OF YEARS GONE BY
Richard Symes Alford,
Yeronga, Brisbane, Queensland
I have written down some recollections of early days
and parts of my own history together with a few anecdotes. I
hope that as a whole this production will prove readable. As I
am not a professional writer but have done my best, I hope the
readers of these lines will not be too critical but make
allowance for my shortcomings.
My father and mother were married at West Maitland, New
South Wales, by the Rev. W. Stack, on Wednesday, the 7th
of August, 1839. My parents, both of whom were English born
and bred, left in the "Paterson', near Maitland, New South
Wales, in July 1842, arriving at Brisbane, then part of New
South Wales, during the same month. They were accompanied by a
daughter two years old and a baby girl, two months old. The
baby was christened at Brisbane by the Rev. Mr. Handt. At this
time there could not have been more than five hundred people
in Brisbane, all told, for it is on record that three years
later (1845) the population of Brisbane was only 829.
After a short stay in Brisbane, they left for the
Darling Downs, arriving at Cambooya in July or August 1842.
The Chief Government Officer then was residing at Cambooya. My
mother, Mrs. Arthur Hodgson, and another were the first three
women on the Darling Downs. My two sisters, then babes,
probably were the first white children on the Downs.
After a brief stay at Cambooya, my parents returned to
'The Springs,' afterwards called Drayton. Thomas Alford, my
brother, was born at Drayton, on 11 October, 1844, and was one
of the first children born on the Downs. They resided at
Drayton continuously from about August 1842 until the year
1852 when they removed to 'The Swamp,' afterwards called
Toowoomba. At this particular time, there was only one other
building at 'The Swamp,' and that belonged to old Joe Dent.
On 22 July 1852, my brother Harry was born at
Toowoomba, being the first white child born there. When he was
christened by the Rev. B. Glennie, it was recorded in the
register of the Church of England that the birth took place at
Toowoomba, although at the time it was called and known as
'The Swamp". My parents, by this act, and by always heading
their correspondence 'Toowoomba' gave the place the name by
which it is now known. The name is the blackfellows for the
place, from whom my mother heard of it.
About the year 1853, my parents returned to Brisbane
where my brother Willie and I were born on 16 October 1854. My
father carried on the business of commission agent and horse
salesman, his office and yards being at the corner of Queen
Street and Albert Street, just opposite the Australian Hotel,
looking at them from Queen Street. About 1856, they left
Brisbane again and proceeded to Pikedale station beyond
Warwick, where my father had charge of the sheep. Rabbits were
then running loose at Pikedale but were confined to one big
rabbit warren. They must have afterwards died out for nothing
was heard of them in later years.
About the year 1859, a final move was made to
Toowoomba. From that time until his death in 1884, my father
carried on an auctioneering business at Toowoomba, firstly at
the Argyle Sale Rooms and Yards, in Ruthven and Margaret
Streets, just opposite the present Club Hotel. Subsequently,
he bought land in Russell Street near the railway gates and
built yards and a wool room there.
On Saturday, the 8th of January, 1884, my
father died. On Thursday the 12th October 1905, my
mother died at Toowoomba.
Some of the earliest residents at Drayton were Thomas
Alford and family, Edward Lord and family, Dr. Armstrong and
family, Dr. Glissan and family, William Horton, J. H. Harvey,
Messrs. Rutledge, McCleverty, Handcock, Peak, Favenc, Perkins,
William Crawford, Rev. Benjamin Glennie.
Some of the earliest residents at Toowoomba were
Alfords, Boultons, Taylors, Grooms, T. G. and E. W. Robinson,
S. G. Stephens, Dent, Partridge, Mrs. Reardon, Jones and
Crane, Joe Wonderley, the chemist, Peter Gentle, of Horse and
Jockey Hotel, Shuttlewood, William Berkman and Andrew Walker,
both storekeepers, C. E. Walker, Royal Hotel. The local
butchers were Martin Boulton, John Little, and F. Patterson.
Solicitors were Gustavus Hamilton, J. Wickey Stable, John
O’Cock, Henry Boyle. The doctors were Stacy, Sachse, Callan,
Burke, Armstrong. J. Leigh Becker and Edwin Roberts who were
the successors to Dr. Stacy after his death in 1867.
The first clergymen of the Church of England at St.
Luke's Church were B. Glennie, V. F. Hansome, J. R. Thackeray,
A. Harte, and F. C. Jagg.
Mr. J. D. Larkin was the builder and contractor.
Richard Godsall worked for Larkin and in his spare time
he built a two storied building at the back of St. Luke's
Church in Harries Street. The place was put together entirely
with half bricks which had been broken and discarded at
Larkin's yards. I believe this building is still intact.
