The tale of an old bush scoundrel

FAIR CALL: Don Doro good naturedly shared his tales with a warning it could be more trouble than it was worth.
FAIR CALL: Don Doro good naturedly shared his tales with a warning it could be more trouble than it was worth. Toni Somes

A CRACK shot is how young guns describe Don Doro, but the 85-year-old, who started his working life as a rabbit trapper sees himself in less flattering terms.

"I'm a scoundrel and a story on me could bring you more trouble than it's worth," he joked.

Yet there is no doubting he has a tale to tell.

A talented marksman, he is the oldest member of Warwick's Sporting Shooters' Association and has won a swag of major titles during the past decade.

He's renowned for his ability with a rifle and age hasn't affected his impact on a target.

I left school when I was 13, but I never really started until I was 12, so you could say I was a terrible, bad learner.

But it was a talent born in the bush through a childhood and early working years spent in the rough country west of Stanthorpe.

"I was born in 1928 and I grew up on a block we called The Rise and Shine, near Palgrove on the old Stanthorpe Shire boundary," Mr Doro said.

His grandfather had arrived in the area in 1870 and taken up a position as a shepherd on Pikedale Station.

"I still have one of the bells he used to put on the sheep, so he knew where they were," Mr Doro said.

"Anyway he settled out there and we stumbled about that area for the rest of our lives."

He still recalls the stories the soldiers, who settled the blocks told of the country at the start of the century when it was "half fenced" and there were big fires and mobs of brumbies and wild cattle in the hills.

"It was a tough old country."

He believes the quality of the family's first holding was directly related to the amount of "money you had to offer under the table before selection".

The first block the Doro family owned was 2000 acres and a mix of Granite and sandstone, later they had another 3000ac closer to Dalveen, plus a third property of 3000ac near The Summit.

"Over the years we also had Hillview, a 4000-acre place out towards Gore," Mr Doro said.

"We would buy in wethers from the west and around the area and run them on our country.

"My father also grew vegies for the Yankee Army during World War Two on our blocks closer to Stanthorpe."

"I left school when I was 13, but I never really started until I was 12, so you could say I was a terrible, bad learner.

"When I left I did a bit of rabbit trapping and bushranging between shearing."

When quizzed about the absence of his name from archives chronicling the history of Southern Downs' bushrangers he laughed.

"I was just too darn good to get caught."

Reality is he made his mark as a rabbit trapper travelling west on horseback from Stanthorpe across to Inglewood and Texas.

"It was an existence. Selling rabbit skins paid better than some station work.

"We use to get six shillings per pound. I used to use steel traps and a hurricane lamp and I could get 40 to 50 rabbits in a good night.

"Some blokes tell me they got more, but I was in country where rabbits were thin on the ground.

"We used to sell skins on the flat at Texas to Bob Drew, he was a skins buyer."

By 23 he was used to working hard and travelling light but everything came to a halt when he fell ill with polio.

"I'd been out cutting timber for two or three days when I started coming down with what I thought was flu," Mr Doro said.

He spent the next seven months in hospital in Warwick fighting polio and admits the after effects of the disease linger still.

"It was very frustrating, but you just had to get over it and get back to work."

Shearing helped bolster his bank balance and in 1952 he bought a 3000ac block off Palgrove, where he lived for 30 years.

He said it was fine wool growing country and for decades he branded his bales with his trademark Wonga stamp.

"I just about missed the period when wool was great. It was just sort of all right during my time."

Reminiscing at last week's large sheep and lamb sale Mr Doro recalled other days standing under the pepperinas at Warwick Saleyards.

"One sale back in the 1970s I bought 2000 wethers in one day at the sale. We were used to big sales back then.

"During the 1950s and 1960s it was common for there to be 5000-6000 head at the wool grower sales in Warwick.

"We paid 52 and six for those wethers, I think that's about $5.20 in round figures.

"We were getting about 70c a pound for wool and shearing about 2500 head and they cut about 90 bales of good wool.

He retired a while back and signed up with the sporting shooters association discovering a stand out ability for sport.

Now in his 80s he has found himself back in his home country.

"I retired and came home, I reckon I am like an old drover's horse; they always try to go back to where they were born."

Topics:  farm life

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