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Title: Reminiscences of the Early Settlement of the Maranoa
Author: Mary A McManus
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In compliance with a request made me by a friend that I should give him a few of my reminiscences of the early settlement of Mount Abundance and the Maranoa, I will endeavour in the following pages to comply with his request as best I can.
As I kept no regular journal or any notes, I write mostly from memory. Therefore, if any of the few old residents think that I depart from strict facts I am willing to be corrected. For "To err is human." Also I beg to be forgiven if I dwell somewhat at length on personal matters, because in doing so I am also dwelling on the recollections of others who were intimately connected with our life at Mount Abundance at that time, as will be seen as I proceed. I also hope any appearance of egotism may be pardoned. Indeed, I think I may justly lay claim to a little self-knowledge, as I am the oldest woman now living and the first with my mother who came to the district.
I shall commence with my father's (Stephen Spencer's) occupation of Mt. Abundance, which he purchased of Mr. Allen McPherson of Keira Station, near Barraba, New South Wales. The purchase was effected in September, 1857. In the following March, 1858, my father started from his station, Iron Bark, near Barraba, New South Wales. His party consisted of himself, my mother, myself aged 14, and my brother David, aged 11 years, 13 men, 1,000 head of cattle, 60 horses, 4 bullock drays laden with rations, household effects etc, a spring cart in which my mother and we children travelled. It was a very cramped affair (no waggonettes or buckboards or buggies in those days). We journeyed on very slowly, as we kept pace with the cattle and bullock teams. The distance was 400 miles, and we were four months on the road. Our losses in stock during the first 200 miles were heavy owing to the scarcity of feed and water. There was no grass till we crossed over from Nindi Gully on the Moonie River to Boomba on the Balonne. Nindi Gully was then only a cattle station, managed by a Mr. Webster for Mr. Ogilvie of the Clarence River.
Mr. Webster was exceedingly kind to us. There was no water between Nindi Gully and Boomba (a distance of 25 miles), where we struck the Balonne. The cattle and teams were obliged to travel night and day to reach it. Boomba was then the property of Mr. Henry Dangar, of New South Wales, whose general manager was the late Mr. (afterwards Sir) Arthur H. Palmer. Boomba was then temporarily in charge of a stockman. We travelled slowly up the Balonne River to allow our cattle to recover their condition on the luxuriant grass that grew so plentifully all along its banks.
The next place we reached was the natural bridge of rocks called by Sir Thomas Mitchell, St. George's Bridge. Here we stayed a short time. There was then no habitation of any kind where the township of St. George now stands. My brother and I were probably the first white children who ran across that natural bridge. Then we proceeded up the river and camped some time at Warroo and Wargoo Stations, formerly owned by Mr. Ogilvie, but then the property of Mr. Robert Fitzgerald, a wealthy squatter of New South Wales, but both were deserted. On one of them was a large slab hut of several rooms. The walls were pierced with port holes for the purpose of shooting through them at any hostile blacks that might molest the occupants. At No. Ten, Mr. Becket's Station, we stayed a while. He was very kind to us and lent us working bullocks to draw our teams through the sand. Then we came to Donga, managed by Mr. Richard McDougall, who had recently lost his wife under very painful circumstances. I think Donga was then owned by Messrs Flood and Gordon, of Sydney, but I am not certain. Subsequently I know it was; and managed by a Mr. Solomon Wiseman.
From Donga we had no road but two old dray tracks and the first track up and down the Balonne of the mailman in the boggy soil from Moree to Surat. All along the banks of the Balonne the country was most lovely. The tall grass waving in the wind nearly over our heads like a field of wheat ready for reaping. The bullocks in the teams could scarcely be seen for the high grass. Wild carrots, crows foot, etc., were in abundance. Then we reached Werribene, then owned by Mr. Thos. Hall, of Dartbrook, New South Wales, and managed by a man named George Neal. A few miles further up was Talavera—or native name Yamboogal—owned by Mr. Joseph Flemming, and managed by James Norman. Both he and Neal were "old hands."
At each station there was only one white man to cook, etc. (or hut keepers as they were called in those days). The other employees were all black boys. Surat consisted then of only a post office and commissioner's camp. Mr. Henry Boyle was Crown Lands Commissioner then. Noorindoo also was Mr. Hall's of Dartbrook Station. It was afterwards managed for him by Mr. F. G. McKay, now postmaster in Roma for many years. This station we did not see, as it is higher up the River. At Talavera we crossed the Balonne at the back of the house or a little higher up. In crossing, two of our drays capsized into a mud puddle in the bed of the river. This necessitated a camp of some days to repair damages, dry wet clothing and other things damaged by water and mud.
Here my father dismissed about 200 or 250 of the blacks and their gins and picaninnies, all of whom had followed us up the Balonne from Boomba; retaining about 20 in all to assist in getting bark, etc., on our arrival at Mount Abundance. We now left the Balonne and continued our journey up the Yalebene Creek, leaving also behind us the last inhabited Station (Talavera). We camped at Occabulla (now Trinidad), then a deserted station, recently occupied by Paddy McInroe, who was left in charge of Mount Abundance by Mr. McPherson, but who had died at Drayton, just after my father bought the station, from the effects of a drunken spree. We now went up the Yalebene Creek till we arrived at Mount Abundance deserted head Station on the Muckadilla Creek or what remained of it, for a bush fire had burned the two huts and stock yards. We landed there on the 11th June, 1858, after a trying and fatiguing journey of four months duration. We camped under a large tent made of calico and the tarpaulins from the drays, until a rough slab hut could be built. We immediately commenced to rebuild the hut that was partly burned, also the stock yards, etc.
My mother was the first squatter's wife who ever came into the Maranoa district, and my brother and I were the first children. It was a rough life we had then. My mother was quite unused to it, and I was too young to be of much assistance to her. No household servants would venture out then, no matter what inducement was held out to them. We were obliged to perform all our household duties as best we could. We lived in this great tent, in which all our cooking utensils and cases of household effects were stored away, so there was not much room to spare. Here I made my first damper, which was by no means a success. The weather too was bitterly cold. The water in the buckets was almost solid ice. We turned it out the shape of the buckets.
A few days after our arrival seven of our men left, and three remained. The news of the murder of the Frazer family at Hornet Bank on the Dawson frightened them, or they pretended to be frightened. The real cause was the rush to the Peak Downs goldfields. Both events happened about the same time. Be that as it may, they all cleared out one morning, leaving only three of their mates behind. These were William Coverly, Philip Mellows, and another man Joe, whose surname I forget. We soon built a rough hut, rebuilt the stockyards, and were tolerably comfortable for a time.
We had no trouble whatever with the blacks. Though they were troublesome at other Stations, they never molested either ourselves or our property, although nearly 300 followed us up from Boomba and St. George's Bridge to Talavera. The reason of this was that my father treated them kindly but firmly. To every black man, woman, and child, he gave a new clay pipe and a fig of cheap tobacco as a peace offering. He never ill-treated nor deceived them; nor did he allow any of his men to do so or to have any intercourse with them whatever. He dismissed six men on one occasion for not obeying his rule in this particular. No black of either sex was allowed near our camp after sundown. The question has often been asked me, "Were you not afraid of the blacks?" I answered "Not a bit." "Were they hostile?" "Not at all." Some of these blacks were real "Myals," not speaking a word of English, but none attempted any outrage of any sort. At the same time we did not ignore the fact that they were savages; and we had arms always in readiness in case an occasion should arise requiring their use.
The native police were patrolling the district as well. We were visited by two companies of native police at this time. One under the command of the Government officer, Mr. Robert Walker, with eight troopers (I think) all blacks. Another under Mr. Fredrick Walker, or as he was familiarly called, "Philibuster Walker," because he went about the country with a band of six black troopers. He was the founder of the Native Police, and was raised to the rank of commandant of the Native Police Force. But alas! he could not resist the failing of intemperance. Consequently, he was requested to resign. He still patrolled this and other districts, chiefly in the Dawson. His home, I believe was at Mr. Andrew Scott's station, Hornet Bank. He was a fine specimen of a man. He stood 6 feet or over, broad-chested and square shouldered. He was well educated, and possessed much practical knowledge on almost every subject. He continued his patrols till his death, also his railings against the Government for its ingratitude in not recognising his services. The first Native Police Force was recruited by him from the native tribes on the Murray River, New South Wales. But to return—
Though the Native Police visited us and the neighbouring stations, they were not needed anywhere except in a few isolated cases. There was, and always has been, more fuss made about hostile blacks than there was ever any real occasion for. And half the hostilities and murders were caused by carelessness, too great familiarity, or unmerited abuse and ill-treatment. It being then to the interest of the workmen to cry out "Wild Blacks." They thinking by so doing, they could prevent other men from coming out, which would keep up the high rate of wages that they were then being given, not seeing in their ignorance that it also kept squatters from coming out and opening up the country, and by so doing employing more men and creating a demand for labour, thus causing new industries to spring up that would never have been the case if their absurd cry had been listened to; nor would Queensland be what she is today.
We remained at Mount Abundance six or eight weeks, when my father decided to form the Head Station where it now stands, on the banks of the Bungeworgorai Creek. This was desirable for many reasons, though not so convenient in other respects. One was to be nearer to Wallumbilla Station, which was 50 miles from us on the eastern side, and Surat which was 50 miles on the southern side, the nearest habitations. Thus, in removing to the Bungeworgorai Creek we were only 30 miles from Wallumbilla. That station at that time was owned by Mr. William P. Gordon. He called on us after we arrived at Bungeworgorai. This was his second visit. The first was when we were at the old head station near the mountain almost as soon as we arrived there.
Having selected the present site for the head station we proceeded to build ourselves habitations. We lived for six months in two V-shaped humpies built of bark. These were about twelve or fourteen feet long and about six or eight feet wide and six feet high in the centre only. All available space was filled with loading, boxes and household effects, leaving a narrow gangway down the centre. No cleaning could be done owing to the crowded state of the buildings, and the place was swarming with fleas that had come in out of the bush. Such a number I never saw before or since. It was a perfect plaque. It was Christmas time and fearfully hot; and it rained almost every day, heavy thunderstorms. The creek was a banker for a week at a time, and the ground so boggy that no horse or dray could stand. The first timber that was ever cut west of Wallumbilla was cut off the big sand ridge opposite what is now Mt. Abundance Lodge gate—once known as Gibson's farm, now Irea. It was cut for our house. A rough affair, it was afterwards a kitchen. It was the first house built on the creek, excepting Mr. McPherson's hut about a mile below the present station, which was burnt to the ground before we came.
In March, 1859, the first wheat ever grown in the district was grown by my father on that sand ridge. The first grape vines were grown at the head station, also the first fig, peach, and apricot trees. And the first rose tree was planted by my mother and bloomed in her garden in the spring of 1859. The first sheep to cross the Bungil and Bungeworgorai Creeks were my father's; likewise the first teams that crossed were his, and laden with his stores. The first wool was also his that crossed on its way to Brisbane. I forget the name of the first carrier who crossed the Creek going West, but I think it was one Florence O'Sullivan, brother to Pat O'Sullivan, once M.P. for Ipswich.
This was before the separation of Queensland from New South Wales. We had rough times then, too. My mother and I did all our own work, assisted by the black gins. Our sewing was then all done by hand, there being no sewing machines as now. We were then the most Westerly residents, Mount Abundance head station being outside them all.
My father made the first marked tree line from Mount Abundance to Wallumbilla Station in 1859, before there was anyone living at Blythsdale or Tingin, as it was called at that time. Blythsdale was taken up some time previous to this, but owing to the hostilities of the natives the owner was deterred from forming a station there. It afterwards became the property of Mr. W. P. Gordon, and was a part of Wallumbilla run. It is said that Mr. Blyth (the original owner) was attacked by the blacks. Mr. Blyth shot some of them, then he and his man caught and mounted their horses bareback, forgetting in their haste to take the hobbles off. The consequence was they were both thrown, which caused some delay before they could get safely away. Mr. Gordon built a sheep station at Tingin, where a very old and eccentric shepherd lived and tended his flock. It afterwards became an overseer's station, till it was purchased by Mr. Henry Cardell, who gave it its original name of Blythsdale, which it has since retained.
The first gentleman to go out on an exploring expedition in search of new country in July, 1859, was Mr. William Hunter. He owned Chinchilla at that time. He subsequently owned Eurella in the Maranoa district, afterwards the property of Messrs Menzies, Doughlass & Co. Mr. Hunter was afterwards Inspector of Brands at St. George, the duties of which he discharged till his death, which took place in Brisbane about 12 years ago (if my memory serves me.) He was familiarly known as "Daddy" Hunter. He will be remembered as a kindly, genial man, by many old residents of the district, and by some of the younger ones also. He explored a great distance out West beyond the Maranoa River, which was then a terra incognita.
Then came Mr. William Bassett (cousin of Mr. S. S. Bassett of Roma). He took up Euthulla, which the cousins owned for several years. After him came the Hon. James Lalor, who took up, some say bought, Gubberamunda, higher up the Bungil Creek than Euthulla, and which is still owned by him. I may say here that Gubberamunda, Stewart's Creek (Mr. George Smith's Station), and Mount Lonsdale (Mr. William McManus's Station) are the only three stations that have remained in the possession of their original owners. That is, as far as I am aware, all others having passed through the hands of more than one owner or owners, some through several.
About this time, July 1859, we were visited by Mr. Henry Boyle, Commissioner of Crown Lands at Surat; also Mr. William Yaldwyn then of Bendemere Station, Queensland, now Police Magistrate at Brisbane. My father now made an exploration of the Upper Bungeworgorai Creek in the company of Mr. Frederick Walker before mentioned. They camped on or near a very pretty hill covered with bottle trees which Mr. Walker named Mount Spencer, after my father. It was afterwards known as Bottle Tree Hill. Another hill near, by of peculiar shape, Mr. Walker named after himself, but it was subsequently renamed Bob's Mountain. These latter names still adhere to them.
On my father's return he tendered for a run near Mount Beagle, so named by Sir Thomas Mitchell, and it became the residence of my maternal uncle Mr. William Smith, for some years. In December, 1859, my uncle William Smith, his wife and family of 11 children with all their horses, cattle, drays, etc., arrived at Mount Abundance from New South Wales. They lived with us for about a year, when they removed to Mount Beagle in January 1861, which station my father had taken up for them. My uncle was a wonderfully hard working and persevering man, and he spent a great deal of time and labour in making Mount Beagle a comfortable home. He was delighted with the fine waterhole, near which he built his homestead. It was three-quarters of a mile long, and its depth was unknown. Now I believe it is quite filled up with sand drift, which shows the changes that stocking [the] country has brought about. This lovely water-hole, when I first saw it, was a magnificent sight. The natives declared it never went dry. It was beautiful water too, as clear as crystal.
Mr. William Smith was the father of Messrs George[,] William, and Spencer S. Smith, all well known in the neighbourhood of Roma; also of Messrs John and S. Charles Smith, late owners of Tyrconnell Downs and Ularunda, and Mr. Alfred C. Smith of Armadilla. His five daughters are also well known. The eldest [was] the late Mrs. A. Statham, of Tregoning, near Morven, Warrego district. The third daughter is Mrs. R. Statham, late of Bonus Downs, near Mitchell. My uncle died a comparatively young man in 1867, and is buried at Mount Abundance Head Station, beside his sister (my mother), who died at Mount Abundance the previous year. Mount Beagle, after being my uncle's property for 7 or 8 years became the property of the Scottish Australian Investment Company. After my uncle's death his widow and her family settled at Stewart's Creek, where her eldest son George and her youngest daughter now reside.
