In the south-west of Queensland, Scott Bowman has built a reputation as the mechanic who can be relied on to go where others won’t, to fix what others can’t.
Story By Sally Nicol
They look like normal hands, perhaps with a little more grease on the knuckles than most. But for many graziers in south-west Queensland these are the magic hands that kept their ’dozers running as they pushed scrub to keep drought-stricken cattle alive.
Scott Bowman was born with a spanner in his hand. One of his first memories is of jumping between the drums of sump oil in his father, Eddie’s, workshop.
“One of the 44-gallon drums didn’t have a lid on it,” Scott says. “I just went down and came up black. Dad had to fish me out and wash me off with petrol and a garden hose.”
Scott could change the oil in a truck by the time he was seven. By age nine his mother had left. “I came home from school and she wasn’t there,” he says.
Scott became his father’s constant offsider after school and on weekends. “I wouldn’t let Scott play sport,” Eddie says. “I didn’t want him to get hurt so he couldn’t work. If he wanted to learn what he had to learn, then he had to do it my way.”
By the time he was 16, Scott had $30,000 in the bank. “That’s money he’d earned from me,” Eddie says proudly. “He bought himself a new Holden Commodore ute. He didn’t have a licence so I used to drive him around in it.”
Now at 27, Scott is once again working alongside his father in their family business, Bowman Tractor and Truck Repairs, in St George.
Both men clock up at least 100 hours a week in the business. “We try to look after everybody,” Scott says. “We have a good following because we do the job properly and we’re available 24 hours a day.”
The Bowmans each travel more than 80,000 kilometres a year, covering a vast territory north, south and west of St George. If it has moving parts they will fix it, from rebuilding cotton pickers to servicing irrigation pumps, from refurbishing aircraft air-conditioning to carrying out the weekly service on the local garbage-truck fleet.
Scott says the further west they go, the more varied the work. “One minute you’re pulling bores, the next you’re cleaning out house gutters,” he says. “There is nobody else there to do it so we do.” Scott tackles it all with a relaxed air and a lead foot. “I used to drive very fast,” he laughs, “until I ran out of points.”
This story excerpt is from Issue #66
Outback Magazine: Aug/Sep 2009