Old news from Armidale and New England

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1879: A Tour From Armidale To The Chandler River.

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The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, Fri 26 Sep 1879

After partaking of an early breakfast, I left Armidale, steering a N.E. course by Mr. Taylor’s farm, which I understand is likely to be the route for the permanent road to Gyrah and Rock Vale.

Three miles from Armidale is Tilbuster Creek, where the crossing is very uncertain, on account of the moving sand. A good Hotel or Accommodation House would pay well here. There are a great many farms a little to the North of this creek, but not in sight of the main road. Eight or nine miles further, and Thalgarrah Station, the property of Mr. Bigg, is reached, and I noticed that Mr. B. has erected a comfortable brick building since his purchase.

Three miles more, and we arrive at Pint Pot Creek, where a culvert is urgently needed, as this being the thoroughfare to the Stations—Rock Vale, Aberfoil, Kangaroo Hills, Alfreda, Lindhurst, Ward’s Mistake, Paddy’s Land, Oban, &c., and the traffic is considerable. The Coningdale and Chandler road branches off at this point from the Rock Vale road to the Eastward, passing by Mr. Mulligan’s selection, and, further on, Mr. A. McLennaghan’s. The soil about here is very rich, and well adapted for agricultural purposes. The sheep, on Mr. McLennaghan’s selection were in fine condition.

At Mr. Donald Finlayson’s residence, Foreglen, I saw some very good draught mares.

From Foreglen, through a well-grassed and lightly-timbered country, I arrived at Mr. Kenneth Finlayson’s, Coningdale, where I was most hospitably entertained. The Finlaysons were among the first who commenced sheep farming in this district, and now have a fine property, with nice residences, commanding a view of the Wollomumbi River and surrounding country. The wild dogs are troublesome, and play sad havoc, at times, amongst the sheep. At this season of the year, crossing the Wollomumbi River is not a very safe undertaking.

Half a mile further is Pointsfield, the selection of Mr. R. Finlayson, where, owing to the magnificent soil, lucerne, maize, &c., are grown to great perfection. The cultivation paddocks here have been subdivided and laid out under artificial grasses, consequently dairying operations are carried on all through the winter. Considering the wet and cold winter experienced this season, the stock looked remarkably well.

Mr. Roderick McLennan’s homestead at Killcoy is the next stopping place. Here a site for a Presbyterian Church has been granted, and a large sum is already promised for the building. The Rev. Thos. Johnstone at present officiates twice a quarter.

There is also a School halfway between Killcoy and Pointsfield, under the charge of Mr. and Mrs. Painter.

Continuing the road, you travel over a good pastoral land, of ironstone formation, with grass and water in abundance. The wattle tree, with its beautiful blossom and perfume, is a great relief, after perpetual gum. Kangaroos are very plentiful here, and eat more grass than the sheep.

Fairview is the next selection on the Chandler. Here the Chandler River is extremely dangerous to cross, on account of the shifting sand.

Camberdown, Mr. John Coventry’s, is next, but his stock have been removed to his station, Alfreda.

A mail comes this way once a week, on to Oban.

Before concluding, I must say a few words as to Free Selection. It is evident that, in spite of what is said to the contrary, Free Selection has been a decided success, and the Land Act of 1861 has conferred a lasting benefit on the country. Twelve years ago this district was a mere waste; now many respectable and well to-do people are settled here. The feeling between squatters and selectors here is of a very harmonious nature. And, as regards the Land Law. It is unwise, in compelling selectors to improve their land to the extent of £1 per acre, on what are often useless improvements. The selector denies that he obtains his land on easy terms. The squatter can buy at auction practically as much as he pleases for 25s. cash. The selector’s land costs him £2 per acre, viz.: 5s. cash, and the balance of 15s. in three years, with the option of allowing it to remain unpaid at 5 per cent.; and further, he is compelled “nolens volens” [whether unwillingly or willingly] to expend £1 per acre in improvements on his selection within three years, and make it his bona fide residence for that period. The selector has no security of pre-lease, with considerable chance of forfeiture, should he fail in any of the conditions of the Act. For farming purposes only, the terms are easy enough; but, as the bulk of selectors want to run stock as well, the limited area, with other conditions, make it the most expensive way of obtaining land. The squatter, on the other hand, can select the “tit bits” out of his run, chiefly by improvement purchases; the law being that, by improving to the extent of £1 per acre, he can buy it, if he likes; and also, by the absurd auction system, principally used to deprive the selector of his grazing right. But this knotty question has for years puzzled cleverer heads than mine, and is as far off now from being settled as ever. It is the old story of the man and the ass, who tried to please all, and pleased none !


Written by macalba

June 5, 2019 at 4:18 pm

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