Meet the Mates

The following is a contribution from Foundation Member of the Mates of the Murranji, Frank Dalton. Frank is well remembered as the mine-host of Frank’s Bar and Grill at Wave Hill and the convenor of the annual Wave Hill Cricket Matches.

Frank met, and married Lorraine, a Grand Daughter of the legendary ‘Boss Drover’ – Matt Savage. Ted Egan’s song (from his Overlanders album) Matt Savage – The Boss Drover is a fantastic tribute to the Man and other legendary Drovers of the Murranji Track.

Frank and Lorraine DaltonI arrived in the Territory as a 19 year old, working for BHP on Groote Eylandt after which I travelled overseas before returning to Hooker Creek (Lajamanu) on the edge of the Tanami Desert.

I was working for a construction company building the health clinic and school and celebrated my 21st Birthday, sharing a Darwin Stubby with a mate, even though it was a ‘dry camp’.

It was there that I met Lorraine Carter (my future wife) who had traveled to help out at the store before returning to Alice Springs to pursue a career in Veterinary Science.

It was years before Lorraine returned to the ‘Alice’!!!

I soon found out that Lorraine was the granddaughter of Matt Savage and Ivy, a Mudburra woman from Montejinni Station. Matt Savage was known as the ‘Boss Drover’ and his exploits were legendary. A book titled ‘The Boss Drover’ has been written about his droving days when he was driving (droving) mobs of cattle from the Kimberley’s in Western Australia, across the ‘Murranji’ into Queensland.

Ted Egan, a great (and enduring) mate of mine, wrote the song ‘Matt Savage – The Boss Drover’ which features on his ‘Overlanders’ Album.

Lorraine and I travelled extensively for a while before moving to Wave Hill Township (now Kalkarindgi) in 1980 to construct the new Police Station. It was here that we started up ‘Frank’s Bar and Grill’, later to become known as the Wave Hill Cricket Club. It was at Kalkarindji that the first of our three sons, Robbie, was born in February 1983. This was followed by our wedding in September 1983 under the bough shed at ‘Frank’s Bar and Grill’. The bough shelter was erected from lancewood cut from the ‘Murranji Track’ and had a spinifex roof. A big day it was with Mates travelling from far and wide and we thank the Lord (Vestey that is) for the wedding banquet!!! Then came along son number 2, Johno in 1989, followed by Michael (Blue) in 1992.

We had 14 wonderful years at Wave Hill running the Bar and the Cricket Club and we made many lifetime friendships. We moved to Katherine at the end of 1993 whereupon I took the role as Manager of the Katherine Country Club, recently retiring after 26 years of service.

Lorraine completed her Teacher’s Degree and is still teaching at McFarlane Primary School in Katherine. Sheilagh Savage, Lorraine’s Mum and Daughter of the ‘Boss Drover’  (who has now passed)  was born under a tree on the ‘Tanami Track’ in 1936 on one of Matt’s droving jobs from the Kimberleys. A rock cairn, built by brother Jimmy, two mates, and myself, has been erected to mark her birthplace.