Discovery and Early Pastoral Settlement of New England.
PIONEERS OF UPPER HUNTER PLAY LEADING PART.
(From a paper written by Mr. J. F. Campbell, L.S., and read before a recent meeting of members of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Sydney).
With reference to the activity displayed by squatters about this time (1842) in the appropriation of the country lying generally to the north of the latitude of Armidale, Abington was first taken up by John Cameron, who was one of the first pioneers to come to New England. Some years later the property came into the hands of Henry and George Morse. Stonybatter was taken up by Tom Hall, of Dartbrook, and Beverley, first taken up by Allan McPherson, of Keera. It passed through many hands, eventually coming into those of Tom Cook, of Scone. Aberfoyle passed from Denny Day to Captain Pike, then to Walker, and Kangaroo Hills become the occupancy of William Dangar, whose agent had secured it on the advice of a local stockman named Joe Brooks. Falconer Plain was taken up by John Falconer for Donald McIntyre, and Guyra by the same man for Peter McIntyre. A bushranger named Cooney, from the Ballarat side, took up Cooney Creek, but when his identity was disclosed, he was hunted out of the district. Cooney was hanged in Sydney, and the run fell into the hands of Mr. Robertson. According to the “Government Gazette” of the time, the following were included among those to take up land between 1832 and 1839: Hamilton Collins Sempill (Walcha), Edward Gostwyck Cory (Salisbury Waters), A. A. Company (Nowendoc), H. Macdonald, (Bendemeer), Henry Dumaresq (Saumarez), J. Chilcott (Kentucky), William Dangar (Gostwyck, from E. G. Gory ) , William j Dumaresq (Tilbuster), William Frederick Cruickshanks (Mihi Creek), John Dow (Inglba, obtained from John McIvor), Allman brothers (Yarrowitch), J. Morse and T. Foule (Balala), Francis Forbes (Yarrowich), Robert M. Mackenzie ( Salisbury, from E . G. Gory), Edward George Clerk and John Rankin (Clerkness and Newstead), John Cameron (Abington), Alexander Campbell (Inverell), Donald McIntyre (Falconer), C. H. and W. F. Buchanan (Rimbanda), Henry Nowland (Guy Fawkes). It was in 1839 that Edward Denny Day came into possession of Aberfoyle. Others to take up land at the same time included Stephen Coxen, Gregory Blaxland, and Charles Windeyer. In 1843 the New England district, which hitherto embraced the Darling Downs, was limited on the north by the latitude of Wallangarra, but it extended southerly to the Manning River, easterly to Mount Sea View, and westerly to the western limits of the tableland. The Downs squatters included Colin Campbell, John Cameron, Patrick Leslie, and John Pike. It was about this time that the craze for land, which had induced men of all ranks and professions to try their luck in squatting, having run its course, was followed by probably the most serious depression the pastoral industry has experienced, and this depression was more apparent on the tableland, than elsewhere, owing to the great disabilities of transit and the adverse climatic conditions of the winter months. When stock became almost unsaleable, excepting for the tallow their carcasses yielded, the upland runs, as a matter of course, also became more or less valueless, and so much was this the case that at auction sales of bankrupt stock the purchaser was frequently given the rights of occupancy, if he so desired., With the authorisation of pastoral holdings in 1848, an opportunity was afforded of ascertaining the extent of many tracts of country taken up by individual holders. For instance, leaving their interests in the Hunter River and other districts, perhaps further south, out of it, the Dumaresq family, controlled approximately 175,000 acres, Morse and Toule 96,000, George Hall 76,000, Henry Dangar 48,000, and John McIvor 20,000. On their different runs, the Dumaresqs ran 31,000 sheep, as well as 3600 cattle. All areas ranged from 10,000 to 100,000 acres.
For a quarter of a century after its discovery by Oxley, New England remained practically unknown to the Government authorities in Sydney, and it was not until about the year 1846 that any serious attempt was made to acquire a geographical knowledge of it. In 1839, the Government learning of the rapid, progress of squatting on the northern tableland, took action with a view to the establishment of law and order in that region. The appointment of a Crown Lands Commissioner was accompanied by a notification defining the limits of the new district, which was vaguely described as bounded on the east by a line north from the top of Werrikimber Mountain, which is at the head of the Hastings River; on the south by a line west from the top of the same mountain to the Great Dividing Range; on the west by the western extreme of the Great Dividing Range, so as to include the tableland; and on the north the boundary is indefinite.” The name New. England (“Arrabald” by the aborigines), was given to this elevated region because of the similarity of its climatic conditions to those of Britain. . . . When the pioneer pastoralists of New England reached the tableland they found it a vast tract of well-watered woodland country, interspersed with numerous lightly-timbered patches of grassland, but the coarse and sour character of much of the pasturage, together with the inclement winters and the difficulty of access to the tableland from the east, south, and south-west, militated somewhat against permanent or at least perennial occupancy in its earlier stages. It was soon observed that the granite country on the west, and the basaltic ranges on the south and in other places, were unsuitable for the healthy maintenance of sheep all the year round, and especially in wet seasons. The early squatters on these two classes of country had, therefore, to abandon sheep to more suitable pasturage. Hence the frequent changes in occupancy which, being unrecorded, obscure much of the early history of pastoral settlement. All primary upland squattages were usually bounded by leading ridges, and embraced the valley or valleys lying between. They were briefly described as including all the land drained by the main stream and its tributaries. Later pioneers adopted, where practicable, a similar system of boundaries, but in many eases arbitrary lines limited adjoining runs, and the fixing of these lines frequently gave rise to disputes, in the settling of which there was then no jurisdiction, as stated or implied by Governor Gipps in his despatch of April 3, 1844. He writes: “Parties, originally, in taking up their runs were limited only by their own moderation, or by the pressure of other squatters on them, and it is this pressure of one squatter on another, and the disagreements which arose therefrom which in the year 1837 led to the first appointment of Crown Commissioners.” In an earlier despatch, dated September 28, 1840, the Governor describes the conditions under which squatters held their occupancies at that time. The extract runs: “Beyond the boundaries the country is roughly divided into districts in each of which there is a Commissioner of Crown Lands, who is the chief magistrate of it, and has under his control a small force of mounted constables, who, in order that they may be distinguished from the more regular mounted police of the colony, are called by the name of border police. . . . Beyond the limits of location land is neither sold nor let, but licenses are granted, at the discretion of the Crown Commissioners, for the occupation of such portions of land as may be desired by proprietors of stock, on each of which licenses a fee of £10 is payable annually, and an assessment under a local ordinance is levied on the stock depastured there. Each allotment of land for which a license is given is called a station, and the station may vary in extent from 5000 to 30,000 acres.” The troubles which beset pastoral pioneering, especially on the tableland, were many and varied. Apart from the ordinary discomforts of bush life as then experienced, the visits of bushrangers, the destruction of stock by aborigines, and the delinquencies of many of the assigned servants, were causes of annoyance and unrest, and occasionally the loss of life itself. The Legislative Council’s enactment of July 29, 1836, prohibiting the occupancy of ‘Crown lands beyond the “limits,” without first obtaining a license ior such purpose was, more or less, directly the result of petitions from pioneer squatters, who, under the authority of the Governor, had ventured beyond the “boundaries,” but were seriously handicapped by the depredations of lawless men, usually of the convict class. The following extract from a memorial to Governor Bourke portrays the trouble which pressed upon these pioneer pastoralists in this direction: “We beg leave to add our own personal knowledge of the fact that the interior of the colony is infested with gangs of cattle stealers and other disorderly persons, whose depredations are carried out to an alarming extent. These gangs consist of freed men, who have served short sentences, or those of long sentences holding tickets-of-leave, who combine with the assigned servants to plunder the herds of their masters. Many of these men are known to possess large herds of cattle, obtained in a very short time by a series of schemes for stealing them.” — Sydney “Herald,” April 11, 1836.