The first lots of horses and sheep sold at auction at
Toowoomba were sold by Thomas Alford at the Argyle Sale Yards
at the back of the sale rooms of the same name which stood in
Ruthven Street, Toowoomba, just opposite the then Queen's Arms
Hotel (Fraser), and nearly opposite the same spot where the
present Club Hotel stands. The Queen's Arms was the leading
hotel at the time. The Royal Hotel however ran it close for
About 1862 Thomas Alford bought the land alongside the
railway gates in Russell Street and he built a wool room and
horse sale yards there. These were sold for removal in 1908.
T. G. Robinson took the Argyle sale rooms and yards after
Thomas Alford vacated them.
After the death of Thomas Alford in 1864, J. W. Grimes
carried on the same business in the same premises in Russell
Street, but he afterwards removed to premises nearer the
Mr. Martin Boulton's butchers shop and private residence were
in Russell Street on the west side of the bridge just
alongside the bridge. His piggery was on the opposite side of
the street where the pigs used to run loose.
In 1864, my brother Tom, bought half an acre of land
from Mr. James Taylor, at the corner of Russell and West
Streets, for £50. This was a very high price at the time. The
brick cottage now standing there was then built by J. D.
Larkin. My mother and family resided there for years and it
was in this cottage that my mother and eldest sister died
within a fortnight of each other in 1905.
Although very young at the time, I remember the first
Parliamentary election at Toowoomba when W. H. Groom and J. C.
White opposed each other. The former was the democratic
candidate, while Mr. White was the nominee of the Squatters'
party. The German vote on the Middle Ridge went solid for
Groom and decided the vote in his favour. Of course there was
great excitement, Groom and his right hand man, Handcock, were
both carried shoulder high on chairs (no light job in the case
of Handcock, for he was a man of great size and probably
weighed twenty stone.)
Joe Wonderley's chemist shop in Ruthven Street up near
to James Street, was the rendezvous for bank managers and
other leading men whose pastime was gambling by the aid of
cardboard racecourses and toy racehorses, assisted by dice.
Adjoining the grounds of St. Luke's Church, was the
Horse and Jockey Hotel kept by Peter Gentle. Just opposite was
the first Post Office, and alongside, the Darling Downs
Gazette Office and Bank of New South Wales, the Post Office
being the corner building. W. D. Byers and F. Grisbrook had
the Darling Downs (D.D.) Gazette. This was a busy part of town
in the early days. St. Luke's Church always stood where it now
is. Originally it had one roof. Later on a right wing was
added, then afterwards a left wing. During week days it was
used as a school. The headmaster of the school was James Wood,
who was succeeded by J. D. Ridley. Two of my brothers and I
were in daily attendance at this school.
Robert Dexter was the Town Clerk. He was succeeded by
J. Flynn. The surveyors were J. Binstead, G. T. Weale, Hugh
Swan, Fred Warner, and Fred Lord, and also J. J. Greer, the
latter being dubbed Civil Engineer as well.
Robert H. D. White was the first manager of the Bank of
New South Wales. C. G. Alford entered the service of this Bank
at Toowoomba on Wednesday, 23 July 1862. Afterwards, when the
Bank premises were erected nearer to Margaret Street, the
manager was Daniel McAlpine with Blair Kerr as accountant.
was a good hand at repairing pianos and harmoniums and used to
put his spare time in that way. Later years, the manager of
the Bank of New South Wales was J. T. Walker, with C. G.
Alford in subsequent.
Elliott and Frederick Rawlins were the Police Magistrates at
different periods. A. E. Douglas, who married Miss Rebecca
O'Cock, was C.P.S. J. C. White was afterwards Police
Magistrate at Warwick.
Australian Joint Stock Bank opened a branch at Toowoomba in
June 1866, with Mr. J. Kearsey Cannan as manager, the bank
office being immediately opposite St. Luke's Church. H.
K. Alford joined the service of this bank at Toowoomba with
Mr. Cannan, as junior clerk, on Tuesday the 26th
Hunt was the editor and proprietor of the Toowoomba Chronicle,
his office and residence being in James Street, near the
Swamp. The paper got down to a very low ebb, only one sheet
being published. In this state it was purchased and taken over
by Mr. W. H. Groom, who made a rapid change for the better.
R. Boulton , who had just sold his station, Clifford, on the
Dawson, started to build an up-to-date hotel at the corner of
Ruthven and Russell Streets. Before the place was half
finished, Mr. Boulton's funds ran out, nothing more being done
to the place. It was then called Boulton's Folly. Later on the
property was purchased by the Queensland National Bank who
pulled down what Boulton had put up and then erected a fine
building in which the Bank now carries on its business.
