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The Boy in Bowral (1911-1924)

  Don Bradman (age 3) standing outside the Bradman home.
 
Don Bradman (age 3) standing outside the Bradman family home in Bowral.
In the early 20th Century, Bowral was a service town for the surrounding rural industries of dairying and beef cattle production. The Bradman family arrived in Bowral in 1911. George’s wife Emily had been suffering in the heat and dust of the farm and it was affecting her health. There is also the suggestion that the back-breaking rural work was not yielding as good an income for George as had been expected. The Bradman’s purchased a weather-board house at 52 Shepherd St. George found a job at a local timber-yard, owned by Alf Stevens, where he worked as a carpenter and fencing contractor. Alf Stephens was also the Captain of the Bowral Cricket Club and very soon George was a member of the team.

While living at the Shepherd Street residence Don Bradman immersed himself in the simple pleasures of living in a country town. Despite the depressing news from the battlefields of the First World War, he led a carefree existence walking to and from school, playing with his siblings and becoming involved in sport. He enjoyed tennis which was very popular and occasionally accompanied his father to local cricket matches where he would often perform the duties of scorer for the Bowral team.

Don Bradman (rear second right) with his Bowral tennis pals, c. 1920  

Don Bradman (rear second right) with his Bowral tennis pals, c. 1920
 
At home at Shepherd St. he developed a game to while away the hours where he would repeatedly tap a golf ball with a cricket stump against a curved course of bricks supporting the family water tank. Using the house wall as one boundary on his off-side he managed to construct ‘Test’ matches in his head where he as the batsman would pit himself against the unpredictable balls ‘delivered’ by the tank stand. His constant application to this game, using the challenging tools that he’d limited himself, acutely developed his hand-to-eye co-ordination to a very high degree.

 

 

 
 
Don Bradman on the Shepherd St verandah with the family terrier, Teddy.
I can understand how it must have developed the co-ordination of brain, eye and muscle which was to serve me so well in matches later on”. Farewell to Cricket, DGB, 1950 p. 10

Click her to view a video of Don Bradman reinacting his childhood game years later.

Apart from a later weatherboard extension at the rear of the house, Shepherd St. remains essentially unchanged today and the owners have taken great care to faithfully preserve its external 1911 presentation . It is a PRIVATE residence and NO PUBLIC ACCESS is permitted.

The Shepherd Street house in 2006  

The Shepherd Street house in 2006
 


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