The Morrissey family of blacksmiths is still making its mark on Queensland’s Darling Downs after 150 years of passing the anvil from one generation to the next.

Story by David Gilchrist and Photos by John Denman

Like primitive tattoos, hot steel cattle brands have scorched the large square of hardwood sleepers set in the floor of a Queensland blacksmith shed. Collectively, they hint at a story that is around 150 years old. Some of the brands, like the SK brand for cattleman Sidney Kidman, are part of bush folklore. Others, like that of Kerry Packer’s pastoral company, are part of the corporate history of rural Australia. Forged in a coal fire, they are all part of the story of four generations of the blacksmith family Morrissey.
For as long as anyone in the small Queensland town of Jandowae, north-west of Toowoomba, can remember there has been a blacksmith called Morrissey in or near town. In the days when the district was young and white settlement brought sheep then later wheat and cereals, the hub of the region was Jimbour Station, which stretched from present-day Dalby to the Bunya Mountains. In the mid-1800s, John Morrissey was the blacksmith as well as a farrier and wheelwright on Jimbour Station. Today, his great-grandson Sean, 43, wearing blue jeans and a faded green shirt splattered with tiny holes from the hot shards of steel and embers of burning coal, is running the family business.

This story excerpt is from Issue #44

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2006