Buddy Tyson – A Cultured Coloured Gentleman

Australia, WA Roadtrip — By on October 29, 2010 8:52 AM


Stacy and I were in need of a stiff drink after the heart stopping drive to Saddleback lookout! We should have minded the sign that cautioned the very steep and narrow track but had falsely deemed ourselves to be the experienced 4 x 4 drivers that were allowed to enter.

We sat down at the wilderness park bar and ordered a cold beer. Only a few gulps in, we heard a raspy voice call out, “You girls come over here, let’s have a yawn (Aussie slang for chat). Perched below a cow skull and a wooden sign reading “Buddy’s Rest” was no other than the legendary Buddy himself.

Originally from Queesnsland but having lived his past twenty years in El Questro, Buddy is as permanent a fixture to El Questro Wilderness Park  as the cattle on the ranch. He told us he “ain’t going anywhere any time soon.”

Buddy is a retired cowboy who won Australia’s first organized rodeo in 1963. When I asked him if he still rides he replied with a hearty laugh, “Do you know how old I am girl? I’d be flat out on a shit house seat with the door closed and a strong wind.”

The night was filled with “Buddyisms” and complimentary glasses of red wine over ice. I asked Buddy why he drinks his red wine chilled he replied “because there is no other way to drink it in these parts, unless you like your wine boiling.” “Fair enough,” I agreed and accepted a top up of ice and wine.

Buddy told us stories from his rodeo days when he was “as skinny as a greyhound on a diet.” He rode all over the states and even had a few cameos in western films that to his disappointment neither of us had heard of. He showed us photos from his modeling days. A fine young stallion he was, we all agreed. He boasted of having stayed at George Straight’s house for a week and dropped a few other noteworthy names.

“Hey Shorty,” he yelled at the girl behind the bar. “Plug in my ipod, will ya?”  As Willy sang us a song from Buddy’s old school country mix, I struggled in the heat and a light head to take in the entire scene unfolding around me. There was something very special about this place and a feeling of being transported back in time. Buddy informed us the park was hiring and suggested that we both apply for jobs. I pondered how different my life would be if I were to live on a ranch in the middle of the Outback indefinitely. If anyone had suggested this idea to me before I visited El Questro, I would have claimed my city girl status. But that night as a warm breeze blew to the tune of Johnny Cash, the cowgirl in me emerged. I realized I might actually enjoy shooting the shit with Buddy each night, listening to his stories, soaking up his wisdom, and singing all those country music lyrics that came back to me as easily as my southern twang. While at first I didn’t understand how Buddy could have lived in there for so long, I was starting to understand and appreciate this very different way of life.

Buddy ordered us a cheese plate on the house that Stacy and I devoured being a delicacy we had long forsaken when the cost of a bag of ice reached $6 in the Kimberley region. When I suggested to Buddy that he should eat something, he just chuckle at me and asked “When did I marry you?”

He yelled for Shorty to bring out another bottle of red. Stacy and I declined another pour fearing our planned hike to Emma Gorge the following morning would be painful with a massive hangover in 35 degree Outback heat.

“On a fair dinkum note, good night girls.” He gave us each an autographed postcard, under his photo read “Buddy Tyson – A Cultured Coloured Gentleman” and the quote “The greatest gift in life is life itself.”

We hugged Buddy goodbye and each got an unexpected ass grab and wink from the old man eliciting bouts of laughter throughout the bar.

As we walked away, Buddy called after us with his last words of wisdom …

“Be good to ya mother and don’t walk upstairs backwards!”

Update 10/26/11: 

Mr. Buddy Tyson passed away on  October 20, 2011 leaving those who knew him wondering if El Questro will ever be the same after the very memorable Outback icon.

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25 Comments

  1. aine says:

    LOVE that story! Love Buddy. I wanna meet him, too! So great – thanks for sharing. I hope you wrote down all the “Buddyisms” b/c I wanna use ’em – they are brilliant so far!! xoxo

  2. Mary says:

    This is an awesome story. Your website is fantastic!

