Old news from Armidale and New England

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Empire (Sydney), Wed 4 Oct 1871



THE neighbourhood of Armidale is annually increasing in the growth of cereals, for the quan- tity of good strong land suitable for agriculture is very extensive, and the climate exactly suits wheat, though the crop last season was but one-fifth of the ordinary yield owing to the abnormal weather that prevailed. Four flour mills have con- sequently been erected, only one of which, however, – Mr. John Moore’s – has been kept continually going for some time past, for the local supply of grain has been so insufficient that a considerable quantity of Adelaide flour has found its way into the town ; according to present prospects, however, such is not likely to be the case this season, for the young corn looks splendid. The mill is a good one as far as it goes, but is not large enough for the business, and £700 are about to be expended on additional accommodation. Two pair of stones are driven by a table-engine of 14 horse-power, capable of working up to 20 horse-power, with a boiler of similar power, and as showing to some extent the fallings off in the district, Mr. Moore bought 48,000 bushels of wheat in 1870, but from January 1st to July 31st the amount has only been 18,000, and this is but a poor sample of shrivelled grain plentifully mingled with rye, oats, and drake.

Last year Mr. Moore sent flour to Musselbrook, Singleton, Tamworth, Merriwa, the Mclntyre and Queensland ; this year he brings in Adelaide flour from Maitland.

What is now termed the Company’s Mill, is a substantial building of three stories with a fine engine of 20 horse-power, driving three pair of stones, two silk-dressers, smut machine, and eleva- tors complete ; it is the property of the enterprising farmers of Armidale, but as a speculation, does not, I believe, pay, which is a pity.

There are two ways to Armidale for goods – one by way of Grafton, and the other, by Newcastle and the railway. By the former route goods cost altogether for carriage £7 10s a ton, and are fourteen or fifteen days on the road in summer time, while by the railway line they cost £9 9s a ton, and are from two to four weeks on the road; consequently for every ton Mr. Moore gets by way of Newcastle he gets five by way of Grafton, having special teams on the road continually employed..

The remains of the first mill erected in the town are yet seen behind the one first mentioned; this was Kirkwood’s, subsequently removed to Bende- meer ; the next was Allingham’s, built by Mr. Green, of Maitland, and the third was McLean’s, which appears to be out of occupation.

It may be mentioned as a curiosity of the past, and a striking contrast to the present, that Mr. Pearson, of Violetdale, one of the most influential farmers about here, with 2000 acres of land purchased before selection was the law, refused 30s a bushel for wheat some fifteen years ago, but sub- sequently had to sell at the ruinously low figure of 20s.

Armidale has lived in municipal form for about seven years, and it is creditable to the Council that the streets and roads within its jurisdiction are in such excellent form, for, made with the splendid ironstone gravel so abundant in the neighbourhood, superior even to basalt, it is quite exhilerating to bowl along in Mr. Moses’s or Mr. Jackes’s buggy, to view some attraction in the neighbourhood.

Partly, perhaps, on account of good streets and roads and pleasant drives on the outskirts of the town, many neat cottages and pleasant residences have been built in various pleasant and healthy positions ; notably the nice cottage of the Crown Lands Commissioner – Harriott Esq., on a reserve of thirty- six acres; the neat residence of the Police Magistrate and Commissioner for the Northern Gold- fields, J. Buchanan, Esq., in Marsh-street, in which street are the handsome residences of Mr. J. Scholes and Mr. J. Tysoe, retired publicans ; Mr. Tysoe’s is perhaps the best private residence in the town. Dr. Turner, resides in a brick cottage in the midst of a pretty and well laid-out garden beyond the racecourse, and the head of the Romish communion is located in a neat brick building on the south side of Rusden-street. Bank Cottage, Jessie-street, is the residence of W. A. B. Greaves, Esq., district surveyor.

