Chinchilla farewells beloved Bruce Wedrat
CHINCHILLA'S Bruce Wedrat has been remembered as a humorous tale twister, an avid fisherman and a beloved husband, brother and friend.
The long-time local passed away last Tuesday after a short battle with cancer and this week the town turned out to pay its respects to one of its most treasured gems.
Bruce was born on October 15, 1950, to Eric Wedrat and Pearl Dunbar, and was the older brother to five sisters who followed.
It was a dynamic, the family says, that left plenty of room for good-natured teasing, even as adults.
His sister Jill Kemp recalled Bruce's inexplicable fondness for mashed potatoes during family barbecues.
"Mum would always say 'you girls got Bruce's mashed potato on?' and if we didn't have it on he'd go 'Mummy, Mummy'. And he'd always go 'Mummy, the girls are picking on me again' - but we always had to have mashed potato at a barbecue for him,” Ms Kemp said.
His cheekiness extended to a long-time stoush with his mother Mrs Dunbar, who was an avid Broncos fan while Bruce favoured the St George Dragons.
"So at most barbecues he'd rock up here and annoy Mum in all the red Dragons gear, the hat, the shorts, it was just like this big red coming in,” Ms Kemp said.
For another of Bruce's sisters, Beth Walker, his love of fishing stood out.
"He used to do a lot of fishing, go deep sea fishing, and he'd always come back with a haul of fish and then when he did he'd always bring a heap out here and we'd cook it on the barbecue,” Ms Walker said.
"But he'd always get up me 'cause he always called me the adopted one, because I don't like fish and I never ate his fish, and all the rest of them they couldn't get over his fish, but I wouldn't eat it.
"For years I thought I was adopted.”
The cheeky tales extended beyond his family though, with fellow fisherman and friend Kingsley Obst recalling many a delightful day on the sea.
"There'd be lots of stories but we used to just do a lot of fishing together.
"There was always a fair old group. We used to go out to the reef and Fraser Island fishing comps and all that together, used to play up like second-hand lawn mowers. We often had quite a few drinks - that just goes with fishing, doesn't it?” Mr Obst said.
"I laughed when they had in the funeral notice in the Chronicle - they said 'the bigger his eyes, the bigger the fish'. We always used to say 'the bigger the eyes, the bigger the story'.
"He was really good value, he could make them fish grow out of nothing.”
Bruce's interests beyond fishing and tale-weaving included farming and racing.
His sister Beth said he even owned a racehorse, which he named Chinchilla Rose after his first wife, Una.
"The bloke Bruce used to work for used to call Una the rose of Chinchilla, and so when he got this racehorse he called it Chinchilla Rose and it used to win all the time,” Beth said.
"It's the only horse I've ever actually bet on and I've won a bit of money on it!”
Bruce had many a job after school and moved throughout the state with Una, eventually returning to Chinchilla before she passed away.
He later married his second wife, Gay, and friend and fellow Lions Club member (and secretary) Lindsay Marsden said Gay supported Bruce in "all aspects of his life”.
Bruce was also this year's president of the Chinchilla Lions Club.
Mr Marsden remembered him as a hard worker and one of the most "humorous tale twisters” he'd ever heard.
"He was also a very vigorous, determined worker - he put his mind to something, to a project, he made sure it was on,” Mr Marsden said.
"I remember working with him for a few days when we were constructing a replica of a bug-breeding shed over the cactoblastis monument out at Clarks Rd.
"Bruce actually cut with his saw bench, he cut all the posts and delivered them on-site and helped us put them up as his donation towards the project, and his name is forever recorded out there.”
Bruce was also in charge of the Chinchilla Lions Club's drought relief program. Mr Marsden said he oversaw the distribution of more than $11,000 worth of drought relief to local drought-stricken farmers and graziers.
"The Lions Club of heaven have just got a very, very good Lion, and he will be missed,” he said.
In the words of Beth (and many others who knew him), Bruce was "just a real character”.
"(He) loved a beer, loved a yarn, didn't matter how old you were or how young you were. He's just got that many mates, it's just incredible,” she said.
"But a hard worker. He worked right up until I think three weeks before he passed away. He just wouldn't quit.”