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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

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

Horse stealing charge

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Saturday 18 September 1847, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

Edward Roberts was indicted for having stolen a mare, the property of Michael Quinlin, at Armidale, on the 3rd February, 1847.

Mr. Purefoy appeared for the defence.

The Solicitor General having stated the circumstances, called Michael Quinlin, who deposed that he was a storekeeper, residing at Armidale, New England, and that in February last he lost a black mare, which had been at his door on the evening of the 2nd, but could not be found next day. Witness had never seen her since, and he believed she was now dead. Witness had had her about eighteen months; she was a black mare, between thirteen and fourteen hands high, branded (upsidedown-B)E on the near shoulder, having a white stripe down the face, and a little white on one of the hind feet, just above the hoof, with a large head, a roman nose, a shortish black mane, and a thick neck; the tail had been docked, but the hair had grown long again ; she had been bought by witness as a five-year-old mare ; she was broken in to draught and saddle, but had no saddle marks ; she was smooth and in good condition when witness lost her, but was not shod ; the prisoner was at Armidale about that time, in Mr. Odell’s service, witness believed ; witness never saw him there. Tamworth was about seventy miles from Armidale.

This witness was cross-examined at great length by the jurors and Mr. Purefoy as to marks, shape, &c. distinguishing the mare.

Edwin Whitfield deposed that he lived, in February last, at Mr. Dangar’s station of Moonboy, on Liverpool Plains ; this was about twelve miles from Tamworth, on the New England side. “Witness bought a mare from the prisoner in February last; the receipt produced was the one witness got from prisoner ; it was dated 27th February, which was on a Monday, when witness paid £13 for the mare, and prisoner delivered her by telling him to go and take her out of the stable. The bargain was made on the Thursday previous. The overseer of the station was present when witness paid for the mare. Witness rode her away to where he was working, seven miles off, and tethered her, but in the morning he found the rope was broken, and the mare gone; he traced her a short distance in the direction of New England, and went about eight miles to the McDonald River, searching for her, but could hear no tidings, nor had he ever since seen her. About a fortnight before witness bought the mare, he saw the prisoner riding on what he believed was the same mare, past his place from the direction of New England ; prisoner told him he had found his mare at last, after he had lost her two years, and that a man had ridden her from the McLeay River to Armidale, where Mr. Odell had seen her and claimed her for him. A few days after witness lost the mare he saw prisoner at the McDonald River, and told him of his loss, and asked prisoner for a more exact description than the receipt gave, that witness might advertise the loss. Prisoner told him she had, he thought, a little white on the off hind foot. Witness bought her as being branded (upsidedown-R)E, and remarked to prisoner that the R turned in like a B, but prisoner said the brand had run. The witness was then examined at some length as to her marks, but his answers were given with the qualification that he had not particularly observed her ; he was sure she was a black mare with white on forehead.

The witness was cross-examined further by Mr. Purefoy and the jurors as to the marks, and by Mr. Purefoy as to the persons present when witness saw the prisoner at different times, and to the circumstances attending the interviews.

Stephen Parrott deposed that he was overseer at Moonboy, and recollected Whitfield buying a mare or horse from prisoner ; witness saw the money paid, but did not see the animal ; witness shortly after saw a black mare or horse tied up to the verandah, but did not notice it particularly ; witness had seen prisoner riding a similar animal about a fortnight previous ; did not know whether it was branded ; it had a long tail. The mare was sold on a Monday. Prisoner stopped there that night, and left next morning after breakfast.

John Bainton Smith deposed that he was clerk of the bench at Tamworth, and that on the 13th and 14th of February he rode from Murrurundi to Tamworth, in company with James Grady, then acting as mailman ; Grady had a little black mare with him, which he offered to sell to witness; she was from 14 to 14½ hands high, coarsely bred, heavy head, roman nose, with a blaze of white down her face, and a white rim round the off hind fetlock ; she was branded (upsidedown-B)E, Captain Biddulph’s brand ; was plump, with a long tail. Grady did not claim the mare as his.