In 1859 Queensland separated from New South Wales. Then came the rush for taking up new country, and exploring expeditions became the order and topic of the day (and night too), for nothing else was thought of or discussed. Everyone was infatuated with the desire to possess a run in Queensland. The excitement was extreme, and nearly equal to that of the gold rush seven or eight years before. As before said, Mount Abundance was the furthest out station in a westerly direction, consequently it formed a depot for all explorers both going out and coming in, it being the only store where supplies could be obtained. The nearest township was Surat, but we went to the Condamine for our mail, a distance of one hundred miles. It was a great place in its own way, and consisted of a store, 2 public houses, blacksmith's shop, post office, and the usual humpies and shantys that constituted a bush town at that time of primitive buildings. In 1860 at the request of the residents of the neighbourhood, my father became postmaster, and a receiving office, the first in the district, was opened at our store. It was a great boon to all residents around, who were glad to have their mails brought to a reasonable distance of their stations.
Bindango Station was the next to be taken up about this time by Mr. W. F. Kennedy of Tieryboo, near Condamine. His manager was Mr. James M. Gilmour, who lived there [for] some years with his brother, John M. [Gilmour]. James Gilmour was afterwards sub-inspector of Native Police at Thargomindah. He died some years later at Blackall. His brother John went home to Scotland, and after several years stay in the "Old Country" returned to Queensland. Mr. Kennedy was a very handsome man, and also a highly educated one. I believe he died in Sydney about 30 years ago.
The seasons were very wet at this time, and there was great scarcity of rations owing to flooded creeks and boggy roads on which no dray could travel. Supplies were sometimes months on the road from Ipswich. Many stations were reduced to pigweed and fathen, which grew plentifully almost everywhere, and were a good substitute for cabbages. On one occasion we were a whole month without any flour at all, and we had only about 2lbs. of sugar, which we reserved for my aunt's baby. And, worse by far than all, we had no salt. No one can imagine what a deprivation that is, and how we longed for it. I divided all we had amongst ourselves and the workmen, but some of them were mean enough to steal ours when their own had been used. Many of us suffered from dysentery through the want of salt. We had, however, an abundance of vegetables, especially swede turnips, some of which were very large. My father supplied the neighbouring stations with them, gratis.
Carriage was very high too, £60 a ton being frequently given, and often more. So great was the demand for supplies of all kinds that our store was literally thonged with customers, and as much as £100 being taken in one day in cash alone. By cash I do not mean coin, for there was but little of that, but in cheques, and orders on Sydney and Melbourne firms, and the ubiquitous "I.O.U." which was issued by almost everyone instead of change for any sum under £1. So recklessly were these I.O.U.'s drawn and circulated that many were quite useless, being issued by those who could not, and some who would not, meet them. Token pennies and halfpennies too, were issued by storekeepers, having their advertisement on the reverse side. I have one by me now, also some of my father's I.O.U.'s. Consequently Mount Abundance was a scene of great activity. I doubt if many country townships could boast as much traffic as it and the main road did then. The road passed our door going West.
Until now no one had settled beyond the Maranoa River. Mr. William Hunter being, as aforesaid, the first squatter to cross it in 1859. About the end of 1859, or the beginning of 1860, Mr. William Morehead formed a Native Police barracks, or camp, about 20 miles below us on the Bungil Creek. It was called Elutha by the blacks. After all the buildings were erected, including a house for his family, he removed them thither. His family consisted of his wife and four daughters and one son John, who was afterwards in my father's employment, and of whom I shall make mention later on.
Mr. William Morehead was a diligent and conscientious officer, as well as a kindly, genial companion in private life. The arrival of Mr. Morehead and his family was quite an acquisition to the neighbourhood, hitherto so sparsely populated with ladies.
Mr. Charles Coxen now took up and formed Deepwater Station, on the Yalebone Creek. He afterwards held an appointment in the Lands Office, Brisbane. I am not sure if his widow still survives him. Deepwater Station was formed a few miles above old Occabulla (or Trinidad). Mr. Coxen's manager was Mr. Henry Ellis, who lived there some time with his wife and three little children (all of them very pretty) until my father purchased the station in 1863. There were now two families living not more than 20 miles from us, and we were beginning to be quite civilised. But owing to the difficulties and dangers of travelling, and other causes, there was little intercourse with the female portion of the community. Mr. and Mrs. Ellis were nice kindly people. Mrs. Ellis [was] often left quite alone during the absence of Mr. Ellis and had a good many hardships to contend with. She being [sic] his duties, sometimes [having] not even a black gin for company.
My father now bought the first sheep that he put on his run, from Mr. W. P. Gordon of Wallumbilla. They were the first that ever crossed the Bungil and Bungeworgorai Creeks. This was in 1861. This same year he purchased 1,200 sheep from Jondaryan, then the property of Messrs Tooth & Co. of Sydney. Mr. A. A. Reiley took charge of them and brought them to Mount Abundance. His second in command was Mr. W. Holder, who resided on Mount Abundance ever since, till his death about two years ago, leaving a widow and several children. Mr. A. A. Reiley and Mr. John Morehead were in our employ at that time. The great rush for new country continued unabated from 1861 to 1864, and was at its height during those years.
In March, 1861, my husband, Mr. J. C. McManus, arrived at Mount Abundance from Victoria. Like others, he was in search of new country in the far west. He brought the first waggonette into the district. Immediately on his arrival he went out on an exploration expedition, with Messrs Moffat and Fullerton, the former a brother-in-law of the latter, who were, with his brothers, nephews of the well-known Dr. Fullerton, author of the "Domestic Medical Guide," and whose brother and these young men's father was the Rev. Dr. Fullerton of Sydney. The late Dr. Fullerton, M.D., was a kindly, courteous gentleman. Well do I remember the dapper little man visiting us during his subsequent residence at Tooloombilla. Mr. Moffat was the nephew of Mr. Thomas De Lacy Moffat, of Brisbane. A French gentleman named A. Warnod (pronounced Varno), and Mr. James Stanley were also of the party, Mr. Warnod having some time previously applied for all the country now called Tooloombilla and Womblebank. On this occasion he was showing Messrs Moffat and Fullerton those runs with a view to selling them.
Mr. McManus accompanied these gentlemen on an experimental trip only, promising at the same time not to apply for any country that might be discovered by the rest of the party, this being a point of honour amongst all explorers, and which was faithfully carried out by Mr. McManus. Before the party returned they were reduced to great straits for want of rations, which had been exhausted some days before they reached the Maranoa River. So famished were they that one of the party shot a dingo (wild dog), near where Mitchell Downs head station now stands, and Messrs Warnod and Stanley partook of it, but none of the other gentlemen could touch it. They reached Mount Abundance in an almost famished condition, and my mother and I prepared as hearty a meal as we could for them.
On his return to Mount Abundance Mr. McManus and Mr. A. A. Reilly (who until now was in our employment), and a blackfellow, started out to explore the country west of the Maranoa River on their own account. Relying on Sir Thomas Mitchell's account of Mount Lonsdale, they made straight for that mountain, where they felt sure of finding good country. They discovered the Mungallala, the head of which rises near Mount Lonsdale, all the country around which Mr. McManus applied for, including Tyrconnel Downs, Mr. Reiley applying for Mungallala, which, by the way, he never occupied. On their return to the Maranoa River, Mr. McManus shot a duck where Mitchell township now is; probably the first duck ever shot on the Maranoa River. The dingoes, however, robbed them of their game and anticipated breakfast, much to their disappointment. They then camped where Mitchell Downs Head Station now stands. Bindango Station (nine miles west from Mount Abundance) was being formed about this time. In 1862 Mr. J. C. Smyth, afterwards the partner of Mr. (and subsequently Sir) Thomas McIlwraith, took up a block of country near Wamallila East, and settled down there. Messrs. McIlwraith and Smyth subsequently took up and owned Merrivale, near the head of the Maranoa River.
These were stirring times. Wages were high, and employment of all kinds was easily obtained and well paid for. Horses were very dear, as high as £30 and £40 being given for good hacks, and draught horses could command almost any price. Indeed the demand for draughts was so much that saddle horses were put into drays, some mere ponies. Immigration too was in full swing, many gentlemen coming out with a few hundred pounds thinking they could get on stations and do no work, but just look on and learn colonial experience. Many amusing events occurred through their mistakes, some of which caused not a little trouble, both to employers and their men. Some of them were more trouble than their services were worth; their inability to manage horses and great desire to do so, being a constant cause of some mishap, which sometimes ended seriously, although they as often caused great amusement.
We had a Mr. Payne in our employment in 1861 as storekeeper. He had been accustomed to the sea, and however able he may have been to steer a ship, he certainly was not able to steer a horse or ride one either. However, one morning he essayed to take some rations to a shepherd four miles distant. He was given to ride a little mare we had, called Miss Nightingale, much given to kicking up if started quickly. Mr. Payne was duly warned, but he persisted in mounting, declaring he could "sit" her. He mounted, with the rations in a sack across the saddle under him. As usual Miss Nightingale kicked up, throwing Mr. Payne over her head into the mud, he falling on his hands and knees, the sack of rations following, and lighting on his back in the same position it had been on that of the mare. His astonishment was so great that for a few seconds he remained in that position. The amusement of the bystanders and the shouts of laughter that followed can easily be imagined. However, nothing daunted, he remounted and rode off, the mare going quietly. But Mr. Payne's trouble did not end here, for he missed his way going up a gully on the south side of Chinchinibilla Creek, which was called Payne's Gully ever since. He ultimately reached his destination and arrived safely at home.
The excitement of exploring, discovering, and taking up new country was now as intense as ever, if not more so, and much secrecy was practiced by explorers as to the locality of their discoveries. For, as the first tender was the only one accepted, there was much racing and scheming to get to the Commissioner's office first, and such contriving to get there by roundabout routes that it was most exciting. The commissioner's camp was then where the town of St. George now is, the Commissioner for Crown Lands being then the late Mr. Patrick McArthur, father of Mrs. A. L. Morrisett, of Brisbane, and afterwards Police Magistrate of Roma, and, I think, Ipswich. So great was the crowd at the Lands Office that many squatters had to wait for days for their turn to come to lodge their applications. No one who was not an eye witness of the excitement that prevailed can have any idea of it.
Our house was crowded with visitors. I have seen our dining room covered with maps and compasses. Many a time I have made as many as 10 beds on the floor of our dining room. Some sleeping on the table, and some under it. I have seen often as many as twenty riding and pack saddles and other horse gear and tents and pack bags, lying on our verandah. At that time it was far from safe to leave anything of the kind out of one's sight for the demand was so great, and prices so high for all kinds of saddlery that they were sure to be stolen by some one. I dare say many an old pioneer squatter still remembers the many "shake downs" they had in the old house at Mount Abundance Head Station. There were no hotels then nearer than the Condamine Township, and my father was far too hospitable a man to refuse a night's accommodation to any one, though many abused it, for there were gentlemen loafers then (I am sorry to say), as well as the proverbial "swaggie" or "sundowner," as he was then called. But he too had his camp in the hut and was never refused a "feed," no matter who he may have been. I must say the gentleman loafer at that time was a most persistent individual, and in many cases so thick-skinned that he would not take "no" for an answer. These gents traded on the rage for new country, and stayed at stations, or accompanied exploring parties for amusement to kill time and get housed and fed at the expense of any one who, like my father, was too good natured to say them nay. I must here remark that these gents were mostly the sons and other relatives of good families at home, and very often of titled ones. Mere boys, some, who were sent out here because they were such ne'er-do-well's, and no good could be got out of them in the old country, nor I fear in this, or any other, for many went utterly to the bad, while many others put their shoulder to the wheel and succeeded. Many became useful and prominent members of society, and some occupy high positions in the colonies.
In 1862 Mr. McManus returned to Victoria, then again came to Queensland, this time in company of his partner, Mr. William Turnbull, bringing with them overland from Maitland, New South Wales, sheep, cattle, drays and rations, ready to stock Tyrconnel Downs (which he had taken up, and applied for license to occupy some months before), and to build a station, sheepyards and shepherds' huts, and other improvements. They journeyed from Maitland through Liverpool Plains, Barraba, and Moree to Mingdi, and followed the same route as my father, till they came to the junction of the Maranoa with the Balonne River. They then followed the Maranoa River as far as Amby Junction. On their arrival there Mr. McManus proceeded on ahead of his party to Tyrconnel, but he discovered there was but little water there. In consequence of this they were compelled to camp at Amby Junction. This station was taken up by Mr. Jacob Low, who sold it to Messrs Thos. Mort & Co., of Sydney. Here Messrs McManus and Turnbull stayed for some months until rain came. Here they went through their lambing season and shearing their sheep. They had great difficulties to contend with, chiefly owing to the great scarcity of labour, shepherds especially being hard to obtain, although extravagant wages were given. On one occasion Mr. McManus was obliged to shepherd by himself alone 10,000 sheep in one flock, on horseback, using two horses a day and galloping all the time from sunrise till almost dark. At night he put them in a large "break," or half-yard on one side of which was a large waterhole in the Maranoa River.
He continued this arduous work for some days, whilst Mr. Turnbull was absent at Mount Abundance to obtain shepherds, which he succeeded in doing. Mr. McManus was quite exhausted from the fatigue of such hard riding; for such a large number of sheep [would] spread over such a large space that the flock would be two or three miles in circumference; and as each side had to be constantly watched it necessitated constant riding at almost racing speed. The reason all these sheep were "boxed" in one large flock was in consequence of all their men leaving through being frightened at some hostile natives, who had just before killed a shepherd who lived in a hut by himself, at what was then called the Lagoon Station, and quite near their camp. After having shorn their sheep and finished their lambing, and rain having fallen, they proceeded with their stock and drays to Tyrconnel Downs. They camped on the Mungallala Creek between what are now Mount Lonsdale and Tyrconnel Head Stations, at the junction of a small creek called Toocumbilla, where they built the first sheep yard ever made on the Mungallala; a few of the stakes of which are still remaining.
A short time previous to this Mr. McManus, on his going to Tyrconnel to see if there was sufficient water to warrant their final removal from their camp at Amby Junction, was passing the hill where the Head Station is now built, when he shot an emu through its neck (a difficult matter by the way) just at the spot where he afterwards built his house. This emu was a great acquisition, which he carried on his packhorse to an immense number of blacks who were camped on the Womabilla Creek. This was a peace offering, and they were greatly delighted. Mr. McManus and his black boy, Frank, camped near them on the opposite side of the creek, and though these natives were perfectly wild (many very likely had never seen a white man before) they never attempted in the least to molest him.
I may here say that Mr. McManus's experience with the uncivilised natives is the same as my own, that kind, but firm treatment was the cause of there being no murders or any misdemeanour whatever. In fact we always found them honest and obedient servants, and in those days it was impossible to get Europeans to work, excepting at very high wages. Therefore, had we not employed the blacks we could not have got on at all, because in some instances no inducement would cause white men to stay. At the least word from an employer they were off and often absconded, from no cause or provocation whatever—shepherds sometimes leaving their sheep in the yard. Work was plentiful, and the demand for labour great and pressing, there being no habitations anywhere, the first buildings were of necessity built of bark. This was plentiful almost everywhere, and the blacks were very useful in getting it. Shepherds' huts and sheep yards too, had to be made on every Station, and as all had to be done at once there was great demand for bushmen and builders as well as shepherds and cooks (who were mostly men at this time) and every kind of station hands. Consequently the blacks were of the utmost assistance in many ways. They were very good to run messages. The letter sent by them was put into a split stick, and carried thus by a blackfellow or a black gin. These letters were carried by them many miles in a day and delivered safely.
A story is told of a blackfellow, who was sent for some tobacco and was tempted to appropriate some of it. On his delivering it, it was weighed and the theft discovered. The boy received a reprimand. Being again sent for tobacco, he again took some. He was puzzled to know how the owner became aware of his theft on the first occasion. He was told it was in the letter that accompanied the tobacco. So the second time, he exclaimed, "That fellow letter tell 'em he Baal that bin see 'im me take 'em; me put him under a log." Of course having been told the letter contained the weight of the tobacco he thought it had been spying on him. He could not see how effectually he had condemned himself.
