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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

News from around the Armidale Diocese

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The Catholic Press (NSW : 1895 – 1942), Thursday 23 October 1930

Armidale Diocese.

His Lordship Dr. P. J. O’Connor, Bishop of Armidale, visited Sydney last weekend on business.

At the advanced age of 89 years, one of Bendemeer’s oldest residents, Mrs. Jane Burt, died on Saturday, 11th inst. The late Mrs. Burt was one of the most popular figures of the district, and was held in wide spread esteem. Despite her great age, she had a most retentive memory, and could relate to interested listeners entertaining stories of the days of long ago. For many years she kept a store at Bendemeer, and gained the reputation of never refusing to assist those who appealed to her for help. Her husband and three sons predeceased her, and the surviving members of the family are: Messrs. Thomas, James and John (Sydney), Selby D. (Geraldton), and Percy (Armidale). The funeral took place after prayers in Holy Innocents’ Church, at Bendemeer, Rev. Father O ‘Connor (Walcha) officiating. Despite the heavy rain a large attendance of sympathising friends paid their last respects to their departed neighbour. — R.I.P.

This year’s Intermediate class of De La Salle College, Armidale, is numerically the biggest in the history of the college, and, therefore a record number of students — 40 in all, and representing the full strength of the class — is being presented for the examination, a splendid picture programme was screened at the college last Saturday evening. An electric panotrope recently installed was used for the first time, and proved a great success.

The candidates for the Intermediate Examination from the Ursuline Convent, Armidale, commenced the test on Wednesday, and were 15 in number, the greatest number to be entered from the college since this examination was constituted. There are also four candidates from St. Anne’s High School, the secondary department of St. Mary’s Girls’ Primary School.

Rev. Father O’Connor, of Moree, and formerly of Inverell, has been transferred to Quirindi, as assistant priest to Ven. Archdeacon Harrington, P.P. Father O’Connor has been assistant at Moree for about four years. Rev. Father Tuttle, a newly-ordained priest, who is at present at Quirindi, will take Father O’Connor’s place at Moree.

A wedding of interest to both Armidale and Maitland dioceses occurred last month, when Desmond, son of the late Mr. J. P. Fitzgerald and Mrs. Fitzgerald, of Kunderang Station, Macleay River, was married to Gladys, daughter of the late Mr. J. and Mrs. Richardson, of Gresford. The marriage was solemnised by the Rev. Father M. Kiernan at St. Helen’s Church, Gresford. Dr. Charles Fitzgerald, of Lewisham Hospital, brother of the groom, was best man, and the bridesmaid was Miss Joan Richardson (sister of the bride). The bride, who was escorted to the altar by her brother, Mr. Alfred Richardson, was smartly frocked in beige georgette, with hat en suite, whilst the bridesmaid was charmingly gowned in powder blue crepe de chine. After the ceremony the bride and bridegroom left on their honeymoon, which is being spent on a motor tour of New South Wales and Queensland.

Written by macalba

April 20, 2013 at 8:53 am

Geological surveys; report from the camp at Walcha

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The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser, Saturday 28 May 1853

Letter from the Rev. W. B. Clarke to the Honorable the Colonial Secretary, on the geological structure and auriferous condition of the country along the upper waters of the Namoi and Apsley Rivers.


Camp at Walcha,

28th December, 1852.

SIR—Since I last had the honor of addressing you, I have made the following journeys of exploration, viz.:—

1. From the junction of the Peel and Cockburn Rivers to the upper portion of the latter.

2. From my camp on the Cockburn, between Nimmengar and Brodie’s station, to the head of Moonbi Creek, and thence crossing the range of that name to Bendemeer.

3. From Bendemeer upwards along the Namoi (there called Muluerindie or Macdonald) to near Tara, at the junction of Congai Creek with the Namoi.

4. From Bendemeer to Balara, on “Carlyle’s Gully.”

5. From Carlyle’s Gully, through the bush, to Congai Creek, and across the “Dividing Range” to the eastern waters falling to the Apsley River.

6. From my camp, at the head of Bergen-op-Zoom Creek, to Walcha.

7. From Walcha to Waterloo and to the falls of the Apsley, and thence to the ranges between Stony Creek and Tiara Creek, which joins the Apsley in parallel channels.

8. From my camp above Stony Creek to Walcha

9. From Walcha to Tinker’s Falls, on Cobrabald Creek, and to the junction of that creek with the Namoi, crossing and re-crossing the “Dividing Range” at two points, separate eight miles from each other.

In these traverses many localities were visited out of the direct routes, though they are not named.

In these traverses I have been enabled to obtain full information as to the structure and conditions of a considerable tract of country, completing my exploration of an area of 2,400 square miles in the counties of Buckland, Parry, Inglis, Sandon, Vernon, and Hawes, and which comprehend the south-eastern portion of New England.

I have enumerated these separate lines of exploration because I wish to show that I have not contented myself with travelling along a high road, but have carefully worked out the country in the only way capable of unfolding its physical conditions.

(2.) I have now the honor of reporting, for the information of his Excellency the Governor General, what are the geological features of this tract, and its auriferous character.

The course of the “Main Dividing Range,” between the heads of the Page and Hastings River, is towards east 35° north; but about the latter point it trends to north 20° west, the continuation of those directions being marked by long spurs, which divide the waters falling from their intersection in the radiating channels that eventually join the Hunter, Manning, Hastings, Macleay, and Namoi.

