M000808 Bullock team moving a road roller, 1880-1900

M000808 Bullock team moving a road roller, 1880-1900

Description

This is a black-and-white photograph from a silver gelatin full-plate glass negative produced by the studio of Henry King, Sydney. It shows a bushland scene. In the centre a man is tending to a team of bullocks pulling a road roller. The image is titled 'Bullock team'. The caption, studio number and studio mark are inscribed on the reverse of the negative (not shown).

Acknowledgements: Reproduced courtesy of Powerhouse Museum.

Educational value
From the early 19th century until the 1920s, bullock teams were a common sight across Australia. They were used for transporting goods along dirt tracks and roads, clearing land and most other tasks that required hauling, such as the road construction seen in this image.
There were a number of advantages to using bullocks for heavy transport. Horses required complex, expensive leather harnesses that needed frequent repair; they needed shoeing; and they had to be fed on corn and chaff, which were expensive to provide. Bullocks ate mostly grass, which they foraged for themselves, did not require shoeing and their simple harness of strong wooden yokes and metal chains lasted for years.
Each bullock was commanded by name, and the control a driver had over his team depended on how he issued instructions.
In the early 1900s, building roads was a time-consuming business. Bullock teams hauled stone road rollers one way, then the other, to compact the earth. Corrugations on the rollers maximised the pressure.
Bullocks were still being used to haul timber in the Dorrigo area of New South Wales until the 1980s.
The plate glass negative from which this image was made was created by Henry King. King owned one of the major photographic studios in Sydney in 1900, when the New South Wales government was paying photographers to document rural and urban life.
Henry King became sole proprietor of a photographic studio in George Street in 1880. His studio closed around 1900 and Charles Kerry acquired some of his negatives.
Topics
Road construction
Working animals
Rights
© Curriculum Corporation and Trustees of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences 2010 (except where otherwise indicated). You may view, display, print out, copy and modify this material for non-commercial educational purposes provided you retain all acknowledgements associated with the material.