Race meetings were held annually at Brisbane, Ipswich,
Toowoomba, and Warwick, in that order, the same horses
competing at each place. A Miss Dickson travelled around with
a string of four racehorses. Zenobia and Kildare were two of
them. It was said that Miss Dickson used to sleep in the
stable with her favourite horse. Her career ended at Toowoomba
for her horses were taken over for a debt. The names of some
of the other horses racing in those days were ' Billy Ruddle's
'Premier' (the champion of the lot). Ruddle is now living in
the Valley, Brisbane. Ruddle used to ride the horse himself
and nearly always won. Larry Flannery's 'Nonsuch,' Johnny
Driscoll's 'Centipede,' 'Ta Tal' a light coloured chestnut,
badly mouthed, who used to take the bit between the teeth and
bolt three or four times around the course before he could be
pulled up ' this usually happened before the race began,
consequently he had to retire from the contest. Then there was
Jimmy White's 'Young Stranger,' William Kent's 'Jibboom,' Bill
Thompson's 'Miss Pittsford,' Wonderley's 'Fanny,' Annand's
'Tippletumtip.' 'Premier' was a very quiet old stager when at
the post. 'Miss Pittsford', on the other hand, was a most
excitable animal and always came to the post wet with sweat.
She was a real thoroughbred to look at. Hurdle races each day
were always included in the programme. Dick Hopkins (now of
Wellshot Station) used to ride his own horse 'Nimrod,' and won
nearly all the hurdle races in his year. Another year Charley
Glissan's horses 'Kilbride' and 'Barkaway,' with one of the
Glissans in the saddle, won both hurdle races at Toowoomba.
Benjamin's big cart horse sort of an animal, 'Banana,' was
another success over the jumps. The day's racing always wound
up with a Hurry Scurry, post entrance. At one of the Toowoomba
meetings, Mr. C. G. Alford of the Bank of New South Wales,
then a lad, entered his old mare 'Norah.' He rode her himself,
winning the Hurry Scurry against twenty-one competitors. It
was a proud victory for the rider and his young brothers. Old
Jimmy Nathan, the bell man, at the race meetings, created a
lot of fun between the races by the way he cleared the dogs
off the course.
Taylor was a conspicuous figure about Toowoomba. Always an
early riser, he would turn out at daylight with long boots up
to his knees and go down the town amongst the butchers shops
etc. Later in life he had a fine hackney named 'Garry' which
he would ride in the early morning sitting in a well padded
saddle. No matter what the weather was like, Mr. Taylor was
always out and about amongst his men at daylight.
the father of two members of Parliament, used to drive the
mail coach from Ipswich to Toowoomba up the Main Range,
through the old Toll Bar. Toll had to be paid by everyone
riding or driving through those gates. Barnes was a first
class 'whip' and it was said that he could drive almost any
number of horses harnessed together. All the grey harness
horses about Toowoomba (17 of them) were harnessed and coupled
to the coach, but Barnes was unable to drive them, although he
sat on the box seat holding the reins. I suppose he thought
'discretion to be the better part of valour,' and gracefully
Mr. E. W.
Peechy carried on the business of timber merchant at Toowoomba
and later on he took his relative, R. J. Rotton , as a partner
in the business. Mr. Rotton was an expert at handwriting,
being able to imitate any handwriting. On one occasion, Mr. H.
Spiro, who kept a large store at corner of Ruthven and
Margaret Streets, Toowoomba, made a bet of £1 that Rotton
could not imitate his signature without him being able to
detect it. The bet was accepted by Rotton. Spiro, who wrote
with his left hand, and wrote a difficult signature, retired
to a private room where he signed his name and after carefully
examining the document, he placed a very small ink spot on one
corner of the paper. Rotton was then given the paper with the
signature on it, also another piece of paper of exactly
similar dimensions. He retired and made an exact copy of the
signature. He did not overlook the small ink spot in the
corner so he placed one on his document. The papers were
handed to Spiro, who was obliged to admit that he could not
tell which was which. He had depended on the small ink spot,
but he found one on both pieces of paper. He lost his pound.
instance of the capabilities of this clever penman. Tommy
Ross, the teller of the A.J.S. Bank, heard how Spiro had lost
his money and he openly boasted that he could not be taken in
by a forgery. Thereupon Mr. Rotton got the permission of Mr.
C. G. Alford to forge his name to a £1 cheque drawn on the
A.J.S. Bank. Rotton wrote out the cheque and forged the
signature of C. G. Alford to it. He then handed it over the
counter to Tommy Ross who cashed it without a moment's
hesitation. When Ross was told that he had cashed a forged
cheque, he did not believe it. He was chaffed unmercifully
about this little affair for some time afterwards.
banker, James Wood, an officer in the Bank of New South Wales,
was also a good penman. He played a joke on a fellow officer,
the teller of the Bank, Miller by name, who wore spectacles.
