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Obituary. Bourke loses gentleman “Boss Drover”

Nat Bunyan Photo Leah Batey

Last Friday Bourke farewelled Nat Bunyan – a man who grew up in the days of drovers, droving camps and hard work on the cattle trails west of Bourke.

Nat was a man universally loved for his quiet, gentle, caring nature.

Leslie James Bunyan, fondly known as Nat, was born in Brewarrina on 30th May 1936 to John Harold Bunyan and Lillian Kinnear.

His siblings were Thomas, William, Lillian, Cecil, Bernard, Doris, Betty, Wallace, George, Shirley and Toby.

Nat married Beatrice and had 5 children: Gwen, Sue, Tim, Leslie and Steven. His children have given him 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Nats first job was at the young age of 8-10 years for the local stock agents, drafting sheep at saleyards and loading onto the rail trucks at Nyngan.

He moved to Bourke at age 12 and at 17 was given his first job as boss drover, to safely deliver 600 head of cattle to market. This lead to 4 more jobs as the boss, for Tancred Brothers, before his 21st birthday. Nat and Beatty kept droving until their second daughter Sue, was ready for school.

Nat was employed for many years as a mechanic by Ron Howard at Howard’s Garage at North Bourke.

He purchased land at North Bourke and later moved to “Dry Lake”. He began carting logs, with his eldest son Tim as his offsider.

Nat enjoyed another job at Ferguson Farms as a mechanic and at this time he moved the family into the current home in town. Here he took up contracting work for the Bourke Shire Council with his beloved trucks.

His last job was roo shooting. He delighted in taking family and friends out with him and liked to argue the price per kilo of mail boxes if they couldn’t shoot.

Finally his family talked him into retirement. This gave him time to keep everyone’s vehicles running as he was so used to working. Nat was a keen supporter of horse sports in the district and enjoyed entering himself and the children into all the events. He didn’t miss a local rodeo and had many good tales of his buckjumping days.

Nat was quite gifted at leatherwork and often repaired saddles and made whips. He also loved country music, especially Slim Dusty, and John Wayne cowboy movies. He read western books by the hundreds. His retirement also allowed him time to spend with his family, spoiling the babies and stirring up the kids.

Nat stayed independent in his later life. He remained in the family home with the support of family and a couple of his closest friends.

Nat made a lot of friends throughout his life and he is fondly remembered by everyone who knew him. He will be forever loved and thought of often, by his family.

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