Tyrconnel Downs was the very first Station fenced on the Mungallala Creek, and Mr. McManus and his partner were the first squatters who settled on it. The next Station that was formed on it was Toomoo which was formed 80 miles lower down, a few months after Tyrconnel, by a man named James Smith, who managed it for the owner Mr. Alfred F. Doyle of Killarney, New South Wales, and who afterwards owned Tyrconnel. Toomoo was subsequently sold to the late Mr. J. A. Winten, father of Mr. J. A. Winten and of Mr. R. J. Winten of Luesvale. From being owned by Mr. Winten, or rather Messrs Bucknell and Winten, it was bought by Messrs York Walsh and Rennie, then the firm became Messrs Yorke Rennie and Eliott for some years till it was owned by the City Bank. For 17 years it was managed by Mr. J. M. Watson, (senior), now of Amby Junction. The present manager is Mr. J. G. Dickson. The next Station formed was Mungulla on the same Creek. It once formed a part of Annadilla run and now is a portion of Bonus Downs. It was taken up by Mr. J. C. McManus but forfeited, when Mr. William Henry Barton bought it at auction. A man named Sandy Johnson had a Station on the Mungallala between Mungulla and Toomoo (of which it is now a part). It was managed by the late Mr. Soloman Wiseman who formerly managed Donga on the Balonne and (I think) formed Gowrie Station in the Warrego, in 1863. He died at his residence, Cliffedale, New South Wales.
About six or eight months after Messrs McManus and Turnbull had become settled at Tyrconnel, Mr. McManus (and a man named Thos. Doyle) went out West on an exploring expedition on his own account. On this trip he discovered Mt. Maria and Victoria Downs, striking the Angellala where the Autheringa Head Station is now. Here he discovered a large water hole quite dry, and a tall sapling, whose top reached above his head when on horseback. It was about 4 inches through and quite dead. It had grown up in the centre of the bed of the creek, and afterwards died, which shows what terrible droughts have formerly prevailed. This same water hole after being filled in 1864, has never since been dry. He also found near that place the remains of a riding and pack saddle, which probably belonged to some one who had been lost and killed by the natives, or died for lack of food and water, or [was from a horse which had] broken loose from some station and wandered into the bush and died or been killed by the blacks.
On this trip Mr. McManus and his man were some days without water, and were obliged to leave their pack horses, pack saddles, guns and ammunition, behind them, near Angellala Creek. They hastened home, passing and discovering Tregonning Creek, Western Creek, and Armadilla Creek; striking the Dulbydilla as a small waterhole where the station's now built. They were almost perished with thirst, also their horses. This waterhole only contained a little water which was black with gum leaves. Mr. McManus named it the Blackwater hole, which name it still retains. This water was most acceptable to them and their horses, and they thoroughly enjoyed the much needed refreshments. Here they camped for the night. Before morning their pack horse, which they had left behind at Angellala, came to their camp, having followed their tracks all the previous day and night. They steered for home next day, striking the Mungallala, at what is known as Banarby, a mile below the present railway station.
Soon after Mr. McManus returned from this trip he met Mr. Grenfell on Hamburg Creek (near where Morven is now), who was in search of new country. So he (Mr. McManus) told him of a plain on Tregonning Creek. Mr. Grenfell immediately took it up and formed a station there. Mr. R. M. Finlay who came to Tyrconnel Downs with Mr. McManus, assisted Mr. Grenfell to form his station. He (Mr. Grenfell) had cattle on it. They had some trouble with the blacks, too. On one occasion Mr. Grenfell and Mr. Finlay were both absent. On their return they found the blacks in possession and the cook scared out of his wits and offering no resistance. They had a bit of a skirmish, one blackfellow catching Mr. Grenfell by the beard. Mr. Finlay fired and missed him. However, he let go his hold and made off, the rest following him. Mr. Grenfell subsequently sold this run to Messrs Donald and Alic Cameron. Poor Grenfell afterwards became deranged, and I believe died in Woogaroo Asylum. He was a nice, gentlemanly man in his cooler moments, but at times he was very passionate and violent.
Soon after Messrs Cameron bought Tregonning, Mr. William Barton and his two sons, Adolphus and Julius, took up (also on Mr. McManus's recommendation), Armadilla Station, and formed it. They built a large rambling rough house which their neighbours named the "Great Western." They occupied and owned Armadilla Station till 1872, when it became the property of my father, then my brother, David Spencer, sold it to his cousin, Mr. A. Smith, who is now (1889) its present owner. Mr. Barton died in Sydney some years ago. His eldest son, Mr. Adolphus Barton, is now a prosperous and much-respected man of his business in Stanthorpe. Mr. Finlay was afterwards my father's manager at Mount Abundance, and afterwards kept a large store in Mitchell, where he died about fourteen years ago, having first married a Miss Colly, who is now Mrs. Barnes, also of Mitchell.
During the time Mr. Cameron owned Tregonning a shepherd and his son were murdered. Their graves are still to be seen near the creek in the old horse paddock. Tregonning was afterwards forfeited. We bought it at Government auction, and it became a part of Armadilla run. Mrs. A. Statham and her sons have a selection on the plain where the old Head Station used to be; the fireplace of which still remains. Mr. Barton and his two sons lived by themselves at Armadilla. As cooks, either male or female, were difficult to procure, and still more difficult to be induced to stay, they were often obliged to do their own cooking. This was by no means an uncommon occurrence. Gentlemen were often obliged to be their own cooks, housemaids, and laundresses.
This reminds me of a story I once heard, which, if not true was very likely to have occurred. Two or three gentlemen met together at the camp of a native police officer. One was a surveyor, from his camp near by. They met to spend Christmas in the free and easy manner of the life in the bush at that time, and intended having "a good time." But, as often happened in those days, their cook "packed up" and went to the nearest pub to "knock down" (spend) his cheque. Consequently, our three friends were thrown on their own resources for the preparation of their Christmas dinner. All went well as far as game was concerned, which they procured and managed to prepare with tolerable success. But the great problem was the plum pudding. Here was a dilemna. None of the three gents had ever made one, and very likely had never seen one made. Consequently there was some discussion as to the modus operandi. However, after a time and much cogitation they succeeded in mixing a passably good one. So far so good. But a new difficulty arose as to how and where to obtain a cloth. Neither of them had thought of that. So after some discussion one of them suggested a pocket handkerchief, and straightway produced one from his "swag." The pudding was put therein with much fun over the performance, tied up and placed in the pot to boil. But alas! they forgot to leave room for the pudding to swell; and the pocket handkerchief not being a new one burst, and lo! the pudding became mixed with water to the great consternation and disappointment of the trio, who had evidently disregarded the Scriptural injunction of not putting new wine into old bottles. Moral: Never put a pudding into an old cloth, and always leave room for it to swell.
When Mr. Donald Cameron was at Tregonning, he had an experience which illustrates the difficulties squatters had to contend with, and the straits they were reduced to, owing to the scarcity and sometimes absence of dray carriages in the early days of pioneering. Mr. Cameron sent the tyre of his spring cart to a blacksmith in Mitchell to be cut and shut, a distance of over 70 miles. When it was completed a carrier brought it out as far as what was then a public house at Blackwater Hole (now Dulbydilla Railway Station). The difficulty was how to convey it to Tregonning, 21 miles distant. It puzzled Mr. Cameron not a little, as to how this was to be managed. At last he thought upon a plan which was to strap the tyre on to the pommel of his saddle and hold it in position with his hands above his head, the reins of course being fastened there also. The horse (a very quiet one) kept the road for home. In this manner he carried the tyre as far as Armadilla (9 miles) thence next day he proceeded in the same manner to his home at Tregonning (12 miles further on). This, as will be seen is no small undertaking.
On another occasion Mr. D. Cameron carried an eight-quart billy can of water 7 miles, at arms length, to a blackfellow and his gin who were travelling from Tregonning to the Nebine with a flock of his sheep to find water, the creek at his head station being dry. This also was no small undertaking on a boiling hot day. I have also seen hurdles carried on each side of a horse, being strapped to each other across a pack saddle. One of my cousins was taking two hurdles in this manner when the horse strongly objected to the proceeding. So my cousin not to be beaten, let the horse go and carried them himself, a distance of 7 miles. He was quite exhausted from fatigue on his arrival at the end of his journey; and was about 5 hours going the distance. There were several similar feats performed on different occasions, which showed the pluck and "go" of the old pioneer squatters.
Some of the workmen too did some great things when occasion demanded. I knew three men to put up a large "basket" sheep yard in three days, made of saplings woven basket fashion between upright stakes driven into the ground with a maul. The timber in this yard, when cut down, was carted three-quarters of a mile over rather soft ground. These men also built a bark humpy in two days at the same place, completing it all in five days. Shepherds too, had a lonely and monotonous life. No wonder so many went "cranky." If they were married, they were more comfortable. Or if they could read, then they had some amusement in a newspaper or a novel; but there were many who could not read. In the case of married men it was better, but it was very lonely for the wife, who was always quite alone during the day, and often exposed to danger. They (the shepherds) saw no one but the overseer and ration carrier. The latter bringing him his 8 lbs. of flour, 10 lbs of beef, 2 lbs. of sugar, and ¼ lb. of tea once a week. If he required more it was booked to him and the amount deducted from his wages. This custom used to seem to me to be the meanest of all. A man was placed in charge of nearly £1000 worth of property (about 2000 sheep went to a flock), and if he required a little extra rations or beef he was asked to pay for it, and often dearly too. This was not thought anything of in those days. The system was a remnant of the time when Government rations were served out to the prisoners, and they got that and no more, the difference being that, in the time I am writing of and then, the men got wheat instead of flour, which they ground in a steel hand mill, several of which were kept on each station, and one for each out station. I am glad to say that the custom of serving out rations has been discontinued for many years past.
About midwinter of 1861, Captain T. J. Saddlier and Mr. Edward Eagle Moore took up Eurella (Maranoa), but for which Mr. William (Daddy) Hunter produced a price tender. Therefore the Captain and Mr. Moore were obliged to vacate in Mr. Hunter's favour. They then took up a run and formed a station in the Warrego district, which they also named Eurella, and where they resided for many years. This run now forms part of Armadilla. Here Captain Saddlier dissolved partnership with Mr. Moore and took in Mr. Robert Turnbull, who afterwards died at Mount Abundance 20 years ago. Eurella subsequently became the property of the Scottish Australian Investment Company, and Captain Saddlier was appointed clerk of the Division Board at Hughenden, where he died, and where Mrs. Saddlier was still residing at an advanced age, a few years ago. She was a fine looking woman and in her youth must have been exceedingly handsome. She was highly educated and accomplished, and bravely bore all the roughing and discomforts of the life in the bush at that time, which was no small matter for one who had for many years resided in India, where she was accustomed to every possible comfort and luxury. But she was a brave woman without a doubt, and faced all the hardships with commendable courage and fortitude.
Mr. Henry Coxen (nephew of the late Mr. Charles Coxen of the Lands Office), and who formerly owned Alderton, Darling Downs district, took up and formed Amby Downs. He was without the use of his right hand, and those who did not like him called him "Scrammy" Coxen. His manager was a Mr. William Sims, a very clever man, and a most energetic worker. He lived at Amby Downs some years. He died at an hotel at a place called Stony Creek, Upper Mooni River, from the effects of a fall from his horse in 1867 or 1868. Mr. Henry Coxen went to England after he sold Amby Downs and resided there for a number of years, subsequently returning to Queensland. I believe he is now dead, though some members of his family are now residing in or near Brisbane.
Amby Downs was (after Mr. Coxen went to England) sold to Captain Graham Myline, where he and Mrs. Myline and their children lived for two or three years. In 1865 when my parents, brother and myself, were travelling from Toowoomba to Mount Abundance in a wagonette, our horses, which were poor and weak, refused to draw the vehicle out from the bottom of Channing Creek. Captain Myline and his family were just passing in their buggy with several relays of horses, and he kindly hooked on a pair to ours, and they instantly pulled our buggy out of the creek; an act of courtesy and kindness which we all appreciated. But to return. Amby Downs is now owned by Messrs Bright, Chrystal and Co., who also own Eurella (Maranoa) and By-Mount, also Cornwalle.
Where Muckadilla Railway Station now stands there formerly stood an out sheep station belonging to Bindango Station, when it was first formed in 1861.
Forest Vale was next taken up in the same year (1861) by Messrs Robert Tooth & Co. of Sydney, who at that time owned Jondaryan, Darling Downs district. Their manager at the latter station being Mr. J. C. White, who was well known on the Darling Downs at that time. Their manager at Forest Vale Mr. Simpson, a very quiet, gentlemanly man. It may not be out of place perhaps to mention here, that when Forest Vale was being formed and stocked, Messrs Tooth & Co built a new woolshed at Jondaryan, which was then the largest ever built in Queensland, or perhaps in all Australia. I remember it was considered a great building, and was spoken of by everyone as being a great achievement. When it was completed a great ball was given, and the Governor, Sir G. F. Bowen, was invited to open the ball. Invitations were sent all over the Darling Downs, and as far up as Mount Abundance and its neighbourhood but none of us accepted them. I really forget if any other squatters did. At any rate it was a very swell affair and was the talk of the whole country at that time. However, the famous Jondaryan woolshed has been eclipsed over and over again by the very much larger ones that have since been built on many larger sheep stations out West, till it has sunk into insignificance, and is now scarcely remembered.
Forest Vale was owned by Messrs Tooth and Co. for some years, when it became the property of its present owner, Mr. R. C. Lethbridge, brother of Mr. W. B. Lethbridge of Mitchell, and father of Mr. John Lethbridge, late manager of Tyrconnel Downs; also of Mrs. Donald McLean, of Redford, Mrs. F. Manning, and several other sons and daughters. Redford was also formed about the same time by Mr. Henry Baillie. It was first taken up for my father by his overseer, William Coverley, but father not liking it forfeited it after a short time, and went out further West to Nieve Downs. Mr. Henry Baillie lived at Redford some years with his wife and family. Mrs. Baillie was the widow of Mr. George Page who owned Mongool, on the Yulebar, where he died suddenly in 1860 (I think). Soon after Redford was formed, Mr. James McAndrew took up and formed Max Vale, which now forms part of Redford run, and is owned by the estate of the late Jonothan McLean of Bendango, and is now managed by his son, Mr. Donald McLean. Mr. McAndrew was a tall, elderly Scotchman. He had two distinct voices, one like a gruff man's and the other shrill like a woman's, which had a peculiar effect when speaking, especially when he became at all excited. He was a very jolly and companionable man. He left Queensland, having failed in 1866, and I never heard what became of him. I think, though, he returned to Victoria.
Mannandilla was taken up and owned by Mr. Scott Smith (Mr. J. C. McManus's overseer) in 1862. He afterwards married Miss Carry Flemming, who died, and he married again, his wife's cousin, Miss Hall. I believe he has been dead some years. His partner was Mr. John Burgoyne, who was such a silent man that many persons declared he would not speak at all if he could possibly avoid doing so. Mannandilla subsequently belonged to Mr. Robert Doughlass, and then to Mr. William Crouch, who now owns Salamis, and it is again owned by Mr. Doughlass of Mount Maria (Warrego). There is a wonderful spring on Mannadilla, of running water, which issues constantly from a rock into a basin in a deep gorge or gully, the water being beautifully clear and cool. This spring has never been known to be dry either by the blacks or by any Europeans.
A very old blackfellow once told my brother that when he was young there was a very long drought, and when all the other creeks and rivers were dried up the natives all made for the Mannandilla spring, where they remained till all the game was killed and eaten, when the poor creatures died in great numbers from starvation. I believe some of their sun-bleached skeletons, or portions of them are (or were a short time ago) to be seen in the vicinity of this wonderful spring. And to this day no blackfellow will go there; they having a superstitious dread that the place is haunted by the spirits of their departed ancestors. The same old blackfellow also assured my brother that such a drought will occur again and destroy every living creature. Truly, not a very promising outlook for the present inhabitants of the Maranoa.
