"Fred Brophy's Famous Boxing Tent" Cracow by thedouglas
Cracow Travel Guide: 2 reviews and 3 photos
Fred Brophy reckons Mount Isa is the toughest place in Australia. So when he comes to town for the annual Rodeo in August, he brings his big guns with him: the Kid Goanna, the Friendly Mauler, the Masked Marvel from Yugoslavia and the rest of his fighters.
You will find Australia's last promoter of the boxing tent show behind the bar of the Cracow Hotel in Central Queensland.
Most of the fellas in the Isa are miners who work underground which is tough work, then there are the Aboriginal ringers who come down from the Territory and the cowboys and rodeo clowns who are in town for the rodeo. They are all looking for a fight,Fred gives a sigh. My boys have got to fight them all.
When I mused that the Masked Marvel sounded interesting, Fred gave one of his hearty laughs which often precede a statement which leaves his listeners groping to separate fact from fiction.
The Masked Marvel has been in Australia for about seven years. Prior to that he was in the French Foreign Legion in Africa where he had a long beard. Anyhow, he was standing behind a camel in the wind and he lit a cigarette and his beard caught alight.
Just in time, his sergeant saw him and grabbed a shovel and whacked him across the face to put the fire out, but the blow deformed him. I found him in Thargomindah in western Queensland. He was prospecting for opals or something and was looking for a job.?
He was the ugliest man I have ever seen in my entire life. He would have put the elephant man to shame!
He came out of the crowd one night in the west and wrestled one of my blokes and nearly pulled every arm and leg out of their sockets, so I gave him a job. But I told him that I would have to do something about his face.
I put a bag over his head, but we had a bit of trouble when he went into a bank!
Often the police would meet me at the edge of town and remind me to keep his mask on as they did not want him to frighten anyone in their town. Then one time in Longreach, when he was wrestling two or three opponents - he would often take on more than one at once - one of them pulled his mask off and three ladies in the crowd fainted when they saw his ugly face!
Fred has been to most country towns in Australia, and in his words, has "never passed a pub". So when he decided that he needed somewhere permanent when he give up the boxing tent show, he settled on Cracow, as near to a ghost town as you can get in Australia.
The current population is around 20 and the old shops that line the main street belong to another era of gold mining days of early last century. The faded signs above the broken-down shop awnings dimly publicise their former trade: Frock Shop, Billiard Saloon, Boarding House and the Bank of New South Wales.
Fred and his wife, Sandi, have tidied up the quintessential, two-storey, wooden building and filled the bar with mementos of his days on the road. Upstairs, the rooms are neat and tidy and overlook the street on which nothing ever really happens.
But if you want to hear some of the best yarns in Australia from one of its best storytellers, then head for Cracow for a great laugh, plenty of nostalgia, photo opportunities galore, good food and cold beer.
Check ahead to ensure that Fred will be at the Cracow Hotel at the time of your intended visit, as he might otherwise be somewhere else in Queensland maintaining the tradition of Australia's last great boxing tent show. Fred pitchs the tent in the backyard and let his boys mix it with the locals.
- In a nutshell:another piece of australia not in the tourist books
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