20 March 2024

Farewell, Campbell, you loveable, rough old rogue

| John Thistleton
Join the conversation
elderly couple

Irene Bradley with her late husband Campbell, a genuine Goulburn character highly valued as a plumber and much loved as a caring family man. Photo: Bradley family.

Abrupt and as unbending as a crowbar, Campbell Bradley would land on people at home unannounced, traipse inside with his mud-caked boots, swearing at every turn, and set about fixing their plumbing problems.

Or he would be there for no other reason than a yarn, handing over an ice-cream container full of freshly laid eggs from his cherished chooks, home-grown tomatoes or a jar of bean seeds for planting next spring.

People loved this crusty old plumber in his beanie, trackie daks and tattered jumper who worked into his late 80s. He revelled in his sprawling backyard, replete with veggie patch and corrugated-iron chook shed on top of which he dried his firewood, retrieving each seasoned piece with a steel rake.

Campbell died on 6 March, aged 93. He is survived by his wife, Irene, three children, Peter, Ian and Kim and their spouses, and 11 grandchildren. A daughter, Elizabeth, predeceased him.

Years ago, the Goulburn Rostrum Club honoured Campbell with ”The Mongrel Award”, a nod to his grumpiness that his children revealed could never hide his warmth. A life member of Rostrum, regular timekeeper and constructive and supportive critic, he thoroughly researched and considered what he said.

His children and grandchildren recount he was born in Hornsby to a somewhat reckless and absent mother. His father was a bone surgeon with a practice on Macquarie Street, Sydney.

READ ALSO Signwriter leaves his Marks with bands, bikes and brush

He had little growing up, came to Goulburn aged 15 and began a plumbing apprenticeship while caring for his younger brother and sister, whom he brought to town.

They had little money. He made the most of what he had and the opportunities in front of him. In his 20s he played tennis and developed a love of ballroom dancing.

Meeting his wife, Irene, they married in May 1962. A daughter, Elizabeth, soon followed and not long after she was born, he came home one day and said to Irene, “I’ve bought us a house”.

elderly couple with granddaughter

Irene and Campbell Bradley with their granddaughter Annie. Photo: Bradley family.

It wasn’t until his 80s that he was reacquainted with more siblings than he knew, his sister Grace, then in her early 90s, having reinstated her search for him about 80 years after she last saw him, when he was three. That filled him with joy.

His daughter Kim said Campbell was an epic human, complex and curious. He could be cranky and cantankerous but also witty and generous with his time and attention as a grandfather, father and friend.

“He made us all feel safe,” she said. “But Dad didn’t suffer fools. He was direct and dogmatic. Sheer stubbornness got him to 93.”

His son Peter said towards the end of his working life, Campbell entered a worksite in his slippers, defying any occupational health and safety rules, and his hands had touched thousands of homes in Goulburn and surrounds, many times without payment.

READ ALSO Canberra Citizen of the Year for 2024 still in a bit of shock about the award, but ready to do more good

Prone to buying in bulk, he had at least 20 hammers at home, hundreds of spanners, many mowers and an affinity for chainsaws.

Cleaning up last year, Peter found eight chainsaws in various sheds and one at the bottom of a wood pile. More were tucked away under the beds inside, just to be sure.

Substance always trumped style with Campbell, who was often seen driving at a snail’s pace in his well-worn Toyota ute. Peter said he was a real bushy.

“Dad’s idea of a pedicure was to file his nails on a brick wall,” he said.

“As you know, Dad was a man of immense independence, a stubborn bugger born to ‘out-stubborn’ all other buggers that came before him.”

Original Article published by John Thistleton on About Regional.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

I’ve known quite a few people with similar characteristics!

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.