James Grady deposed that in February last he rode the mail two trips between Tamworth and Murrurundi, and back again, for prisoner, who was then mailman, but was laid up by a kick of a horse ; the black mare seen with him by Mr. Smith on his first return trip was given to him by prisoner to take the mails for him while laid up. Witness did not much notice her marks or brands. Witness got her shod after his first return from Murrurundi to Tamworth.

Mr. Smith was here re-called to prove that certain statements of the prisoner attached to the depositions were made by him before the committing bench, but as Mr. Smith could not swear they were written down in the very words of the prisoner, although he knew they were written in the sense he (witness) understood him, Mr. Purefoy objected to the statement being put in, and his Honor sustained the objection.

David Lumden deposed that he was chief constable of Tamworth, and apprehended prisoner at Moonboy on the 21st March ; witness told him on what charge he was arrested ; on the way to Tamworth witness asked him some questions relating to the charge, to which prisoner replied that he got the mate in truck from a man whom he did not know, two years before ; that he had no receipt ; that he did not know what brand was on her when he got her, but that he put his own brand on her, and that he was sure to get out of this trouble, as the mare would be forthcoming, and he knew where she was ; that he had sold her to a man named Whitfield ; prisoner did not tell witness he had lost her for two years.

By Mr. Purefoy : Witness had a good recollection ; his memory was as good now as when he was before the magistrates. [The witness’s deposition was then put in and read.] Witness thought he did tell the magistrates that the prisoner told him he had sold the mare to Whitfield, and that he knew where she was, although it was not so stated in his deposition.

William Walker deposed that he lived at the McDonald River, and that in February Whitfield came to his place about a mare he had lost, and that about a fortnight after Mr. Quinlin came ; while about a fortnight before either came the prisoner was at his place, but he could remember nothing particular about either.

John Barnes deposed that he knew Mr. Quinlin’s mare, having broken her in three or four years ago, since which she had been sold two or three times ; at the latter end of February or beginning of March witness saw a black mare, which he then and still believed to be the same, standing m a blacksmith’s shop at Tamworth, but witness did not see the brand, and only the hind quarters of the mare.

Mr. Smith was recalled to repeat from recollection the prisoner’s statement, and the written statement was handed up to refresh his memory. Mr. Purefoy objected that no parole evidence was admissible when the same matter was contained in a written document, present in court, but not eligible in itself. The court overruled the objection, on the ground that the document was only to be used to refresh the witness’s memory, and that parole evidence of the statement was admissible ; but at the request of Mr. Purefoy, his Honor made a note of the objection. Mr. Smith then deposed that the prisoner first made a statement that he had obtained the mare as a legacy from some man whom he named who had died on the road near Scone ; Mr. Bligh, however, one of the sitting magistrates, told the prisoner he knew this was incorrect ; on this prisoner said that he got the mare from a man named McDonald, and that he lost her on the McLeay River about two years ago ; that about seven weeks before that day (the 7th April) he had found her hobbled at Armidale, apparently having been hard ridden.

Grady was recalled, and examined by Mr. Purefoy : Witness saw prisoner on the Thursday previous to his meeting with Mr. Smith; prisoner was then suffering from a bad leg, at Mr. Levy’s, at Tamworth; witness was not certain when the prisoner got the kick from the horse.

Mr. Purefoy addressed the jury for the defence. He could not see what portion of the evidence could satisfy their minds that the mare sold by the prisoner to Whitfield was the same mare that was lost by Quinlin ; the prisoner’s conduct was altogether inconsistent with the idea of his having dishonestly come by the mare. The jury, before they could find him guilty, must be satisfied not only that the mare was the same, but that it was the prisoner who stole it. The brands and marks, as described by the various witnesses, were altogether irreconcilable with the idea of its being the same mare, and if she were, and the prisoner knew that she was stolen, was it not utterly improbable he would hand her over for use to the mail-driver, where every day she would run the risk of being recognised. The learned gentleman then went through the evidence.

