Old news from Armidale and New England

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Dividing Fences Bill

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Tuesday 8 July 1862, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser


(Abridged from the Armidale Express, July 5.)


On Monday, the 23rd June, a public meeting was held at the Sir Wm. Denison Hotel, for the purpose of eliciting opinion respecting the Dividing Fences Bill.

Resolutions to the effect that the bill is inimical to free selection, and that the existing law relative to dividing fences between freeholder and freeholder is sufficient for the present necessities of the colony, were passed, and embodied in a petition to the legislature.

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May 12, 2011 at 8:03 pm

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Bank in Armidale; Duffy again; Saumerez; Rocky Gold

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Monday 9 June 1856, The Sydney Morning Herald

(From the Armidale Express, May 31.)

A BANK AT ARMIDALE. – We are surprised that none of the Sydney Banking companies have thought of establishing a branch at Armidale. There is little or no fear of such an undertaking proving unprofitable to any energetic company ; and at the same time great advantages would accrue to the district at large from an establishment of this kind. It cannot be too strongly dwelt upon that the district of New England is at present in a more prosperous state than any other part of the colony. The gold fields of the northern districts are being rapidly enlarged ; and there is no prospect whatever of their being worked out for many years to come. The difficulties attending the establishment of a bank here would not be so great as those that have already been surmounted in the colonies. Branch banks are numerous on all the principal gold-fields of Victoria. Mails from Sydney arrive twice a week at Armidale-thus affording ready transit for unsigned bank-notes in any quantity, and also for any specie that might be required. If one of the Sydney banking companies would send an agent to Armidale, we believe they could soon be convinced of the profitable field open here for banking enterprise.

THE GAVAN DUFFY TESTIMONIAL. – The second public meeting of the friends and admirers of Mr. Charles Gavan Duffy was held at the Royal Hotel, Armidale, on Thursday evening last. Mr. Furnifull proposed the first resolution, as follows :- “That this meeting acknowledges the advent of Mr. Charles Gavan Duffy to the Australian colonies as an expected political benefit-therefore he should be received as a friend and benefactor”. The motion was seconded by Mr. Oxenham, and carried unanimously. The second resolution was proposed by Mr. Hamilton, seconded by the Rev. T. McCarthy, and passed with acclamation “That this meeting views with pleasure and delight the arrival of Mr. Duffy in these colonies, believing that from the fact of his possessing strong moral and social feelings, combined with a powerful intellect, and the circumstance of his having devoted these to the promotion of the great cause of civil and religious liberty, we cannot but anticipate much good from his presence amongst us”. The Treasurer reported the receipt of subscriptions amounting to £66. Mr. Furnifull was requested by the meeting to act as corresponding secretary.

SURVEY ON SAUMEREZ. – We have great pleasure in stating that the District Surveyor is now laying out farm lots on Saumarez Creek, beginning at the old Wash Pool, a mile above Saumarez head station, and thence upwards. The lots will average 50 acres each, and will all have frontage on Saumarez Creek.

ROCKY RIVER DIGGINGS. – The news from the Rocky Rives continues excellent. A new lead, which promises to become very rich, has been opened near Mount Welsh.

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May 9, 2011 at 8:39 pm

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Rocky River; Duffy fund

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Monday 2 June 1856, Empire (Sydney)

(From the Armidale Express, May 24.)

FATAL ACCIDENT. – We regret to state that a fatal accident occurred on Friday (yesterday), at the Rocky River diggings, by which a person named George Vickers, better known as “Yorky,” lost his life. We understand that Vickers was riding on a dray, which capsized, and a part of it falling upon his neck, instant death was the result. The deceased was above sixty years of age.

RICHNESS OF THE ROCKY RIVER DIGGINGS. – We have received information from the Rocky River to the effect that the quantity of two pounds weight of gold to the load has been washed out recently ; and that in one instance thirty-six ounces were obtained from one load. We have every reason to believe that the above information is authentic.

GAVAN DUFFY QUALIFICATION FUND. – On Tuesday evening last, a preliminary meeting was held at Mr. B. Naughten’s, Royal Hotel, Armidale, for the purpose of assisting in the qualification of Mr. Charles Gavan Duffy for a seat in the Legislature of Victoria. The meeting was thinly attended – no doubt owing to the evening being rainy. Mr. B. Naughton moved, seconded by Mr. J. Patterson, that D. Byrnes, Esq., take the chair. The Chairman read the advertisement convening the meeting, and clearly and forcibly explained the object for which they had met. He hoped that Mr. Duffy’s friends and countrymen in New England would rally round and assist in placing Mr. Duffy in an independent position, so that his distinguished abilities might be made available to the colonists. After some further appropriate remarks the chairman sat down amidst great applause. Mr. Naughton and other gentlemen then addressed the meeting, Mr. N. objected strongly to the conduct of those who refused to support the present movement, because Mr. Duffy had given the preference to Victoria in choosing his future sphere. He thought they were narrow-minded in so doing (cheers). After a committee had been appointed, a vote of thanks was given by acclamation to the Chairman, who briefly returned thanks. The sum of £44 19s. was collected at the close of the meeting.