Much of the “Dividing Range” and of these spurs is occupied by basalt, amygdaloid, and greenstone; the former distinguishes the range within the limits of the area now under discussion, and in consequence of the peculiar features frequently assumed by that variety of trap, the range itself becomes more regular in outline, presenting to the eye at a distance a flat table top summit, with but few prominent points above the general level, or with only slight undulations. It is, in fact, not distinguishable by any striking feature for miles at a time, and, in crossing it, it would almost be impossible to detect the anticlinal ridge without close observation, in consequence of the gentle character of the first falls of drainage. In this respect it differs from the character it assumes in the southern districts, where it is marked by culminating summits of great elevation which overlook the passes, and is, in consequence, of a bolder and wilder nature. But I have observed even here, where large tracts of well-wooded land or of open forest extend along the gentle declivities, or continue above the incipient drainages in extensive tracts of nearly equal elevation, the very same phenomenon which I have before mentioned as so strikingly illustrated between Maneroo and the coast; I mean the extremely narrow space which marks the actual division of the falls towards the east and the west, where these falls are nearest to each other. In one instance, between Walcha and Cobrabald Creek, an elevation of a few inches and a breadth of about two paces separates the waters of every shower that falls upon it into streams that pass off into channels which terminate on the one side, in the ocean near Smoky Cape, in the meridian of 150° east; and, on the other side, in the waters of Encounter Bay, in 139° east—an enormous separation, when the width and elevation above the sea of the actual line of division are taken into account.

(3.) I attribute this peculiar feature of the “Dividing Range” to the slowness of the process of elevation of such tracts from beneath the ocean, and the abrupt declivities of other localities along the range to more decisive and sudden paroxysms of the same process; and these, so different conditions of the case, serve to point out that interruption and partial delays, and unequal efforts of nature, took place in the disruption of the formations and in the outburst of the igneous masses that have produced the physical features of the “Cordillera,” and that, though now the elevated tracts of this continent are in a state of repose, in order to attain their present position, they must, through long periods of time, have been under the influence of various degrees of dynamical action, and subjected to the violence and gentle operations of the ocean according to circumstances. Where the upheaving, and consequently contrary depressing, forces were most intense, of which the igneous rocks of intrusion bear testimony, there will be found the most abrupt and broken declivities; but where these forces where of longer or gentler kind, and there the igneous rocks that occur appear to have flowed slowly, the character of the surface is correspondingly of a less marked and gentler aspect.

(4.) These correlative phenomena distinctly point out the great dependence of what is called natural scenery upon geological conditions, and the value of the pursuits of the geologist to the aspirer after eminence in some departments of the arts. The ordinary admirers of the wild or beautiful in the external landscape seldom, perhaps, understand, that it is with the causes that have produced or modified the gracefulness or sublimity of such scenes that geology is conversant; and many an artist fails in his attempts to imitate nature, because he does not perceive that, to become creator in art, he must necessarily obtain some insight into the laws by which what is called nature has been produced. No where, I imagine, could a student in art or nature obtain more useful aids to his invention than in contemplating the varied surface and slopes, the gorges and valleys, that adorn the narrow but important “Cordillera” of Australia. Having crossed and re-crossed it in no less than sixteen points throughout its undulating course, between the latitudes 31° and 36°, I cannot but pronounce it as interesting to the lover of the picturesque as it is instructive to the geological explorer.

(5.) The principal formations that produce the great diversity in the scenery and composition of the southern end of the “New England Table Land,” have been incidentally mentioned in my former reports. It is necessary now to lay before his Excellency a connected, though necessarily brief, account of the manner in which they are associated in the area defined by the traverses enumerated at the commencement of this report.

The peculiar transmuted rocks that were described as occurring along the tributaries of the Peel, in what are called “the Hanging Rock Diggings,” are continued through part of the country watered by Ogunbil or Dungowan Creek; and I found them in equal force along the Cockburn River for a considerable distance above the junction.

(6.) They afterwards became connected with quartziferous schistose rocks, which, for convenience, have been denominated slates, but which would, perhaps, be more distinctly expressed as slaty flags. I do not doubt that they are consecutive members of one vast formation of which I have before spoken; and should, hereafter, direct zoological evidence be produced as to the exact position of these slaty rocks in the geological scale, and that position be assigned to a lower level than I am inclined to adopt for them, the botanical evidence, from the altered shales of Goonoo Goonoo Creek and the Manilla, will be in strict agreement with similar facts observed in some parts, of Europe, in which there is a direct passage from the carboniferous to what was formerly called the “Transition” series, and the continuance of the plants belonging to the former into the beds composing the latter.

Whether this is, or is not, the case in New England, the slaty rocks become prominent along the Dividing Range, on the waters of the Apsley, on Cobrabald Creek, and on some parts of the Upper Namoi (or Macdonald), and are ranged on the eastern side of the granite, of which I shall have to make mention.

(7) These slaty beds are frequently hardened into a silicified rock, which retains the marks of the original lamination, and between, and through which, are innumerable veins and seams and bands and strings of quartz, of a different kind to that into which the once softer beds containing them have been transmuted. Numerous instances occur, as near Orundunbee, of contortions in the slaty and silicified masses; and, as the intrusive quartz follows as well as intersects the contortions, intruding between the laminæ; and, since soft unaltered, or slightly altered, beds alternate with hard brittle flinty beds; there can be no doubt that it is to the intrusion of silex in a hydrous form, and, probably, to the action of boiling water and steam, that these partial transmutations are due. Dry heat could not have acted so partially, hardening one bed and leaving another soft, but water charged with silex, or steam, could have so permeated the beds; and, where they become cracked transversely, may have produced the transverse connecting veins.

(8) As basalt and amygdaloid have intruded through the slaty masses, there is no necessity to enquire for the evidence of heat below the surface of the ocean, into which the original mud, now become slate or shale, subsequently hardened, was deposited; and if, as is probable, during various outbursts of trap, the sea water must have been occasionally heated so as to boil and to become steam (a probability shown by the occurrence of volcanic action in the ocean, as for instance in the rise of Paubellaria, in the Mediterranean, a few years since), it is not difficult to comprehend how the transmutations, exhibited amidst these New England schistose rocks, may have been chiefly brought about by silicification, through the agency of heated water or vapour. There is no other supposition which can so easily and satisfactorily account for ceous pebbles and fragments may still be traced the change sometimes exhibited in brecciated and conglomorate rocks, in which the separate siliceous pebbles or fragments have been connected into a homogeneous siliceous mass, in which each separate pebble and fragment may still be traced in its original outline. I am not aware whether geologists have adopted, already, any such solution of a difficulty presented to some of them but I suggest it here, because I am led to believe it to be the only feasible explanation of the condition of the rocks now in question.

