In this rare and personal insight, Steve Brooks heads to Brown & Hurley heartland in Kyogle, northern NSW, to talk with retiring managing directors, Rob Brown and Kevin Hurley.
On the wall in front of Kevin Hurley’s desk in Kyogle, there’s a large framed photo of his father sitting on a log in the bush.Dampened by rain, pannikin of tea in hand, it’s an image that captures Jack Hurley to a tee. The laconic wit and inherent humility of a country boy to the core. The wonderful storyteller and mentor to many, blessed of a smile that was probably glued on the day he was born. It’s all there, as if it was yesterday. Even so, it’s a long way short of the full picture. A real long way. For that, you need to look at another image. A grainy black and white photo of two young blokes in Army uniform striding purposefully along a Sydney street at the close of World War II. Funny thing, they even look like good mates. Jack’s on the right, that typical wry grin on his face. On the left, four years younger, tall, lean, stoic and just the hint of a shy smile, is Alan Brown. He, too, is a country boy but whereas Jack hails from the far north of the state, Alan comes from Cooma in the far south. No matter, fate and war would span the distance and make the introductions. Different in many ways, so similar in others, yet it was the differences that probably strengthened them most. Back at the time of that photo, though, two motor mechanics still waiting to be discharged from an Army unwinding from war, in a country scarred by loss and racked by scarcity of just about everything except hope, it’s hard to imagine either young man had much idea of the road ahead beyond a mud map in the mind. Little idea, perhaps, that by 1946 they would set up shop in Kyogle, a small backblocks town just south of the Queensland border, pooling their Army discharge pay and respective mechanical abilities to start a business. Logically enough, they called it Brown & Hurley. Fifty-fifty, right down the middle, not that there was much on either side of the middle for a lot of years. Little idea, too, that like Jack’s marriage to Thelma and Alan’s to Lil, their mateship would mould like molten metal and last their long lifetimes, forging powerful family bonds that would seep far beyond business. They would each have five children. For the Hurleys, three boys and two girls, while the Browns would have four daughters before their only son arrived.
Written by Steve Brooks
For the full story See ATN June 2018