The Solicitor General replied.

His Honor having summed up, the jury retired for about ten minutes, and returned with a verdict of guilty. Sentence deferred.

Written by macalba

October 26, 2010 at 8:01 pm

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Overland Passengers

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Monday 26 August 1895, The Brisbane Courier


The following passengers travelled by mail train to-day :

For Sydney : Messrs. P. E. Wynter, L. Rosejagger, R. Frost, B. Swinburn, E. J. Griffith, R. Hilliard, and F. Knox, Miss A. Bent, Mr. E. T. Wright.

For Moonbi : Mrs. F. Lamb and family.

For Armidale : Mrs. A. Fisher and Dr. Fisher.

Written by macalba

May 13, 2010 at 2:06 pm

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The Northern Railway Extension from Tamworth

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Friday 11 August 1876, The Sydney Morning Herald

To The Editor Of The Herald

SIR, – As the subject of railway extension is engaging the attention of the whole colony more or less, so to speak, and noticing a letter in your column of the 22nd ultimo, signed “Thomas Moser,” I desire to make a few remarks in reply.

Mr. Moser strongly recommends the Armidale route and supposes most of the members of Parliament totally unacquainted with the country, otherwise his apparently pet line would be adopted.

Before the line via Manilla, Barraba, and on to Inverell, is so sweepingly condemned, it may not be out of place to compare the relative merits of both routes.

The Moonbi range has been considered the great bugbear to overcome in constructing a railway line to Armidale.

But lo ! and behold, the range can be avoided, and’ by a tortuous and circuitous route the line may be made to Armidale. But what is the nature of the country to be traversed? Why, all along the Cockburn river the country is mountainous, hilly, and rugged, with exception of a few patches good land here and there adjoining the watercourse.

The country all around Surveyor’s Creek maybe similarly described, and no one who has travelled there would for one moment compare it to the rich and fertile district all along the line from Tamworth to Inverell, by way of Barraba, Bingera, and Myall Creek.

There are it few good farms about Walcha, but their area is very limited indeed.

Leaving Walcha behind,there in nothing worth mentioning until you come to the vicinity of Armidale, where there is certainly excellent agricultural land ; but unless farming is carried on upon scientific principles in that district, it will in a few years become another Camden, where the country was so often cropped with the same cereal (wheat) that the strength and substance of the soil became completely exhausted. and farming had to be given up.

Armidale farms are fast approaching this climax, as the average yield last year was only 11 bushels per acre.

Mr. M. wisely says but little of the route beyond Armidale, but suggests that there would be would be no difficulty in crossing the Commissioner’s water, said water being about five miles due east of Armidale on the Grafton road, I suppose, this divergence is meant in order to avoid the “Devil’s Pinch,” situated nearly halfway between Glen Innes and Armidale, and presenting engineering difficulties of no mean order.

Now, let any unbiased, unprejudiced party or posse of members from both sides of the Assembly look at the geographical position of the two routes referred to; and, with the surveyors and engineers’ reports before them, they would to a dead certainty never recommend a main trunk line, via Armidale, according to the route described by Mr. Moser and others, who appear to have little or no knowledge of the country they condemn by way of Barraba.

In a national point of view it would be to the interest and benefit of any Government to construct the main line of railway so as to embrace good land, large resources, as well as being centrally situated.

The route by Barraba, and the other places mentioned, possesses all those qualifications in a pre-eminent degree, as testified by the able report of that line by Mr. Surveyor Wade.

Mr. Abbott, the member for the Tenterfield electorate has been roundly rated by Mr. Moser, and other Armidale champions for giving a true and faithful description of the country from Tamworth to Inverell, as well as graphically pourtraying the Armidale route, he (Mr. Abbott) knows so thoroughly, which appears to have been very unsavoury to our Armidale neighbours.