(9) The occurrence of broad masses and long dykes (if such they can be) of quartz rocks amidst the slaty flags, themselves apparently bedded with the schistose beds, and equally with the latter traversed by veins of white quartz, may thus find explanation, having been intruded contemporaneously into the original muddy sediment, and, afterwards, impregnated with true veins cutting across the bedding lines and lamination. We may thus be led to understand why, as in Australia, ridges and bands of quartz that follow the strike of the slates that contain them, may be traced for miles and miles without a trace of auriferous mineral or gold, though in other instances, every quartz vein may be, more or less, auriferous. The difference depends upon the ages of the silicious intrusions, the impregnation of auriferous quartz having occurred at various epochs.

(10) The falls of the Apsley, and the creeks flowing tranversely (sic) to that river about the falls, are excellent localities in which to study the peculiarities and phenomena of the schistose beds.

The falls themselves have been much spoken of as a scene of almost unparalleled grandeur; but as a geological feature they are infinitely inferior to the gullies of the Shoalhaven, and are not so grand as some of the cataract gorges of King’s Table Land. The River Apsley, after collecting its waters in various sluggish channels, which sometimes expand into considerable reaches, and are oftentimes nearly obliterated, is suddenly arrested by a bar of slaty rock a mile or two below the head station of the Waterloo Run. At this point the breadth of the channel is about 86 yards, which I measured by pacing across the rocks at the edge of the fall, where a thin seam of quartz strikes from northwest across the beds. Below this bar there is a deep narrow gulf, into which, in times of flood, the river is precipitated. As the dip of the laminated beds is up the river, at such times the fall must be very beautiful; but at the period of my visit there was no fall of water whatever. The descent is nearly if not quite impracticable, except to such as can climb like a goat; I much regret that I was not sufficiently confident to venture upon an examination of the bed of the river below the falls, which by a series of observations on falling stones I make about 190 feet. Below the first fall, the river continues to precipitate itself over ledges of rock, the channel widening, till it attains a lower level and mingles with the McLeay. These falls occupy several miles of country; that which is reported to be the grandest occurring about nine miles below the first.

(11) Parallel with the Apsley, there runs a line of basaltic hills, which exhibit occasional passages into amygdaloid and other varieties of trap. This trappean eruption may be traced distinctly as bursting through the quartziferous schistone formation, from the Dividing Range along the eastern side of the Apsley to Orundunbee and through to the Walcha and Waterloo Runs to the very edge of the New England table land; I have myself traced it from the Dividing Range to near Tiara Creek. It is highly probable, that in the first instance the ravines which are now the sites of the falls were mere cracks in the slaty formation, induced by the tension of upheaval, and the transverse creeks falling into the Apsley from the southward, are the natural results of such a fracture, being (in perfect adjustment with the theory of upheaval so skilfully and satisfactorily illustrated by Mr. Hopkins) the cross dislocations mechanically produced by disruption. (12) These creeks as well as the river expose the phenomena of the formation which they traverse. They exhibit the formation as composed of alternating hard and soft material, of gritty flagstones, quartzite, and slate, the latter sometimes approaching the roofing variety, and as troubled by concretionary modifications of structure as well as by distinctly marked metamorphic action. Veins of quartz crowd together in some spots, at others larger veins occur in more solitary examples. The strike and dip vary with the concretionary forces, and the former is sometimes north and south, at others east and west, with intermediate directions; whilst, too, the harder masses put on the appearance of indistinct stratification, this is obscured in the more slaty varieties, and cleavage planes and joints become the most prominent features.

At the first fall, the dip of these planes is 82° to north, a little below it is 82° to southwest, and further on 82° to west south-west, and 82° to west. These variations are occasioned by concretionary action around a centre, through which the axis of dislocation must have passed. Indistinct lines of apparent bedding appear at intervals along the face of the cliffs.

(13.) At a spot on Stony Creek which I selected as a bath, a deep waterhole is interrupted by a mass of almost true writing slate, and as this locality exhibits many peculiar features of the formation, it may be useful to record them. The rock is blueish grey in color, and passes off into a grit and quartzite to the eastward. It assumes a boss-like form with irregular beds, striking upwards 10° to 14° on a bearing of 305°. It has a regular cleavage along a bearing of 127° at right angles to the horizon; it is also cleaved along a line of joints bearing 212°, the dip of cleavage being 40° towards the former cleavage strike, viz, 127° to 128°. Other joints cross these cleavages on a bearing of 64°, and veins of quartz cut obliquely through the first cleavage on bearings of 148° and 160°. Fragments of this cleaved rock naturally break off the mass in four sided tables, of rhomboidal outline, having the opposite angles respectively 64° and 166°.

These examples will show how much the original deposits have been modified and changed by various forces, in which thermo-electricity as well as mechanical violence may have had part. There is scarcely a mass of the formation exposed in any part of the district in which some such changes of structure cannot be traced. These phenomena are not however peculiar to New England. In Maneroo I often observed very similar examples; and in this respect, as well as in the general outlines of the surface and the disposition of the hills, there is a close analogy between the two districts.

(14.) This is still further confirmed by the occasional appearance of the conglomerate of “doubtful age,” which in the Apsley as well as in the Bombala country rests upon the slopes of the basaltic hills, looking like re-cemented fragments of quartz which were detritus at the time of the trappean outburst, and which have been converted by steam into a compact mass. After I had reported upon this occasional formation in my communications from Maneroo, I found a mass of this rock near Captain Campbell’s head station at Bombala, resting upon basalt, which had pierced the schistose rocks along the river, and in it there were numerous casts of the stems and bark of some plant which appeared to me to be marine or lacustrine. The casts of the interior of the stems were silicified, and I think therefore that the rock is what I have mentioned, a mass of ancient quartz gravel and sand, into which plants had been washed, at the bottom of a lagoon or creek, and that the trap converted it into breccia or conglomerate after the surface, had descended below the sea level. I have seen no plants yet in the similar rock in New England.

