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Discovery and Early Pastoral Settlement of New England (part 2)

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The Scone Advocate (NSW: 1887-1954), Tuesday 3 October 1922

Discovery and Early Pastoral Settlement of New England.


(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).

(No. 2).

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).


Written by macalba

October 19, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Discovery and Early Pastoral Settlement of New England (part 1)

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The Scone Advocate (NSW : 1887 – 1954), Friday 22 September 1922

Discovery and Early Pastoral Settlement of New England.


(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).

(No. 1).

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.


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).

Written by macalba

October 12, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Picturesque Character Passes, Madamoiselle Cecile de Percevale.

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The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser (NSW), Friday 11 May 1934

Picturesque Character Passes


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.

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February 12, 2014 at 8:44 pm

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Expensive revolver

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Western Champion (Parkes, NSW), Thursday 21 August 1930



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.

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August 26, 2013 at 8:08 am

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A week on the Macleay – article 5 of 5 (1928).

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The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate (NSW), Saturday 2 June 1928

A Week on the Macleay.


Written for ‘Port Macquarie News.’


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.


‘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.

The Last of His Tribe.

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’

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July 10, 2013 at 8:00 am

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Long Point – A lonely spot (1930).

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The Farmer and Settler (NSW), Saturday 13 September 1930

A Lonely Spot

JACK SEWELL (Long Point) – I live thirty six miles from Armidale. There we go once a month to do our shopping. Hillgrove is eighteen miles away. It was once a great gold-mining town, but now only the remains are left. The place I live at is called Long Point. I think the name of Out Back would have suited it better. There are only two families residing here. The next family is twelve miles away. Are we not isolated? All we hear is the whistle of the birds, and the howl of dingoes at night. This is what we see: Tree after tree, nearly too thickly timbered to walk through. Then we come to the falls, a most wonderful sight to gaze upon, and gently flowing at the bottom we find a winding river. This is where the wild ducks swim. The river is like the road we travel on, a separation between the trees. But, really, road is no name for it. It is only a bush track that winds in and out among the trees, and when I leave home and get to town I have a thousand pains or more from all the jolts and bumps.

The Farmer and Settler (NSW), Saturday 13 September 1930

Bush School Games

LAURIE SEWELL (Hillgrove). – There are only six children attending Long Point school, so we cannot play many games. My favourite game is cricket. It is so interesting, and is good exercise. Rounders is another game we play, and also red-rover, tip, crowning the base, and fruits and flowers. The best game of all is football. We play football with a tennis ball. The other games mentioned we play very seldom. It is nice and green where we play. Sometimes the sheep eat this green grass, then we have to go and play where it is dusty.

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June 28, 2013 at 8:00 am

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Drift from Country (1941).

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The Farmer and Settler (NSW), Thursday 11 September 1941

Amazed at Drift from Country

SURPRISE that Australia had progressed so little since the last war was expressed by Brother Gregory, of the Augustine Order, in an interview with ‘Macleay Argus.’

He said that he was amazed at the drift of people from the country to the cities.

Brother Gregory, well known as Jim Fitzgerald, of Kunderang station, Upper Macleay, recently returned from Rome, where he had resided until several months after the outbreak of the present war.

At the end of the 1914-18 war, he went to Ireland and thence to Rome.

Drift from the country was particularly noticeable when he went to the Upper Macleay, said Brother Gregory. There were but one or two families now on large areas of country where dozens had formerly gained a livelihood from the soil.

After visiting his mother in Armidale, Brother Gregory spent a happy time at Kunderang station, now managed by Mr. Alex McDonald, and helped to muster cattle in the ranges.

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June 21, 2013 at 8:00 am

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