Kilmcroy Run was taken up in May, 1861, by the late Mr. George Deuchar and Mr. A. Lee, who at that time owned Wallumbilla. In 1863, Mr. Lee took their first sheep out, and formed the station, erecting huts and sheepyards, and later in the year he camped there under a small tent with Mrs. Lee for the shearing. Mr. Lee married Miss M. Allan, Mr. G. Deuchar's niece. Mr. G. Deuchar was brother to Mr. John Deuchar, formerly a partner with Mr. Marshall of Glengallen, near Warwick. In 1864 Mr. Deuchar went to reside permanently at Kilmcroy, where he lived for several years. He died in 1890 at Stanthorpe.
His widow resides at Strathmore House, Brisbane. Mr. and Mrs. Lee lived for many years at Nanango, of which town he was Police Magistrate. He is now Police Magistrate at St. George. Mr. G. Deuchar is uncle also of Mrs. Robert Doughlass of Mount Maria (Warrego). I may safely say that no one was more esteemed or respected than Mr. George Deuchar, during the time he resided in the district. Kilmcroy was afterwards owned by Mr. A. F. C. Cox, but is now the property of Messrs Bright, Chrystal & Coy. There is a very singular waterfall on Kilmcroy Run, and, I believe, also some curious caves in the ranges. In some of these caves are rude drawings in red and yellow earth of the various animals and birds that inhabit the bush. There are also traces of these being inhabited ages ago, probably by large numbers of aborigines who took shelter in them from rain, and also to hide themselves from their enemies during tribal wars.
It is just possible and highly probable that many remains of man and other animals may be discovered in some of these caves, were a search made, that would be useful to scientific research. I believe some of these caves are quite large enough to hold a large number of human beings, many of whom have died in them, as well as other animals and reptiles and doubtless, birds also. The drawings, I am told, are the work of natives, and are fairly well executed in many cases.
Mitchell Downs Station was formed in 1861, and was built near where the Mitchell Cemetery now is, quite close to the West bank of the Maranoa River. Mitchell Downs was then owned by Messrs. Flood and Gordon of Sydney and managed by young Mr. Walter Flood, who upon leaving, appointed a Mr. Davidson, their manager, who was previously in charge of a cattle station for Messrs Basset & Skinner, of Euthulla, and which was built near where Bungeworgorai Railway Station is, on what was and is still known, as Cattle Creek. Mr. Davidson was a very fine young man, and very much respected by everyone who knew him. He was afterwards brutally murdered at a sheep station belonging to Mitchell Downs by an old army pensioner and an old Waterloo man (so he said) named Turley, or "Beardy" as he was generally called from his long white flowing beard, reaching almost to his waist. This Turley was a viciously disposed man, and went about the country armed to the teeth. He was a dead shot, and used to declare he would as soon shoot a squatter as look at him. He usually had two horses, and an immense pack one one of them, composed of all kinds of rubbish he could pick up and collect. He was altogether a disreputable looking fellow and a crank. He usually followed shepherding, and as there were many such men going about in those days, all more or less insane, no notice was taken of him, nor did any one suspect he really meant to carry out his oft repeated threat. He never kept a situation very long, but wandered from station to station.
At the time Mr. Davidson was managing Mitchell Downs, this man Turley was a shepherd there. One morning Mr. Davidson went to count his flock. There were some sheep missing. A dispute arose between them. Turley rushed into his hut, brought out his gun, and, as Mr. Davidson turned to mount his horse, shot him in the back before the man who was assisting to count the sheep could prevent him. The ball penetrated the unfortunate man's heart. Turley caught his horse and rode off. He rode all on the stoney ridges, doubling back on his tracks several times in order to baffle the black trackers. Mr. Davidson's man finding the poor fellow quite dead, galloped into Mitchell Downs Head Station and reported the sad occurance. Everyone including Mr. J. C. McManus rode at once to the spot. I believe he was buried on Mitchell Donws. It was only a few days before his death that he sat up to see the Old Year out and the New Year in, with some friends, Mr. McManus being one of them.
He [Mr. McManus?] was so shocked that he has never spent a night in the same manner since; now nearly forty years after. As stated, Turley made off, but was pursued by the Native Police for several days, where he was taken in an empty hut on Bendango Run, by Leiutenant Carr of the Native Police, who with his men covered him with their carbines. He was tried and sentenced to imprisonment for life on the plea of insanity, but doubtless there was method in his madness. Mr. McManus says no one can imagine what he, and all who were present felt, when they saw such a fine young man murdered in so cowardly a manner, and lying stark dead before them. Indeed, the whole district was inexpressibly shocked at the sad end of such a promising young man in the prime of life. We all knew him well, and everyone liked and respected him. This was the first murder that had been committed in the district, and it came as a great shock to everyone.
When Mitchell Downs Head Station was removed from where it was first built (after being washed away by the great flood of 1864), to where is now is, remains of the old Head Station were converted into an hotel by Mr. Thomas Close, which house (the Maranoa Hotel) was the beginning of the now rising township of Mitchell. Afterwards Mr. Benjamin Raynor built the present Post Office Hotel, which he disposed of to Mr. Samuel Stewart who kept it and a store for many years, and was a much respected townsman. He died in Mitchell in August, 1890 a few days after my own father. Both succumbed to the terrible epidemic of influenza or "La Grippe" as it was termed, and which was fatal to a great many persons at that time. His widow, who is also much respected by everyone, still survives him and has continued to carry on the store since his death.
These business places and a small butcher's and blacksmith's shop which were carried on by a then noted character named Jimmy Larmar, constituted the sole inhabitants of the then flourishing town of Mitchell which was named after the Station Mitchell Downs, which was named after Sir Thomas Mitchell, the most celebrated of all Australian explorers. So that Mitchell in consequence should be highly honoured. As aforesaid, the township was first formed by T. Close in 1864, soon after the memorable floods of that year. The water, when the Maranoa was in flood at that time, coming into the houses and other buildings determined the then manager of Mitchell Downs to remove the Head Station to a safe distance, and therefore the present site was chosen. I think Mr. Abbot was managing Mitchell Downs during the forming of the new Head Station. Mr. Abbot was a native of America, and came to Victoria during the great rush to the gold fields in that colony.
Near the end of 1862 or beginning of 1863, Messrs. Deeds & Foster formed Woroonga Station, and lived there for some years with Mrs. Foster and their two children. I do not remember if they took the country up or purchased it. They owned it for several years, when it became the property of Mr. Henry Biscoe and was finally owned by Mr. John McFarlane. Mr. and Mrs. Foster were nice homely people. Some time after Mr. and Mrs. Foster were settled there, Mr. James Gilmour, manager of Bendango, built a shepherds hut and folding yard on the top of a ridge on Waroonga Run, and which is known to this day as "Gilmour's Mistake" or otherwise Taboonby, where Mr. James Hanlan built an hotel.
During the year 1863 the greatest rush for new country took place. There was the most furious rushing, in consequense of a new Land Act being passed, which required all runs to be stocked by a certain day, 8th April 1863. Therefore the scrambling, the hurrying the driving of stock surpassed anything ever seen before or since. Squatters were striving to arrive first on their respective runs with their stock, for whoever failed to have his stock on his run by the day appointed by the Act, forfeited, and it became the property of him who could first get his stock on. This Act was passed to prevent owners of new country keeping it unstocked, and by so doing preventing others from taking it up. Also it was to prevent land-jobbing by those who were not, or ever intended, becoming bona-fide squatters. Consequently, those who had no stock, or were unable to purchase them, were obliged to borrow them to put on their runs in time Some drove their stock over only, either their own or borrowed. There was great racing as whoever first got his stock on to any unstocked country, whether he tendered for it or not, it became his property. Many runs were thus "jumped" as it was termed. The Act also demanded a given number of stock should be placed in each block of country according to its area and capability. I remember hearing an amusing discussion among some gentlemen as to what constituted "stock" according to the land Act. From a serious discussion it became a humerous one. Some suggested goats, another emus, another pigs, and another kangaroos. Finally, I think it was Mr. Henry Missing who, amid roars of laughter suggested ostriches.
My father at this time took up and stocked the Nieve Downs Run, and participated in the race to arrive at that run before the dreaded 8th of April. His first manager was William Coverley, who built the first public house in Tambo some years after. The late Mr. Joseph Flemming also stocked Burenda at the same time, his sheen coming just behind my father's both making all speed to arrive at their respective stations. My father's sheep were hastening on before Mr. Henry Missing, who had taken up a great part of the Ward River.
Soon after this my father purchased Deepwater from Mr. Charles Coxen, afterwards of the Land Office, Brisbane and whose manager was Mr. Henry Ellis, before alluded to. Mr. William Harland, now of Roma, was then an employee of Mr. Coxen's under Mr. Ellis. Mr. Harland afterwards acted as my father's overseer for many years previous to his residence in Roma, where he has lived ever since. The part of Mount Abundance known as the Prairie then formed part of Deepwater run, and was purchased with it.
Rockybank, next to Deepwater, was then owned by a family named Ross, who also owned Redbank, near Dalby. I do not know who owns Rockybank now.
The wet seasons we were blessed with then caused a tremendous growth of the most luxuriant grass, which grew everywhere in abundance. The country did indeed look lovely then before it became overstocked and hardened by constant tramping. The ground was soft and springy, like English turf. Many a time as I have galloped over the downs I have felt the sward spring under my horses' hoofs like a spronge. Fever and ague was very prevalent then: nearly all of us had it more or less. I remember on one occasion there were five of our men down with it whilst building a hut and sheep yards at the lagoons, which is now Hodgson. This tendency to fever and ague soon disappeared with settlement, and is now never known. I believe it was never known in the valley of the Maranoa River or the west of it. Mosquitoes and sand flies were in swarms driving the horses frantic. Fires were obliged to be made of manure, and kept burning day and night to allow both ourselves and our horses rest, which could only in this manner be procured at all. Flies also were in millions, and simply unbearable. It was almost impossible to ride a horse with any comfort or get him to stand still an instant to be saddled or mounted. Grasshoppers too were in clouds. There were mvraids of them. So many were there at times that they maddened the horses by striking them in the faces, causing them to rear and bolt. The horses too were so well fed on the luxuriant grass, which was in such abundance that they were so spirited as to be uncomfortable to ride and troublesome to manage. No one who now sees the drought stricken aspect of the country of recent years can form an idea of how it looked then, and how it has deteriorated by over-stocking and dry seasons from its original and virgin state. There were no marsupials then; there were too many blacks. I have seen gins go out for a whole day and not procure sufficient game for their evening meal. Many times they must have been nearly starved, especially when they congregated in large camps, as they often did near any large water hole, river or lagoon. Indeed many had that appearance. Emus and kangaroos being the most plentiful owing to their being the most difficult to capture, they were always delighted if anyone shot one of these for them.
Coogoon Station was formed about the time we arrived at Mount Abundance in I sod, and was owned men by Mr. Michael Daisey, who lived there, or at least had tormed and stocked it with cattle, and afterwards with sheep. I believe he purchased it from the late Sir Joshua Peter Bell, of Jimbour Station, Darling Downs. Sir J. P. Bell had taken it up 'on paper,' that is, he took it up and applied for it from the Government maps without ever seeing it. A practice quite common in those days, and wnich was generally deprecated by old explorers for the reason they would apply for what the explorer had honestly discovered; and on going to the Lands Orrice he would rind it already taken up by someone wno had never seen the country or had explored at all. This practice of taking up country from maps only caused endless disputes and much disappointment to bona-fide explorers and squatters. But to return. Coogoon Station subsequently became the property of the Western Queensland rastoral Company, and is now an ott station or Mitchell Downs, both stations being under the management of Mr. F. A. Deshion. The station on the west side or Muckadilla Creek to Coogoon, tormerly known as Western Lagoons, was taken up and stocked by the late Mr. J. M. Colquhoun about the year 1861 or 1862. He however was unfortunate, and it became the property of Mr. Matthew Goggs, who took up and owned Chinchilla in the early fifties, and which he subsequently sold to Mr. William ("Daddy") Hunter. Mr. Matthew Goggs was one of the old style pioneer squatters, who lived years ago before the gold-digging era, and he managed his station on the rigidly economical lines then in vogue in New South Wales. He therefore never adopted the reckless expenditure that was all the rage when the Maranor was being settled. Consequently he was styled among the workmen who did not like him as "Old Goggs the Nipper." He used to delight in going to travellers' camps to have a 'yarn' with them; also stopping them on the road for the same purpose. So 'once upon a time,' so the story goes, when two men were having their supper, Mr. Goggs, who was unknown to them, passed, but they invited him to have some supper with them, which he accordingly did. In the course of their "yarning" they informed him they were bound for Chinchilla to ask "Old Goggs the Nipper" for a "job" of work. Mr. Goggs seeking for information about himself (as was his wont), asked the men what they though of this Mr. Goggs, when one of them replied he did not believe all he heard of "Old Goggs," but thought he was not a "bad sort if taken the right way," and a deal more to the same purpose. The other man was of the contrary opinion. "I'll take good care," he said, "Old Goggs doesn't nip me," and so on. The next day these same men arrived at the station and asked for Mr. Goggs. What was their surprise and utter consternation when they saw who the "cove" was. Mr. Goggs pretended at first to be quite ignorant of the conversation of the previous evening, and in reply to their questions "Had he any work?" he gave employment to the man who had spoken in his favour the night before. Turning to the other man he said, "My man, you boasted last night you would take care I did not "nip you." You will not have the chance of being 'nipped' for I order you off the place as quickly as your legs can carry you'. And the man made off accordingly with all possible speed. To return. Hillsborough and Cashmere were taken up by Mr. W. F. Kennedy, of Bindango, in 1862-3, and they became the property of the Peel River Company of New South Wales. The former station is now owned by Mr. William Marsh, and the latter by Mr. Micking.
Mr. McKinnon took up Waterloo also in 1861, and it was formed by a Mr. Gilles who acted with a noted character in New South Wales named Larkey. In order to stock it Mr. McKinnon bought sheep from Mr. Henry Coxen, of Alderton, built yards and huts and other station improvements. In the meantime Mr. McKinnon paid a visit to his station. He ordered Mr. Gilles to sell the sheep and clear out, as the country was not worth owning. This same Mr. Gilles was afterwards managing Mount Hutton for Mr. L. Fraser, who then owned it. This Mr. Malcome McKinnon, who was an eccentric old Scotchman, and who died some years ago, subsequently took up and owned Albany Downs. After living on it for some years he sold it to Mr. Peter Close, when it afterwards became the property of Mr. Broad, of Mount Hutton, whose brother died at his other station, Teeswater, a few years ago. He passed away quite suddenly while lacing his boots. Albany was managed by the late A. Thompson, now by Mr. Nasmith, in conjunction with Mount Hutton, which is his headquarters.
Mr. W. F. Kennedy also took up, in addition to all his other stations, the whole of the Wallen Creek in 1862 or 3. Being a great Greek and Latin scholar, he gave the classical names to each block by which they are known, and will be noticed in their places. Not liking it, or from inability to pay the rent probably, he forfeited the whole of the country on the creek and it was subsequently sold at public auction bought by squatters whose names will appear as the several runs are mentioned in their order.