(15.) Whatever be the age of the slates, the occurrence of basalt and other trappean rocks along the narrow spine of the “Dividing Range,” on each side of which the schistose bed dips away at a considerable angle, with proofs of hardening and impregnation by silex, shows that much of them is younger than the slaty deposits; but as these deposits appear to rest upon granite, which at the various planes of contact exhibits evident proofs of interference with the former, it seems to me that the intrusion of trap is but the last of a series of similar phenomena, and that, whilst the transmuted grits and shales of Goonoo Goonoo and the Peel are charged with auriferous quartz in the Hanging Rock district, the slates were affected at an earlier period by the granite itself, which may be proved to be of later origin (in situ) than the slates.

(16.) The granite makes its first appearance en masse on the Cockburn River about eight miles from Tamworth: thence I have traced it across the Moonbi Creek along the Moonbi Range, across the McDonald, Congai Creek, and along the western side of the Dividing Range, and further to the west at the back of the ranges heading Mooara and Hall’s Creek, and so across Stony Gully and Carlyle’s Gully, and it will be crossed by me in further explorations to the north-west. But having thus followed it on three sides of its southern development, I have seen enough of it to discern its connection with the surrounding formations, to pronounce it younger than the slates at least, and certainly intrusive.

(17.) The constituents of some of this granite are quartz, frequently amethystine, black mica in oblique rhombic prisms, hornblende, and albite; the crystals of the latter being of considerable size, and impressed both by quartz and mica, as well as by the abundant hornblende which distinguishes the exterior portions of the mass. It is nodular and scales off in great flakes. On the Moonbi Ranges there are some considerable” rocking stones,” and some of the summits of the subordinate hills are pointed and topped by loose blocks which are partly disintegrated in situ. Veins of segregated quartz are not uncommon, some of them expanding into considerable masses; and distinct boss-like dykes of hornblendic granite, of the very finest grain, looking like mica slate, occasionally traverse the granite from west to east. On the Macdonald the granite becomes less hornblendic, but retains its nodular outline and structure, the crystals of albite assuming a fixed direction, as if indicating the line of flow. Segregated patches of hornblendic composition are numerous.

(18.) Not far from Nimmengar on the Cookburn, the south-east side of that river is bordered by some bare hills of very hard silicified rock, and on the opposite bank the granite is traversed by quartz dykes, and by dykes of pegmatic and other binary elvans. Nearer Tamworth it is separated from the transmuted rocks by a suspicious looking mass, which ia places appears to be sedimentary, and in others contains true trappean constituents. In contact with it, the supposed carboniferous beds are all transmuted, and thrown off at a high angle.

(19.) On the Macdonald, I found the plainest evidence of the character of the granite. A few miles above Bendemeer, the granite, which has occupied a low position in the bed of the river, comes in contact with a highly inclined hard grey siliceous rock, which stretches across the river from a lofty range along the left bank. The strike of this mass, which is bedded, is north and south. The approach of the granite is marked by veins of the same rock of binary composition, such as pegmatic, in one instance thirty-nine inches wide, sending off lateral threads, and entangling the older rock, which on the one hand passes into a soft slate or hornblendic rock, and on the other into a quartzite. Innumerable strings of quartz interlace it at this point, and are evidently of granitic origin.

The hornblendic varieties of the altered mass assume the appearance of mica slate, and furnish good scythe stones.

(20.) Passing from this spot, which is below Tara, to the ranges along the river at the upper northern bend, I came again upon a patch of this schistoe dark rock, of inconsiderable extent; and just below the junction of the Cockburn and Moonbi Creek, other patches were observed.

(21.) On the way to Carlyle’s Gully, I found the granite interrupted by a mass of the hardened siliceous rock occupying some space, succeeded by soft schist with quartz veins, and preceded by a dyke or elvan of porphyr, with double pyramids of quartz, the ground being strewn with fragments of the jasperiod, and other transmuted rocks, common in the Hanging Rock country, and which have been washed from the head of Stony Creek, where this change commences. The soft schist is succeeded, in its turn, by N. and S. beds of the hornblendic schist, inclined to the west horizon, at an angle of 50°, which are separated from the granite to the N.E., by the dykes of binary granite, or large grained pegmatite, which, at the junction with the granite, pass into quartz dykes.

(22.) At the head of Congi Creek, the granite is succeeded on the Dividing Range by similar changes of feldspathic and quartz dykes, quartzite and hornblendic schist, and on the eastern fall by slate full of large dykes of quartz. The strike on the range is N. and S., or N. 15° W., with a dip of cleavage 62° to W. In the bed of the first creek to the eastward, the strike of the head quartzite is W., and the dip 62° S.; this is, therefore, the locality of a boss-like concretionary mass.

The facts just enumerated distinctly prove that the same order of change is observable wherever the granite is in contact with the slates, and the conclusion must be that the granite is the younger and has produced these changes.

(23.) I have already reported the existence of an elvan of granite on Duncan’s Creek, and I have since found that a coarser granite becomes somewhat prominent at a little distance. Between the Peel and this locality, I also reported the occurrence of slates bearing quartz; and, therefore, I would extend my conclusions so as to admit that the remarkable transmuting influences that have left such evidences in all that district, may have been commenced by the granite, and continued by the subsequent operations of the trap. Since then the granite sends out quartz veins, it is not improbable that it has been the source of silicification of the rocks throughout this tract of country; and the office of the trap eruptions may have been to produce auriferous veins derived from the granite.