In reviewing the bushranging and other lawless acts incidental to the convict days, by aid of information gleaned from law court proceedings and Press narratives, etc., one can not fail to realise that “man’s in humanity to man” gave rise to many retaliatory offences of a more or less serious nature, which could readily have been averted. The earliest recorded instance of bushranging on the tableland occurred about the beginning of the year 1836 at Saumarez (Armidale). The bushrangers in this instance were absconders from the service of a few squatters who had established themselves on that portion of the tableland, but their misdemeanours appear to have been confined to robberies only. In the absence of correspondence from the tableland, news respecting the movements of bushrangers, or in fact any other movement, seldom reached the Sydney Press. Traditional tales, however, are numerous, but conflicting, and therefore unreliable. Of the more interesting cases reported, mention may be made of the Port Macquarie road-gang deserters, whose depredatory intentions on the tableland were nipped in the bud; and of Wilson, the leader of the gang that for several years terrorised travellers, chiefly along the Great Northern Road.
(To be continued in Friday’s issue).
Discovery and Early Pastoral Settlement of New England.
PIONEERS OF UPPER HUNTER PLAY LEADING PART.
(From a paper written by Mr. J. F. Campbell, L.S., and read before a recent meeting of members of the Royal Australian Historical Society).
The writer commences by touching upon Oxley’s trip to the New England Tableland in the year 1818 and having crossed the southern end, making his way to the coast at Port Macquarie. At this early date, Oxley had good reasons to believe that he was not the first white man to enter the tableland, for from his journal, he reports having encountered natives, who, “from the whole tenor of their behaviour, had previously heard of white people.” By way of confirmation of his surmise, it is significant that upon continuing his journey southerly from Port Macquarie along the coast, he found in Chowder Bay a small boat, half buried in the sand, and the remains of a hut which had evidently been constructed by Europeans; the saw and axe having been employed upon it. From these and other indications, it would appear that adventurous bushmen, free and otherwise, had already explored to some extent the coastal and tableland regions, especially the former, lying far beyond the recognised limits of settlement.
EARLY PASTORAL SETTLEMENT.
When it became known in Britain that rich pasture lands had been discovered beyond the range of mountains which for a quarter of a century had confined settlement to a limited portion of the coastal region, immigration, especially of pastoralists, became more pronounced. Mr. Campbell incidentally refers to the rapid progress of settlement in the Hunter Valley, and quotes from Assistant Surveyor Henry Dangar’s “Hunter River Dictionary and Emigrants’ Guide,” published in 1828, wherein it is set out that “whereas in 1822 a division of country occupying upwards of 150 miles along the river, which in 1822 possessed little more than its aboriginal inhabitants, in 1826-27 more than half a million acres were appropriated and in a forward state of improvement, and carried upwards of 25,000 head of cattle and 80,000 sheep.” In order the more readily to control this rapid advance of pastoral settlement, and to safeguard the lives and the property of settlers generally, it was decided in 1826 to limit the area within which land could be selected and securely held. The northern limit of this area was fixed as from Cape York in a line due west to Wellington Vale, beyond which land was neither sold nor let. In the meantime, however, pastoralists from the Hunter Valley, whose selections had become overstocked, or were drought-stricken, began to steal over the boundary and squat in favorable positions of the Liverpool Plains. Foremost among these was a Mr. Baldwin, who, actually in 1826, with his stock, ventured beyond the limit. His teams were the first to cross the Liverpool Range and to form the northern road over the gap at Murrurundi. No particulars are given respecting this adventurous squatter, but from official papers of that time, mention is made of an enterprising settler, Henry Baldwin, of Wilberforce and Patrick’s Plains, who may have been the pastoralist referred to. By the end of 1831, the so-called waste lands of the colony had become exploited up to the New England Tableland. The trend of this pastoral occupancy was naturally directed along the main creeks and rivers that drain the open valleys of the Namoi basin, but little information, other than traditional, seems to be available adverting to the personnel and doings of the pioneers outside the limits of settlement. In the case, Eales v. Lang, however, the evidence on record reveals something about the early occupancies on the Mukai (Mooki) River, a branch of the Namoi. Donald McLaughlan (MacIntyre?) informed the Court “that from 1825 to 1831 he was in the service of Thomas Potter Macqueen, of Segenhoe (then in England), and was several times on the Mookl looking out for runs.” In his last years of service he formed a station (Breeza) for Macqueen, which station he occupied himself in 1835. This occupancy, under license, was affirmed by the Police Magistrate, Edward Denny Day, then residing at Muswellbrook. In the same case, John Rotton deposed that in September, 1828, he formed a station at Walhalla, on the Mooki River, and remained there two years. Doona run, which was situated between Walhalla and Breeza, was first occupied on behalf of Macqueen, and formed into a station in 1833. Samuel Clift stated in evidence that he entered into possession of Doona in 1837. In 1832 the Australian Agricultural Company’s exchange grant, Warrah, situated on the northern foothills of the Liverpool Range, displaced the early occupiers of that portion of the Liverpool Plains, and the Peel River part of the grant monopolised about a quarter of a million acres on the upper reaches of that tributary of the Namoi. According to the Company’s Commissioner, Sir Edward Parry, who personally inspected the areas in 1832, the squatters who were wholly or in part displaced by the exchange grant of Warrah were as follows: — Messrs. Robertson and Burns (on Mooki), John Blaxland (Kilcoobil), William Lawson and Fitzgerald (Muritloo), Otto Baldwin, William Osborn, John Upton, George and Richard Yeoman, and Patrick Campbell (Yarramanbah), John Onus and Robert Williams (Boorambil), Thomas Parnell, Philip Thorley and William Nowlan (Warrah) and Major Druitt (Phillips Creek). The above occupiers ran 8200 head of stock, mostly cattle, between them. As to the Peel River exchange, the following were affected: — Messrs. George and Andrew Loder (Kuwerhindi, or Quirindi), Brown (Wollomal), William Dangar, Edward Gostwyck, Cory, and Warland (Wollomal and Waldoo). There were 3800 head of stock held on the properties mentioned.
