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John (Jack) Timmins (1816 - 1911)


The ACDSCNQ acknowledges the Hall Family History Group and in particular, Mr Bert Howard,the copyright holder, for their kind permission to reproduce information included within the following article.

Thomas Hall thought enough of this man to allow him (Timmins) to have a pair of Hall's Heelers while he (Thomas Hall) was alive. The only person outside the Hall family to be accorded that honour.

Was this because Thomas admired the earlier efforts of Jack to produce a good working cattle dog? We will never know. However, there had to be a good reason. By that time Jack was a contract drover working in the Upper Hunter Valley, and Thomas employed contract drovers as well as his own stockmen to drive his cattle to the Sydney markets. Members of the Timmins family have confirmed that Jack did indeed work as a contract drover for Thomas Hall.

Jack was an Aussie born lad of fourteen years helping his father, Jack Timmins snr.,drive cattle between Bathurst and Sydney in 1830. The droving dogs they had were Black Bobtails (referred to by many as Smithfield type) and young Jack crossed these Black Bobtails with the Dingo to try to get a quieter and hardier working dog. The results he got were big, red coloured pups which he called Red Bobtails.

Word spread in the colony about these new pups, these Red Bobtails that young Jack Timmins had. However, when they were ready for work, they exhibited some nasty traits. Their bite was far too severe; they not only drew blood but they tore flesh as well. They did not respond well to control, which meant they couldn't be trusted, and the last straw came when they were caught killing and eating calves.

Old "Jack" was held responsible for the cattle in his care and control. By all accounts he was an honest and responsible man and was not about to allow violent dogs to ruin his reputation and business, so young Jack's new dogs were "disposed of" and further breeding experiments cancelled.

After his father died in 1837, young Jack took over the family droving business. He moved his operations to the Upper Hunter Valley during the 1840's. This is when it is thought he commenced contract droving work for the Hall family. In the late 1840's he obtained a pair of Hall's Heelers. He treasured these dogs and bred from them. He described them as "great biters", which was an attribute greatly admired by the old timers, and his dogs became known, and famous as "Timmins Biters"

After a long life droving, the latter part mainly working in northern NSW and Queensland, Jack Timmins retired to a property at Collarenebri, up near the Queensland border. He died there on the 6th April,1911. He was 95 years of age when he died, but his headstone states he was 110 years old. This was typical of the man if you study his life. Always a bit of a story teller and his final epitaph gives Jack a good last laugh, something many an old bushie would appreciate. He left a large number of descendants in the northern regions.

In the latter part of his life he still bred dogs from the original Hall's Heeler strain. There were people nearby like Harry Hillier, the Lanaghan brothers, Richard Hall, Herbert Dawson, and others who still bred from the same lines, which gave Jack the opportunity to obtain extra breeding stock as needed to keep his line straight.

Submitted by John Chandler

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