Fred Wheelhouse

Fred Wheelhouse was born on the roadside near Brewarrina in 1893. At age nine he was working alongside his father as he urged a straining bullock team to the Bourke railhead, competing head to head with the Afghan camel teams for the massive Western wool clip.

Age of thirteen, Fred owned his own team. He worked hard, carting stores hundreds of kilometres for station people as far west as Thargomindah and the Paroo. On the return trip he’d carry their wool to the Darling River, punt it across and reload on the other side, then transport it to Bourke to be sent away for sale.

By sixteen he was operating two bullock teams, but he was among the few of that breed willing to recognize the superiority of the camel in this semi arid region.

As the Afghans and their strings gradually disappeared from the West in the Twenties, Fred and his steel wheeled camel wagon became a fixture. He competed with motor transport for as long as he could, but finally in1936 Fred retired from the carrying trade, only using the camels for tank and drain delving.

Affectionately known as ‘the last of the teamsters’, the love Fred had for his camels showed clearly in his later life. He would yarn for hours about the experiences - good, bad, and humorous - he had with his camels along the dusty tracks. Fred died in 1980 at the age of 87.