The squatting invasion of New England (according to William Gardner, of Armidale, writing in 1844), commenced in 1832, when Hamilton Collins Sempill, of Beltrees (one l), Hunter River, from his out-station, Ellerstone, crossed the boundary (Liverpool Range) with his stock, and following approximately the Great Dividing Range north-easterly to the Hamilton Valley of Oxley, formed a station in the upper Apsley Valley, which he named Wolka (Walcha), with headquarters on the flat near where Oxley pitched his camp on the evening of September 8, 1818. The precise route is not recorded, but probably he reached the tableland by way of the Nundle spur, a route defined by survey the same year (1832) by H. F. White, Government Surveyor, in conjunction with H. Dangar, the Australian Agricultural Company’s surveyor. About the same time, Edward Gostwyck Cory, a settler, also from the Hunter district (Page’s River and the Patterson, and a squatter on the Page’s River, about where Tamworth is now situated), is said to have passed over the Moonboy (Moonbi) Range, along the route of the Great Northern Road from Tamworth, which route, it is also stated, was previously discovered by him, and, proceeding northerly, he camped for a time on one of the upper tributaries of Carlyle’s Gully. This tributary streamlet still bears the name of Cory’s Camp Creek, and where the camp stood may be seen in the Dog-trap paddock of Rimbanda. A memorial of his ascent to the tableland is also to be seen in the form of a rock at the foot of the second Moonboys, known to the present day as Cory’s Pillow. . . It is not definitely known on what part of the main stream Cory first formed his homestead, but it is surmised that Gostwyck was his headquarters for a time. Later on he established himself at Terrible Vale, about where the present station is situated, while the representative of William Dangar occupied the lower part of the valley with the homestead, Gostwyck, included. In the meantime Colonel Henry Dumaresq had formed a station in the vicinity which he called Saumarez, after the home of his ancestors in the Isle of Jersey. This station appears to have been fully equipped with the necessaries of pastoral life prior to the year 1836, as indicated by the evidence given in the Supreme Court, Sydney, on November 4 of that year in the case, the Crown v. Thomas Walker. In this case, the historic importance of which is obvious, Walker was indicted for the murder of a bushranger near Saumarez, in April, 1836. O’Neil, of the mounted police, “on duty at Colonel Dumaresq’s,” in giving evidence, said: “I heard that bushrangers used to be harboured at Dangar’s station, about five or six miles from Dumaresq’s. The prisoner at the bar was a shepherd there, and he told me that the bushrangers had given him the (stolen) things, and that they were to rob Mr. Cory’s and Mr. Chilcott’s stations the day after. These stations were about twelve miles from Mr. Dangar’s,” etc. Chilcott appears to have been the first occupant of Kentucky run. About this time Cory and Chilcott Had transferred their pre-occupancies. Dr. William Bell Carlyle, about the same time, occupied the valley drained by the creek which bears his name, and Captain William John Dumaresq joined his brother on the north-east. This coterie of adjoining squatters were landed proprietors from the Hunter Valley, where they usually resided. . . Sempill was soon followed by others, including the Allman brothers. The discoveries which led to the pastoral occupation of Cory’s, New England, were continued by Messrs. James and Alexander McDougall, and Alexander Campbell (one of the five overseers who accompanied Peter Mclntyre — he was T. P. Macqueen’s agent — to Australia in 1824), who in March, 1835, started, on an expedition to examine the country now named New England, and at the time unexplored. These explorers evidently followed Oxley ‘s trail to the tableland, their subsequent course being described as due north to Tilbuster, which station was then in the course of formation. From that locality they proceeded easterly, and then northerly, locating suitable positions for stations en route. Some ten years later, Campbell settled on his Macintyre occupancy, which he named Inverell.
In dealing with the pastoral settlement of the western slopes, of the tablelands, which commenced in the year 1836, the writer quotes from ‘The Reminiscences of Mrs. Susan Bundarra Young,” an author whose father, Edward John Clerk, in partnership with John Rankin, settled at Clerkness (now Bundarra). This lady’s story of the incidents and events of her childhood days, in the then Australian bush, although subject in part to correction, is, nevertheless, of historical value, insofar as it portrays the rise and progress of pastoral settlement on the tableland. Her father, who was born in England, was the son of Major Thomas Clerk, of the Indian Army. He came to N.S. Wales, via Tasmania, about the end of 1835, and with John Rankin, purchased Dr. Carlyle’s Invermein or Cresswell property, on Kingdon Ponds, and apparently his New England occupancy, Carlyle’s Gully, as well. They also formed Newstead Station, which upon the dissolution of partnership in 1842, became the occupancy of Rankin, while Clerk retained the original station, Clerkness. (Looking up records in the possession of the ‘Advocate,” we find the names of Messrs. Rankin and Clerk, both of whom were, as far back as 1838, on Satur, and not Invermein, as stated by the writer. Each subscribed a tidy donation towards, the erection of the original St. Luke’s Church, Scone. After the name of each of the two donors, the word “Satur” is plainly written).
(To be continued).