A local building society has been formed six years, and is in course of being wound up, and a permanent society formed in, I believe, 9000 shares, of which Mr. Bray. is secretary ; the prospects are said, to be very good. There is also a Masonic Lodge with a small hall of wood in Fawkner-street and an Oddfellows’ Lodge with a neat brick building near the St. Kilda Hotel. An Orange Lodge has also been inaugurated, and numbers 120 members, a hall for which has already been projected in Jessie-street to cost £400.

Among the sights worth seeing in the neighbour- hood of Armidale is Mr. F. Jackes’s fine orchard about four miles out of town, on the Great Northern Road. Here are nearly sixty acres of choice fruit trees, and among them are found the largest and most richly-flavoured peaches, plums, cherries, pears and apples, many of them of the latest invention, having French names. The soil is very good, not too stiff, well adapted for the purpose, and well drained for the most part ; three or four hands are kept pretty well employed in trenching, forking, ploughing, dressing, and pruning, and improvements are being constantly made: both in orchard, garden yards, and out-buildings.

There are in all 6000 trees planted in blocks still fully planned ; the early trees near the house and those ripening later at a remoter distance in squares of 100 of each sort, the rows being rectangular and twenty-five and twenty-one feet apart, admitting drays underneath to remove the fruit direct without the intervention of baskets and barrows, which involve shifting and consequently bruising and damaging the fruit. The trees are from two to six years old, of a clean and healthy appearance, and the great size and strength of the annual wood, shows how well the soil, climate, and mode of cul- ture agree with their constitutions. Among the varieties of the apple family and Irish peach; Early Margaret, Devonshire quarenden, Early Harvest, Ribston, Russet, French Crab, and Winter Green- ings – 3500. Among the cherries, which are said to reach an unusual size, are Waterloo, Elton, Bigeroon, Black and, White Heart. Most of the old familiar trees in the gardens of Old England, seem to flourish in this new garden of New England for here are found plums, pears, quinces, mulberries, walnuts, chestnuts, vines and bush fruits. Of vines there are an acre arid a quarter trellised. The avenue also up to the cottage is appropriately planted with varieties of the poplar pine and other border trees, and plants, and will in a few years form a feature in the view from the road.

The cottage is roomy, commodious, cool, and homelike, commanding a capital view to the south- west, and built on rising ground, in the midst of 200 acres of good ground, in process of being reclaimed from a state of nature. The barn at the back is seventy-five feet long, with open passage in the centre for drays to load or unload, as well as for threshing, which is done by the engine standing outside and operating upon the stack in centre of the yard. The drawback of the situation is the water, which has not yet been tapped, even at a depth of 140 feet, sinking in tough basalt.

Altogether this orchard is a credit to the district, and is one of the most extensive in the colony, but where Mr. Jackes is going to dispose of the fruit when it is in full bearing, I don’t clearly see ; how- ever a good and cheap fruit will make a market to a certain extent, and the “coming railway,” the out- laying to towns; and annual races will absorb much, the balance may perhaps become cider perry, wine and preserves. A visit to Mr. Jackes’s orchard is to a certain, extent a treat even in winter, it would pro- bably, be still more so in the month of December, when the bloom is on the peach, and bunches of big rosy cherries hang thick and tempting from the tree. The proprietor (who was a miner on the Rocky thirteen years ago) is to be congratulated for his enterprise, and it is devoutly to be hoped that his plantation will escape tho general scourge of fruit trees – the blight and bug.

Mr. J. S. Bray tells me that insect life is wonder- fully prolific in this district (indeed I am under a strong impression that this is not the only district where insect life is wonderfully prolific), and in the course of his entomological researches during the last eighteen months,he has discovered between ten and twenty specimens, unknown to science, especi- ally of the Biprestas and Longicorn families – which specimens have gone home for classification. There seems a good field open here both for the entomolo- gist and the conchologist, as the district is called rich in landshells also.