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May 7, 2011 at 8:09 pm

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The Gold Fields report

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Saturday 7 June 1856, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

Council Papers

(Report from the Acting Commissioner of Crown Lands for the Northern Districts.)

Crown Lands Office,

Armidale, March l8, 1856.

SIR-I do myself the honor to inform you that the new diggings, near the Rocky River Gold Fields, are still progressing favorably.

2. Out of a population of about 200 working men actually upon these diggings, I could only hear of a few solitary instances of failure.

3. Enclosed I beg to forward you, for the information of his Excellency the Governor General, a Return shewing, as nearly as I could ascertain from the parties themselves, the number of shafts sunk, the number of men employed, the quantity of washing dirt obtained, the value of the same, and the value of the same per bucket, together with the aggregate and average value of the whole washing stuff.

4. This return shows an average value of the dirt to be over 2 dwts. per bucket ; and this, together with the fact of there being so very few failures, seems certainly to indicate rich and extensive Gold Fields, which only require the immediate superintendence of a Gold Commissioner, who would actively employ himself in furthering the development of the auriferous wealth of this district.

5. I may add, that it is reported another and rich diggings have been discovered, about five or six miles to the westward of the Rocky River, but I have bad so much official business to attend to, that I have not yet had time to visit this reported new diggings. – I have, &c.,


Acting C.C. Lands. The Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands.

RETURN, showing the number of Shafts sunk, the quantity of washing dirt obtained, and the aggregate and average value of the same, by twelve parties, on the new diggings, known as “Jones’ Diggings,” at the Rocky River.


Acting C. C. Lands, Crown Lands' Office,
Armidale, March 18,1856.

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April 14, 2011 at 9:11 pm

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Uralla. A New England Wool Town

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Saturday 8 December 1928, The Brisbane Courier

By Our Special Representative.

Uralla, situated at an altitude of 3337ft. above sea level, derives its wealth mostly from wool, although the granite and volcanic soils are favourable for the growing of English fruits. Uralla is about 400 miles from Brisbane on the direct route between the Queensland capital and Sydney.

THE first business premises of this New England wool town were established In the early ‘fifties, and since then the township has grown to considerable dimensions. The present population is about 400, and the community is municipally governed. Very keen interest is manifested in Brisbane and its markets, the main line from Sydney to Brisbane carrying much produce, other than wool, to the Northern market. One illustration of the gaze northwards is a big sign at the entrance to the town setting out that the “Brisbane Courier” may be purchased at the local newsagent’s.


Uralla and its contiguous district were discovered by Oxley in 1818, when he was journeying across the southern portion of the New England Tableland towards the coast. The great explorer wrote of the country as beautiful park lands, and to-day the same apt description holds good, for the open forest has been preserved to a great extent in its natural timbered state, wholesale timber destruction not being adopted. The early explorations and discoveries led to an influx of colonists, and notable developments took place in the early ‘thirties. Squatters came forward during these years from the Hunter, including H. C. Collins, who took up the Walcha run, Edward Gostwyck Cory, who took up Gostwyck. Terrible Vale was taken up later. It is rather difficult to follow the actual trend of settlement, or how each squatter worked out his destiny in the shuffle and reshuffle of boundaries. William Dangar took up a run in the same area, and the executors of his descendants’ estate still administer the affairs of Gostwyck. Probably Cory altered his boundaries or sold to Dangar. At all events both family names are now part and parcel of the Uralla district, landmarks and localities bearing their names. Other settlers followed-men of all ranks and professions trying their luck. There came a time of pastoral depression, both land and stock becoming almost valueless. Permanent improvements took the place of haphazardness when the 1847 leasehold system of tenure was enacted, and real settlement commenced. The sour nature of some of the country has been overcome, and the improvement in the breeding of sheep has helped considerably to minimise the severity of the winters. The advance of white settlement gradually caused the depredation by natives and the raiding by bushrangers to cease, and steady development took place up to the present. The call for closer settlement has been so insistent that the big holdings have become shrunken in comparison to their former proportions, but the move has been good, and the small men have made great strides.