Mr. Moser asks how it comes about that we had to send so many thousands of our sheep and cattle to the Armidale district last summer in order to save their precious necks, the answer is easily given.

The Armidale district was favoured with copious showers of rain when most of tho colony was suffering from the effects of a severe drought, and flockmasters has no alternative but travel their stock wherever feed was to be found.

Now, with reference to the country between Tamworth and Barraba (a distance of sixty miles, and almost level), it cannot be surpassed ; but it has been termed a barren waste. What are the facts? Mr Edward Newton, J. P., has grown wheat which yielded45 bushels to the acre. Mr. Salter has grown maize which gave returns of 60 bushels to the acre. The vine grows luxuriantly, and the wine produced compares favourably with the celebrated Bukkulla wine of this district, and the resources all along the entire route on to the Queensland border immeasurably transcends that by way of Armidale.

Take, for instance, the quantity of tin ore raised, which in itself would form no mean item of revenue to a railway, and the tin mines promise to be permanent, as much of the land taken up by large companies and abandoned are now being profitably worked by private enterprise.

The wool, tallow, hides, fat stock, and all other produce from the vast territory to the west of Inverell and other towns situated upon this route, would pour into the main trunk line to swell the railway receipts; besides the country would gradually become more and more populated, as the land being well adapted for settlers of every description.

The Armidale writers and speakers set great store upon their population, but let the population of the Gwydir district be added to Inverell, Tenterfield, and the whole of the country embraced in the line advocated, and it will be seen that the number far exceeds that by the coast-line, so to speak, of the Armidale route.

The Inverell people do not care a farthing should the snorting iron horse pass them thirty or forty miles to the westward, as thereby a much wider field would be opened out for a main trunk line of railway.

It may not be generally known that there are several seams of coal situated about forty miles west of Inverell; however, such is the fact, and in the event of a railway being constructed, a new industry would spring into existence in this rich and otherwise fertile district.

I have said nothing about the large amount of wheat grown in this district as it is well known to be one of the finest portions of the colony for cultivating that cereal, and each succeeding year adds to the area cultivated.

We have several large vineyards in our midst, chief of which is the celebrated Bukkulla, belonging to Messrs. Wyndham, Brothers; Mr Ross’s, Mr. Seitz’s, Mr. A. Murray’s, and Captain Williamson’s being next in rank, besides many others now firming, so that at no distant date we shall be able to export wine upon a large scale. This proves the superiority of our soil and climate beyond a doubt.

But I must conclude, fully believing that the powers that be, when assembled in solemn conclave, will decide upon constructing the extension of the main trunk line of railway through the territory that will be to the greatest advantage of the colony in general.

Apologising for occupying so much of your valuable space,

Inverell, 6th August.

Written by macalba

May 8, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Rabbit destruction

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Saturday 15 August 1936, The Sydney Morning Herald

Many Properties Cleaned Up.

TAMWORTH. Friday.-Reports to the Tamworth P.P. Board showed that rabbits are scarce in the Gunnedah. Kelvin, Wean road, Mullaley, and Boggabri districts, and a marked improvement is shown round Quirindi, Quipolly, Ardglen, Kankool, Wallabadah, and Willow Tree. A good clean-up is reported from Attunga Creek, Goonoo Goonoo, N.E. sub-division, Upper Moore Creek, Somerton, Moonbi Range, Garthowen, Kootingal, and Nemingha, where trapping has decreased owing to the scarcity of rabbits.

The rabbits have been kept in check at Rushes Creek. Wincoume, Barraba, Boran Crossing Yarramanbully, Glen Oak. Clent Hills, Croydon, Keepit, Carroll’s Gap, Black Springs, and Hawkin’s Creek.

Many holdings around Manilla and Barraba appear to have been permanently cleaned up. One landholder, who claimed to have freed his property of rabbits, said that he and others were now fighting rabbits from other properties where no action had been taken.