The tannery of our enterprising friend Mr. Moses, is just outside the town, where fifty hides are put down daily, the pits in operation numbering forty. The grinding of bark is at present done by horse- power, but an eight-horse engine is on the road to supplant animal labour in this business, and to work other branches of the trade besides, but the bark of the district I am told is somewhat inferior in strength and quality ; it may be owing to this and to the nature of the climate, that the period of tanning to perfection extends over five months. The tannery has been in operation six years, and supplies the country with leather as far south as Tamworth and as far north as Tenterfield.

The racecourse is a block of eighty-six acres, adjoining the town on the east, the whole of it being close fenced, and having appropriate entrance gates, as well as a stand; here also the home matches of the local cricket club are played.

Three miles east, a little off the Grafton-road and on a very fine deep permanent pool on Commis- sioner’s Water, is the fellmongery and wool washing establishment recently formed by Mr. Garthwaite, which he has named Brookstead. No site in the district could have been better selected for the busi- ness in point of natural advantages; and there seems every, prospect of the business steadily increasing under, Mr. Garthwaite’s management, and the suita- bility of the trade to the surrounding district.

Though the trade may be said to be in its infancy as yet, for it has not been in operation two years, a con- siderable amount of building and work has been done, and a considerable sum of money expended in sheds, tanks, fluming, and machinery. The pool into which the Commissioner’s Water expands at this point is permanent, for it is said to be no less than sixty feet deep, out of which water Ís pumped and flows by a flume to the tanks; 1200 skins are treated daily, passing through the various stages of first being stacked in the roof of the long shed, whence they are removed to the soak-tank, and thence to the drain stage ; from this they pass to the sweat-house, pulling shed, and washpool, after which the wool is spread out on the drying-ground ; then it is gathered and sorted in the press-room, and finally pressed and baled, the bales being branded “M. G. Brookstead.” The average result at present is two bales a day ; may they go on and increase to a dozen.

But the best district in the neighbourhood of Armidale is Kelly’s Plaíns, an extensive and fertile track of undulating trap country with a rich deep and generous soil, much occupied by farmers, selectors, and gentlemen resident on the said Plains. The Saamarez Creek waters the plains, and on the bank of this creek among several nice farms is that of R. I. Perrott, Esq., registrar of Armidale and the Northern district. Mr. Perrott has named his pro- perty “Haroldston” (claiming, I understand, lineal descent from the hero of Hastings), the farm consist- ing of 320 acres of land, seven acres of which are under fruit, and forest trees, as oaks and pines. Post and rail fences are being substituted by old English hawthorn, broom furze, and the osage orange. The site, is a good one upon rising ground and in true this plantation will be one of the ornaments of the Plains. These Plains are circumscribed by Gostwyck on the south; and by Mr. Thomas’s run of Saumarez, with about 15,000 acres of purchased land on the west, the farms being generally small with few exceptions, as, for instance, Mr. Faint, and Mr. Mense’s, on Gibbons’s Plains. A small chapel in wood, newly built, is used for divine worship by the Wesleyan and Presbyterian denominations con- jointly, and a school under the superintendence of Miss Adrian, has 150 scholars on the books ; but the attendance, as usual in farming districts, fluc- tuates in a wonderful manner. The climate and soil of those plains are not unlike those of Orange, and except that they are more sheltered by the undulating character of the surface, and not looked down upon by any lofty heights like the Canoblas, I should say the seasons and the temperature would be almost similar.

Dangar’s Falls are another sight worth seeing and sketching, and a great resort of the Armidalians in holiday time ; but as these falls have been be- sketched and described considerably already, we will let them fall on in peace.

The population of the police district, which, in this case is identical with the registration and electoral districts, is 9790 ; the population of the municipality being between 1300 and 1400.

The distances to the various towns around are to Glen Innes 60 miles, Tamworth 70 miles, Walcha 40 miles, Inverell 80 miles, Bundarra 60 miles, Uralla 14, and Grafton 130 miles,

Sydney, September 13, 1871.

Written by macalba

May 8, 2017 at 11:53 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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