(24) Admitting that there may have been an older granite from which the slates were derived (mere mud of felspar deprived of its alkali), that the alkali of the felspar (become mud altered into slate) with the silicia of the felspar, mica, and quartz, acted upon by steam, may have become dykes and veins and beds, of intrusive quartz, still the evidence upon the whole is to establish the conclusion, that the hornblendic granite of the Moonbi and Namoi is of later origin in its present position than the slates themselves.

(25) In all these respects there is the closest analogy with the granite and associated rocks in the Braidwood country, and in various localities south of the Murrumbidgee. The surface of the granite country in this part of New England is precisely that of the Maneroo and Araluen granites, and putting together all the phenomena, there is a priori a just presumption that, as at Araluen and in the Alpine country, granite is auriferous, so will it be here; and as much of the slaty districts, though full of quartz, is not auriferous in Maneroo and Argyle, and yet that auriferous quartz does occur there, so in this part of New England similar results may be anticipated.

(26) I now, therefore, will endeavour to show how far these conclusions have been borne out by the facts observed by myself, in these respects.

Gold, undoubtedly, occurs at the head of Ogunbil or Dungowan Creek. Gold occurs also in the Cockburn. I found, at a spot where about six persons were established, a little above Brodie’s Station, a patch of soil, some feet below the bank of the river, of exactly the same character and constitution as that which furnishes the “dry diggings” at Hanging Rock. It is chiefly a decomposed serpentine impregnated with lime, derived from a spring in the bank, and with this lime some fragments of greenstone from a dyke in the vicinity were coated. This soil contains gold, as I personally proved. Close to it, the hard siliceous rock was traversed by a vein of quartz in which gold was visible, and from which it was extracted. The direction of this vein was 240 degrees, with a trend of 64 degrees to south-east. As the direction was evident by the prominent summit of a hill lower down the river, and through which I traced a quartz dyke to the granite, I think in this case, at least, the relations of the phenomena are those of cause and effect.

In all the creeks falling into the Cockburn gold is readily procured. Gold in small particles was found to occur on the upper part of the Moonbi Creek, in granitic detritus.

(27) Above Bendemeer, and below the junction of the granite with the transmuted rock, scale gold was procured by me at every accessible point which I tried in the river bed.

At Tara, at the junction of Congai Creek, I did not myself wash any soil; but there are persons digging there who obtain it in small quantities.

On Carlyle’s Gully Mr. Buchanan, junior, washed in my presence, from the surface of the granite on the creek near his house, gold of a very small rounded form, similar to that which occurs on Rocky River, and which I have denominated gunpowder gold from its granulated small appearance. It was also procured from the joints between the nodules of hard granite in the bed of the creek, I feel convinced gold will be found in Stony Creek, a branch of Carlyle’s Gully, and on the granite platform. The drainage falls along little channels like those at the head of Major’s Creek. It has been reported to me that it has been found there by a prospector. Mr. Buchanan promised to examine it near the junction of the gully.

(28) At the head of the Congai Creek gold occurs in quartz. I found gold also in quartz running through slate at my camp, on a knoll near a station at the head of Bergen-op-Zoom Creek, which is one head of the Apsley. I was drenched with the rain of a severe tempest and could not explore. The adjoining country is covered by quartz.

Gold has been reported to me as found in several places near Walcha; I have been unsuccessful; but on the run of that name (a tract of 100 square miles), I have found such indications as are common; rubies, zircons, and magnetic iron. In fact rubies and zircons, and the gems common in goldfields, are found in all parts of the country. The nearest approach to gold is a portion of a quartz vein with auriferous pyrites, which I took from the bed of the Apsley, near Walcha head station. I do not doubt that there is gold on this run, for the whole of the superficial and other phenomena justify the belief; and several persons tell me they have found it. I am not, however, sanguine respecting it, as there is a great similarity in some places, to the non-auriferous quartziferous slates of Maneroo.

Near Waterfoo, gold has been found in some of the gullies eastward of the Apsley, and one fragment, which I saw, of quartz, containing bright gold, was picked up a little above the head station. Gold is also found in Stony Creek, one of the gullies transverse to the Apsley below the second fall, and in the Emu Creek, six miles from Waterloo.

(29.) At Cobrabald and at Inglebar Creeks (as before mentioned) there is a little gold, and I saw it washed from the surface at the junction of the former with the Namoi. It has been also found in a creek at the back of Surveyor’s Creek, and in the latter in the granitic portion.

(30.) So far, then, as I have gone, I have found the country generally auriferous in some degree; and I am convinced that the same disposition apparent in its distribution along the Peel and its tributaries is persistent thus far. We may therefore anticipate that auriferous veins will be found occasionally distributed amidst the slates and altered rocks; and that there are various auriferous patches amidst others that contain no gold; the success therefore of the gold digger must depend upon various contingencies. But I feel sure that in the granite country there is far more probability of success, for the gunpowder gold of the Rocky River is found more or less all the way to the Cockburn.

I have not mentioned other metals, but such exist, and hereafter I may have an opportunity of reporting upon them.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

W. B. CLARKE. The Hon. the Colonial Secretary.

Written by macalba

September 26, 2011 at 8:06 am

Around New England

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Tuesday 27 October 1868, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser


(Abridged from the Armidale papers of Saturday.)

The drawing in a lottery in aid of the fund for erecting an Oddfellows’ Hall in Armidale, began on the 19th, and closed on the 20th. There is some complaint about delay and confusion through imperfect arrangements.