  3. Dusty says:

    great yarn, last time i saw Buddy was about 1968 at the Bowen Rodeo in Nth queensland we were both competeing in the events, he was a skinny bugger them days, top bloke, i can still remember him singing the lyrics “chew chew chew looking out my back door” buddy and a few other boys were sitting behind the rodeo shutes singing there hearts out, have not the years gone fast.

    • Kelly says:

      Indeed the years go by fast! Buddy is quite a character, would have loved to see him in action so many years ago! Cheers!

  4. Dusty says:

    if anyone runs into Buddy just ask him if he remembers one mad bastard from Bowen Nth Queensland who’s handle was Gussi Gustarvison this boy was one hell of a bareback rider, i remember one rodeo Gussi rode a bronc with his leg in plaster the crazy buggar had broken his leg previously the day before and refused to abort his ride the next day, Gussi lived just outside Bowen, the walls of his Mum’s house were coverd with ribbons from the many Rodeo events Gussi had won mainly Bareback. i guess Buddy would remember him, also Richie Lawrence from up Chilligo way NTH Qld & Brian Furber who were both one hell of a Bull Riders, Brian came from around Home Hill if i recall correctly, crikey it is so long ago my memory is stuffed, too much booze n good times i reckon, old boys like Jimmy McGuire,Chilla Seeny & his Ropeing /Dogging mare Baby Doll,Morri Heart, my memory is not that good, cheers

    • Powder says:

      Buddy spent quite a bit of time around Echuca (Vic)back in the early seventies. Meet him once and you never forget him….he was and still is a real legend.Saw him break his leg off a bull at Hillston in 1965…checked himself out of hospital the next day because the nurses were getting fresh with him and because he was so shy and modest he couldn’t handle it….thats was his story….the real reason was he would have missed his ride back to Victoria. Great to read of this great Australian icon

  5. Anthony Jones says:

    Spent a LOT of time with Buddy @ my farm & also around the rodeos. If you ever read this ol’ mate I’m a little older these days but the fond memories never fade & I’m still doin’ what the old man did before me. Keep safe ol’ cowboy! Ant

  6. Amy Shields says:

    Sadly, Buddy Tyson passed away a couple of days ago 🙁

  7. Tobie says:

    I Met buddy in 2005 and ended up working at ELQ for another couple of years bunking in next door to him at the station. He was legend and he wasn’t an act like so many other characters you meet, he lived and breathed what you saw and heard… Unfortunately on wednesday night Buddy Passed (19/10/11) in Kununurra hostpital and he will be sadly missed he was a very generous man and never ventured out without an ironed shirt, polished boots and a grin on his face he is an aussie icon…

  8. Jim Brown, says:

    You may have heard the sad news, that Buddy Tyson passed away suddenly at Kununurra in the past few days- Wednesday I think from a heart attack. Apparently he went quickly and did not suffer long

  9. Very sad news that Buddy has passed on. I only spoke to him three weeks ago, as always, wonderful to hear his cheer and zest for life.
    You will be missed by so many Bud —–

  10. Tony Sargeant says:

    Old Buddy stayed at my place north of Tamworth for The Country Music Festival, just gone. (2011) Arrived without notice which was his wont.

    Shared plenty of red and many yarns as we’d done over many, many years. He was finally going to have those old bowed legs of his, fixed and then he was coming down to camp with me, while he healed up, a spell.

    Planned on being here for Tamworth “Country Music” 2012, then for as long as it took to come good. The only time the old buggar ever gave me notice that he was going to turn up. Just as well, ‘me old mate’ had a bloody good excuse, for not showing, or I’d have been pissed off, for sure.

    Buddy has been mourned by many and he will be missed by many more, as they hear of his passing. However, anyone that had the pleasure of his company will have warm memories and great yarns to recall.

    “The greatest gift of life, is indeed, life itself”

  11. judi says:

    thanks bubby for the memories forever in my heart

  12. Gumby says:

    I was lucky enough to spend a couple of years with Bud at el questro and all that I will say is that the staff there lost a very good friend and the outback lost an absolute legend.. We will all miss him very much.. RIP Bud!

