Mildura Weekly : Friday June 6 Vol 8 No 31
Mildura Weekly – 06/06/14 9 www.milduraphonebook.com.au By ALAN ERSKINE ON the Australian rodeo cir- cuit, there were few bulls that Dallas Griffiths wouldn’t at- tempt to ride, fewer still that he couldn’t rope, and none that he couldn’t wrestle to the ground! The genial giant, around 6ft 2ins and...in bushman’s terms about two axe-handles across the shoulders... would take on all-comers, travelling almost the length and breadth of the country to get a piece of the action. A good measure of his ability was the belt buckles he wore with pride, one as the Victorian steer wrestling champion in his rookie year, and the other as the Austra- lian steer wrestling champ. But there was more to this Mildura-born country boy than met the eye, much more than a love of rodeo, as more than 1000 mourners found out at his recent funeral ser- vice, in the wake of a May 16 ultra-light crash on a south- west NSW property near Ivan- hoe that claimed his life at the age of 35. His partner of 14 years, Rose (Middleton), reck- ons Dallas must have been born with a smile on his face. A huge welcoming grin was his trademark, and he made friends easily, espe- cially among the bush-folk he loved. A sea of Akubra hats at the chapel of North West Fu- nerals for his memorial ser- vice was testament to that. They were honouring a mate who was as tough as nails. So tough, mourners learnt, that in his toddler years young Dallas had a habit of chewing on three-cornered jacks and spent .22 shells to ease his teething pains! On one trip from an out- lying station into Mildura for shopping, three-year-old Dal- las was happily still chewing on his favourite dummy while harping on about the motor- bike he was going to get in town. Told that ‘big boys rid- ing motorcycles don’t suck on dummies,’ Dallas wound down the window and spat the dummy into the bush. Rose, 35, is still half-ex- pecting ‘10ft tall and bullet- proof’ Dallas to walk in the door at any moment, says she has lots of fond memories of their adventures together, and many, many tales to tell their kids about their Dad. Declan is approaching his third birth- day, and tiny Peyton was only three weeks old when the ac- cident happened. “Dallas had only recently obtained his recreational pi- lot’s license,” Rose said. “The ultra light was his pride and joy. I’ve never seen him so happy.” The history of Dallas the bushman given as a eulogy only scratched the surface of his school and work history, his travels, adventures, and what he achieved in his short life. As Rose said, Dallas wasn’t one to let the grass grow un- der his feet. He was willing to have a crack at anything, anywhere, and any time. Two- and-a-half years on a station was the longest he ‘stood still.’ Dallas worked at North Star Motors in Mildura and steel framing with John Ablett before ‘going bush,’ working on stations as far away as Dar- win in the Northern Territory, and developing a love of the rodeo circuit at the same time. When Dallas and Rose met (in the ‘romantic’ setting of the Pooncarie Pub), Rose was more into B and S balls. Dallas accompanied her to a few, before he convinced her that the rodeo circuit was more adventurous and excit- ing, and they travelled widely so Dallas could compete in his favourite events. He had been working with horses since he was 14, and had a natural ability, consistently having podium finishes, win- ning two major awards, and qualifying for the nationals in successive years. Dallas was a great sup- porter of the annual Tapio Ro- deo, just out of Buronga (it’s on this weekend), was presi- dent of the rodeo committee for two years, and in a fitting tribute to a champion, this year the committee has added a steer wrestling event in his honour. Dallas was multi-skilled, mostly self-taught, and at various times worked as a farm hand, night watchman, winery cellar-hand, kangaroo harvester, long haul truck- ie, fibreglass maintenance man, bobcat operator, sheep mustering, shearing and crutching, cattle mustering, marking and tagging, tractor operator for cropping, trac- tor driving and maintenance, farm manager and general contractor, as well as devot- ing time to bush shooting clubs and fire brigades. He worked in every State and Territory with the excep- tion of West Australia, at one stage even helping build gi- ant communications towers around Alice Springs, and he was equally at home with a work crew, or on his own, evidenced by the fact he had the role of checking a total of 73 water bores on a cattle station, spread over 370 ki- lometres – by car, with no radio...and he had to do it every couple of days! He also tried his hand at diamond drilling, and pig and ‘roo shooting. Rose said she and Dallas were set to put down more permanent roots in recent months, holding talks with the owner of a 40-acre citrus property on the bank of the Darling River on the outskirts of Pooncarie. It was all but a ‘done deal’ when the accident happened. Rose says it was part of the dream she and Dallas shared, but now it looks like they will settle in Mildura. “Declan is very much like his Dad...he’s a real people- person who makes friends easily, and loves to be around people,” she said. Rose described Dallas as a very special person, someone who attacked life head-on, accepted all challenges, and “a working Aussie cowboy through and through.” “He died doing what he loved, surrounded by the people he loved, and his love of Australia, and all things country, were reflected in the funeral service.” Dallas was farewelled on May 26 to the tune of ‘The Cowboy in Me’ by Tim Mc- Graw, ‘The River’ by Garth Brooks, and a special ‘Cow- boy Prayer’ that ended with a verse that Dallas would have loved: “It’s guts and love and glory, “One mortal’s chance at fame, “His legacy is rodeo, “And Cowboy is his name.” He was a big man, with a big heart, and bigger dreams. He had an intense love of family and friends, especially those on the Australian rodeo circuit. The Aussie outback lost a great bloke, and a real bush character, in a recent ultra-light plane crash. This is our tribute to... Cowboy Dallas of the outback • THE MANY FACES OF DALLAS: Enjoying a drink at the pub, TOP, and with wife Rose, right, and his mum, Kerry. That’s Dallas the devoted dad, BELOW, with son Declan, and BOTTOM, the horseman, and fierce competitor on the Australian rodeo circuit. LEFT: Dallas at the controls of his beloved ultra-light. www.milduramotorcycles.com.au LMCT 8145 733 Fifteenth St Mildura Ph. 5023 2046 ACT NOW! For a limited time only, while stocks last. Prices are ride away but freight may be extra. *Commercial primary producer loans only. No application fee but other fees and charges apply. Finance is to approved purchasers only. 24 and 36 month terms only.
Friday May 30 2014 Vol 8 No 30
Friday June 13 Vol 8 No 32