Violent Hailstorm.-On Friday night last week there was a thunderstorm at Armidale. The rain fell pretty heavily, and the hail knocked off much fruit and broke a little glass. Along a line from Mr. Markham’s to old Hillgrove the hail was heavier, and did more damage. On Tuesday afternoon a violent thunder, rain, and hail storm swept over Armidale. The hail damaged orchards, but broke little or no glass. The wind was violent, and rain fell in torrents, inundating streets, choking culverts, and sweeping through houses. For twenty years at least so much rain had not fallen here in so short a time. In about 20 minutes the fall in town was 3.28 inches, and in some places out of town about 4 inches. Some damage was done to property, and fencing was carried away. On the upper part of Saumarez Creek, hail, some of which was as large as pullets’ eggs, cut the young wheat to pieces in a belt scarcely half a mile wide, roofs were blown off outbuildings, one house narrowly escaped being crushed by a falling tree, and many trees were torn up or broken off. Some farmers who had been struggling to free themselves from difficulties have lost considerably in positive damage to their property, but it is hoped that the wheat chopped down will spring again to a crop. It did so after the great hail storm of Oct. 21 (last Tuesday was Oct. 20) four years ago. It is fortunate indeed that no loss of life has been reported. Express.

Mr. T. A. Perry, of Bendemeer, has sent the Express some wine, a sample of his first vintage at “Lumala;” a proof of the capabilities of the southern part of the tableland.

The crops about Glen Innes are reported to be in splendid condition.

Thunderbolt is said to have visited Wellingrove on the 14th, and to have spent a few hours there quietly.

MURDER.-A most diabolical murder was committed a few days back, at Furrackabad Station, by a black-fellow, on a half-caste girl about ten years of age. It seems he knocked the unfortunate child’s brains out with either a stone or a stick. An enquiry was held by order of A. F. C. Dumeresq, Esq., J.P., when Dr. Skinner held a post-mortem examination. The body had to be exhumed, and the doctor, accompanied by Constable Lowther, examined the body, when the injuries were found so great that almost instant death must have taken place. The child was well known in the town. It seems also that she had been violated. A warrant was signed by the magistrate presiding at the enquiry.- Glen Innes Cor., Oct. 19

About Inverell the lambing is over ; the average percentage is about 95; the squatters are taking great pains with their sheepwashing. The crops look well, but rain is still wanted.

At Frazer’s Creek, Messrs. Macdonald have been washing their sheep with hot water. Rain has fallen in that neighbourhood.

Written by macalba

December 7, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Bendemeer Tin Mines

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Thursday 20 February 1873, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

The extreme scarcity of news must be my apology for not sending you any.

I hear that the state of our present lock-up and the necessity for a new one are to be brought before the notice of the House ; such being the case we may probably look forward to a new one being shortly built.

A new public-house is now opened in Bendemeer, the proprietor of which is Mr. James Kennedy, who some 5 or 6 years back conducted a house in Uralla. The house is situated close to the bridge now being built below the Police Barracks.

We are indulging in an unusual abundance of fruit, grapes excepted. These are, in most cases, severely blighted, rendering them useless.

Some good-looking quartz has been discovered somewhere in the neighbourhood of Watson’s Creek, at least I was told that was the locality. I have seen a specimen, and it looks very well.

We have had a few genial showers, which have had a beneficial effect in refreshing the grass, but I think a little more rain would be of benefit.

Feb. 14.

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July 19, 2010 at 8:06 pm

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Saturday 7 March 1868, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

(From the Armidale papers, Feb. 29.)

On Sunday there were several thunderstorms, and the Armidale Greek was bank high for a time. On Monday another thunderstorm put the creek over its banks in some places. Monday night and Tuesday were very cold, but since then the weather has been pleasant. Grass is abundant. — Express.

BUNDARRA.–The country all around Bundarra is looking most beautiful. Late rains have given an abundance of grass ; with that we shall have plenty of fat beef – Since my last, two horses, supposed to be Thunderbolt’s, have been brought into the pound from Abington run. One is a handsome bay horse ; the other is a chesnut, white face and three legs white. The chesnut’s white face has been lately blackened. Our police have returned.- 24th Feb., 1868.- Correspondent, Express.

INVERELL.– FEBRUARY 25.- Yesterday, information was brought into town that the body of a man and a horse had been discovered, near to each other, at a short distance from Reedy Creek; the man was aged, and had apparently been dead about three weeks. The body, when found, was in a recumbent position. The horse had evidently been starved to death, as it was observed fastened to a sapling by a dog chain. Upon the foregoing circumstance being known, Senior-constable Farnsworth immediately started to ascertain further particulars by an investigation. A three storied flour and saw-mills, has been erected at Spencer’s Gully, Byron, by Mr. S. N. Dark, formerly of Clarence Town, and which is in full operation. The time from commencing to completion of the building, was within six weeks. The flour mill has two pair of stones ; the saw mill eleven circular saws, of different sizes. The whole has been erected under the superintendence of Mr. Dark, without the assistance of either carpenter, engineer, or miller. There is not the slightest doubt but that success will attend the spirited enterprise – Correspondent, Telegraph.

BENDEMEER, — A correspondent of the Express writes that on Sunday, Feb. 22, a shepherd of Mr. Perry’s was missing, under rather suspicious circumstances — the flock being all in the yard and the dog fastened up in the hut, Mr. Perry, on hearing of this, proceeded to the station, where he saw a man mounted on a grey horse, and a boy on a bay or brown cob, with a small mob of horses bailed up against one of his sheep yards. The man was coming towards him, he thought with the intention of opening a slip panel to yard the horses. Mr. Perry called to him, and he immediately galloped off, followed at full speed by Mr. Perry and his servant, but Mr. Perry, recollecting he was unarmed, reluctantly gave up the chase, which for a few moments was quite as exciting as a native dog hunt. Mr. Perry’s man suggested that they should take the boy, so they galloped back to where they had left him, but be had disappeared, and the horses they found within a few yards of the station. The horses the man and boy were on, are supposed to have been those stolen from Mr. Gibson’s station a few days ago. A violent storm came up soon after, stopping the chase, and obliterating all the tracks. It is said that six horses have been missed from Bendemeer within a few days.

GLEN INNES. –We have had a couple of days of heavy rain, still from the eastward, and even now the weather, though showery, does not seem settled either one way or the other. – On Saturday, 22nd Feb., a race meeting was held, and the programme arranged ready for publication. – The Bank of New South Wales has purchased Mr. A. Fletcher’s new house for bank purposes. It is reported that Mr. Robey, the present manager, is likely to be removed ; if so, he will be regretted, from his courteousness and willingness to oblige. -Feb. 24, 1868.- Cor. Armidale Express.

