Mulga FredPrint Page Print this page

The headstone commemorates Mulga Fred, a well-known aboriginal rough rider and whip cracker known throughout the district for over fifty years. He also appeared in advertisements in the 1930`s for the Pelaco Company, modeling shirts.  The Apex Club organised the headstone through public subscription.

Mulga Fred (c.1874-1948) became an expert drover and horse-breaker, but never learned to read or write. After travelling to Adelaide by cattle-ship about 1905, he joined 'Broncho' George's rodeo troupe; he later toured with the Mulder brothers and with Billy Kinnear, riding in shows throughout south-eastern Australia. Nicknamed 'Mulga Fred', he gave outstanding performances at a buckjumping rodeo held at the Melbourne Hippodrome in June 1911, and subsequently won several Victorian titles.

By the 1920s Mulga Fred's 'beat' lay in the Wimmera and Western districts. From Lake Condah Aboriginal mission in the south, he toured as far north as Kaniva, Dimboola and Swan Hill; in addition, he regularly appeared at the Melbourne Royal Show. Kinnear regarded him as one of the greatest rodeo riders of their day.

In 1917 the clothing manufacturers J. K. Pearson and J. L. G. Law had renamed their firm Pelaco Ltd. The company's advertising soon depicted a bare-legged and bare-foot Aboriginal man striding along in a pristine white Pelaco dinner-shirt and exclaiming: 'Mine Tinkit They Fit'. A. T. Mockridge drew the original sketch. By the 1930s 'Pelaco Bill' sported a monocle and cigar, or stood resplendent in shirt, tie and trousers beneath the Australian flag. What began as a racist play on civilization and savagery had become something more inclusive. Pelaco Bill proved popular for almost forty years and contributed to the company's rising fortunes. Mulga Fred always maintained that he was the model for Pelaco Bill. Although the company acknowledged his claim by sending him shirts, it has oscillated (from 1948) about its connection with him.

He was killed when hit by a train on the night of 2/3 November 1948 at Horsham station. His tombstone is engraved with a stockwhip and boomerang, symbols of the two cultures he mastered. Mulga Fred was one of the last remaining full-blooded aborigines in the district. 
Mulga Fred gave entertainment to many people in Hamilton and district during his life, and his untimely death some time ago came as a distinct shock. At his grave in the Horsham cemetery a tombstone has been erected to his memory (says "The Spectator.") 

The design on the tombstone is a very fitting one, for at the top there is a stockwhip, under which there is a boomerang.  Mulga Fred was a well-known figure at all kinds of sports gatherings and shows, being an expert in the handling of a stockwhip, while the boomerang was a part of his stock and trade. 
Portland Guardian (VIC), 16 March 1950. 



Address:Davis Drive, Cemetery, Horsham, 3400
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -36.696974
Long: 142.199954
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Grave
Monument Theme:People


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:Circa 1950
Front Inscription

Mulga Fred

Source: RUMV, VMR , ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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