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18 August, 2020

BUDDY GRAVENER TURNS 90

Cowboy Turns 90 - Happy Birthday Buddy

(by Glyn Shackleford)
 
Legendary Australian Cowboy Buddy Gravener celebrated his 90th birthday on May 7th. Formerly from Kennedy in North Qld., Buddy and his wife Deniece now call Townsville home. Buddy grew up on a dairy farm with his 23 siblings in Gippsland, Vic. A competent horseman, virtually since childhood, he started work in his early teens and soon left home, setting out on the ‘rodeo road’. This road took Buddy to carnivals, rodeos and shows all over Australia, including a stint with the famous Jimmy Sharman boxing tent show. Buddy also sang, played the guitar and was also an accomplished yodeler, “Always handy to have more than one string to your bow”. So if the young rough-rider didn’t pick up a cheque out in the arena he would entertain the crowd with his guitar or put on the gloves in the hope of winning a fight or two so he could leave town with an extra quid in his pocket.
 
After his rodeo career ended Buddy’s yodeling skills came to the fore and through the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s he was often in demand at country music festivals in Queensland and New South Wales. Judging at competitions even took him abroad to Sweden, the home of yodeling, and Canada, where he met the international country music recording artist, Wilf Carter. Back home Buddy befriended and worked with Danny Sheehan, the bloke who wrote the poem, The Pub With No Beer. First published in the North Queensland Register on 1st January the poem was later put to music by Slim Dusty.
 
Buddy of course is no stranger to South Australia as he rodeo’d there during the ‘50s and ‘60s, competing at all the State’s noted rodeos from Hawker to Houghton, Marrabel, etc. Buddy went to Carrieton in October 1954 and won the Open Steer Ride and Roping. 1963 was his last visit as a competitor and he finished off the way he started out, winning the Rope and Tie, Open Steer Ride and Bareback. In the intervening years he won the Roping and Saddle Bronc on SW58 and SW60. A jovial bloke Buddy became friends with numerous Carrieton locals and also became well aquainted with the late Dr Marc Jansen who on two occasions kindly insisted that he spend a couple of nights in the Orroroo Hospital. Buddy also became good friends with the late Ronald ‘Vince’ Rowe – it was during this time that Vince was a pick-up-rider at numerous South Australian rodeos and he went on to become administer of the Carrieton Rodeo. 
 
On one occasion Buddy came back to Carrieton, not for a rodeo but to have a look around and take care of Vince’s property while he was away in W.A. On the rodeo side of things, Buddy and Deniece returned to Carrieton after an absence of four decades, for the 60th Jubilee Rodeo in December 2012. Buddy described the experience as “just like coming home”. Along with the late Dick White, Buddy officially opened the event and cut the Jubilee Cake made by Carol Ackland. At the peak of their cowboy careers both cowboys experienced the bone-jarring impact of the mighty bucking horse Cloudbuster at Carrieton. They were also fortunate to have their rides - Buddy in 1956 and Dick in 1959 - captured on film by ’Hoofs and Horns’ editor and photographer the late Keith Stevens. Both images have gone around the globe and were used by RM Williams in catalogues and as promotional posters ever since. The photo of Dick White is said to be the most sold rodeo photo in the world, even being used by the Calgary Stampede. Copies have been seen hanging in nightclubs in Japan, Austria, Madison Square Garden and the foyer of the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) Headquarters in Colorado Springs USA.
 


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