Gatton farewells a true local
Dairy farmer, historian and family man “I’m not a collector of history, I’m a retainer of history.”
RALEIGH James Davey was a true Gatton local, who lived in the same house on the same property for more than 90 years.
He was born in Gatton in July 1924, the only child of John Charles and Evelyn May Davey.
His dairy farmer father purchased Abbeystead in 1920 with a five pound deposit and new bride in tow.
The Great Depression began when Raleigh was five, he saw swagmen camping under the bridge and jumping onto the goods train that left Gatton station in the afternoon.
He attended the local state school located along the creek and developed a love for woodwork during his school years.
His handiwork built many items for the farm including 20 roof tops sheds, gate hurdles, a yard for blocking cattle and household furniture including a grandfather’s clock.
With the help of contract labour, Raleigh also built the large shed to store lucerne hay.
Raleigh worked alongside his father on the farm and milked cows each morning by hand.
The milking shed was acclaimed by the Department of Primary Industries to be the oldest in Australia but was sadly blown down by a powerful storm in January 2014.
Raleigh joined the Independent Order of Rechabites and at one of its functions met Myra Domjahn. They wed on November 1, 1958, and made Abbeystead their home. They were blessed with six children – Joy, Jan, Beth, Kathryn, David and Jonathan.
Before electronic recording, Raleigh would help the flood recording officer, who was also the sergeant of police.
Weather Bureau staff painted a gauge on a railway bridge pylon.
The flood gauge was easily observed from the farm and Raleigh would phone the sergeant with flood levels.
Raleigh was a prolific letter writer to the editor of the Gatton Star and the Gatton Shire Council.
He would write: “It is not my desire or nature to pass comments or judgement of any unkind nature” before he expressed his concerns.
Issues included the neglect of Daveys Bridge and vegetation growth alongside the road and Lockyer Creek as it passed his farm.
Raleigh valued his creek bank and used the chipping hoe to keep the weeds, prickly pear and lantana from getting a hold on the creek bank and gullies.
He was proud of his father and reminisced of their farming days together, how his father was well known for his Jersey Stud cattle and exhibiting at the Brisbane Exhibition and Laidley and Gatton shows.
Raleigh would say: “I’m not a collector of history, I’m a retainer of history”.
He kept his old Chevy ute, the milking shed, the old dairy, old Ferguson tractors, and farming equipment.
He was foundation and life member of the Gatton Historical Society.
After a fall in 2014, Raleigh’s mobility declined and he went to Brisbane to live with his daughter Joy and her family.
Joy would bring Raleigh back to Gatton regularly for day trips and Raleigh’s sons David and Jonathan looked after him at Abbeystead.
Even then Raleigh was full of suggestions for the farm.
He wanted to live to see a century of Davey ownership of Abbeystead but sadly he passed away on March 16.
HIS STORY: Raleigh Davey had a wealth of knowledge on early history of the region and Gatton.
Raleigh Davey on his farm near the hay shed.