John Francis (Jack) McCafferty was born at Breakfast Creek, Brisbane on March 11, 1914, the son of James McCafferty, a railway engine driver, and Martha.
The family moved to Warwick in 1919 where Jack attended Warwick East State School. They then moved to Toowoomba and Jack was enrolled at Wilson State School. Jack lived at his grandfather’s house in Gowrie Road (later renamed Bridge Street) during this time.
When he was 13, Jack returned to Warwick and began earning money by selling newspapers and magazines on the platform at Warwick Railway Station. He found that he enjoyed merchandising and dealing with the public. He also delivered meat on a bicycle on weekends for extra money.
During the depression, Jack helped his Aunt on her farm and managed to persuade her to allow him to take the horse and cart and try to sell milk in the early mornings.
Competition was fierce and Jack often found himself subject to beatings and dirty tricks. By 1939 Silverwood Dairy, as he called his business, was selling 250 gallons a day and Jack was starting work at 2am each day. Jack married Lorna Schultz of Millmerran in 1939. The couple encountered much opposition to their union as the country readied itself for war, because Jack was Catholic and Lorna was Lutheran.
On April 1 1940, Jack began his first bus run. He had purchased a Picnic Point – Rangeville service that had been running for 15 years. Jack established the bus ticket system to counter the profit-ravaging effects of the previous driver’s tendency to let some of the ladies travel for free. During the war years, parts, tyres and fuel were scarce. Coupons had to be obtained for each month’s fuel usage and a special permit from the Superintendent of Traffic was required to buy a new tyre.
Jack began to expand his business in 1944 by buying out two other services and eventually built the business to include long distance coach tours, a travel information centre and a whole fleet of buses and coaches.
In 1955, Jack was elected as an Alderman to the Toowoomba City Council and within three years he was Mayor, an office he held for 9 years until his defeat in 1967. During this time he came to be regarded as a dynamic Mayor who put Toowoomba on the map.
Jack McCafferty passed away on January 12 1999 at the age of 84 after a 2 year battle with cancer. His funeral was held at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and was attended by more than 1000 people. Some arrived in the lovingly restored 1938 Bedford bus that had been Jack’s second vehicle and had been recently purchased back and repainted by his son Tony. The bus was presented to Jack on his 83rd birthday...
LH files – LH/McCafferty, Jack Talbot, Don – “McCafferty, King of the road” 1995.