Picturesque Character Passes
ARMIDALE’S “M’DLLE CECILIE DE PERCEVALE.”
One of Armidale’s most picturesque figures for over half a century passed away on Tuesday in the person of Miss Jane Percival, better known to Armidale and district residents as Madamoiselle Cecile de Percevale.
For over 52 years the majority of Armidale folk have regarded the well known lady, in her quaint costume of a century ago, as either a French or a Spanish native, and surprise will be felt when it is stated that she was born of English parents, and had adopted the name of Mademoiselle de Percevale in her professional capacity as a teacher of music.
With her voluminous draperies, with the typical Spanish mantilla, and the over present sunshade, “Mademoiselle,” as she was familiarly known to generations of Armidalians, was a source of curiosity and speculation to all. She was of a very reserved type, and her friends were few.
The deceased lady, who was 83 years of age, came of an English family, and Her penchant for the draperies of 19th century France may have been encouraged by the fact that she received Her education in that country. She lived for some time in Munich, Germany, and also served as a governess in Spain. Her experiences gave her a remarkable knowledge of Continental languages and customs, and she was a brilliant linguist. She was best known in Armidale for her skill as a musician, her gifts in that direction being of a rare character. Her death removes the last remaining link with the establishment of the Ursuline community at Armidale. When, after their expulsion from Germany by Bismarck, the Ursulines were at their English haven, Miss Percevale became associated with the nuns destined to journey to Australia at the invitation of the late Bishop Torregianni, to open a branch of the Order at Armidale. In 1882, hearing of their departure for the new country of their choice, she decided to accompany them, and booked her passage by the same boat.
She joined the staff of St. Ursula’s College in its early days in Armidale, as a music teacher, and during that time was the accomplished organist of St. Mary’s Cathedral. For many years she was a visiting teacher of music at the College, and at De La Salle College, and was a private teacher of music in Armidale. She enjoyed an enviable reputation owing to her exceptional skill, especially with the violin.
Of late years her health failed considerably, although she was to be seen during recent months in the old familiar garb taking her customary afternoon stroll.
Her death occurred in the Armidale and New England Hospital, of which she had been an inmate for some weeks.
The only living relatives are said to be a sister, resident at Mill Hill, London, and a brother, in South Africa.
WESTERN DISTRICT NEWS
Sorry he Spoke.
R. T. Mulligan, a well-known grazier of Cooney Creek, near Armidale, knows more about law than he did a few weeks ago. Recently a robbery took place at his homestead, the articles stolen including a revolver. At the trial of two young men arrested for the offence Mulligan identified the revolver as his property. Subsequently he was charged with having in his possession a revolver that had not been licensed. He explained to the P.M. that it had been in the possession of his family for over 30 years, and he regarded it as a curio. The P.M., however, imposed a fine of £8, with 6/- costs.
SERIOUS RIDING ACCIDENTS.
The seven-year-old son of Mr. H. White, Rockvale, sustained serious injuries through a horse dashing into a tree. He is now in the local hospital.
James Fitzgerald, son of Mr. Joseph Fitzgerald, of Cunderang station, sustained concussion of the brain through a horse falling whilst mustering cattle. He is now in a very critical condition.
Of Country Doctors
The road of the country medico is a rough and a hilly one.
Late on Monday a doctor in Kempsey received word of an accident on the upper reaches of the Macleay. He immediately set out in his car, accompanied by the matron of a private hospital. When they arrived at George’s Creek, about 40 miles up the river, they had to ride eight miles on horseback. Arriving at their destination in the early hours of Tuesday morning, they found that the patient was the 2-year-old son of Mr. J. P. Fitzgerald, of Kunderang Station. He had caught his hand in the cogs of a chaffcutter. An operation was performed there and then, and the major portion of three fingers removed. The patient was then brought back to hospital in Kempsey.
A Week on the Macleay.
THE EARLY SETTLEMENT OF THE UPPER MACLEAY.
Written for ‘Port Macquarie News.’
(By F. A. FITZPATRICK).
Article No. 5.
Years after, when the Macleay became more populated, a road was made to the Tableland— it being the only outlet for getting stock to market. At that time no one would purchase cattle on the Macleay unless delivered on the Tableland. About the year 1855 the first bullock dray was taken by this route. At the instigation of John McMaugh, senr., J. Warne, W. Duffety, W. Smith, T. Bradbury and J McMaugh (the latter only going part of the way) accompanied it, and the load on the dray consisted of bacon supplied by Smith and Bradbury. It took them three months to perform the journey. Two other men, named Jimmy Jago and Tommy Barraby, were also of the party, which succeeded in reaching Armidale and disposing of the load.
In the year 1857 the McMaugh family came to live in Kempsey for the purpose of obtaining education for their children, as the first Public School had just been established there and Mr. Price was the teacher. They attended this school till their father died in 1863. Mrs. McMaugh and family then returned to Pee Dee. In 1864 the house that they had just vacated in Kempsey was washed away by the flood, and the river now flows where it stood. John McMaugh, junr., assisted his mother in managing the station. All the sons grew up to be clever stockmen, strong men and fearless riders, and were famed for many deeds of ‘Derring Do,’ until Pee Dee was sold to the late Mr. C. O’Sullivan and the family was scattered.
Amongst the notable stockmen of the early days were: Ellis Reed, of Moparrabah, a most fearless rider; W. Duffety, Alick Brock, and Paddy Burns of Towal Creek; and of Five Day Creek, Dick Sole and Jim Dunn; Pee Dee – J. Chisholm and Ben Halo; and at Kunderang they had William and Ben Supple— both noted riders. After leaving the Macleay the latter went to New England, and was known as the most expert fencer. No wire in those days – split posts and rails. W. Supple remained on the Macleay and made a home at Five Day Creek. He had a large family of sons and daughters, the former of whom achieved fame as teamsters and cedar getters, and are honest, industrious men, and still make the same boast that no cedar is inaccessible to them.
In the year 1857 East Kempsey was the only township on the Macleay. Central and West Kempsey were nearly all scrub, with only a few small houses on the banks of the river. There were no roads, so the river was the thoroughfare and everyone in the vicinity had a boat. East Kempsey had then a general store, kept by the Bradburys, a blacksmith shop, one hotel, called the Bush Inn— a man named Needs was the proprietor, and all business was transacted there. Travellers from the upper river crossed over in a small punt pulled by a rope. Dr. Gabriel was the only medical man, and there was no resident clergyman till many years later.
