The Team Leader


The Team Leader 61cm x 20cm Original Oil on Board by d’Arcy Doyle

Timber-getters began their working day by chaining up the horses, which they used to haul the logs out of the forest. Chains attached to the two-wheeled Jinker would first be laid out on the ground, and only after this would the horses be brought up into position. Here, in the early morning, the workmen have snibbed their log onto the timber Jinker and the team of horses is hauling it out along a dirt road towards the sawmill. The chains are attached to the collar of each horse and then along through the team to the Jinker, which is supporting the log. Several logs may be carried on the Jinker at any one time or just one large log. A team would probably have consisted of fourteen, the standard number.

This team of horses pulling its load of logs is typical of many that were used in Australia’s early settlement. The two horses at the front are “Leader horses” whilst the ones in the middle are “Team horses” and the two at the back, closest to the log are “Pin or Pole horses”. The “Leader horse” on the left as you look from the wagon along the team is the “Near Leader”. It’s this horse’s job to listen for the command to lead the rest of the team. It is the “Teamster” who gives the commands of “Gee Back”, which means turn right or “Come Here” which is turn left. The “Teamster” is walking at the side of the horses so that he can give the commands to the Near Leader. The other “Leader” is called the “Off Leader”. The “Team horses”, the ones in the middle, are the power horses. A big team may have 30 horses. The “Pin horses” nearest the wagon are used to manoeuvre the wagon around turns.

d’Arcy Doyle is a self-taught painter of Australian landscapes and historical scenes. Born in Ipswich in 1932, he always had a keen interest in drawing and took up full-time painting in 1961. Many of his nostalgic paintings portray the games children played in suburban and outback Queensland. Doyle’s landscapes usually portray and capture Australian history. This painting depicts an important part of Australia’s history and is what d’Arcy is renowned for.

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