The extreme head of the Wallen Creek, called Corigous and Parnassus, but now known as the Brigalows, became part of Bonus Downs run. The block known as Bonus Downs was taken up by Mr. D. T. Leadbetter, who forfeited it. The remaining blocks were taken up and bought at auction by Messrs. J. C. and W. R. McManus, of Mount Lonsdale, about 1870, and they disposed of it a few years after to the present owner, Mr. Richard Statham. Proceeding south down the Wallen, we came next to Salamis, which was bought by Messrs. Copeley Bros., who are nephews of His Honour Mr. Justice Real, and sons of the late Mrs. Copeley, who resided near Roma, and who died not many years since. Mrs. Copeley was a sister of Mr. Justice Real, Salmisis was owned by Mr. William Crouch who resided there for many years. Cytherea, the next station on the Wallen, was brought by Mr. John Holland who was subsequently engaged in Mitchell, where he died leaving a widow and sereval young children, who are still living there. Mr. Holland was twice married. His elder daughter by his first wife is Mrs. S. J. Carpenter, also of Mitchell. Mr. Holland had no family by his second wife who died in Mitchell. He took an active part in many matters connected with the welfare of the town during his residence in it. The next owners of Cytherea were several monetary institutions, and finally it became the property of myself and my husband. Benzamtum the next after Cytherea, after being owned by several persons, now forms part of Tomoo Run.
Luss Vale was after being forfeited, purchased by the late Mr. J. M. Colquhoun formerly owner of Western Lagoons. Mr. Colquhoun was one of the earliest pioneer squatters who came over from Victoria, but he was unfortunate in some of his speculations, for which he had the sympathy and assistance of the squatters in the district. He laboured most indefatigably with a few hundred sheep that were presented to him till at last he succeeded in purchasing Luss Vale. Reverses however, again came upon him, and he again failed. However nothing daunted he made a third effort and succeeded in getting some more sheep, with which he made a third beginning, and did fairly well on a selection near Taroom. This could not have lasted long, for a few years ago he died in Brisbane Hospital, I fear without a shilling, at the age of 79 years. He was a most wonderfully persevering man and most energetic. He was well known all over the district, and celebrated for his legal disputes with his employees and other persons. This was his failing.
Abbieglassie, which joins Luss Vale, was the property of Messrs Holmes Bros. having purchased it at auction (as all the other stations were). From Messrs Holmes it became the property of Mr. James Lillyman (who is now a prosperous businessman in Narribri, New South Wales), and from whom it was purchased by Messrs J. A. and R. J. Winten, together with Luss Vale, which he had joined to the former, merging the two into one run, and calling the whole Luss Vale. Mr. and Mrs. R. J. Winten have resided at Luss Vale for the past twelve years. Homeboin was also bought by Messrs Holmes Bros., It now belongs to the Commercial Bank of Sydney, and is managed by Mr. Percy Bowman.
As before stated, Mr. W. F. Kennedy gave classical names to all the blocks of country he took up on the Wallen Creek, such as Delphi, Salamis, Hellispout, Cytherea, Byzantum, and so on, which suggest the idea of bygone ages, when Greece was in the zenith of her glory, as well as giving other less learned folk an insight into that gentleman's knowledge of classical geography and history; but to return to more modern times. There are still to be seen, after all the lapse of years traces of his occupation of the Wallen with sheep stations and yards that were built on the banks of the creek, the whole distance down, some 80 or 100 miles. These are situated about 2 or 3 miles apart, and are still visible signs of the creek having been stocked with sheep, although it has had only cattle on it for many years. The names usually given to these sheep stations are the number of miles they are situated from the Head Station such as One-Mile, Two-Mile, and so on. The 'term' Head Station is so named to distinguish the owners residence or headquarters from the out stations, whether cattle or sheep erected as above stated at various parts of the run. I often thing how succeeding generations will be puzzled to know the meaning of such names, for many are still retained, though there are very few (if any) sheep stations, or shepherds now in any of the States compared with former times, and these names will sound strange to those who will know nothing of the old shepherding days, with all their attendant loneliness and discomforts, and privations. I am glad to see the fencing of runs and smaller holdings has rendered the occupation of the shepherd a thing of the past, and like many other disagreeable institutions is for ever done away with excepting in a few isolated instances. The system of fencing in of all sheep runs has simplified their management considerably and resulted in the discontinuance of the lonely and uncomfortable life of the old-time shepherd; to say nothing of the troubles of ration carrying and sheep counting the latter obliging the manager or overseer to rise very early and be home very late, as the flocks were obliged to be counted either as they drew out of the yard at daylight or as they entered into it at sundown, and each flock was supposed to be counted at least once a month or oftener if possible. In lambing time they were counted once a week generally. Then also came the constant trouble of lost sheep and the tedious work of searching for them; which usually occured in wet weather, and when they were found many would be maimed or killed by dingoes. To all these troubles were often added discontented shepherds, who were cross and illtempered through being often in busy times neglected by ration carriers, who forgot to take them their newspapers, books, or letters, and other necessaries and worse than all( in the case of smokers) their tobacco. Often have I pitied them when I used to hear their complaints for often they had cause for them, it being impossible on a large station for overseers and ration carriers to attend to every little want and requirement, be they ever so willing to do so. At the same time some of the shepherds were proverbial 'growlers' and very hard to please. Crabby old men with a passion for grumbling. On the other hand managers and overseers, aye and even owners, were not so patient as they might have been in many instances. I suppose they were occupied with their own worries as well as the 'growling' shepherd. It was a hard life for all concerned, and I am glad to sse it discontinued once for all.
We will now leave the Wallen and next in order cross over to the Mungallala, below the Railway Station, and take the runs in the order in which they were taken up.
Tongy Station, on the Mungallala, was taken up and stocked by Messrs King and James in 1864, and sold by them to Mr. David Benjamin, who for several years previous had been a very successful merchant in Roma, and who now resides in Brisbane. Mr. Benjamin married Miss Nutting, whose brother was then Inspector of Police in Roma. Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin resided on Tongy for several years, where I believe several children were born.
He then sold out of Tongy to a company that was formed by Mr. R. W. Stuart (who formerly owned Mitchell Downs). in 1880. This company was not a financial success, and Tongy, after passing into the possession of one or more monentary institutions, became the property of Mr. Badgery of New South Wales. It is now owned by a Mr. Riery, and is managed by Mr. Murray. During the heavy floods of 1890, the whole of the Head Station, including a large and comfortable house, and a complete and costly station plant and out-buildings, were washed away and were never seen after.
Grassmere was taken up and stocked in 1863 or 1864 by Mr. Ellis Harding, of Messrs McDonald and Harding, who shortly before had taken up, stocked and formed Wildhorse Plains, also on the Mungallala Creek. Grassmere was afterwards owned by Messrs. Miller Bros., who for some years resided there. Then a Mr. J. B. Bergin owned it in 1890, and resided there some years with his sisters. But the late droughts of 1898 and 1899 ruined him, and the Commercial Bank of Sydney have it now, and it is manager by Mr. P. Bowman in conjunction with Homeboin Stations. Messrs Harding and McDonald resided at Wildhorse Plains with Mrs. Elias Harding, senior for many years. The family consisted of several sons and one daughter. Mr. and Mrs. E. Harding, senior, are now living in or near Ipswich, where some of their sons with their families are located. One son, Mr. Elias Harding being a lawyer in Brisbane. Their only daughter, Miss E. C. Harding, married in 1869 or 1870, Captain Henry Browne, who was then Inspector of Police in Roma. They had one child (a son) who died while young, Captain Browne died suddenly at Dalby on his way to Roma. Mrs. Browne, after living some time in Roma in widowhood, married Mr. A. Frew, a surveyor. I believe they are residing somewhere in or near Brisbane. Miss Harding was, during her residence on the Mungallala for some years, the only unmarried lady on that Creek. Wildhorse Plains was over 200 miles from Roma in a south-westerly direction and Roma being then the nearest township of any note (Mitchell being then in embryo) and the facilities for travelling not being so convenient then as now, it must have been a very lonely life for a young girl as she was then, for they were very isolated, no station being near them.
Bindebango North was taken up also in 1863 by Mr. James M. Gilmour. It then passed through several owners until it ultimately became the property of Mr. Edward Baker, who still resides there with Mrs. Baker and their family. Mr. Baker has greatly improved this property, building a large and comfortable house; putting down artesian bores and irrigating a large paddock and garden in the front of his homestead, as well as various other imorovements "too numerous to mention" as the advertisements have it.
Bindebango South was taken up at about the same time as Bindebango North by a Mr. Benjamin South, who lived there for many years quite by himself (a bachelor). He is a true type of the old fashioned Hawksbury native.
He is a great age about 80 years. He sold Bindebango a few years ago to a Mr. Hamilton, its present owner, who resides there with his family. Mr. B. South was famous for his breed of splendid draught horses. I believe he is still living with his relatives on the Hawksbury River, New South Wales, though he has lost his sight for many years. When young he was a very hard working and persevering man, and managed to tide over all the floods, droughts, commercial panics, bank failures, and other of the many troubles that the unfortunate squatters have to contend against without collapsing utterly, as, alas too many of the older settlers of the Maranoa did. With all these troubles to face, he continued to bravely hold his own through all those many and varied vicissitudes, and is now taking a well-earned rest which his age and failing sight entitle him to.
In 1862, Mr. A. C. Gregory, Government Surveyor, arrived at Mount Abundance with instructions to select a suitable locality for a township, which was to be the capital of the (now fast be-coming) famous Maranoa district, and he consulted with my father as to where would be the most suitable place to locate it. They rode about in several directions (I accompanied them). We rode over most of Mount Abundance and Bungeworgorai runs, and for some distance up and down the Bungil Creek, but we failed to find a place entirely suitable, till Mr. Robert Austin, then also a Government Surveyor (afterwards Sergeant-at-Arms in the Queensland House of Parliament) and Mr. Gregory decided in favour of the place where the old bridge crosses the Bungil, and where Thomas Reid had already commenced to erect an hotel, thinking that residents would build there, but the upper crossing near Chinatown and where the new bridge now is, seemed a more attractive spot. My father and myself, accompanied Messrs Gregory and Austin on this occasion also. I may here say that our horses used to run all over the country where Roma now stands, as well as for some distance around it. My brother, David Spencer, myself and my cousins (the Messrs Smith), and their sisters used to ride over all that part of the country between the Bungil and Bungeworgorai Creeks, long before any thought of a township being built was entertained or conceived.
About a year before Roma was proclaimed a town, a Mr. Frederick Donkin and his brother Edwin, two very young men, camped near the old Bridge with their sheep for some months. They afterwards formed and owned Langlo Downs, Warrego. My brother and myself saw the first post hole dug of the old Bowen Hotel, then only a one-storey house. This was the first hotel built in the district. It was afterwards converted into one of two-stories, and is now known as Bowen House. It was built by Charles Aherne as soon as ever the town was proclaimed and called the Bowen Hotel, after Sir G. F. Bowen, the first Governor of Queensland. Roma was named after Lady Bowen (Roma Diamantina) it being the first township formed after the separation of Queensland from New South Wales. With the opening of the Bowen Hotel, Roma sprang into existence. The first timber cut for this house was cut from those sandridges where Mr. T. A. Spencer and Mr. T. S. Barret have their residence and vineyards, on the Euthalla Road. These sandridges were then covered with pine trees. Where the School of Arts Hotel stands, and up towards the hospital, and as far south as the cemetery, was then a thick brigalow scrub full of gillgris which were full of stagnant water. In fact most of the area on which the town of Roma was built was very thickly timbered, and scrub had to be cut down to clear a place to built the Bowen Hotel. The Maranoa Hotel was built soon afterwards by a man named Mazareth, which was afterwards burned down. Thomas Reid, Charles Aherne's brother-in-law, now removed his hotel from near the old crossing to Roma. Thus, there were three public houses standing almost together and I do not think there was, as yet one private residence.
Three public houses and not a single private residence! However, a Court of Petty Sessions was soon afterwards established, together with police quarters—for Roma was a rowdy place then. Shearers and other men came in from all the newly formed stations (some being over a hundred or two hundred miles away) with big cheques to spend, and as there were no other amusements for them, they had only the public houses to go to for a little diversion, and they drank and spent their money riotously. There was some excuse for them too, especially for the shepherd, whose life was a very lonely and isolated one. But to return.
The first Clerk of Petty Sessions was Mr. Edward Ogil Moore, who was previously Captain Saddler's partner in Eurella (Maranoa). The first chief constable was John Nicholls. His subordinate was the late Patrick Hogan, husband of the late Mrs. Hogan, the well-known hostess of the School of Arts and other hotels in Roma. Patrick Hogan after leaving the police force, built and owned the Garry Owen Hotel at Donnybrook, on the Maranoa River. He was a very jolly man, and the life and soul of every party he was in, being full of real Irish wit and humour. He died suddenly on the race-course at Roma from over-excitement, caused by excessive joy at his horse winning a race. His widow survived him many years, and was well known in Roma and the surrounding district. She died a few years ago, aged about 70 years.
The Post Office was now removed from my father's store ( where he kept it for about a year) to Roma. Mr. William Moorehead, who was then a lieutenant in the native police at Eulutha Barracks, was appointed the first Postmaster and Clerk of Petty Sessions, Mr. E. C. Moore having resigned. After a time Mr. John Moorehead, his son, was appointed Clerk of Petty Sessions. Mr. William Moorehead died in 1865 or 1866. Mr. John Moorehead married a Miss Innes, who was governess to Mr. Patrick McArthur's children when he and his family resided in Roma during the time he was Police Magistrate there, about the years 1865 or 1866, Mr. John Moorehead died in 1867, during the time he was Clerk of Petty Sessions. He left one son. Miss Mary Moorehead married Mr. Tracy, of Surat. Her sister, Lizzie, married Mr. Edwin Bellgrove, who was the first town Clerk of Roma, and I think the first secretary to the Roma School of Arts. Miss Annie Moorehead married Mr. James Spence.
Mrs. Moorehead and her family of four daughters were the first ladies who came to Roma. I think the late Mr. McEwen was the first Major and Mr. R. J. Cottell (now of Brisbane) was the second. At all events he was Mayor on one of two occasions in the early days of Roma's municipality.
The first Commissioner of Crown Lands was Mr. Archibald McDowall, who is now Surveyor-General. He was transferred from St. George to Roma. McDowell Street was named after him. Previous to this the Lands Office was located at St. George, where Mr. Robert Austin was stationed for some time to receive applications for newly taken-up runs. The removal to Roma was a great boon to the public, it being most inconvenient for persons taking up runs having to go so far to lodge their applications. Consequently the establishment of the Lands Office at Roma was hailed with delight by all squatters and explorers, who previous to this, lost much valuable time travelling to St. George. Sometimes the whole length and breadth of the district had to be traversed some 200 miles and over, and as all these journeys were of necessity performed on horseback, it was often no small undertaking.
The first stores were opened by Messrs Zemian and Co. and Messrs R. Lewin and Co. in 1863. The first chemist was Mr. George Ellis, who was previously my father's clerk. He established himself in Roma in 1866. The first saddler was Mr. L. C. Johnson, who is still a resident of Roma with his family, who are all well known there and in the district.
Dr. Edward Moran came to Roma in, I think, 1863. He was the first medical man who resided there permanently. Previous to his arrival there was no doctor nearer than the Condamine township, where resided Dr. Swift, an old army surgeon. He was a very clever man, but unfortunately much addicted to intemperance: so much so, that he was scarcely ever in a fit condition to attend a patient. He died suddenly in Roma. He was a fine-looking man of immense proportions. He left a widow and one son (Harry) who went north, where he married, and I lately heard of his death. I believe the doctor's widow left Queensland, and went home to Ireland. In 1863 and 1864 my uncle, Dr. Spencer, practiced occasionally in and around Roma, but he was so erratic and indolent in his habits from residing some years in India and travelling by sea as a ship's doctor that he failed to build up the lucrative practice he might have done easily in those flourishing times. Dr. Moran was a generous and a kind-hearted man, of a lively and excitable tempermanent, and always a great favourite with everyone. He took great interest in politics and horse-racing. I believe he rode his own horse (Index) either at the first or second races ever held in Roma. Many will remember the bustling little doctor, and also little Mrs. Moran. They lived some years in Roma, and subsequently removed north to Springsure, where he died. His brother was a lieutenant in the native police force, and was stationed at Donnybrook.