A few of the early settlers employed the blacks; but they were too treacherous. The man known as Wabro Charlie was a native of Queensland. Mr. F. Panton brought him from there when, he was very young, and he remained in their employ till his death. He was a good and faithful servant, and the Panton family so respected his memory that they buried him in West Kempsey cemetery, and placed a tombstone over him, in the form of a broken pillar, with a suitable inscription.
That inscription is scarcely readable today, and it would be a graceful act to have it attended to.
The mail from Kempsey to New England was conveyed on a pack horse once a week, and very often the mailman was detained for days— not being able to cross the creeks and rivers. Even after the cuttings were finished it was a long time before a mail coach was able to travel that line, and it was not until the cattle runs were cut up by selectors, and the population increased, that a more efficient mail service was given the people.
An old identity who lived on the Upper Macleay in the long ago was a man named ‘Scotchie.’ He was never known by any other name. For years he made his living by carrying rum and tobacco to the different stations. He conveyed the spirits in small kegs on a pack-horse, and the tobacco strapped on the pommel of his saddle. Very often he brought the letters, etc., to the stations if he met the mailman, who would give them to ‘Scotchie’ to take on. During his slack times he was often employed at Pee Dee, and on one occasion Mrs. McMaugh, senr, and her children were left in his care while her husband and the stockmen were out on the run. The day passed quietly away until the afternoon, when two naked wild blacks appeared one at the front door and one at the back. They brandished their spears, and by signs demanded food and tobacco. Mrs. McMaugh stood gazing at them, almost paralysed with fright, and looked around for her protector; but the valiant warrior had hidden under a bed and no entreaties would bring him out. So she backed towards her bedroom door— knowing that there was a loaded gun always kept there. The blacks guessed her intentions and had their spears raised to spear her, when a stockwhip sounded on the Gap in front of Pee Dee, and as the sound was heard very distinctly in those mountains the crack of a whip sounded like a rifle fire and the blacks fled for their lives. Scotchie’s sojourn at Pee Dee was very short after that. He lived to be a great age, and died at Corangula.
An old shearer named McCormack visited the stations periodically when they carried only sheep. Being anxious to save his money, he put a hundred pounds in ten pound notes into a pickle bottle — corking it with a wad of paper — and hid it under a rock. About six months later he returned to Long Flat, and went to look for his hidden treasure, but found that the bottle was full of water owing to heavy rain. The notes were saturated to a pulp. The place is called McCormack’s Flat to this day, and is near Long Flat. The first made road up the river went through Warwick and followed the mountain ranges to the Devil’s Nook Creek, and then up the Nulla Creek and on to Guy Fawkes (New England). The first cuttings, were made at the Devil’s Nook Creek and were afterwards abandoned, and in later years those that now follow the river were substituted.
Skillion Flat was called after a shepherd’s hut built in the shape of a skillion during the time Captain Steele had sheep there. ‘The Woolshed’ in the early days was a small sheep station, five miles from Skillion Flat, and a shed was built there to receive the wool — hence the name. ?? this shed and a yard remained standing till a few years ago. Yesabah, meaning a gum tree; Toorooka, Corangula, Wabro, Torrumbi and Moparrabah are all Aboriginal names. Moparrabah — a cave. Willi Willi — plenty possum.
Elsinore was named by Captain Gray, the original owner. Bellbrook because of its running creek, was called that name by Mrs. McMaugh. senr. Pee Dee received that name owing to a bullock being found there with that brand — PD. Where the bullock came from, or who was the owner, was never found out. Towal Creek was called that name owing to a man losing his towel there while bathing. Long Flat is called so from the length of the flat where the homestead stands. Kunderang is an aboriginal name, and is the highest and last station on the Macleay, and is very rough, broken, and difficult of access. It is supposed that Hugh and Rowley Hill were the first owners of it. Hickey’s Creek secured its name from a man of that name who in the year 1854 formed a station there, where the town of Willawarrin now stands. He was killed by the blacks, and the place was abandoned as a station. Major’s Creek was named after Major Innes, who originally owned Moparrabah. Five Day Creek was so called by John McMaugh, senr., as it took them five days to take a team of bullocks and dray from Pee Dee to there when forming the station.
Mount Anderson— or Anderson’s Sugarloaf, as it is sometimes called— received its name from the man who I have already mentioned in these pages. He owned a great deal of property in the vicinity of the Mountain, and the remains of his old stock yard are still standing near the place where the police burnt down his hut. Nothing is known of his antecedents.
Bomangi is also an aboriginal name, meaning wild cattle. It belonged to Major Kemp, who formed a station there; but is such a scrubby, mountainous place, that the cattle got very wild there. Euroka was purchased by the Chapmans, an old pioneer family, and received its name from them. The proper pronunciation of the name is Eureka— ‘I have found it’— Mr. Chapman, senr., having said that the first time he saw the beautiful property now called Euroka.
THE ABORIGINALS OF OLDEN DAYS.
‘Yes,’ Mrs. H. A. McMaugh said, ‘in the olden days before the advent of the white man, the aboriginal women used sinews of animals, such as the kangaroo, wallaby, etc., to sew the possum skins together. They also used the inner stringy fibres of the Kurrajong bark to make their nets, which they carried on their backs, suspended by a long hand or handle made of the same bark. They usually contained a very weird collection of articles— food, in the shape of a half cooked ‘possum, etc., all their valuables, and on top of all a piccaninny.
When a tree containing honey was located the women climbed the tree with the aid of a vine carried for that purpose, and steps cut in the bark with a stone tomahawk. They ate as much of the sweet food, as they could, especially the comb containing young bees in a state of larvae or pulp – it being a great luxury in their eyes. The rest of the honey was carried in a kind of hamper or dish made of bark, principally the ti-tree bark, tied at each end with currajong thread.
The women bore the principal burden — the men stalking on before with their spears and boomerangs. Some of them carried the fungus growth found in trees, which when once alight continues smouldering for days. From this they made a fire which was first produced from the sparks obtained from flinty stones, or by rubbing two sticks together till they ignited.
