Raconteur who traversed Australia as a cattleman




4-8-1937 - 23-3-2013

Mervyn Griffin, who has died aged 75, once described himself as a rooster - "here one day and a feather duster the next". The quip was quintessential "Merv". He was a straight talker, a raconteur, an entertainer and a self-made man, one of our last high-country

cattlemen who could recite the works of Banjo Patterson by heart.

Griffin had forged his destiny before he reached his teens, when he decided the world was bigger than Rockhampton. Stowing away in a train's overhead luggage

compartment, he ended up

somewhere in outback Queensland, where he managed to convince a cocky that he should take him on as a cook, drover and cattleman at the tender age of 11.

By the time Griffin was 19 he had driven cattle all across Australia. He was a jack of all trades - a fencer, a high-country cattleman, rodeo rider, gold miner, butcher, bookmaker and bare-knuckle fist-fighter.

But he always claimed his greatest accomplishment was meeting the love of his life, Shirley. She was chalk to his cheese, north to his south. He often proudly told the story of when this young blonde "looker" entered his butcher shop to buy bones for her dog. Shirley tells a different story; she recalls the cheeky young butcher who used to stick his tongue out at her. As it happened, Shirley never had a dog, and they were married six months later.

Griffin took his family to Bendigo 40 years ago, in the days when there was only one traffic light in town. He and brother-in-law Barry Moon started a small empire, Midlands Truck Spares, which survives him today.

Griffin may not have had a

conventional education, but was a learned scholar graduating with high distinctions and first-class

honours from the university of hard knocks, and never faltered in

teaching others "The Book of Life According to Merv". Thanks to his tutelage there are few men who knew him who do now not know how to tie a Spanish windlass or shoot a particular billiard shot.

Many have also shared in his pearls of wisdom: "It's a case of mind over matter - I don't mind and you don't matter"; "When is the best time to buy property? When you have the money." Then, of course, the golden rule: "He who has the gold ... rules."

He was a larger-than-life

character, a respected member of the greater Bendigo community and a longstanding member of the Sandhurst Club. He was adored by his family and friends.

Griffin is survived by wife Shirley and daughters Joellen and Liza, sons-in-law Hamish and Philip, and five grandchildren, Lizzie, Eva Chloe, Penelope and Monty.

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