I believe he succeeded Mr. Marlow at Donnybrook, who had first formed that native police camp on the Maranoa River, where it was removed from Eulutha after Lientenant Carr was transferred to some northern native police station, as they were not needed near Roma, now the natives were becoming friendly and more civilised.
I believe the first grape vines planted in Roma were grown by Mr. F. G. McKay in his garden at the old Post Office in McDowall Street. Then Mr. S. S. Bassett planted a vineyard at Roma Villa, which was the first real vineyard in the district, excepting those vines which my father planted for home consumption only. To Mr. Bassett therefore belongs the honour of planting the first vineyard from which wine was made and sold. The next to plant grapes on a large scale was my uncle, the late Rev. Charles Spencer, M.A. father of Messrs George Smith, of Stewart Creek, of Messrs James Arthur, and Thomas A. Spencer, also of Emily (Mrs. Moore) and Annie (Mrs. Dr. Tillston) all well known in Roma and its neighbourhood. My uncle was the second Anglican clergyman who ever officiated in Roma, where he died in 1872. His widow survived him for many years till some years ago, when she died and is buried with her husband in the Roma Cemetery. My uncle has a son, who now lives near Brisbane. My uncle's vineyard is planted at Glenhaughton, on the opposite side and nearly fronting that of Mr. Bassett, I believe most of the vines were propagated from cuttings from my father's garden. At least, I am sure some if not all of those my uncle planted were; so that I may say that these two vineyards sprang from my father's garden at Mount Abundance, and probably most of the vineyards in and around Roma. Doubtless, too, most of the fruit trees also came from our garden in the first instance, as well as from my uncle's (Mr. William Smith's) garden at Mount Beagle. These gardens were the first and only ones in the district for many years. The ground being newly tilled, everything flourished luxuriently. The seasons, too, were all that could be desired, for it rained almost every day. This caused the fruit and vegetables to grow to a great size. Some of the peaches were exceptionally fine, and quite free from worms. The melons, too, were very large and luscious, so also were the rock melons. We also had an abundance of swede turnips, and pumpkins. Having so many of these latter vegetables was a great benefit; when we were often without supplies, and carriage being then very high, it was a great saving of flour which was scarce and high in price. I cannot remember who first planted the orange tree in Roma. I think, though, it was Mr. McKay or my uncle. My father planted two trees, but they never grew to perfection. My father and uncle (Charles Spencer) were both most enthusiastic gardeners and farmers. My uncle especially worked very hard with his own hands planting and pruning his vineyard at Glenhaughton. In fact, neither of the brothers were so happy as when working in a garden or vineyard. Therefore the credit belongs to my father and uncles for planting the first gardens and nearly the first vineyard in the Maranoa district, and to my mother for planting the first flowers.
Many changes have taken place since my brother, cousins and myself galloped about the bush, where is now a flourishing town; with all the comforts of civilisation and surrounded by gardens and all kinds of cultivation, which has flourished in the face of dry seasons and other difficultites. Roma has progressed, I venture to say, as no other or scarecely another town of its size and position has done since the days of the diggings. Its many improvements, including the artesian bore, were not even thought of when it first came into existence. Truly, Roma and the district generally have made enormous strides since we first camped on the Bungeworgorai Creek over forty years ago, with no human habitation but the bark humpies of the natives nearer than thirty miles to the eastward and fifty miles to the southward. And all this notwithstanding the cry of 'bad times' and 'depressions' that croakers are always crying out about. If we contemplate Queensland as she is now, and what she was when she separated from New South Wales, I thing all will admit we are not such slow going people as many would have us believe. None but an eye witness of her development can form any idea of the strides she has made. One needs to trace her progress year by year to thoroughly appreciate it, and to be fully aware of all the difficulties a ypung district has had to contend with.
Just fancy there being no silver or notes in the district (as I have before mentioned) and cheques, orders, and I.O.U.'s were sometimes valueless and were known as 'calabashes'. This was no little inconvienence when one took them in change or as payment to find they were quite valueless, or as much waste paper. In order to avoid having his cheques refused to his face one squatter, Mr. W. H. Barton, of Armadilla, bought a quantity of gold and notes into the bush, wherewith to pay his men, and this obtained for him the name of "Ready-Money" Barton for the rest of his days.
Also imagine there being no railways, telegraph lines, or any other means of transit than the bullock or horse drays, which conveyed the station supplies and took the wool to town. On one occasion a telegram was sent by a bullock draw from the nearest telegraph station (probably Toowoomba or Dalby) to Armadilla station and which was just one month old when it reached its destination. Now we have railways, telegraphs, banks, artesian bores, Cobb and Co's. coaches, bicycles and even motor cars, and many other conveniences and luxuries of which we neved dreamt of forty years ago.
Having now given my readers an account of the early occupation of nearly all those runs (or the principal ones) that were taken up north and west of Mount Abundance, I will now give a brief account of those in the Warrego district (as far as I remember them) that were taken up and occupied simultaneously with those in the Maranoa. The discoverers and occupiers of most of them were well known to us at that time. Therefore I consider they should be included in and form part of these "Reminiscences," especially as many of them are in both districts and properly belong to both.
I shall begin with Dulbydilla, which, though being in the Maranoa, it is so near the border of the Warrego and the Maranoa that it properly belongs to that district, the watershed being but a few miles from the head station. Dulbydilla (or Black's waterhole, as it is generally called) was taken up by Mr. J. C. McManus in 1862, and afterwards forfeited by him. Then a man named William Burton bought it at Government auction, and built an hotel there, which he called The Traveller's Rest. For some years it was the only house of any kind on the road from Mitchell to Charleville (a distance of 120 miles). For some reason Burton did not succeed well there, and he sold the house and run to Messrs Pettiford and Anderson, who, in their turn, disposed of it to Mr. John Mc Kenzie, who for many years has converted it into a private residence. Mr. McKenzie made several additions to his house, but the original part is, I believe, still standing, a low, roughly-built building of the old style of house of many years ago. The Dulbydilla Railway Station is near 'by. As above stated, the Traveller's Rest Hotel was the only house on the western road at that time (1863-4), and in dry seasons there was no water either, for the whole of that distance.
During the severe drought of 1866-7-8 there was no water for the whole distance from Mitchell to Charleville excepting in the Angellala Creek a distance of over 100 miles. Consequently that part of the road was quite closed to vehicular traffic. However, Her Majesty's mails could not be delayed, but must be carried by some means. So the postal authorities wrote to Mr. W. H. Barton (the then owner of Armadilla) that unless he would allow water to be taken from his dam, which was quite near to his head station, for the use of the mail horses, the mail between Mitchell and Charleville would be obliged to be discontinued till rain came. Mr. Barton gave the desired permission, and a cask or two of water was drawn by a horse and dray each week from Armadilla to Dulbydilla, a distance of nine miles, for the use of the mail horses. This occurred before the Government dam was made about half a mile above McKenzie's house in the Dulbydilla Creek.
Mr. Barton, too, lost heavily at that time through his sheep dying for want of grass and water. I believe at the time of which I am writing there were terrible privations on that road, as well as on the stations on each side of it, for lack of water, for dams were not made in many places either by the Government or by private individuals, and artesian bores were then quite unknown. Nor were there any trains to convey water along the road, as is the case now. I remember hearing of a shepherd's wife whose water tank, a large square one, had given out before rain came to replenish it, and only a little water remained in the bottom. It had no tap, and she could not bale out any more. Her husband was away at the Head Station and the poor woman was alone with only her little boy of three or four years old. She was puzzled for some time as to how she should obtain the water; at last she put her little boy inside the tank through the manhole, and with some difficulty managed to make him understand that he was to bale out the water with a pint-pot into a billycan, which he did, and though the idea was not nice, she boiled the water and was only too glad to get it and drink it. However, before it was done rain came and replenished the tank. This incident will serve to show what difficulties some shepherd's wives had to encounter. This was an extreme case, of course, and occurred on Cashalton Run; but I can quite believe such a thing occurring in those days. I have heard of as much as half-a-crown a bucket of water being given for a horse, if not even a larger sum.
The next station on the Charleville road that was taken up at that time, 1862 or 1863, was Eurella by Captain T. J. Saddler, as I have before stated, near where the town of Morven now stands. For some years Morven was known as Saddler's waterhole, it being there that the captain and Mrs. Saddler were camped for some time whilst their house was being built four miles below Morven on the main road to Charleville on the banks of the Hamburg (or "Humbug") Creek. This run is now included in that of Maryvale; that is, on the block called Alba, on which the captain built his head station. The other block, Eurella proper, is now a portion of Armadilla run. This block was known as Doctor's Plains from an eccentric old shepherd who lived at a sheep station near a cliff. He had, or was supposed to have, some knowledge of medicine or of chemistry, which gained him the nickname of "Doctor." This sheep station stood near the cliff above mentioned, where two gullies junction. One is called Corbett's Gully, after Mr. James Corbett, who built the first hotel in Morven. The other, to the south, is called Spencer's Gully, after my father. Mr. Meridith has a selection there called Hillgrove.
The township of Morven (which is on Victoria Downs Run) was formed by Mr. and Mrs. James Corbett, grandparents of the Messrs Corbett, of Mitchell, and parents of Mrs. John Irwin, whose husband was formerly a resident of Roma, and once its mayor. He now resides in Brisbane. Mr. James Corbett built the first public house and store in Morven. It was called the Victoria Downs Hotel. Mr. John Bath was the first post and telegraph master.
Maryvale was taken up and formed by A. F. Surlick, which he called after his wife. He also took up and formed Mount Maria, calling it also after his wife, whose name was Mary. Maryvale is now the property of Mr. D. T. Leadbetter, who has resided on it since 1873. Mount Maria is now the property of Mr. Robert Doughlass. He is the son of Mr. Robert Douglas, sen., late Sergeant-at-Arms in the House of Parliament, and brother-in-law of Mr. Robert Austin, who now holds the appointment. Mr. and Mrs. Doughlass and a large family of seven daughters and three sons still reside there. Mr. F. R. Doughlass, of Mitchell, is their eldest son. Their eldest daughter, Miss Bessie Douglas, married Mr. W. M. Hunter, eldest son of Mr. Herbert Hunter, of Brisbane, and grandson of the late Hon. W. Miles, M.L.A., who was the second member for the Maranoa district after the separation of Queensland from New South Wales. He once owned Dulacca on the Darling Downs.
Mr. Robert Doughlass is one of the old pioneer squatters, and during the early days he and Mrs. Doughlass had their full share of all the hard work and roughing of a squatter and housekeeper on stations at that time, and anyone who had experienced them as they did will know they were not by any means light or easy, especially when rearing a young family. This rough life was especially severe on one who had been brought up so quietly as Mrs. Doughlass was, and so unused as she was in her early girlhood to anything of that kind of life, but she battled with all these difficulties bravely, her life in the bush at that time being a sample of that led by many a squatter's and working man's wife and daughter, and they, like Mrs. Doughlass overcame them all successfully.
Victoria Downs and Brunell Downs were taken up by one Archibald Meston, who was well known in this district, but was not by any means popular. He sold them to Messrs Jamieson and McLean. Mr. Jamieson was the son of Sir John Jamieson, a physician and a noted one in Sydney. Mr. McLean was a nephew of the noted Sir John Robertson, of Sydney, after whom he was named. Having purchased these runs and stocked them with sheep, these gentlemen sold Brunell Downs to the late Mr. Adolphus B. Jones, a son of a squatter in New South Wales who was known by the name of "Gentleman" Jones from his pompous manner and bearing to everyone, especially to his inferiors. Mr. A. B. Jones and Mrs. Jones and family resided on Brunel' Downs for many years. They subsequently removed to Nieve Junction. Mr. Jones died suddenly a few years ago at Augathella. I believe Mrs. Jones still lives at or near Nieve Junction. They have a numerous family. Mrs. Jones is a sister of Mrs. John McFarlane, Woroonga, and of Mr. G. E. Downing, formerly owner of Tyrconnel Downs and now of Mitchell.
Messrs Jamieson and McLean sold Victoria Downs to Mr. John Lukeman. Mr. Herbert Hunter then purchased it, and Mr. John Nicholls bought Brunel! Downs. Eventually Mr. Hunter became possessed of both stations. Messrs Hunter and Nicholls were both sons-in-law of Mr. William Miles. Mr. William Hunter, who married Miss Doughlass, resides at Brunel! Downs, and manages it for his father, who lives in Brisbane.
Angellala Downs was taken up by Mr. Fred Harrison, who passed through Tyrconnel with his sheep to stock it when Mr. J. C. McManus was camped there in tents only. Angellala Downs then came into the possession of Mr. Andrew Gordon, who occupied it several years, and then I believe sold it to its present owner, Dr. Dickson of Sydney, and a Mr. Newton was manager for many years. I am not aware if he is still managing it.
What is now called Alice Downs was, I believe, taken up, formed and stocked, by Mr. Stanbridge. He eventually forfeited it after living on it for some years. It was then purchased by Mr. Joseph Read at Government auction, from whom it was bought by its present owners, Messrs Penhallurick Bros.
In 1863 Orthoringa was taken up by Mr. Harrison, who stocked it with sheep, occupying it for a few years, and, I believe, forfeited it. Then Mr. Gordon Sandeman bought it. It then passed into the hands of the Queensland Pastoral Coy., who sold it to its present owners, Messrs O'Brien and Cobbard.
Burenda was taken up in 1862 by Mr. Joseph Flemming, who was then the owner of Talevera Station, near Surat, as well as an extensive sawmill and boiling down establishment near Ipswich. When Mr. J. C. McManus was on his way up from Victoria and on his return, he met Mr. J. Hemming and his manager, Mr. James Norman, going out searching for new country, at which time they discovered and took up Burenda, which they stocked in 1863, at the same time as my father stocked Nieve Downs. Mr. Flemming was a native of the Hawkesbury, near Windsor, New South Wales. He married a sister of Mrs. Hall, wife of one of the late Messrs Thomas and Ebenezer Hall of Dartbrook, New South Wales, and formerly owners of Noorindoo, near Surat. Mr. Flemming had six or seven daughters and one son. This son was killed when quite a youth from a fall from his horse. Miss Carry Flemming married Mr. Scott Smith. I have forgotten who the other sisters married. They were all fine buxom young women when they passed Mount Abundance on their way out to Burenda. After holding Burenda for a year or two Mr. Flemming sold it to Mrs. Adeline H. Dolman, who was well known in Ipswich in those days. She died about 1868, and is buried at Burenda. She was noted for her kindness to anyone who was sick or in trouble. She was a splendid horsewoman and performed many long journeys from Burenda to Ipswich a distance of nearly 400 miles on horseback. Burenda then passed into the hands of a Bank, and afterwards it was purchased by the Hon. Gordon Sandeman, M.L.A. He resided there for some years, when he sold it to the Queensland Pastoral Coy., who still own it. Mr. G. Sandeman was a well known squatter in the Burnett district as the owner of Burrandowan, for many years previous to his purchase of Burenda.
Hoganthulla Run was taken up in the same year as Burenda, or very shortly afterwards by Mr. John Ashburne, who with Mrs. Ashburne and family lived there for many years. They subsequently removed to Brisbane, where Mr. Ashburne died. I believe his sons still own the property.
At the same time as Hoganthulla was occupied, Messrs Charles and Henry Tom, then of Yulebar, took up and stocked Chesterton. During the time Mr. J. C. McManus was camped at Amby Junction, previous to his final occupation of Tyrconnel Downs in 1862, Messrs C. and H. Tom stayed at his camp on their way out when on the expedition from Yuelbar to discover the country which they took up and called Chesterton and which I believe they still own.