Written by macalba

April 27, 2010 at 6:05 am

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

From Tamworth to Armidale by coach in 1880

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Wednesday 15 September 1880, The Sydney Morning Herald





Cobb and Co., the ubiquitous firm of the colony, present themselves at about 5 o’clock in the evening, in the main street of Tamworth, for the purpose of conveying travellers northwards ; and mounted upon the mail coach one leaves by the Great Northern Road, in the expectation of reaching Armidale early the following morning. The sensations awakened by a coach journey through the midst of the scenes and incidents which make country life attractive and valuable are much more vivid and instructive than those which are aroused during the swift flight of a railway train, when everything that comes into view disappears immediately afterwards, and the world seems as short lived and unstable as a dream. The fields, the hills, the houses, and the people assume their natural positions and proportions, affording plenty of scope for observation and enlightenment; and while a deep interest in everything is excited by the constant change of scene, a valuable insight may be gained into the condition and progress of the country. It is not possible to properly gauge the growth of the colony by passing quickly from railway station to railway station, and going no farther than the terminal points. The towns which the railways connect are important factors in a consideration of the rate at which the country is going ahead, for they are evidences of permanent settlement, which is gradually becoming surrounded by all the aids which foster large and thriving cities ; but they do not fully indicate either the resources or the state of the country. They are subject to good or evil influences, as matters through the country generally are prosperous or backward ; but one must leave the railway towns and plunge into the interior, among the farm lands of the free selectors, the pastoral runs of the squatters, and the mineral holdings of the miners, to understand rightly what we are and what we are likely to be. Journeying from Tamworth along the Great Northern Road with an occasional stoppage, and now and then a branching off from the main route to some localities which lie back from the road, brings to light all the resources of one of the three great divisions of the colony ; and the way lies through country rich and important in many respects, but just now suffering, as every other districts, from the first effects of what many persons fear will x`prove a very serious drought.

The unusual severity of the season which is now rapidly changing to one of summer heat caused Tamworth to array itself morning after morning in frosty attire, so thick and plentiful that the town sometimes had the appearance of an English town in winter and the weather was very cold. Keen cutting winds, with clear frosty nights, make a night ride inside or outside a coach an experience that must be treated with an ample provision of rugs and a well-braced system to withstand fatigue, and with these aids to comfort the trip may be made with a considerable amount of satisfaction, if not enjoyment. While the daylight lasts there is plenty to enliven the traveller. The road runs from Tamworth by the side of the mountains, which lie at the back of the town, past a number of farms about the flat lands of the Peel and Cockburn rivers, and for a considerable distance almost parallel with the route which the railway extension to Uralla is taking. Then it goes through or round the mountains, leaves the railway-route, and heads for Moonbi and the high land of New England. The farms look well, and the farmers are said to be fairly prosperous ; but that which is most attractive just now at this part of the journey is the progress which the railway is making ; and the signs of activity for a considerable distance along the route are numerous and satisfactory. Darkness overtakes the coach in the winter season, when the days are short, before the first stage of fifteen miles is accomplished ; but the little town of Moonbi, which is the first stopping-place, presents in one of its hotels a picture of roadside inn comfort that is extremely pleasant on a winter’s night. Attention to one’s wants, a comfortable sitting-room, a blazing wood fire in a capacious fireplace which throws out a genial warmth and generous invitation to sit around and enjoy it, such as coal grates and their limited fuel know nothing of, a well-served supper, and a clean and cosy bedroom, are things not met with too frequently in the bush ; and this little inn is so well known and appreciated that every traveller and especially those known as “commercials,” who can manage to do so likes to spend a night there on his journey northwards. Moonbi, as a town or township, contains little to be proud of, but it lies within a very short distance of the point to which the railway extension has been almost, completed, and where a railway station is to be erected, and it is situated not far from the foot of the Moonbi or “Moonboy” Range, which borders the country of New England, and at one time was well known as haunt of Thunderbolt, the bushranger. In the early morning of the winter season the little town is thickly clothed with frost, and in the afternoon, when the sun is sinking and bathing the tops of the apple trees, in a rich mellow light, it is a favourite haunt of birds. To a resident of the metropolis, whose eyes seldom meet anything more attractive than stony streets and the hard repelling aspect of a thickly populated and busy city, and whose nostrils are strangers to anything sweeter or more invigorating than a muggy city atmosphere, there is something peculiarly pleasant in looking upon a winter scene in the country, and breathing the fresh, pure, bracing country air. At Moonbi it was very interesting to note the wintry aspect of the landscape in the early morning. The fields, the street, the tops of posts and fences, the roofs of houses, and the branches of trees were gaily dressed in their crisp white covering. Every sloping bank, every little accumulation of leaves or heap of sticks made a peculiarly suitable resting place for the frost, and wherever a pool of water lay a coating of ice was formed. Pumps and tanks were frozen hard, and required to be coaxed into their ordinary condition again by fomentations of hot water, and window frames were grained and scarred in most fantastic fashion by frost and ice. With very little help from the imagination, one could transform the whole picture into one of those fine old English scenes when the senses are aglow with the excitement of being in the midst of winter’s domains, inhaling their healthful and novel delights.