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July 17, 2010 at 8:09 pm

News from Bendemeer

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Friday 4 March 1864, The Sydney Morning Herald

Thursday evening.

All the mail bags were got over by a rope fastened on to trees. The river has been bank high for several days, and is now rising fast. To-day, a man named James McGrath, attempting to swim across the river, was carried down stream and drowned ten yards from the bank. A person named Reid tried to rescue him, but was too late ; the body has not yet been found. Too much praise cannot be awarded to the postmaster, who was most indefatigable-in getting the mails over to the south side of the river. After the mails were passed, about a dozen men crossed over on a rope by means of a ring. A flood expected soon.

There was a great storm on Sunday night, when some portions of the telegraph wire between here and Tamworth were broken by falling trees.

It has been raining for a week.

Races are announced to take place here on the 15th of March.

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July 13, 2010 at 8:01 pm

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Haystack fire

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Saturday 8 April 1871, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser


[Herald] – Last night, between 8 and 9 o’clock, some man, at present unknown, fired one of Mr. Perry’s haystacks. Mrs. Perry saw the match struck, and a man run away; she called fire, when Mr Perry, jun. rushed out and extinguished about a yard of flame with his hands, which are severely burnt.

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May 9, 2010 at 6:05 am

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Man killed; weather gloomy.

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Wednesday 24 February 1864, The Sydney Morning Herald

Tuesday, 2 p.m;

A man in the employ of Mr. Dangar, of Gostwyck, while riding on the Salisbury Racecourse, was thrown from his horse, and killed on the spot.

Weather gloomy.

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May 8, 2010 at 2:02 pm

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The trip from Inverell to Murrurundi in 1873

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Tuesday 18 March 1873, The Sydney Morning Herald



MY last missive treated of Inverell and its tin mines, short as it was, yet it was the result of a week’s weary wandering through swollen creeks and over roads heavy as black soil moistened could make them. Before taking my departure from the town, by invitation I attended one of those social little reunions so much prized by lovers of all that is English, “a public dinner,” given by the friends of Mr. E. V. Morriset to that gentleman prior to his departure from their midst. Mr. Morriset was for a considerable period manager of Byron station ; in that capacity he made many friends, fast and true and the “Inverellites” could not allow him to leave without tendering some token of regard. A neat little banquet at Mather’s where about thirty took seats to do honour to their guest, gave a fitting opportunity for a few short but expressive speeches, fraught with manly friendliness and good feeling towards Mr. Morriset.

Away from Inverell, in the direction of Tamworth, I for a second time made the acquaintance of that model township Bundarra, To reach it I had to cross the Bundarra, or Big River, which flows close to the town. I found it up “with a vengeance”-teams, buggies, and other vehicles waiting on either side for the falling of the water. There is no disguising the fact this river requires a bridge across it at this particular point. The traffic on the road of late has much increased, being as it is the shortest route to the mines around Inverell, and a main mail line. Cobb and Co, meet the difficulty ; and what difficulty is that that enterprising company will not meet by placing a coach on each side of the stream and conveying the mails across by boat.

To relate my own experiences. I found the river far too swift and deep for a trial, and so had to charter the boat, a private one of the flat-bottomed class, took off my saddle and trappings, and swam my horse by a lead. Had I travelled with a buggy a week’s detention would have been the result, as in the case of some commercial travellers I found in the town. Bundarra is about to receive the blessing of a telegraph line shortly, and, when in the vein for improvement, the Government might attend to a few more wants. The Court and its business, for instance, I found that tedious and vexatious delays oft occur through the absence of a petty sessions clerk, also from the non-appointment of some J.P.s in the district. The Inverell clerk; I was informed, receives £50 per year for his attendance at stated times at Bundarra, but through pressure of business at Inverell and distance, he rarely puts in an appearance, nor could he be expected so to do. I heard much dissatisfaction expressed by many engaged as witnesses in cases, at the loss of time these bad arrangements at Bundara occasioned, and for that reason give it publicity.

From Bundarra to Stony Batter is about 30 miles, over a middling road, and almost a level country. Stony Batter is not a place I would care to reside in, and if I had to stay there I would not put up at its only hotel. A short track, only available for horsemen or light vehicles, leads through Longford station, and brings the traveller in 30 miles to Bendemeer – a postal town on the main Northern road. This town is about 30 miles from Tamworth and 60 from Armidale, bordering the table-lands close to the Moonbi Ranges. The country around is one of rare beauty at this season ; suitable for agricultural or pastoral uses. Tin and diamonds have of late been discovered in its vicinity. Several parties are around, working good selections or prospecting. Want of time alone prevented me paying them a visit.

In no part of the colony have I noticed such active operations in road making and repairing as I met in my progress from Bendemeer to the Moonbl. Badly the road required what it is at present receiving, for in many parts the heavy traffic cut it up dreadfully. Six miles from the town, the famous hill known as the Moonbi on the chart, and the “Moonboys'” as pronounced by all I heard utter its name. It is a hill, and a nasty one for a heavy-laden team to rise. The gradients are, however, gradual, and the pinches few in its length (about four miles). To descend is pleasant enough. Warmer and warmer grows the atmosphere as the traveller leaves the New England district and enters the Liverpool Plains. The day I rode down it I felt light, as my attire was the bearer or wearer of a coat too many. Onward for eight miles, through a picturesque country, with lofty hills well timbered on each side, I made the township of Moonbi, where the first of the agricultural country claiming Tamworth for its market commences.

Bendemeer is but a small place, but Moonbi is more diminutive still, merely a village on the road side. Yet from the excellence of its hotels, it is a favourite halting place for travellers. From this pleasant village I made an early start for Tamworth, distant about fourteen miles. Farms on each side of the river – the Peel – extend all along the way ; the road running right of the stream. ‘The homesteads and their well-fenced lots make the way pleasant to one that too often journeys along through the blank bush ; for I confess, much as I like the grandeur of wild bush scenery, I prefer having a chance sight of a human habitation on the road.

