Eddie looks back on 46-year career with Bonel Brothers

Eddie Wolff stands proudly in the Bonel Room at Fairymead House.

It might be more than six decades since a young Eddie Wolff walked through the doors of the Bonel Brothers factory but he can still remember the day vividly.

At first it was a job he didn't want, but by his retirement in 1999 it was a career he had grown to love.

“I started there in 1953 as a junior labourer. I was an apprentice blacksmith, then later a leading hand, a workshop foreman and then I was in charge of spare parts before I retired,” Mr Wolff said.

“I worked there for 46 years, walking in at age 15 and retiring at age 62.”

One of the machines manufactured in the Bonel Brothers factory.

Bonel Brothers

Bonel began its journey into manufacturing success in the late 1930s when three Italian brothers began making sugar-cane planting and cultivating machinery for their own farm in Bundaberg.

So successful were the designs of their own implements, that a growing demand by surrounding farmers enabled them to build a foundry and then a small factory.

Bonel was established by Italian brothers Sergio, Telio and Lino.


Mr Wolff has vast knowledge of the Bonel Brothers business.

As the longest-serving employee, he has memories from his decades of work and memorabilia which he recently donated to The Bonel Room at Fairymead House.

“When I go, all of this will still be here for future generations to learn about,” he said.

Included in the Bonel Brothers display is the 40-year service plaque Mr Wolff received.

“That was a real surprise when I received that, it was just great,” he said.

“I learned so many things from my employment — everything from engineering, welding, blacksmithing, fitting.

“When times got hard they used to put people off. I was lucky I got kept on all through that. They thought that when the young boys got older, I would be there to teach them.”

Mr Wolff was awarded a special plaque for his 40 years of service with the Bonel Brothers.

Industry changes

Mr Wolff said he had experienced many changes in the industry during his employment, the biggest of all being technology.

“Technology almost destroyed the industry,” he said.

“When minimum tillage came in, it affected everything.”

Knowledge continues

While Mr Wolff's career is now memories and highlights on the walls of Fairymead House, it doesn't stop the 81-year-old from keeping busy and doing what he loves.

“I've been part of the Bundaberg Railway Historical Society for 31 years, I'm a life member,” he said.

“I am the only tradesman there so I cop all the jobs. Everything from carpentry, welding and drilling, I still do it all!”

  • To view the Bonel Room, visit Fairymead House from 10.30am to 12 noon Sunday to Friday.