When a woman became a wife, a piece of kurrajong thread or the web of a large spider, which spins so strong a web that stockmen riding quickly through a scrub have been caught in it and nearly pulled from the saddle before the web would break was used. This the young woman bound tightly round the middle joint of the little finger on her left hand, and in a short time the bone separated from the rest of the finger, and the top of the little finger came off. The woman’s “outward and visible” sign of the married state was thus secured. This operation was so successful that I have seen several black women of the long ago minus this part of their finger, and there was no unsightly scar. The flesh grew quite smoothly over the mutilated joint. The young men knocked a front both out as their symbol of matrimony.
Their laws were very stringent. For example-if a man killed one of his kind he had to pay the death penalty. A ‘life for a life’ was their law, and even if the culprit found refuge with another tribe, the avenger followed him, and he paid the price. If a young man became a father before he was ‘Kaparched’ death was also his punishment. Of their ceremonies the Kaparoh and Corroboree are the only important ones. The former much resembles the Masonic ceremony. The old men hold a council, and select the boys they, consider eligible to be made men of, and at an unknown time they rush the camp, seize the lads and carried them off to the Kaparah ground, which had been previously prepared in a lonely spot some distance from the camp. A great path is chipped bare, generally up a hill leading to the ground. All the trees in a circle are carved beautifully, mostly in a diamond shape.
When all is prepared they begin a series of physical trials on the boys — only feeding them on wild food, and keeping them well watched. The Mundy, or white crystallised quartz— their sacred stone or emblem — is placed in their hands. This emblem represented God, and no black woman must ever see it under pain of death.
The boys keep their eyes fixed on the ‘Mundy,’ while the men try them with all sorts of weird noises— at night especially — principally using the ‘boora-boora,’ (a piece of wood so shaped that when attached to a piece of sinew and whirled quickly through the air, makes a most horrible and unearthly noise, well calculated to try the nerves of any human being).
The next process was to cut the flesh of the chest, arms and back with a sharp shell, and to mark the unfortunate boys with their tribal signs. Then they rushed at them with spears to try them still more — in fact, they did many things only known to themselves to make the boys brave men and warriors. If any of them failed, showed signs of grief or fear, they were taken back in everlasting disgrace, and pronounced unfit. Later on, when they all returned to the camp, there was much rejoicing, and singing the boys’ praises. They were considered-men now, could take their places as such, and were at liberty to have a wife, and have a place in the tribe.
The Corroboree is really a kind of war dance. The men painted their bodies and faces in the most fantastic manner; they then jump, dance and sing — brandishing their spears. They made every muscle in their bodies quiver. The women used to sit round in a circle, with a huge fire in the middle, and beat time on their possum skins. These were stretched like a drum on their knees. The women also joined in the singing, which was very monotonous, and long drawn out. When a death occurred in a tribe, the wailing of the women continued for days and nights, and was most mournful to listen to. The men who were the nearest relatives of the deceased, sat in the ashes, and threw ashes on their heads. They also cut themselves in different parts of their heads with a Tomahawk, as a sign of grief.
I once witnessed the funeral of a young gin. They rolled the body in a blanket and Ti Tree bark, which they bound round and round with vines till it resembled a mummy. The blacks carried it on their shoulders, the women following with loud wailing, and when they came to the paddock fence they put the corpse through the middle rail, then under the bottom one, and then over the top. This was done to puzzle the departed one, so that she would have some difficulty in finding her way back. It seemed a very unnecessary procession. Then they invariably broke up camp, and went as far away as they could from the place. Long before the aboriginals knew of the white man’s weapons they killed most of their food with spears. When they located the animals they were hunting, they went round and round them several times in circles – each time getting closer to their prey — till they were near enough to spear them.
As for fish, their quickness of sight and wonderful dexterity, enabled them to spear them in dozens, in shallow water. The old pure bred aboriginal is seldom seen now. They are quickly passing away, and the half breeds are taking their places. Many of the latter seem to inherit the vices and weaknesses of the white man— and very few of the black man’s virtues. When I was a child, my father gave the blacks their Christmas dinner, and as there were a great many aboriginals on the Manning those days, they assembled in great numbers at Christmas time, and made their camp in the paddocks. A beast was killed, and given to them with quantities of flour, sugar, tea, and tobacco. A black woman who had worked for white people, and knew something of cook ing, made the plum puddings for them, and boiled them in the big copper while the men made a huge fire some distance away, and cooked the meat. Needless to say there was great feasting for days.
On one occasion I noticed a camp a long way from the others, and curiosity led me to try and find out who they were in it. To my surprise I saw several tall, athletic looking black men, without clothing— except one kind of kilt of stripped possum skins round their waists. Their bodies were marked with strange figures in white pipe clay. Their hair was long and drawn up round on sticks about foot high on top of their heads. They looked like a horn, and gave the black men a very savage appearance. was afterwards told they were wild, uncivilised blacks, and never came near white people. However, it seemed that they did not object to eat their food.
I have known some of the aboriginals to be very faithful, honest and industrious. On the other hand, others were lazy, greedy, and very untrustworthy. One old fellow I knew was a typical black savage, with very little trace of civilisation. He generally wore as little clothing as possible. A boomerang or spear was always in his land, and he had a supreme contempt for work of any kind. His wife, who had mostly lived with white people, was just the opposite. At one time she was very sick. Jacky, her husband, made his appearance, and asked me for food for her, I filled a flour bag with fresh meat, bread, etc. He had as much as he could carry. A week after the wife came tottering along, emaciated, and said ‘Me berry hungry, missus. Never had anything to eat long time,’ said she. ‘Jacky stop in bush and eat up all you gib him.’
The old glutton never went back to the camp till he devoured all I sent his sick wife. However, it was seldom they were like that. Usually they were very kind to each other, and shared everything with them. They were also very kind to children, and were fond of them.
I believe there are many strange rites practised in the Kaparah, that are profound secrets, and no black man will divulge them.
Only one white man ever witnessed that ceremony, as they placed guards all round the Kaparah Ground, who kept strict watch. This man, who saw the ceremony, had a very peculiar taste, and lived with the blacks when a youth. He was very curious to find out the secret rites, and was caught trying to look on. They gave him his choice — Death, or to be ‘Kaparahed.’ He choice the latter, but would never tell what he went through.