It was my first visit to Tamworth and I made the town’s acquaintance under peculiar and favourable circumstances, for I entered it on a gala day, the first of the Tamworth annual races. The races I have already rendered an account of. The town has been so oft described that I suppose it is as well known by my readers as by myself, yet a few lines concerning it may not prove too boring.

Tamworth, distant from Murrurundi, the present terminal railway station, about 60 miles, is the capital town of the Liverpool Plains district, and I must, for information sake, state is not connected or a part and parcel of the Armidale or any other New England district. A great town now it expects to become greater. Town allotments are valuable ; one intended for the Commercial Bank, not much too large for the building, recently brought £700. The country around is a splendid one for agriculture, and selections innumerable extend for miles around the town, giving employment to two mills, one of them an immense affair to outward appearance. Large as these grinders of wheat are, another is needed, and will shortly be supplied, the speculation of two of the worthy townsfolk, estimated to amount when built and fitted to over £5000.

The principal portion of the buildings stands on a flat close to the river side unfortunately too low in flood times. This lamentable want of judgment in the selection of town sites is not alone chargeable to Tamworth. Too many of our towns have the same fault ‘ a reason for it is easily obtained. Early settlers, as a rule, squat down as close to the river side as possible particularly if business people and the main or any other line of road runs close to its banks. This was the case with Tamworth the road was close to the river, and there was erected a store, a public house, and a blacksmith’s shop. The place grew in importance, and the buildings became more plentiful, but all around the old centre. Thus it is when the Peel River grows angry from long rains, it takes its revenge out of the lower and principal part of the town; cuts up the road, washes away its metal, and, after doing serious damage of other kinds, again seeks its bed. The puzzle is why the present main road was not formed over the higher ground, which forms the central part of the town, as laid out.

It would have been far more economical and many think better judgment, but as in the case of Mahomet and the mountain, I suppose as the buildings could not go to the Government road, the road had to go to the buildings. The country sloping up from the road in question for a mile backed by spurs of the Moonbi, affords a capital position for buildings well drained and free from all danger of floods. On and along this portion of the town some of the best buildings have been erected. The School of Arts or Mechanics Institute, and the churches are neat buildings, and the latest addition is a fine Oddfellows Hall. The latter building I inspected interior and exterior.It stands on an excellent site, is substantially built of brick with a handsome front. A fine lofty well ventilated hall, well lighted and furnished, having a gallery at back, is admirably suited for meetings or entertainments. The oddfellows of Tamworth deserve credit for their energy and efforts to promote the interests of the order.

Strolling through the town, at the lower end, I had a peep at the hospital, a neat cottage building, surrounded by verandahs well sheltered by vines, forming an excellent cool promenade for the patients. Entering the hall of the building, on the right and left are two large wards for males, lofty and scrupulously clean. Past them to the back is the female ward, on the left, and opposite it, the dispensary and surgery. The attendants have quarters at the back of the building, where, in a spacious yard, the outoffices, bathroom, and wards for infectious diseases are placed. The medical staff consists of Drs. Dowe and Tayler. I was informed by one of the committee that much dissatisfaction exists among the townsfolk at the non-restoration of the former Government subsidy, rescinded sometime back, which was pound for pound collected ; now only half that sum is voted. The fact of patients, coming hundreds of miles to this hospital for treatment (and many do) entitles it to special attention.

Opposite the town, across the river, which is spanned by a wooden bridge in a ricketty, condition, as regards its upper works, I had a look at the portion of the town situated on the Peel River Company’s ground, This company holds a small slice of country, a portion of the original A. A. Co.’s grant. The country held attends along the Peel as far as Nundle; taking in the river’s windings it amounts to about 50 miles of river frontage: back it extends 10 miles. I may be incorrect in estimate of the block’s size, but I am positive in the statement of its being the choicest portion of Liverpool Plains, selected long ereTamworth dreamt of becoming a fitting place for the iron horse to drag a ponderous load along. The Church of England school, of stone, is on this side of the river, also some good substantial business places. Leases of building blocks and sales of lots are offered by the company on terms fairly liberal.

Strange to think, Tamworth is not incorporated : unfortunately, like many other towns, private interests will not become subservient to the public good There is not, what there ought to be, and will be eventually, a law compelling towns over a certain population to adopt local municipal institutions. The post and telegraph office in the town seems to be one of the fairest specimens of that class of building met by me in my wanderings. There can be no question as to its able management in Mr A’Beckett’s hands, but how hard worked that gentleman must be, with a dally mail from Sydney, and mails for and from all sorts of places arriving and departing at all hours day and night. From general observation throughout the colony I have ere this arrived at the idea that I would not like to be a postmaster. The Court-house is not a bad one, roomy enough for the purpose, but the police arrangements in the shape of accommodation are rather scattered.

The coaching along the Northern road from Murrurundi up to Queensland, with branches to towns en route, is really praiseworthy. Cobb and Co. strive to overcome every difficulty, the vehicles are good, and the horses A 1, as a rule in fine condition. I enjoyed my jaunt from Tamworth to Murrurundi ; sixty miles in 9 hours, with ample time for refreshment on the road allowed, is not at all a bad pace. Murrurundi I found not as bright as formerly ; the prospect of rail extension is not a blissful one for the holders of land in the town, and it is astonishing how much the value of building lots has depreciated.

The School of Arts, a neat handsome structure, is now nearly complete, and will soon be occupied. In notes published of Murrurundi eight months back, I particularly referred to the disgraceful state of the building used as a Public school. I was sorry to find on passing through the same complaint reached my ears. Is there no remedy ? Surely no inspector would visit the building without adding his condemnation to that of the district people.

Written by macalba

April 22, 2010 at 8:00 pm

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