Further on, in the New England country, there are times when the wind whistles loudly around the corners of the houses, and rumbles about the chimneys, when the snow, falling first like feathers borne upon the breeze descends thickly and fast, and when all that is wanted is the wassail bowl, or something like it, to impart to the temperament of those sitting around the blazing logs in a snug parlour, the ruddy pleasantness and genial spirits so strongly suggested in the cosey glow of the room. The coach ride then is something much more than usually stimulating. The light from the huge coach lamps darts out on either side in fan-like rays, and away ahead in a broad bright flush, illuminating the white ground most curiously, and throwing the horses and their steaming bodies into strong relief ; the driver, closely muffled from head to foot and yet, as though he had lost his fingers, scarcely able to handle the reins and keep the road ; and the half-frozen passengers, crouching closely together for warmth, occasionally peering out over the light from the coach lamps and the patch of darkness beyond at the red windows upon which some household fire is flickering. When morning comes, and the whole landscape is seen in its shining white robe, no one can look upon it without a feeling of rapture, and those who hail from beyond the seas regard it with a peculiar interest felt only by themselves – it seems to them so much like home. But a frosty night and morning are in their way equally attractive. There is such a crystalline sparkle about the stars, such an invigorating freshness in the atmosphere, such a pleasing sensation of relief at alighting from the coach and stepping from the cold air into the gaping fireplace of, perhaps, a roadside hut, where horses are changed and where hot coffee and crisp warm toast are ready, such an odd experience of chrysalis-like existence in winter clothing, sleepiness and sleeplessness, chilliness and heat, jolting, bouncing, and falling about from one side to the other as some of the masterpieces of the Roads Department are encountered, that despite all tho discomfort – which one forgets when it is all over – the journey is well worth undertaking. Sometimes, in the ride from Tamworth to Armidale, the passengers are jammed inside the coach most uncomfortably – either crowding or crushing themselves, or incommoded by a quantity of luggage or goods – and it may be that as the passengers are left at one stage or the other, the cold in the coach grows more intense, until one’s rug becomes very much like a shoot of cold iron, and one’s toes seem to have slipped away altogether ; but then, as a recompense for all this, there are several places of considerable interest to make oneself acquainted with – such as the Moonbi Range, the township of Bendemeer and the late constable Bowen’s exploits, the town of Uralla and the adjacent Rocky River gold-field, and some other localities-each of which his attached to it either a history or some attractive incidents which the coachman can tell with great effect in lessening the discomforts of the journey.

Written by macalba

April 20, 2010 at 8:06 pm

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