A Profile of Norma Brophy


Norma's father, Albert Emerys "Bert" Bibby came to Australia in 1906 from New Zealand with his two brothers, John and Ted. All brilliant horsemen, they operated a Buckjump Circus Show. The three Bibby Brothers travelled their circus by horse and wagon until 1914, when the three brothers enlisted in what became known as the "Great War".

On returning home, only Bert continued in showbusiness, giving away the circus life, with his young family, he became a showman working the agricultural shows as a photographer. His wife, Florance, passed away in 1920. In 1934, at the age of 50, Bert took a second wife, Norma's mother, Violet Flora Hoyland-Monteith. Norma was born in Innisfail, Nth Qld., on the 14th Sept. 1936.

Her young years were spent travelling by truck on corrugated dirt roads, in the far North, during winter, sugar cane cutting season and south to Victoria and South Australia for the summer. In later years, she travelled with her husband and their children all over the continent, Tasmania, WA, SA, The red centre and of course, the East Coast. Alfred Roy "Mick" Brophy, a WA showman and Norma married in Perth WA. Their children were born wherever they were at the time. They worked all aspects of showbusiness, from circus to rides, sideshows and various games. After 50 years, Norma lost her husband. He was buried in Bendigo, near their home in Neilborough, Vic. It is the homebase the family always come back to, a place to call home. It was where Mick would do maintenance and build new equipment, where their sons would train and polish their circus acts. Between them, they hold many World Records.

To be a circus or show person was and still is a wonderful experience. In the old days, our education was what you tried, perfected and learned throughout your life. In those days, show people had little academic education, as the correspondence system was only for people on the land. Eventually they were allowed into the system, but they would and could take on any task and they learned to do it well.

Norma became skilled in carpentry, signwriting, tailoring, designing and making circus costumes. She was a good helpmate and wife, nurse, doctor and mother to her children, She is a pretty good cook as well. She was and still is a driver of heavy vehicles and knows the difference in a smooth running vehicle and the many and varied problems that can arise on a long haul.

They had many wonderful years performing in their own circus show, "Brophy Bros. Circus". Their sons, daughters and grandchildren have all continued in show business in one form or another. Norma has gone on to paint the history in all its forms, circus, sideshow alley, rodeo and all its varied aspects.

The campfires, horse and wagons have all gone now. In their place there is luxury caravans complete with freezers, washing machines and fully equipped bathrooms. The grandchildren and Great-grandchildren now attend the travelling show schools, (funded by the Qld. Govt.) which is fully staffed by qualified teachers and equipped with state of the art computers. On finishing primary school, the children are sent on to Private Boarding Schools to study business management and better ways of continuing the business in the field of entertainment.

Norma's vision is to see her paintings studied by future generations of school children to see the history of the pioneers of show business, who braved the black dirt tracks and flooded rivers to take circus, buckjump shows, rides, games and variety tent shows in the far outback towns of Australia. Long before television and radio were even heard of, these intrepid men, women and children, who braved the elements, to do what they loved the most, to bring good clean entertainment to all families, to share with others, what she and others have seen and experienced through their long and varied lives.