The Uralla district also has played its part in the production of gold. The Rocky River field was discovered about the ’50’s, and 538 licenses for mining were issued in 1853. When the search was at fever heat about 5000 persons were on the field. In the first 16 years 118,824oz. of gold were won, of the value of £467,293. These figures were taken from the official escort returns, and do not include parcels taken away by individuals. Up to the present the gold won from the Rocky River field amounts to nearly three quarters of a million sterling. Another field, known as the Melrose, was opened in 1889, samples of ore returning lloz. to the ton. It is claimed that payable gold exists in this area, but requires modern methods to properly work it.


In a country with a climate such as is enjoyed at Uralla the possibilities of agriculture in many branches are evident, and the granite and volcanic soils favour the cultivation of English fruits. It would not be correct to say that the district is free from pests, but they are under organised control, and are a minor trouble compared with some other fruit areas. In addition to fairly extensive fruit production by private enterprise, there is a group of ex-soldier settlers at Kentucky, some 10 miles from Uralla. Passing through their settlement one notes that success has been attained. The homes are comfortable, the orchards well kept, and an air of content is general. Brisbane is a market for much of the Kentucky fruit, which is always in great demand on account of its clean and healthy state.

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The Hanging Rock

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Tuesday 21 October 1856, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

These diggings, although not much spoken of, or attracting great attention, are not to be despised. The diggers are doing a quiet stroke, and pocketing their nuggets without making a fuss about it, with this advantage over the Rocky, that the work is neither so laborious nor the sinking such a depth. The gold being sent by the mail, or by private parties, no accurate amount of the weekly produce can be arrived at.

We are in receipt of the following letter from the Rocky, from our townsman, Mr. Levien, which fully confirms the information as to Sawpit Gully:

To the Editors of the Maitland Mercury.

Dear Sirs – It is with much satisfaction that I advise your numerous subscribers, through the medium of your journal, of the discovery of a very rich tract of auriferous land at a place called Sawpit Gully; it is situated to the right of Mount Jones about one mile, and appears to be a continuous “lead” of the mountains already worked. The diggings in question am at present only bottomed in the gully, but holes are going down in the mountains on either side, where it is supposed the shafts will require an average depth of 55 feet. The prospects in the gully claims are excellent, yielding 2 to 4 dwts to the dish, but it would not be advisable for diggers to come up purposely for this spot, as there must be over 2000 claims already marked out, and before they could arrive it would be impossible to to get at all near the desired locality. My own impression is, this rush will prove superior to either Mount Jones or Mount Welsh, and so very sanguine are all here of success that four stores are already going up, and application has been made to the Commissioner for permission to remove one public house and leave to erect another. If any of your readers are acquainted with the Armidale road if will be sufficient to say that the place is about two miles from “The Barley Fields,” to the left, going towards Armidale, from Mr. Samuel McCrossin’s Inn. There are beautiful specimen’s of quartz in the mountain – one of which I forwarded last post to Mr. L W. Levy – and also a sample of the gold, which appears exceedingly bright and pure.

Sydney Flat, a continuation of this lead, is also spoken of as proving equally rich. I cannot learn the truth of this rumour now, but you may calculate on the earliest intelligence if it proves – as I hope – a fact.

I should have advised you of the rush to Sawpit Gully last post, but refrained from doing so until the claims were in some measure worked to prove the many idle rumours at first afloat as to the richness of the digging. All I can now say is, I have personally conversed with at least one hundred of the diggers, and all substantiate the above.

I see some correspondent, in one of the journals, blames the Commissioner, and says he is seldom seen. This is not true. The Gold Commissioner’s quarters are certainly badly selected, and now this new rush has been made, must be altered, as he is placed at least three miles from the civilised portion of the diggers, his only companions being the Chinese and the cockatoos. We want him in the midst of us; but I can certainly bear witness to his exertions and to his most courteous and gentlemanly conduct to the diggers indiscriminately.

The Escort starts to-morrow for Sydney. I think there will be a still larger amount of gold than by last escort go down this trip. The next shall show the advantage of the new rush.

I sincerely hope my suggestion, that a practical geologist may be sent here, will be taken into consideration. It is spoken of that emeralds, ruby, sapphire, garnet, and other stones – antimony, and other minerals – are here. Much labour might be saved by the knowledge of the science, and further discoveries in valuable products made known; thus developing the resources of the colony, and by degrees assisting in emancipating us from the name of colonists to that of a mighty nation. Individuals would give a trifle to hear of a rich claim, why not our Government !

I am, dear sirs, yours faithfully,


Rocky River Diggings, Oct. 14, 1856.

P.S. – Immense rain has fallen this last few days. I think the heaviest hour’s rain I ever saw was on Tuesday last, and yesterday it rained all day very violently at times. I have now been here three months, and it has rained almost every second day since I arrived. The roads are described as fearful about Kentucky, and I have no doubt they are so.

