The Steele Rudd Selection, or Steele Rudd Memorial Park, is a park dedicated to the Australian author of the Dad and Dave stories and the book On Our Selection.
Steele Rudd is the pseudonym for Arthur Hoey Davis, creating the well-known characters from Snake Gully and part of Australia’s cultural history. Nearby Rudd’s Pub is where some of the stories are believed to be penned.
Dad and Dave from Snake Gully was a radio drama show starting in the 1930s through to the 1950s, based on Steele Rudd’s On Our Selection stories. The characters struck a chord with readers, set against the backdrop of land selection in the late 19th century.
The Steele Rudd Park is situated on the corner of the original 64-hectare selection take up by Thomas and Mary Davis in the 1870s.
It is the family’s life here that provided the inspiration for the popular book by Steele Rudd, On Our Selection.
The park was established in the 1970s by Arthur’s youngest son Eric, on land given by the owners at that time. Eric’s wish was to create the park and erect a replica hut on the old selection as a tribute to his father and to all of the district’s pioneers.
The park has great facilities and makes for a decent place to stop for a break a short way from the highway. Steele Rudd Park is appointed with flushing toilets, decent lighting during the evening, and sheltered picnic tables and a free BBQ.
A stone with a plaque has the following inscribed:
This is the site of the boyhood home of Arthur Hoey Davis “Steele Rudd” where he found inspiration to write “On Our Selection” and his other Australian Classics.
He was the first chairman of the shire of Cambooya 1914. Erected by the council to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth 14.11.1868.
Shingled Slab Hut
The shingled slab hut is based on many details in the book, but the real Davis home has a few details of differences.
For example, the “Shingle Hut” in the story had a shingled roof, however, the real home appears to have had a corrugated iron roof.
The hut on Steele Rudd Selection is a smaller representation as described in the book On Our Selection, however, it still provides a glimpse of what it must be like to live in these early slab huts.
What was a Selection?
Separating from New South Wales in 1859, the new colony of Queensland had a small population. The new government wanted to encourage settlement and agriculture.
The Selection Act in 1968 resumed some of the large holdings occupied by squatters, who tended to retain most of the best land.
The reasonably cheap land had to be permanently occupied and fenced in order to have deeds issued. One-tenth of the land had to be cultivated within 3 years.
Despite the hardships of low commodity prices, recessions, unreliable rain, and lack of capital, fierce determination and resistance saw many early settlers survive.
Thomas and Mary Davis moved their family to their selection in 1875.
Steele Rudd in the Darling Downs
Steele Rudd (Arthur Hoey Davis) was born in 1868 in a slab hut in Drayton, the eighth child of Thomas and Mary Davis.
Arthur attended the nearby Emu Creek School when the family moved to their selection, leaving school at the age of 12 to work at Pilton Station.
By his mother’s insistence, Arthur moved to Brisbane to take a clerical job, where he also began this writing career.
In 1908, Steele Rudd returned to the Darling Downs in Greenmount with his wife where their youngest son Eric was born, later buying “The Firs” farm near Nobby, a 64 hectare agricultural and dairy farm.
Nobby is a town a few kilometres from Steele Rudd Park where Rudd’s Pub is located, where it is believed some of the stories were written.
Steele Rudd’s Work
Steele Rudd wrote 24 books and six plays, revealing the hardships endured by early settlers and depicting the strong sense of survival.
Starting with a newspaper column about rowing, he use used a pen name of “Steele Rudder”, later shortened to Steele Rudd.
His first short story, a fictional story based on his family’s experiences at Emu Creek, was “Starting the Selection” appearing in The Bulletin. With more stories following, they were published in 1899 as On Our Selection.
Steele Rudd continued to write stories, becoming immensely popular, followed by other books such as Our New Selection.
Dad and Dave from Snake Gully
The Dad and Dave from Snake Gully radio program started in 1937, featuring the antics of some of Steele Rudd’s characters.
The very successful show is more simply referred to as Dad and Dave, lasting on air for 16 years.
Steele Rudd passed away in 1935, so he didn’t enjoy the popular and successful radio program with his characters that now have a place in Australian folklore.
To get there:
From Toowoomba, head south on the New England Hwy towards Warwick. After leaving Toowoomba, follow the New England Hwy for about 9.2km where Drayton Connection Rd joins the highway and veer left to continue towards Warwick. Continue for another 12.5km and turn left into Steele Rudd Rd with the brown sign for Steele Rudd Park before it and another brown sign for Steele Rudd Selection at the road. Follow Steele Rudd Rd for 1.7km and turn right into Mollers Rd to park at the entrance to Steele Rudd Park.
From Allora, coming out from Warwick St, head north towards Toowoomba. Follow the New England Hwy for about 29.9km and turn right into Steele Rudd Rd with the brown sign for Steele Rudd Park before it and another brown sign for Steele Rudd Selection at the road. Follow Steele Rudd Rd for 1.7km and turn right into Mollers Rd to park at the entrance to Steele Rudd Park.
Wheelchair accessible: Yes, with assistance