Bells collected by Hugh Tindall.
Bells collected by Hugh Tindall.

Man to auction bell collection

HUGH Tindall was a young bloke chasing horses around a 64sq km (16,000-acre) paddock in western Queensland when he first realised he loved bells.

“They were the only way I could tell where the horses were,” the Warwick bushie said.

“Without bells it would have taken me hours to find them and I only had until sunrise.”

For more than 50 years he fed his passion, collecting bells everywhere, from the outback to villages in far-flung corners of the globe.

Today he counts more than 300 in a collection boasting bells made by the Condamine master craftsman Samuel William Jones, others handcrafted by the late RM Williams and even a papier mache bell from the movie Flipper.

He has bells made from bore casing sitting next to Tibet yak bells, English buggy bells, Russian sleigh bells and the bell from Warwick school St Catherine’s.

But tomorrow, the bells Mr Tindall has spent close to a lifetime collecting will belong to someone else.

“We’re downsizing.”

It is a simple explanation for the rows of trestle tables laden with bells and a lifetime of tools and bush gear readied for the auction.

“I don’t know what I’ll do with myself now,” Mr Tindall said. “But we’re moving into a retirement home and it doesn’t even have a workshop. So I can’t keep hanging onto this stuff.”

He refuses to be sombre about selling up.

Born at the end of the 1920s, he grew up in a time of horses when the Tindall family owned property around Longreach and north to Hughenden and Muttaburra.

“I grew up on Beatrice Downs, about 200 miles out of Longreach towards Stonehenge. It was only 48,000 acres (19.5ha) so a small place by western standards,” Mr Tindall said.

Yet big enough to have a horse paddock that stretched further than a young bloke could search between 4am breakfast and sunrise.

“After a while I could tell the difference between the mobs, by the individual bells on the horses,” he said.

His chime dependence stayed with him for decades.

“I collected bells from everywhere and I made more than a few of my own from just about anything I could get my hands on.”

Overseas travel opened options as he garnered bells from goats in India; Indonesian and Chinese temples and a Swiss fighting cow bell.

“I have an Indian elephant bell they buckle on when an animal is broken in. When the animal dies, the tongue of the bell is removed so it will never ring again.”

Handing them over won’t be the easiest thing this affable bushie has done, but he insists there “comes a time”.

“I had a collection of shearing gear, but I gave that to Jondaryan Woolshed.”

Auction tomorrow at Warwick Showgrounds from 10am

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