I have already alluded more than once to my father's occupation of Nieve Downs, which was discovered for him by his overseer, William Coverley, and father took it up from his description and gave him the management of the forming of it in 1863. Therefore I need say no more about it, only to remark that it passed into the possession with Mount Abundance, of the Scottish Austrailan Investment Company in whose hands it has ever since remained, under the management of Mr. Thomas Brodie, who still manages it. It is a magnificent property and quite equal to Mount Abundance, being quite as large, if not larger. These two properties are among the finest in Queensland, if not in all Australia.
Gowrie Station was formed and stocked by Mr. Soloman Wiseman (who is since dead; he was not very wise, by the way) for Messrs Flood and Gordon, who (as I have said) formed and owned Mitchell Downs in 1862 or 1863. Mr. S. Wiseman passed by Mount Abundance in that year with the whole plant necessary to the forming of a sheep station. That is sheep, bullock drays, supplies and men to build houses, men's huts, sheep yards, wool-sheds and all other necessary buildings and appurtenances of a sheep station in the old shepherding days, when it required almost a small army of men and overseers to carry it on and perform all the necessary work. During the time Mr. Wiseman's drays were standing in front of our stores, two neighbouring squatters chanced to meet in the store, and one struck the other across the shoulders with his riding whip for something he had said of him to his detriment and a fight ensued and the first offender got the worst of it. It caused great merriment especially as they were well known and were both Justices of the Peace. They were however, parted. But the delight of the bystanders and the shouts of laughter were deafening. I believe Gowrie Station is still owned by the widows of the Messrs Flood, the two Mesdames Flood.
Langlo Downs was next taken up by two young men named Donkin, of whom I have before mentioned.
This completes the list of all the principal stations in the Maranoa, and those of the Warrego district of which I was cognisant. I shall conclude these "reminiscences" with an account of the great and memorable flood of 1864, which was all over Australia; and it will long be remembered as the largest ever known or witnessed by Europeans. In this year the exciting rush for new country was practically at an end. All the best and most available country was by this time occupied. But the grand climax was reached and the most disastrous event of all was the severe drought which followed it in 1865 and extended to the year 1868, when all or nearly all, the original squatters succumbed to its effects and were ruined en masse.
After the three years from 1861 to 1863, during which time the taking up and stocking of new country and forming of new stations, with the bustle and excitment appertaining thereto, had somewhat subsided, and squatters began to settle down to the usual routine of station life, then came the memorable flood of 1864, the like of which had never been before seen by any settler in Australia. We had such a lengthy and widely extended rain as had never been known even by the "very oldest inhabitant." I am not aware of the fullest extent of the period that the rain continued without intermission elsewhere; but at Mount Abundance and in the neighbourhood of Roma it continued for 17 days, with only one hours intermission on one day, and on another it was fine for five or six hours. With these two exceptions the rain poured down in torrents day and night. The Bungeworgorai Creek was a banker continually all that time. Thousands of sheep were drowned, also many horses and cattle. Their carcasses were seen floating down the stream hourly. Not only were stock drowned in thousands whole flocks of sheep being swept away, but in some cases the shepherds also were drowned, while many barely escaped with their lives, some taking refuge in trees or on the roofs of their huts. Among the many carcasses of all kinds of stock and animals that floated down the Bungeworgorai Creek was a horse saddled and bridled. From whence it came no one ever knows. Probably the rider was drowned too in attempting to swim some creek or gully. When the flood was at its height, someone induced a blackfellow, King Peter (a very stout strongly built man about 25 or 30 years of age), for a reward to swim across from the station side of the Bungeworgorai Creek to the opposite one, which feat he successfully accomplished. He entered the creek nearly opposite the house, adjacent to the outlet of the Ana branch which forms Cattle Creek, where an overshoot dam has since been erected. He drifted with the current, landing about 200 yards below the men's hut, about 400 yards from where he started. It was a great swim, the creek being both deep and narrow there, and the current very strong.
Moreover trees, logs, and other debris were continually floating past, which might have struck him at any moment. He swam gallantly and succeeded in avoiding them all, never coming in contact with even a small one. I need not say he was loudly cheered by the crowd assembled on the banks of the creek to see the performance. I cannot remember if he returned the same day. I think not. There was a large camp of blacks on the opposite side of the station. He probably went to them.
Before the rain ceased all the workmen's quarters were inundated with water. There were several English and German families among them and they were all removed and provided with lodgings in our kitchen, store or wherever they could bestow themselves for several days till the flood abated.
During the time the flood lasted the whole country on the east side of the Bungeworgorai was as far as the sand ridges (now called Gibbson's farm or Irea), and as far out in the direction of Roma as the racecourse or nearly so, was a complete sea of water, and in some places more than a swim for a good horse. There were large flocks of black swans, native companions and almost every kind of water fowl disporting themselves on the water, both during the flood and for many months after the main body of water had disappeared and only the larger and deeper swamps were left. They were very pretty and picturesque in their gambols, and any one who has seen them in their wild state can verify this statement, especially the elegant and graceful movements of the black swan, the male bird being particularly handsome with his long graceful neck, and scarlet head. The native companions (a large blue crane) too, are very funny in their movements, when they congregate together and have a dance, bowing to each other as gracefully as partners in a quadrille. But to return to the sand ridge above named. It was to it that all the blacks went when their camps were surrounded with water. So deep was the water between the sand ridge and their camo, that they were obliged to swim most of the way (nearly half a mile) the women carrying their picanninies on their heads. One poor old gin was drowned in making the attempt to reach the dry ground.
My father had just begun shearing, having one flock shorn, when down came the rain, and we were obliged to discontinue it. The shearers and woolwashers (no wool-scourers then) and other hands connected with the shearing were all camped about the station, waiting for the rain to cease to allow them to resume work or go elsewhere. There were quite a number of people about then. The station was like a small township. Our house, too, was as full as it would hold with weatherbound travellers, no less than 14 or 15 sitting down to table every meal, among whom was Mrs. A. H. Dolman, who was on her way from Burenda to Ipswich, escorted by Mr. Flemming, of whom she had recently bought the station, as I have before mentioned. Mrs. Dolman travelled the whole distance on horseback, about 500 miles. She stayed with us during the whole time the flood lasted (21) days. As soon as ever the creek was crossable she resumed her journey. She crossed the Bungeworgorai Creek on a big grey carriage horse called Clarence. Mr. Flemming rode on one side, and I (at her earnest request), rode on the other. Some idea of the risk and danger may be imagined, and the difficulty of this undertaking, when the water was half-way up our saddle flaps, and the creek banks on each side steep and a quagmire. We struggled out, or rather our horses did, as best they could, floundering at every step. Mrs. Dolman being stout and her horse a heavy one, he plunged and floundered about terribly, till we feared she would have been thrown. But she sat him bravely and managed him splendidly, being a good horsewoman. On our arrival at the opposite bank Mrs. Dolman slightly lost her presence of mind, which she had maintained so admirably when in the creek, and became a little unnerved and hysterical. She soon recovered her composure, however and resumed her journey. I accompanied her as far as Cattle Creek crossing, our horses ploughing sometimes girth deep in water and mud. On my return I missed the crossing through the water sinking in the meantime and obliterating my horses tracks, and my mare swerving with me into deep water, she narrowly escaped being lifted off her feet. However, by prompt application of whip and bridle I succeeded in causing her to bound through quickly on to firm ground. I was much startled, but did not lose my presence of mind and so landed safely on the opposite bank. So near was it to a swim that the pocket of my saddle was wet. It was a very unwise and dangerous thing for me to do, but I was very brave in those days and young people do not see the danger that older ones do. So far from seeing danger was I, that I had not the necessary precaution I ought to have had. But then young people are more or less foolish, and I suppose I was not any exception to the rule. I was a good horsewoman then and saw no fear.
He had at this time great difficulty in conveying the weekly rations to the shepherds over the black soil plains, which were almost impassable. It entailed a great deal of extra work for both men and horses, for then no cart could traverse, and only pack horses were used—a very primitive and insufficient mode of conveyance. Moreover, the ordinary spring cart that was in general use in those days seemed quite unsuitable for the work, and was always 'stuck-up' in the middle of a plain or in some other way coming to grief through breakages or some such mishap.
During the flood Mr. W. H. Barton, the then owner of Armadilla was travelling from Surat to Mount Abundance, and when (I think near Occabulla) the ground became so boggy that his horses could not go through it. Consequently he was obliged to dismount place his saddle in the branches of a tree, and leave the horses to struggle along as best they could. He himself proceeded on foot towards Rocky Bank, which he reached after great difficulty, being two or three days without food. Arriving at Rocky Bank, he could not reach the station, it being on the opposite side of the creek to that on which he was; and the Yalebone was in high flood and running so strongly it was impossible for any man or horse to cross it. The channel being (I believe) a very narrow one, and the current rapid. The question now was how to supply Mr. Barton with food—no small difficulty under the circumstances. However, Mrs. Ross boiled some eggs hard, and Mr. Ross threw them over to him. But out of a dozen he only caught three, the rest falling into the water. Then they packed some other food into a bag and conveyed it across by means of a rope fastened to some trees, but the bag became so sodden, having slipped into the water, that the food was of little service to him. However, Mr. Barton secured enough to make a tolerable supper, although his matches being wet, he was obliged to pass the night without a fire. By morning the creek had so far fallen as to allow of a horse being taken over to him, and he crossed over in safety. He was much exhausted when he reached the house. Being over middle age the effects of his privation were very severe upon him. After a few days rest with the Rosses, be borrowed a horse from them and proceeded to Mount Abundance Head Station, where he purchased a horse, saddle and bridle, and proceeded to his home at Armadilla, a distance of about 100 miles, leaving his own horses and saddle to be taken home later on. I believe the latter were never recovered.
In October succeeding the great flood of March 1864, my parents and myself took a journey out West to Nieve Downs. My father and mother drove and I rode on horseback. We had also a man leading spare horses. The first days journey was 10 miles beyond Bindango head station. We lunched there on our way to camp, Mr. A. James Rea, the then owner being very kind to us. The next day we journeyed as far as Wooronga, where we camped, spending the evening with Mr. and Mrs. Foster and his partner, Mr. Deeds. The next day we were proceeding on to the Maranoa River. We met Mr. Zeiman, who at that time had a store in Roma; also a branch store in Donnybrook, from whence he was returning to Roma from one of his periodical visits to that township. He lunched with us at our camp, and then proceeded on his way. That evening we arrived at the Maranoa River, and camped near the Native Police Barracks. Mr. John Marlow being absent on one of his periodical visits to some station which it was his duty to visit in turn every three months. Every Native Police officer and their troopers regularly patrolled their districts in this manner. From thence we passed on to Forrest Vale, but found no one at home but the cook. Then we proceeded on to Redford, stopping one night with Mr. and Mrs. Henry Baillie. They had been living there but a short time, and had only recently build a large bark house which, though rather rough, was comfortable. They also were very kind and hospitable to us. We had known them some years previous to their going to reside at Redford. We passed Max Vale and Hoganthulla without calling, as these stations were some distance off the road. Indeed, we saw no other habitations, with the exception of a shepherd's hut now and then, until we came to Burenda. We did not call in there either, my father being anxious to proceed. The weather threatened rain, and we were fearful of being delayed by boggy roads and swollen creeks.
Just beyond Burenda we mistook a timbergetters road for the right one, which led to the Warrego River where there was no crossing. This mistake was easily made in those days when nearly all the bush roads were new and not well defined, especially in the vicinity of sheep stations or lambing yards, where they were completely obliterated in many cases by the flock passing over them. Having arrived at the Warrego where there was no crossing but a very long and deep waterhole, we were in a dilemma. So we camped here till the morrow, the man being sent to discover the road and the regular crossing which he found about two miles lower down the river. We travelled all the next day and far into the night because we wished to make Nieve Downs that night, for at that time the natives were not to be wholly trusted. It also threatened to rain. The road was very sandy all up Nieve River and we experienced a deal of heavy pulling. As we neared the Nieve Downs lower crossing about 8 p.m. I was riding a short distance ip advance of the party. At a sudden turn the road dipped abruptly down the bank of the river, in the bed of which camped and apparently fast asleep were three men. Owing to the sandy nature of the soil on the bank of the river they failed to hear either the sound of the conveyance or that of my horses hoofs. Therefore, they were as much astonished at seeing me as I was at seeing them. They were soon on the alert. One grasped a stick, another a firestick, while a third stood staring dumbly at the sight of a girl on horseback standing on the river bank above them at that hour of the night, and apparently alone; an apparition (if I may use the word) for which they were not prepared. The wonder was they were not armed. Had they been, I was in no little danger of being shot for they evidently expected on attack by wild blacks. But they were so surprised that they stood still. I was equally astonished and for once was at a loss for an explanation or how to account for my presence there. However, my father and the man soon arrived. As one of the men knew my father all was explained and all fears of blacks and other dangers vanished. We learned from these men that we were only five miles from Nieve Downs Station, so we decided to camp there for the night. We were out cf flour and beef, but the men very kindly shared their damper and beef with us. To my dying day I shall never forget the blank look of surprise on these men's faces as they gazed up at me; and I daresay I looked quite as astonished at them. I was very careful ever afterwards not to ride ahead again. Indeed, this was the only occasion that I did so. We started very early the next day, arriving at Nieve Downs a short time after sunrise: finding the station folk still in bed and asleep. On being awakened they looked very disconcerted and crestfallen at being caught in bed by the owner and the sun nearly an hour high. No doubt they expected to be reprimanded for their slothfulness. But father did not notice it at the time; whether he did subsequently I don't remember. Probably his thoughts then were centred on breakfast; I am sure mine were; also my mother's. After a five mile ride in the keen October air our appetites were considerably sharpened, especially as we had but a light meal the previous night. However, the man cook, who was an excellent one, soon set before us a nice breakfast of mutton chops and well made bread.
We stayed at Nieve Downs ten days. The house was recently built, and was not completed. Consequently the accommodation was very rough. I fear dear mother did not enjoy the trip or her stay very much, although she never murmured, but took it all placidly and calmly as was her wont. As for myself, I was young and young people don't consider such trifles as earthen floors to walk on, tin pannikins to drink out of or tin plates or dishes to eat off, and various other inconveniences that were to be expected so far out where there were only men. No women for very likely 100 miles oft. My father spent the time in inspecting the run and sheep with his manager, and was out all day. The bookkeeper, Mr. Peter Cadman, drove my mother and I out ever afternoon over the fine plains. They looked lovely and green, and we enjoyed the drive very much.
On our return home we made slower progress, as one of our horses went lame at Brenda. At that station we passed an old man camped by the roadside, whose mare had a very young foal which insisted on following our spare horses and all our efforts to induce it to rejoin its dam for some time proved futile. The old fellow at last become very excited, and used very unparliamentary language, declaring we did not wish him to recover his wayward little foal, or would not try to assist him to do so. My father wishing to reach a certain place to camp that night was anxious to proceed, and was impatient at the delay. Consequently he too used language more forcible than polite (an unusual thing for him in those days). So for a time there was an exciting scene. At length the foal solved the difficulty by leaving the spare horses and following mine, so I dismounted and the man led him back to the man's camp the foal following; and the two men succeeaed in inducing it to remain behind. We then resumed our journey a ter overcoming the obstinancy of the foal and the profanity of the man.
At Hoganthulla we again lost the road through sheep tracks crossing and obliterating it, for it was not very plain in many places. Whilst the man was searching for it I rode over to a lambing ground a short distance away to enquire the way of a woman I saw in the distance. She was driving some sheep with very young or "green" lambs, as they are called. She was toiling through the heat and sandy soil covered with dust and tormented with flies and mosquitoes, to say nothing of the sand flies and which were in my veil and also in myriads. She carried a heavy child in her arms and two more children were clinging to her skirts, hiding their faces in it at the sight of a stranger. She was rapidly approaching motherhood for the fourth time. It was an intensely hot day, and I did pity her so much. She looked so hot and tired toiling through the hot sand and driving stubborn old ewes and weak newly-born lambs. Persons who have done this will readily understand what a difficult and patience trying job this is.
