Bill Lovell, a Toondah Probus colleague, was once a horse tailer. For the unitiated (and that included me) a horse tailer was an important member of the droving plant, as he was responsible for the wellbeing of the horses used for mustering the cattle. (Cattle droving – moving cattle overland, often over large distances – itself has now been replaced by road trains.) Each night, after the site for a camp had been set up, the horse tailer would hobble the horses.
Bill says: ‘Hobbles (bells of different size and pitch) were carried around the horses’ neck. To locate the horses in the morning, our plant of horses carried six to eight bells. Our bells ranged from little tinklers up to the larger Condamine bells. In the morning the horse tailer used a night horse to find and bring the horses back to camp. They were seldom far away.’
Having different bells to locate specific horses reminds of my childhood days in Stirrat Street, Coorparoo. We kids would be out playing with all the neighbours kids after school (as we could do in those days). When it came time for dinner, our mothers each had a bell they would ring to call their child home. Each bell was a different size, and depending on its pitch, could be easily recognised. Woe betide any kid whose mother had to keep ringing for them to come home.
Another set of ‘bells’ in our area was rung on Sundays. The Presbyterians had built a modern brick church beside their old wooden structure which had then become the church hall. An innovation of their new church was the absence of bell and belfry. This had been replaced by a record player connected to an amplifier. So instead of a bell being rung to summon the faithful to church, a vinyl disc of recorded bells was played full blast through the amplifier. This was really high tech stuff for those days. Unfortunately, the bell chimes were severely distorted, and all sorts of scratches on the record were spread far and wide for the inspiration of the residents of Coorparoo whether they liked it or not. I don’t think they’d heard of noise pollution then.