  13. wayne lang says:

    Only found out two days ago and it made me sad that ill never have a chance to see my old mate again. Iwas the first skipper of the chamberlain geoge cruise back in 1995 aqnd did three seasons at El Questro with Buddy and he was my first and best crew on the Wanjina .I heard all his storyies over and over but there were many and i loved them all He was the Entertainment director and made each cruise special . We killed station Beef together and i quite often along with the rest of the staff helped him with his shows.As you go through life you meet special people and at el questro there was allways famous entertainers ,sportspeople,and dignitaries to meet however i feel that to meet BUDDY TYSON and PETER BIRCH was one of the greatest privileges in life.Thanks mate ill miss you and hopefully you and black pete will keep all the pretty angels entertained R.I.P Langy

    • josey says:

      I worked in el questro over a decade ago and the highlight was meeting black Pete and buddy, it was brilliant getting to know them and hearing about all their adventures. Black Pete was the greatest gentlemen and I always will regret not getting the time of work to go camping with him and catching some barra. I loved hearing all the rodeo and cattle mustering stories.
      I hope I get to meet Pete and buddy upstairs someday and that I can lead a life half as full as theirs and get to spends more times around a camp fire spinning yarns and singing some good songs Rip my good friends, can’t even imagine the fun your having around a camp fire upstairs

  14. The Crow says:

    I met Buddy at the meatworks in Melbourne in 1971,and worked there with him for 6 months.I moved around Australia and o/s for30 years.A good friend handed me an outback magazine that had a2 page story on everyone’s Buddy.I made contact and then made it my business to go to el Questro for a week of laughs and drinks.We made contact on a very regular basis.He was to come o/s with mw before his knees were to be done.
    I am happy in myself that I made contact again,and was stunned when told of his passing.As so often happens,I spoke at length with him only a couple of days before.Keep smiling and R I P,old mate.
    The CROW.

  15. Dusty says:

    i only just found out about my old mate Buddy Tyson, this is real sad news.
    RIP Buddy old Mate.

    keep the camp fire burning and the billy on the boil cobber co’s it won’t be long old son before the rest of us old boys will be there sharing a yarn around the camp fire with you.Ride Easy Old Mate.

    • Old Bull says:

      your now resting with the other good old boys such as Lain Frost. rest easy old mate.

      RIP Buddy Old Amigo,
      I hope you had your boots on mate.
      coz old St Peter just might have some Bronc’s for you to tame.

  16. Rod Duggan says:

    Met Buddy in Charleville hospital in 1965. He was in for a knee cartlidge I was in for cracked and discolated jaw.I was in the bed next to Buddy and on the other side was on of the funniest buggars I have ever met,tell jokes like no other.Can’t remember his name, Brian I think, but heard he was killed id a wreck in PNG the following year.Buddy was no slouch when it came to being funny. Now Buddy was bed ridden.I would put condies crystals and SalVital in the piss bottles, caused a bit of a stir sometimes when the nurses gave the bottle to some one else Finally the Matron said stop. Buddy didn’t know what to do or say when he saw the red froth spew out of his bottle. Brian was at his best just when the nurses were doing their morning clean ups.Between he and Buddy I have seen the poor nurses piss themselves,literaly, laughing. On one such morning Brian was in the best form ever. Buddy was sitting on the bed pan and laughed so hard he fell off and my jaw popped back into place. There was one codger at the end of the ward who had been constipated for a week,he takes off running down the ward to the toilet ,unfortunately he tripped face first, he was wearing the gown that ties up at the back, he shit a stream that never stopped.Stink.The nurses got Buddy back on the bedpan. We listened to the local radio station all day long and some. That day I called
    in a request and Brian and I sat with Buddy waiting. Announcer ‘HAVE A REQUEST HERE FOR BUDDY, “KING OF THE SILVER SADDLE” TYSON.{those days piss bottles and bedpans were made of stainless steel} Every day we would call in a request for THE KING OF THE SILVER SADDLE” “YOU BARSTEDS” he’d say with his big shit eating grin. That week in hospital is a time I have never forgotten.He was a handsome fella. He aws worried that he may not be able to continue his rodeo clowning jaunts.I saw the R.M.WILLIAMS catalogues where Buddy was modeling clothes. sadly that was where I lost touch. Went overseas for 34 years.Did call around but could not track him down.
    R.I.P OLD FRIEND

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