OWNER: Rockhampton Metal Recyclers owner Matthew Moller moves a crushed car using an excavator with a grappling claw.
OWNER: Rockhampton Metal Recyclers owner Matthew Moller moves a crushed car using an excavator with a grappling claw. Chris Ison Rokcrecycle

Kele brothers became pioneers of scrap metal in Rockhampton

KELE Bros - Bottles, Bags and Scrap started in 1932, when Alf Kele Snr and Steve Kele Snr decided during the Depression to go out to Western Queensland and do contract work, such as fencing, ring barking, yard building, well-sinking and windmill erecting.

They returned to Rockhampton around 1934 and bought small trucks to do dam sinking for Lakes Creek Meat Works. Later on, they ventured into general carrying.

They started a crusher at Kabra and crushed metal for the Town Hall and general Main Roads work. Before the Second World War, Kele Bros did a lot of work cutting and carting firewood, house blocks and clothes props and at this time had their sawbenches in the yard on Cavell St, which was their mother's home and which still belongs to the Kele family. During this period, they would travel to the country with fruit and when that was sold, would return with a load of firewood, house blocks or a load of batteries and other scrap metal.

War broke out in 1939 and the partnership broke up with Steve returning to Williams Ltd. where he had learnt his trade as a cabinet-maker before contracting.

Alf then went into the fire brigade and on his days off started the scrap metal business, which continues to this day. In later years, he gave up his job in the fire brigade and he and his wife carried on the business of Kele Bros at the corner of Cambridge and Denison Sts and then in 1949 shifted to North St, not only with scrap metal but also recycling bottles and bags.

In the 1960s, the scrap metal component of the business moved to 256 Lion Creek Rd where Rockhampton Metal Recyclers continues the family's legacy today. Managed by Peter and Dorothy Moller until 1990, Kele Bros Metal was operated through a generation of change from all-manual labour to the introduction of specialised machines (often handmade by Peter Moller himself). During this time, the processing of metal adapted from the use of fire and explosives to car compactors and hydraulic shears and balers. After working alongside his parents, Peter and Dorothy's son, Matthew, continued his lifelong interest in the industry, following the end of business in 1990.

Now, in 2016, the spirit of Kele Bros Metals is alive in Matthew's new venture, Rockhampton Metal Recyclers, which he operates with his wife Larnie.