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Clarke, Charles Macdeon (Charlie) (1868–1931)

Bush people of the Burdekin Tableland and of the further North will read of the death of Charlie (Charles Macedon) Clark with sorrow. He had lived his life amongst them, and his innate decency and goodness, had won their affection. It is not easy to win a place in the inner heart of bush folk, but once this place has been won it is yours.

Charlie Clarke used to tell how he came to North Queensland. It seems Mr. William Hann on visiting 'Bolinda Vale' in Victoria, was taken with the boy, whose olive skin and dark eyes attracted the tall North Queensland bushman, 'That boy has a skin for North Queensland. You had better let him come to me later on' he said to old Robert Clarke the former owner of the Derrimut short horn cattle. 'So you see' Charlie used to add 'It was my dark skin that brought me to Maryvale.'

This may have been, but no doubt Mr. Hann had sized up the lad's athletic figure, his brightness, and charm, for those old bushmen were wise and knew men in the making. Anyhow Charlie Clarke left the delightful homestead of Bolinda Vale with its lush of grass, and sleek stud cattle, and as a youngster came to Maryvale. Here romance came into his life. He met and later married Lily Hann daughter of that long bearded pioneer, who had suggested his coming north.

I think it was in 1881 that Charlie came to North Queensland. He has lived at Maryvale ever since.

Reared amongst stud cattle, he soon acquired a knowledge of working cattle in numbers on extensive runs. Naturally athletic, he developed into an exceptionally fine horseman. He was good on a rough horse, on a camp or over fences. He used to tell of a hurdle race he rode in at Ingham many years ago, when Mr Grant, who afterwards contributed clever pastoral articles to the Australasian, under the pen name of 'Bendleby' beat him. I wrote of this race on one occasion, crediting the victory to Charlie Clarke but Bendleby seeing this article, wrote at some length in the Australasian, claiming the victory which was justly his. The spirit of the old fellow amused Charlie Clarke, and he laughed over the incident, and enjoyed the reminiscence of the clouting ride on old Leatherhead.

Never a racing man, yet he dearly loved a good horse and enjoyed seeing them race at picnic meetings. The Maryvale horses were useful, for there is a lot of good blood at the back of them, some of the best running back to mares by Confucius, three quarter brother to that great sire, Goldsbrough, bred by C. B. Fisher of Marribyrnong, and brought north by that dashing miner, Frank Studley, who lost his fortune on a wheat gamble, and died penniless on the road to Croydon. Mr. Hann was a friend of C. B. Fisher, and always called Confucius, C.B.F., which was the horse's original name.

Charlie Clarke was a regular visitor to the Lyndhurst picnic races, and then a picnic meeting used to be held at Maryvale. Later the Basalt Hack Club was formed, and on the fine flats, just away from the rippling waters of the Fletcher, the Maryvale horses won many races. Of all the victories I fancy the most prized were those of the Maryvale black boys in the Black Boys race. Charlie always kept a good horse for that race, and the H.N.I. horses were hard to beat in it. The blacks at Maryvale belonged to the place. Most of them were bred and born there. They were part and parcel of the station, so a win for one of the boys, was a victory indeed, and the fine face of Charlie Clarke would flush with pleasure and excitement at the delight of the winning blackboy. The blacks were treated well at Maryvale.

It was this capacity to enter in, and enjoy the little things of life, the friendliness and kindness, that made Charlie Clarke the charming man he was. He was helpful, good tempered, and like most bushmen of his period, hospitality itself.

Recalling his handsome face, his compact athletic figure, his dark, turning eyes, his love of life, it is hard to realise he is dead. But 'At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we shall remember him.'

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • marriage notice, Northern Miner (Charters Towers, Qld), 2 September 1891, p 3
  • funeral, Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld), 28 February 1931, p 6

Citation details

'Clarke, Charles Macdeon (Charlie) (1868–1931)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/clarke-charles-macdeon-charlie-14790/text25966, accessed 23 November 2017.

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