ONE of the greatest horsewomen the Upper Hunter ever produced has been laid to rest in her hometown of Scone.
Grace Kathleen Quinn died on May 25, with her funeral service taking place at Mary Queen of Peace Church six days later.
After growing up on Pages Creek, north of Scone, she learned to ride well by the age of four and broke in her first horse when she was just 11 years old.
She soon began competing in rodeos and shows and had great success at campdrafting, buckjumping, peg events, bending, and flag racing.
Her career blossomed in 1947 when she won the Australasian Cowgirl Buckjumping Event at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney.
That same year she married Cliff Russell, who was also a successful rodeo and buckjump rider, and went droving with him in the Merriwa area.
The couple shared the same interests – horses, rodeo, and working on the land.
They both competed in rodeos throughout the Hunter circuit, travelling to Timor, Murrurundi, Willow Tree, Wingen, Scone, and Merriwa. Before long, word spread that the duo had been chosen to represent Australia in the rodeo team to tour the USA.
However, Cliff was killed in April 1948 while droving cattle from Merriwa to Dunedoo. A passing lorry driver discovered the 25-year-old without a mark, but his neck was broken. His funeral was reported to be one of the biggest ever seen in Merriwa.
Grace moved back to Limberlost and worked on Poitrel Station as a horse breaker and station hand for about five years.
But, after suffering a bad fall, she was taken to Sydney and spent the next two years in and out of hospital.
She later married a man called Frank Taylor and they had two daughters together, Fiona and Tracey.
Unfortunately, Frank died 20 years later and Grace then ran a business for several years. After retiring, she moved to Willoughby and bought a property at Nundle.
A family member said she was a “tough, strong woman”.
“She was a loving and kind woman who had a difficult life out there in those days,” the relative said.
“There was no running water, she had to light fires, and muster paddocks.
“They had sheep and cattle for themselves and neighbouring properties.
“She was a true stockwoman, and very talented at breaking in horses; she was well-known in the area for that.”
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