JR lived life in true pioneering style

JACK “JR” Brown was the last of his generation of pioneering family members who carved a living from the Nirranda-Nullawarre bush.

About 200 people at his funeral service on Saturday heard how he drove steam traction engines in his teens, ran a road construction business, served as a councillor with the former Warrnambool Shire, bred Hereford cattle and loved clay target shooting and fishing.

Known as JR, the 86-year-old was regarded as tough, determined and resolute.

His great-grandfather left poverty in Dorset for a better life in Australia and set the scene for his descendants who took up farming blocks in thick bushland.

As a boy he earned money selling rabbit skins, left school at 13 to work on farms, quarries and other jobs while most of the older men were away during World War II.

He bought his first steam traction engine at the age of 16 and went contracting, clearing timber and powering farm machinery.

His big break came after buying a truck at the age of 19,  which marked the beginning of a road construction business which ran for more than 30 years before being purchased by Graeme Rodger.

Mr Brown carved the former speedway track at Warrnambool racecourse and a trophy bearing his name is still presented during Premier Speedway seasons. 

The 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfire dealt a bitter blow to his farming enterprises, burning more than 240 hectares and destroying most of his Hereford herd, fencing and sheds. However, his resilience shone through and he rebuilt.

Over the years his collection of steam traction vehicles increased to 10 and he attended the 100th Lake Goldsmith steam rally in December where six of his machines were in action.

His daughter Maree told The Standard yesterday that despite failing health her dad was determined to make the trip and spent two enjoyable days in the nostalgic setting.

“Despite his declining health and loss of eyesight he passionately kept up with local  events,”  she said.


Jack ‘JR’ Brown with his collection of old steam engines.

Jack ‘JR’ Brown with his collection of old steam engines.


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