A few miles further on we turned out for our midday meal and to water our horses, on a high sand ridge. I was sitting on my horse waiting till the other horses were taken to the creek near by, when the animal without any warning, took it into its head to deliberately lie down. My father, who was holding the other horses, called to the man to catch him by the head, but he (the man) was so frightened that he could do nothing, so I was obliged to struggle from under him as best I could, no easy matter with one's habit on which were worn much longer than at the present day, I however, after a little difficulty succeeded in getting to my feet from my struggling steed, and with my whip which I applied as hard as I could I prevented him rolling over and breaking my saddle. I was quite unhurt, save being smothered in sand. My mother, however, was much alarmed for my safety. As for me, well I enjoyed the fun as a relief to the monotony of the journey. For does not youth love adventure all the world over? And has ever done so and I suppose ever will do. The man's fright amused me more than anything else, he being such a stupid fellow. I suppose he could not help it, though father was very angry with him for not getting to my assistance, and was near dismissing him on the spot. We did not call at Redford on our return, but proceeded to Forest Vale, and were caught in a heavy thunderstorm of rain and hail. My horse objected and began to buck a little, but after a time he went quietly. As it was late and we were wet, we did not go up to the house, but camped in the woolshed. Shearing was about to commence, and some of the shearers and other hands and several women were camped about near the shed in tents and carts awaiting the shearing. Among them was Mrs. John Power, who prepared a nice supper for us and dried our wet clothes. Her husdand had formerly been employed on Mount Abundance. Mrs. Power was a hard-working woman. I believe she was the first white woman to cross the Condamine at the township going West, or rather where the township is now. I know she was the first white woman who came to Wallumbilla before we came to Queensland.
But to return to our journey. The next day we came as far as Donnybrook. We camped near that township; and about midnight another storm came on. My mother and I were sleeping in one tent, my father and the man in another. The wind was so high and strong that it was all we could do to hold our tent from being blown away; whilst father and the man were holding on to their's with all their might. It was a larger one and was in still greater danger than ours of being blown adrift, and in consequence was more difficult to hold. The next day being showery we stayed all day, and the following night, at the Native Police barracks aforesaid. Mr. (or rather Lieutenant) Marlow being absent on this occasion also. The sergeant who was left in charge was very kind to us, and made us as comfortable as circumstances would permit. He assisted us to dry our wet clothes, which were saturated by the rain of the previous night. We started next day, and in three days reached home, being absent exactly three weeks. We were delighted to be once more at home, though on the whole it was rather a pleasant journey. The weather, however, was now becoming too warm to make travelling pleasant. Our horses too were very tired and one was lame. The distance was about 200 miles; 400 miles there and back; and a deal of the road was heavy loose sand, which made it heavy and difficult pulling for a great portion of the road, especially on the banks of the Maronoa River.
During our journey up and down the Maranoa River from Donnybrook to Forest Vale, we were much interested in observing the tremendous havoc the recent floods had made in the banks and bed of the river. It was worth the whole trip, for all the traces of the late floods were still fresh and the devastation made by them need only to be seen to be fully comprehended. No one can imagine the thousands of tons of sand that was washed from all huge sand ridges on each side of the river banks and deposited on the flats and into the river bed, filling up magnificent water holes, never again, perhaps to reappear and for which the Maranoa was famous. Some of these sand ridges were cut into (probably) many hundreds of feet deep, and still showed banks of sheer sand. Coal was seen protruding from some of these banks, but whether any of it was ever taken out I am unable to say. Some of the seams laid bare by the action of the water were rather large and would probably have yielded a considerable supply if any one possessed sufficient enterprise to work them. It had always been a mystery to me how these immense sand ridges were formed, till I saw the tremendous dust storms of the present year (1899-1900) driving sand about into hills everywhere. No doubt but these terrific wind storms and the action of the water has been the means of their formation. The size and ages of the trees growing on them and the great depth reached by their roots all tend to show they must have been ages and ages in forming. It would be an interesting study for any one having a taste for geology to make some observations on some of these large deposits of sand which abound in so many parts of Queensland and Australia generally. I am strongly of the opinion that the whole of the interior of our continent was once a sea.
The fineness of the sand on these ridges in many places is almost beyond description, while in other places it is quite coarse like the sea shore; the latter being white as snow, while the former is red or yellow resembling sugar of these colours. The white sand in the glare of the sun dazzled one's eyes like snow. Especially was this the case near Forest Vale and Donnybrook, as well as between those places. Here all the flats were covered for miles with this snow-white sand, in some places for a distance of half a mile to three-quarters of a mile back from the river, and in low-lying places even a greater distance. In some of these high sand ridges there was no subsoil visible, although they were hundreds of feet deep, showing a perpendicular face, where the water had cut its way into them, of sheer sand. The cause of the sand on the flats showing so white was owing to the grass not having yet grown over it. In some places the grass was completely covered inches deep (and probably feet) and it was years before the grass showed above it. In other places the grass was washed completely out by the roots and perhaps never grew properly after.
The water had completely covered the tops of nearly all the highest trees, and the carcasses and skeletons of drowned animals, such as cattle, sheep, horses, kangaroos and many other animals were to be seen hanging in every conceivable position in the topmost branches and forks of almost every tree, even the tallest of them, that were growing in the flats and in the river bed or near its bank. Large trees too were lodged in the forks of others quite entire with the roots and branches, showing they had been uprooted entire, and uplifted by the water without breaking a twig. And thus they floated till caught by those standing in their path and in floating down the stream had become fast and so remained. I daresay many have remained in their positions, and may still be seen in their original posture as a monument of the height to which the flood reached. Huge banks and mounds of debris were thrown up against every obstruction, containing every conceivable thing, including caracasses of drowned animals, portions of dwellings, hurdles, and many other things used on stations. From the many remains of dead animals the smell must have been very offensive. It was a wonder there was not a pestilence; but I never heard of any ill effects from them; neither do I remember hearing of any fever and ague being prevalent at that time, which was singular after so much wet, although it was very prevalent in Roma not many years before.
The pressure of so many carcases hanging in the trees, the large mounds of drift, and the endless number of heaps of timber lying about which contrasted with the whiteness of the sand, gave to the scenery a weird uncanny appearance of desolation. The country back from the river was most luxuriantly grassed and covered with flowers. When once we were beyond the margin of the floods the country looked lovely, the green hue of the grass, and bright colours of the flowers showed a pleasant contrast to the desolate aspect of the river channel and the sand covered flats.
With all this havoc it was satisfactory to know that though the loss of stock was somewhat considerable, that of human life was small. Indeed, I do not remember hearing of any in the Maranoa district. Many men, however, risked their lives and performed daring deeds worthy of the Victoria Cross, in swimming swollen creeks and rivers to convey rations to some poor water-bound shepherd or to succour or rescue him from the roof of his hut or a tree top to which he may have betaken himself for safety. Some shepherds at Forest Vale were some days in a tree without food but they were rescued. One man too was completely surrounded by water with his flock on a high sand ridge, but beyond a short supply of food, he suffered no inconvenience, though he had some difficulty in feeding his sheep, as they were in a rather confined space. They were soon rescued. I believe this also occured on Forest Vale, and only about a mile from the Head Station. At Forest Vale too, the store and all its contents were washed away, not a post or a vestige of it being left. There were tins of jam, bottles of pickles, and many other provisions found many miles down the river months afterwards.
The great flood of 1864 will long be remembered while anyone remains alive who (like myself and others) has any recollection of the enormous bodies of water that flowed down even small creeks, not to mention large rivers. Also the vast area of low-lying land such as that on the Balonne and Moonie Rivers. These rivers were as one for hundreds of miles after the Maranoa and other rivers and creeks had joined them. They are 25 miles apart at the nearest place, and run parallel for about 200 miles. These lands were completely inundated for some time after the rain had ceased. Still with all, the losses of stock were but small compared with those caused by the severe droughts that have prevailed in Australia (and in the Maranoa district in particular) during recent years. Indeed all stock owners would gladly welcome the return of the wet seasons of the five or six years of the early settlement of this district which culminated in the memorable (and I may also say continual) floods of 1864. For I believe they extended over the whole of Australia (then known), a circumstance that has never as far as they were aware of, in any previous year since the colonies have been inhabited by Europeans, and certainly not since.
In concluding these reminiscences of the early settlement of the Maranoa, I will make a few remarks on the social life in the district during the days of its primitiveness lest my lady readers should accuse me of writing only of the affairs appertaining to squatting pursuits, and imagine they are left out in the cold; or that I have forgotten those little trivialities which ladies love so much to read about in books no matter of what subject they treat. Should I neglect this they may probably accuse me of being a "dry as dust" writer, if not anything equally horrid. Therefore, to escape such an accusation, I will give them a few items dear to the feminine heart; and devote a little time and space to what is sure to interest them. First of all they will doubtless wonder that in all the searching for runs, the forming of stations, the purchasing and driving of stock, and the great efforts and striving to secure these precious holdings, that the gentlemen never gave a thought to the ladies, or of taking unto themeselves wives. The fact is there were so few marriageable girls in the district that there was no opportunity of indulging in the tender passion. The little god Cupid has not as yet "explored" the hearts of the youths and maidens of the "never never." I hope I may not be considered irreverent when I compared the district at the beginning of its settlement to that place where we all hope to go, in that there was "neither marriage nor giving in marriage" though I fear few resembled angels. For some two or three years aster the settlement began I do not think that besides the Misses Moorehead and myself there were any marriageable girls west of Condamine township in any walk of life. Even at that place I believe there was only Miss Foster, the daughter of Mr. Henry Foster, hotel-keeper, store-keeper, and postmaster and what not all in one. Therefore the romantic passion was very little, if at all, indulged in. Squatters and run hunters were too busy to spare the time to seek sweethearts and wives. Runs were all they sought after. Perhaps the men thought they would procure them first and leave wooing till a more convenient season. At all events love matters remained for a time in abeyance. Now a word about the fashions in dress may not be mal apropos. The men all wore great turbans of white muslin on their hats called puggeries, some were very large, some were twisted, some were pleated over the crown of the hat. Some wore plain book muslin, while the majority wore long muslin scarves with red or blue ends and long fringes hanging over the brim of the hat behind. Some hung down 6 or 8 inches, and some a greater length, in order to protect the nape of the neck from the sun. The fashion came from India I believe. When of moderate size they looked very nice and cool, but when too large they had a heavy and clumsy appearance, which strongly suggested the slang name for them, viz, "poultice." In winter heavy rugs were worn over the shouders with a hole cut in the centre through which the head was thrust. I suppose they were very warm and comfortable and were a good protection from the rain. These were very often gaudily coloured to resemble the skins of the tiger or leopard or some other wild animals. They were called ponchos, and were introduced into the colonies by the Spanish gold diggers. Although they were said to be comfortable enough they looked very clumsy and unwieldy, and when wet were very heavy and troublesome to dry. Wellington boots, too, were worn; also the long ugly Napoleon's that sank down in a heap about the men's ankles looking most ungraceful and untidy. Some of the gentlemen when out on their exploring expeditions had splendid outfits and expensive ones too; both for themselves and their horses. Saddlers did a "roaring trade" in those days of reckless expenditure. No expense was spared in the selection of all kinds of horse gear.
As for the ladies, they wore the crinolines of the most ample dimensions, and small pork-pie hats. Also Garibaldi jackets (now called blouses). Brown holland was seen everywhere, and everything was made of and covered with it, even to our hats. Hats too, were trimmed with large streamers of several colours of ribbon, reaching to the feet behind, and we wore velvet neck ribbons also tied with long streamers down our back. Our hair was dressed down over our ears, bulged out on each side with pads made of various materials with a huge bow behind with long ends of ribbon reaching to our feet, to say nothing of the heavy chenille hair nets of black and every other colour, some large enough to hold a large cabbage. The hair was merely placed in these, almost at its full length. Some of these nets were made of fine silk with a small mesh and were the colour of one's hair. They were called "invisible" nets and were the prettiest of all; and were merely passed over the pads, and were very neat and nice. But those long ones that hung almost to one's waist were horrid things. The state one's dresses were at the back need only to be imagined. A more untidy fashion could not be thought of. The one more rediculous was the hideous chignon of a decade later. How funny these styles would appear now. For riding our habits almost swept the ground and were very heavy. For some years after the death of the Prince Consort; magenta or mauve mingled or combined with black were the most fashionable colours. Indeed, such was the rage for these colours that almost every fabric of ladies' attire, also gentlemen's ties and handkerchiefs, were not considered fashionable unless they were one or the other of those colours or the two combined. But of all the hideous, grotesque, and inconvenient styles of dress for women the crinoline was the most absurd. The inconvenience and unwieldiness had only to be seen to be fully realised; that is when they were worn of such enormous dimensions. Some were quite two yards in diameter. They were dangerous too. Many a woman was burnt to death through wearing such large crinolines, the steel ribs preventing the use of wraps to envelope one in case one's dress caught fire. The inconvenience and discomforts they caused in conveyances and railway carriages were the cause of much profanity among the men when escorting or dancing with the women; but of course under their breath. I am sure with the provocation it was pardonable, and let us hope they may not be called on to answer for it. I fear in this case the answering would be on the side of the women. If not it ought to have been for adopting such a hideous ungainly style of dress. Those who remember the issues of the London "Punch" of that time will doubtless remember the clever cartoons in it portraying the oft and many awkward difficulties and scrapes both men and women got into through the crinoline. They will also remember the side whiskers the men wore at that time. This style was called the "Lord Dundreary shave" after a character in Southern's celebrated play of "Our American Cousin."
As for social gatherings such as balls or even visiting between ladies, or even gentlemen, they were not much indulged in; there being neither time nor opportunity for such pastimes, As a rule, everyone was too busy and situated at too great a distance usually to admit of such amusements being possible. But for all that (as a friend remarked to me anent these reminiscences) there was a kind of family sympathy subsisting between the settlers in the early days, which was nice to see a good amount of good fellowship, and comradeship, despite the desire of each to outstrip his neighbour in securing country. When once it was secured and the neighbours settled down near each other they were as a rule, very friendly and obliging to one another. Had it not been thus many a one would have been in sore straits on many occasions, and in various ways incidental to such a sparsely populated district; and the necessity of combining for the purpose of protection was a great incentive to the friendly and neighbourly feeling that usually prevailed among the early pioneers. At the same time, owing to the great distances there was not that opportunity to display this neighbourly feeling. Stations were often over 30 and 40 miles apart, and never less than 10 or 20 miles. Close settlement was not even thought of nor was it desired. It was a bug-bear and a thorn in the flesh of every squatter in those days. Now the contrary is the opinion. And they see now that large holdings will not pay so well as smaller ones do.
Having now given my readers as many of my reminiscences as I can recall to mind, I will conclude with the wish that they may derive as much pleasure in the pursual of them as I have in the writing.
I must not, however, close them without thanks to the friend by whose suggestion I conceived the idea of giving my friends and all other readers who may be interested in them, a slight sketch of the old pioneer life in the bush. I must also thank those gentlemen who have supplied many corrections and valuable information of which I was either not aware or had entirely forgotten.
Many of the above incidents recorded will recall many others (long forgotten) in the lives of those who were actors or eye-witnesses of them in the opening up of the Maranoa and Warrego districts; and in looking back will not fail to note the great strides that have been made, and the many comforts and luxuries we are now enjoying of which our parents never saw or even dreamed of forty years ago.
If in the circle of my friends there be,
One, who will take this volume writ by me,
And not on all its imperfections look,
But rather see the pathos and the wit
Which I have tried, yet failed to put in it,
To her or him I dedicate my book.
MARY A. McMANUS
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