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Hunter River District News

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Tuesday 27 May 1856, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

(From the Armidale Express, May 17.)

CIRCUIT COURTS,-The great inconvenience experienced by the inhabitants of the Northern districts of the colony, from the want of Circuit Courts nearer than Maitland, has a very injurious tendency, inasmuch as serious crimes have repeatedly been overlooked, solely on account of the difficulties and expense of prosecuting them, at Maitland. Maitland is 250 miles from Armidale, and persons accused of criminal offences are often sent there from a much greater distance than Armidale. It is surprising that, although the inhabitants of the Northern districts have complained of this (great grievance.for years past, the Government have remained inert, and little has been done towards removing it. New England is rapidly acquiring an extensive population. At the Rocky River diggings, alone we believe that there are from twelve to fifteen hundred people, and this number is being augmented every day. There is every prospect of such an extensive development of new gold fields in this district, that the population must largely increase. Geologists are of opinion that the greater part of New England will yet be proved a gold- producing country. With such facts before us, it requires no prophet to foretell a large accession to our population – in fact, our present numbers may be trebled within the next year. In whatever different lights, the occupation of gold digging may be viewed, there is one subject on which people generally will agree – that much greater facilities for the commission of prime are presented at diggings than in the midst of well-ordered, settled communities. A vigorous movement has been going on for some time past respecting Circuit Courts at Tamworth. We consider they are necessary there also. Tamworth is 175 miles from Maitland, and is the capital of the Liverpool Plains district. It is consequently, as the centre of a large tract of country, possessing already considerable population. Although only 75 miles from here, there is very little connection between Tamworth and Armidale. Liverpool Plains and New England are separate and distinct from each other; and we think that, instead of any jealousy existing about which should gain the establishment of Circuit Courts – thereby throwing the other out of consideration – the inhabitants of both out to combine their best efforts to obtain assizes for each.

CENSUS FOR ARMIDALE AND THE POLICE DISTRICT.-The following is a comparative statement, based upon the official census returns for the town and police district of Armidale, for which we are indebted to the courtesy of Mr. Bligh, C.P.S. :-

              1856.                   1851
Armidale. -     Males..... 499}  858     Males}  556
                Females... 359}        Females}
Remainder of
police dis-         Males 1971} 3020     Males} 2759
trict of Ar-      Females 1049}        Females}
midale ...                      ----            ----
Total population of police dis. 3878            3315 

From the above statement it will be seen that the increase in the population of this township during the past five years has been – Males, 170; females, 132; in the aggregate 302, or about 52½ per cent. In the remainder of the police district the increase has been – Males, 111; females, 150; in the aggregate 261, or nearly 9½ per cent. We think the above results are nothing more than might be expected to accrue from the influences to which the district has been subjected during the period referred to. The main deduction from these premises are that the number of persons in the township has increased in the ratio of five to one, as compared with those occupied in pastoral pursuits ; and taking into consideration the fact that the occupation of gold digging employs a considerable number of those set down for the district population, it may fairly be assumed that the pastoral interest in this district in the year 1856, employs a smaller number of people than it did in 1851.

GOODS BY THE CLARENCE LINE. – During the past week, four heavily loaded drays have passed the Express Office, from the Clarence. We have also been informed that a dray lately arrived at Hillgrove, from Grafton, bringing up supplies and a family. These are proofs, amongst many others, that the Clarence line might be made a most desirable road for the transit of goods and produce to and from New England.

THE ROADS. – We have been informed by a gentleman who had occasion to travel over the Moonbies lately that the condition of the roads about that locality was scandalous. There were nine drays waiting at the foot of the first pinch until the road should dry – two of the drays having families with them. The road at the time was so extremely bad that our informant believed fifty bullocks could not have taken up a loaded dray. He also stated that he had passed on the road about 150 men, women, and children, bound for the Rocky River diggings.

THE ROCKY RIVER. – The diggings here are going ahead greatly, and the number of fresh arrivals is astonishing. On Tuesday last I saw a specimen of gold in quartz-not one speck only, but completely encompassing the stone. It is a handsome specimen, and I suppose worth about £2. The finder declared he procured it on these diggings. Our population is increasing with extraordinary rapidity : we want population to open up the hitherto undeveloped resources of New England. It is the opinion of most persons that New England is a gold field more or less, throughout. I have heard of several parties who have struck upon fresh discoveries of the precious metal outside the limits of the diggings. All parties appear doing well, a proof of which is the extraordinary demand for buckets, ropes, shovels, calico, and all sorts of digging tools. Two or three accommodation houses have been opened-one, in particular, which deserves that liberal support its enterprising proprietor is sure to receive.

Rocky River, May 14.

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August 23, 2010 at 8:08 pm