Talented bush craftsman Paul Chippendale builds high-quality timber stockyards that will remain icons of the outback for generations to come.

Story By Fiona Smith

It's six o'clock on a Saturday morning as a cloud of dust announces the arrival of Paul Chippendale at the yards on “Mount Olympus” in central Queensland. He quickly and efficiently unloads his ute and trailer, sets up a mobile sawmill and lays out various chainsaws and tools for the day. The yards have been severely damaged by bushfires then floods, and Paul is rebuilding and upgrading them for owners Justin Smith and Jeff Dodds. As an experienced and skilled tradesman, he is constantly in demand to build yards on stations throughout this region.
Growing up on a property near Rockhampton, Paul says he learned his trade from watching his father and other bushmen who used traditional methods. “Back then Dad really had to do things the hard way,” he says. “He would work on the logs with an adze.” Over the past 30 years Paul has honed and built on these traditional methods to create his own style of construction using a mix of modern tools and old-fashioned knowledge and skill. “I watched, I’d try different things – you learn from your mistakes.”
Paul moved in May 1988 to manage “Spring Valley” at Clairview, about halfway between Rockhampton and Mackay, and he currently runs “Granitevale” at nearby St Lawrence as well as running his yard-building business on weekends. The fit 56-year-old says until recently he worked as a team with wife Carol.
A health issue with her eyes has seen her take up a position with a produce store in Rockhampton. “The weekends are a lot lonelier,” Paul says and grins, “I have to get my own tucker now.”
While none of Paul’s six children has taken up his trade, son-in-law Eddie Haigh has a background in cabinetmaking and boat building, and works with him some weekends. “I work out at the mines now, but I still enjoy giving ‘Chippie’ a hand on his days off,” Eddie says. The two work side by side with a quiet and practised ease and obvious confidence in each other.

This story excerpt is from Issue #77

Outback Magazine: June/July 2011