Yes, it was Henry Kendall who penned the following verses relating to our disappearing race of aboriginals:—
He crouches, and buries his face on his knees, And hides in the dark of his hair; For he cannot look up to the storm-smitten trees, Or think of the loneliness there - Of the loss and the loneliness there. The wallaroos grope through the tufts of the grass, And turn to their coverts for fear; But he sits in the ashes and lets them pass Where the boomerangs sleep with the spear - With the nullah, the sling and the spear. Uloola, behold him! The thunder that breaks On the tops of the rocks with the rain, And the wind which drives up with the salt of the lakes, Have made him a hunter again - A hunter and fisher again. For his eyes have been full with a smouldering thought; But he dreams of the hunts of yore, And of foes that he sought, and of fights that he fought With those who will battle no more - Who will go to the battle no more. It is well that the water which tumbles and fills Goes moaning and moaning along; For an echo rolls out from the sides of the hills, And he starts at a wonderful song - At the sound of a wonderful song. And he sees through the rents of the scattering fogs The corroboree warlike and grim, And the lubra who sat by the fire on the logs, To watch, like a mourner, for him - Like a mother and mourner for him. Will he go in his sleep from these desolate lands, Like a chief, to the rest of his race, With the honey-voiced woman who beckons and stands, And gleams like a dream in his face - Like a marvellous dream in his face?
This concludes our account of ‘A Week on the Macleay,’ which was taken during the last week in March, 1928 — such trip having been arranged by Mr. G. S. Hill, of Bungay, and being made in his company. We again thank Mr. Hill for his kindness — as also Mr. Frank Hill, of Comara, for his hospitality. We cannot express or keenly our thanks also to Mr. and Mrs. H. A. McMaugh, of East Kempsey, for the valuable information furnished us regarding the early days on the Macleay. The week’s holiday was one of the most interesting we have had, and it was also instrumental in bringing forth information that will be valued long after we have penned our last par. A few copies of the articles will be printed in booklet form for distribution among those concerned. Shortly we hope to have material for further interesting articles relating to the Magnificent Macleay.
— Ed. ‘Wingham Chronicle’
A Week on the Macleay
Interview with Mrs. H. A. McMaugh at Kempsey.
THE EARLY SETTLEMENT OF THE UPPER MACLEAY.
(By F. A. FITZPATRICK).
Article No. 4.
Opposite the mouth of the Nulla Creek, and on the opposite side of the river, is the picturesque little home of Elsinore. In the early forties, before Pee Dee was formed, J. McMaugh, senr., purchased Elsinore, and went to live there. It was during his residence in that place that the wild blacks were so troublesome, and Mrs. McMaugh, senr., used to dress in her husband’s clothes when the men were away, to frighten them. It was almost a common occurrence to see their camp-fires on the mountain at the back of the house. After a time a dispute arose about the boundaries between Wabro and Elsinore. At last it was decided that the Elsinore home stead was on the Wabro boundary. Consequently, the home was abandoned and the run known as Pee Dee Station was formed.
A few miles above Bellbrook, on the other side of the river, is Burrega Farm, the property of the Scott family. In 1854 Eardley Murray Scott, then a mere youth, came to the MacLeay and found a home at Pee Dee, where he secured some education from the tutor who was employed to teach the young McMaughs. He became an expert horseman, and obtained a good knowledge of stock. When William Smith purchased Long Flat Station, and his manager (Stewart) was killed, he gave Eardley Scott the management of’ the station. Scott remained there for several years, and married my sister. Subsequently he purchased Burrega, and as the years went by he added to the place by buying adjacent land, and so formed a good home and a valuable property. He had a large family of sons and daughters, most of whom were born at Burrega. He was much respected by all who knew him, and was an industrious, honest, high-principled man. His death a few years ago was greatly regretted, and a great loss to the district.
The next place of interest is Pee Dee Station, the old home of the McMaugh family. Before the station was formed John McMaugh, senr., had charge of the different places owned by Captain Steele, who was a great speculator, and owned much property in different districts at that time. He was first at Five Day Creek, and then Towal Creek. The latter place was later sold to J. Warne.
After leaving Elsinore, Pee Dee was the McMaughs’ permanent home. My husband’s earliest recollections are of the mobs of cattle galloping with noise like thunder, being pursued by the blacks; and some of the milkers would come home with spears stuck in them, and he often saw the men pulling them out. Many of the cows were killed and eaten by the blacks.
In the year 1854 a traveller came one day to Pee Dee, and asked Mrs. McMaugh for a night’s lodging. During the afternoon another man arrived – a man named, Dr. Milham — who said he had been stuck up by a masked man, and robbed of his watch and chain, but stated that the robber did not get any money, as he had it hid den in his shirt. He had £200, and was on his way to New England to buy horses. The traveller who had arrived before Dr. Milham left Pee Dee very early next morning, and when the latter arrived at a place called Trappo, a few miles on his journey to New England, the same masked man who had robbed him before came out of the scrub, and covering him with a revolver said ‘Hand out that £200 you have in your shirt.’ The masked man was the traveller who asked for a night’s lodging at Pee Dee the night before, and of course overheard Dr. Milham’s statement about the hidden money, and having his mask off he was not recognised. The bushranger was a man named Wilson, and he took his quarters up in a scrubby creek near Burrega, and continued his evil doings for some time, defying the police and causing much excitement.
Inspector Ross was in charge of the police then, and the men were named : Clogger, Sergeant Dempster, and a few years, later Dangar, and Porter were in the Force. Lieutenant Polding and Sergeant Scott had charge of the black trackers, and when the wild blacks attacked the whites or did any misdeeds, these men came up and took heavy toll of the marauders — shooting them down without mercy.
As Wilson continued his daring robberies, the police were kept busy, and often arrived at Pee Dee at midnight and demanded the assistance of John McMaugh, senr., to help them try and secure the bushranger. However, they were not successful but they must have given him a fright, as he made his escape to New England, and was shot there. The police seem to have had great power in those bygone days, as a man named Anderson, who had a place called McKenzie’s Creek ,not far from Bellbrook, was called upon to supply rations to the police when they were hunting the bushranger. He refused to comply with their request and on their return to the police station at Belgrave, they reported the matter to the Commissioner, who at once sent Clogger to burn Anderson’s hut down — which they did very effectively.
The conveyance of the mail up to a few years after the cuttings were completed, was carried out on a packhorse, and arrived only once a week, and was very often detained a fortnight at Pee Dee or some other place, owing to the river and creeks being in flood.
There was no resident Clergyman in Kempsey, and about every two years Caonon O’Reilly, from Port Macquarie, and the Rev. T. Tyrill (afterwards Bishop of Newcastle), called at various places on the upper river on their way to New England, and baptised the children, etc.
