Outback MagazineOutback Magazine


L.R.McManus stands the test of time

Story and photos Danielle Lancaster


Drovers' teams used to walk through the doors of L.R. McManus Pty Ltd in Quilpie, western Queensland, looking pretty rough and leave looking a whole lot better. Proprietor Leonard Richard McManus would fit them out from top to toe, always finishing with a pair of R.M.Williams boots. There's a yarn told about the legendary storeman that relates how, after one such overhaul, he'd pick up the drovers' rank cast-offs with a broom to chuck them into the bin. He was a bit taken aback when a set of strides he was trying to get rid of simply fell to pieces, and asked their owner exactly what he'd done to them. "Haven't done anything to 'em," came the dry reply. "Been on the road drovin' and haven't had 'em off for fourteen weeks!"

Quilpie is the land of boulder opals, Kings in Grass Castles, brolgas and Queensland's intricate channel country. There have been many changes since the young and determined LR opened his business nearly seventy years ago. For a start, the store is today operated by Len's daughter Marnie and her husband Terry Collins. And while people no longer tend to have their cloths falling apart when they come into the store, plenty still leave with cherished R.M.Williams gear. "We have people who call on their way to the Birdsville Races to be fitted out, swapping their city clothes for the genuine outback look. Still our most popular seller is R.M.Williams boots," says Terry, joining Marnie at the silky oak counter. Story end

Full story: Issue 31, Aug - Sep 03

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