said.
“He’d go down at daylight and muster up the horses and bring them up to the stock yards.
“You’d catch your horse that had a bell on and you’d use him for the day and then you’d put that bell on the horse you wanted for tomorrow.
“Each stockman had three or maybe four horses which you’d rotate to give the horse (you had used) a spell for a few days.
“The station was located in the channel country on the Barcoo River and early of a morning when you were bringing up the horses you could hear the bells (echoing) all up and down these water channels and that fascinated me.
“So when I left there, in the middle of the 1950’s, I souvenired my bell and I started collecting bells from there on and it’s been a hobby ever since.
“Over the years I’ve collected 1250 bells, which are in the collection; a lot are from overseas, a lot of the wooden bells I made myself, the brass bells (pointing to a section of his collection) I made from old windmill pumps and gradually you get a few each year and after 60 years they add up,” he said.
At 80 plus years of age, Ross said that he is getting on a bit and the bell collection which is open to the public, takes up a fair bit of time and work to maintain, for him and his partner Shelia.
“We think that it’s time to stop and have a bit of a spell and unfortunately, we have to sell the bells,” said Ross.
“We don’t have the space to put them up at home and my kids aren’t interested, so I’d just love to see them stay in their entirety and go to a similar situation where they can be on show with a coffee shop, nursery, travel agent or information centre etc.
“At the moment the building where they’re housed is rented; the building is locally owned. It would be good if could continue on the way that it is here.
“To me it has huge potential. We do very well with bus tours and that could always be expanded on. We haven’t really pushed it very hard, really.
“People really like it (the bell display). They’re seeing something different and they can wander around and have a look at the nursery and have a cup of coffee here, then hop on the bus and go to the (Lawrence) museum and then down to the tavern for lunch – and it’s a great day out for the oldies,” he said.
When asked what he planned to do in his retirement, Ross said that he was looking forward to doing a bit of travelling.
“I’ll probably go for another bit of a run up and down Australia,” said Ross.
“I’ve seen most of the country, but I’d love to go again,” he said.