Duffy, who was overseer of Towal Creek, then the property of’ Mr. Warne, was fishing in the river, when the blacks speared him, and the weapon passed through the flap of his trousers. My husband remembers seeing the garment and having the holes pointed out to him where the spear went through.
An old shepherd named Carrol was minding some sheep at a place called Smith’s Flat, 15 miles from Pee Dee. John McMaugh, senr. (my husband’s father), went up to count the sheep, and when he arrived there were no sheep or shepherd visible. While he stood at the door of the hut, wondering what had become of them, a huge blackfellow wearing Carrol’s shirt came in view, and on being asked where Carrol was he struck his chest defiantly. McMaugh had a gun and powder, but no shot, so he drew a nail from the hut wall, rammed it in the gun, and fired, hitting the black in the leg. Immediately about a hundred blacks appeared; but they were often frightened when one of their number was hit, and so in this instance they all ran for their lives. McMaugh then went lo look for Carrol, and found him two miles further on with his throat and head cut by a tomahawk. He rendered what assistance he could and then took the wounded man to Five Day Creek, where he was then living. Mrs. McMaugh helped to bind up the man’s wounds; and some idea can be gathered of the extent of his injuries, when the gruel they tried to strengthen him with came out through the hole in his throat when he tried to swallow. Yet he eventually recovered, although it was weeks before a medical man could be procured from Port Macquarie — there being none on the Macleay.
In 1845 Kunderang Station was the property of a Captain Goblin. He had two shepherds and their wives there, and they were found dead — murdered by the blacks. It was quite a week after the tragedy that the bodies were found, and about 800 sheep were also missing. The matter was reported to the Commissioner (named Massey) at Kempsey, and he in company with John McMaugh and several men from the station, tracked the sheep to where the blacks had driven them. They found a large number of blacks camped under a cliff, who immediately showed fight. A battle ensued, but the white men were well armed, and a great number of the blacks were killed. The only casualty on the other side was a horse. The men took cover behind the trees and fired on the murderers. A few of the sheep were found; but the blacks were so numerous that they killed and ate twenty a night.
About the year 1849 a man named Chisholm had charge of Kunderang. He was a married man and had a family, the youngest a boy of three years of age who was in the habit of going to the milking yard for a pannikin of milk. While his mother was milking one morning, he got his milk as usual, and when his mother returned to the hut be was nowhere to be found. A search was made by all hands far and near, and kept up for a week; but the unfortunate child was never found. It was always supposed that the blacks were hiding in a thick scrub near by, and carried off the boy; so his fate will never be known.
The cedar cutters killed by the blacks, the only escapee of the party being G. Spokes, were getting cedar at the head of the Wilson River, very near the Macleay. They were supposed to be free men, and may have been working for Major Innes.
The first cedar cutters on the Upper Macleay were a family named Thompson. As there were no roads then, the timber was floated down the river and creeks to Kempsey. As many as 200 logs have been counted at the one time lying at the mouth of the Nulla Creek, and there must have been a great many more uncounted.
Of all the stations on the Upper Macleay in the old days Moparrabah was the largest. It was then owned by Major Innes, and had about 3000 head of cattle on it, of no special breed — Durhams, Herefords, etc., had of then come into fashion.
Wabro and Towal Creel were the next largest, and carried nearly the same amount of stock. At Wabro there was upwards of 1000 head of horses as well — many of them wild — and traps were built to catch them in, and in latter days, they were shot.
Each station had its own brand. They used a diamond at Moparrabah; Wabro, B.P.; Towal Creek, W.; Long Flat, M.I.; Pee Dee used the well known I.M.;. Toorooka’s brand was S within a circle. The runs of those stations were unlimited — there being no selectors in those days of wild blacks. Some of them had 100,000 acres, some 60,000, and so on.
The notorious blackfellow, Blue Shirt, was responsible for many murders. He belonged to a tribe on the Nambucca, and was never employed by white people, as he was always wanted for his crimes, and a reward was offered for him.
Previous to, the arrival of the German family on the Nulla Creek, named Sauer, and in the very early days, a man named Sparks formed a station there and had two men in charge. One of them showed great kindness to the blacks, and gave them tobacco and rations. He was often warned of their treacherous nature. One morning his mate, a man named Dick Sole, was Milking the cows some distance from the hut when he saw the blacks dragging, the body of his mate towards the creek. He at once made his escape, and got to Elsinore, 8 miles way and reported what had happened. The police were sent for and they found the body in the creek. They then, went in search of the blacks, some of whom were shot, and others taken prisoner. Through an interpreter they gathered from one of the captive blacks that the murdered man employed two friendly blacks to cut a tree down, and while be was showing them the place to cut it, they hit him on the head with the axe and killed him. The place was then abandoned as a cattle station— the stock all being purchased by John McMaugh. Many years afterwards a police station was formed there.
A man named Duffety left his wife unprotected at Towal Creek Station, when the blacks surrounded the house and carried the woman away a prisoner. So cunning were they that they carried her away to the head of the Macleay, and hid her for three weeks in a gorge under the tablelands, at a place called Boosers, at Moonee Plains. She was at last recovered by her husband, assisted by the police and other men. The blacks did her no harm, and having the rations they had stolen from the station, they had plenty of food, it seemed a trying ordeal for a woman to be forced to live three weeks with wild blacks, but in those days, most of the females were hardened and indifferent to what fate had in store for them. Then they were more like men. It was a common occurrence for stockmen to change their wives with one another, or sell them for a pound of tobacco or a bottle of rum. Some of these women had never seen a side-saddle, and when Mrs. McMaugh arrived with hers, they eyed it as a curiosity, and made trips on purpose to see it.
Coming events cast their shadows before — and like the girls of today, they all rode astride. Most of them were wonderful horsewomen. Mrs. Supple, senr., especially, could break in a young horse with the best of the men, and yard a beast with the most expert stockmen at that time.
John McMaugh, senr., seems to have been a man of great character. He was very hospitable, a good manager, generous to a fault, and perfectly fearless. Pee Dee Station was known from New England to the mouth of the Macleay for its kindness and hospitality. There was ever an open door, and no one was ever sent away empty. He was the first man to find a track from George’s Creek to the tableland (Geogla), one of the first stations formed on New England.
(To be continued.)