THE JACKO CAVANAGH BRIDGE

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It was the early fifties, and a peaceful evening in quiet old Dalby – much like any other in fact.

Young Tom Knox was preparing for bed when there was a knock at the door. He answered it. His eyes were greeted by the sight of a wet, bedraggled man who growled at him in his customary gravelly voice, “Tommy! Get yer father, willya?”

Tom did as he was told, and his father disappeared off into the night with his unexpected nocturnal visitor.

It was Jacko Cavanagh, one of a cohort of local ex prisoners-of-war who notoriously minded each other’s backs. No one except each other knew what they had been through, and regardless of the outcome of their lives upon their return to civilian life, and their various social statuses, their brotherhood was tight.

After that night there was discreet talk of the assistance of a band of POW mates who put together the necessaries required for pulling a waterlogged FJ ute out of the Myall Creek before the local constabulary got wind of the affair.

The next day everyone went about their business and nothing but rumours remained.

Today a sign stands next to a footbridge near the spot where the ill-fated utility truck took its unexpected dip that night. The sign reads:-

JACKO CAVANAGH BRIDGE

Mr John Benedict (Jacko) Cavanagh was born in Dalby on October 23, 1918, and lived in the Dalby district all his life.

In Jacko’s early years, horses were his main love and he worked as a strapper for a horse trainer in the pre-World War II years in Dalby.

He was a jockey at the Dalby Picnic Races and rode winners at meets held across the district, including Bell, Jandowae and Warra.

Later Jacko returned to droving and spent many years taking cattle from point to point and interstate. He was also a sheepdog steward at the Dalby Show for many years.

Apart from horses, a particular hobby was fishing. Jacko was known to accompany anyone who would go along with him to fish the Condamine River for cod and yellow belly (golden perch).

Jacko would often make his way home over this bridge from the Russell Hotel to his house. It is even rumoured that on one occasion his dear old FJ ute mistook this bridge for the Patrick Street Bridge and attempted the shortcut.

Jacko passed away in hospital on August 17, 1987, after an illness that caused him to end his working days 15 years earlier.

This bridge is proudly named in his honour to remember a true local character.

About the Author

Jane Grieve

Jane Grieve

Former columnist for Queensland’s Courier Mail, is a freelance journalist for several current magazines.

She has written two books, Slippin’ on the Lino and In Stockmen’s Footsteps.


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