Wood went round to the customer's side of the counter, got a
blank cheque and a stamp from Miller and retired. He then
filled in a cheque for £1 and forged the signature of Miller
to the cheque. Once again he came round to the customer's side
of the counter, and presented the cheque to Miller to be
cashed. Miller remarked that he had no recollection of drawing
the cheque. Anyhow, said Wood, I got it from a chap in the
street and I want the money for it. Miller gave him the money
without further demur. Later on Wood explained the whole thing
to Miller who felt and looked a bit taken back at being so
easily taken in.
hospital at Toowoomba stood in Russell Street nearly opposite
the railway gates. The old Bank of Queensland carried on their
business in the adjoining building when it suspended payment.
Mr. Henderson was the local manager. This Bank had a branch at
Roma, but there was no Telegraph Office at Roma in those days.
When the Bank stopped payment and closed its doors, word was
sent to Mr. Benjamin at Condamine township that the Bank had
closed. He started immediately for Roma riding a good horse
which enabled him to do the trip in very quick time.
He went at
once to the Bank of Queensland where he had a credit balance
of £50, or thereabouts and drawing a cheque for the full
amount, demanded gold in settlement. The Bank manager informed
him that he had nothing like that amount of gold on the
premises, in fact had little or no gold. This was unfortunate
for Mr. Benjamin, and when he saw there was no chance of
withdrawing his money from the Bank, he informed the manager
that the Bank had suspended payment and no doubt he would get
advices to that effect by the first mail. Of course there were
business people in Roma holding the Banks notes which they
were glad to get rid of at any price. We understand that Mr.
Benjamin bought up a large number of them at a very low price,
large numbers being sold for five shillings and half a crown.
Other people bought up all the notes of the Bank at low prices
and made a lot of money out of the deal when the Bank
afterwards paid twenty shillings in the pound.
Lloyd was the first pound keeper at Toowoomba. He died in the
sixties (1860s) and his widow, Hannah Lloyd, conducted the
Pound for many years afterwards.
leading storekeepers were Limmer and Rees, afterwards Limmer,
Rees and Robinson (E. W. Robinson). They were succeeded by F.
H. Holberton & Co., then came Fullarton and Rooke, from
Melbourne. Mr., afterwards Reverend, T. V. Alkin, opened a
private school at Mrs. Patterson's boarding house in James
Street. Mr brother Willie and I were two of his pupils, also
Harry Thornelow Smith. Mr. Ernest Marwedel and family came to
Toowoomba about 1867, shortly before Mr. Alkin arrived. Dr.
Carr Boyd carried on a private school in Margaret Street east
of the bridge. The Stumms and Horns were very early residents
on the middle ridge. I remember seeing several hundred
chinamen passing through Toowoomba marching two and two like
animals into Noah's ark. I think they were off to Talgai gold
diggings, near Warwick, which were then being worked.
Toowoomba before I was 14 years old and started to work with
my brother Tom at Coochin Coochin on Sat, 1st Aug,
1868. The Coochin Coochin head station was then at the lower
end of the run distant 37 miles from Ipswich.
The head station has since been removed higher up the
run. Thomas Alford had just finished taking delivery of the
property from the late manager, H. H. Elliott, who had with
him on the station, John Haygarth and Fred Bennett. Mr.
Elliott was, I think, managing for a Bank; he was there for
three years. Before Elliott's time the place belonged to John
Carden Collins for three years, and in 1861 and 1862 the place
was owned by L. C. Lester. Some of the CLC and LEL brands of
cattle were on the run when I was there. The owners in my
brother’s time were Scott Henderson & Co., of Sydney,
Thomas Littlejohn being the principal partner.
There were about 3,700 head of shorthorn cattle on the
property and the price paid was about £2 per head for the
cattle. The run as leased from the government and although the
area was only about 90 square miles, we had at one period
about 7,000 head of cattle on the run. The long open plain
country carried long foxtail grass and for the three years of
Elliott's management, he never burnt any grass, believing that
it was an unwise thing to do. Foxtail grows about four feet
high and carries a very nasty barbed seed. Shortly after by
brother went to the place, he burnt this old foxtail,
selecting a windy day for firing it. The fire wanted no wind
for the stuff burnt like tinder. The fire came down the flat
over creeks and fences at the rate of four miles and hour. The
flames were as high as the trees and the smoke so dense you
could not see fifty yards away, Fences were burnt down on all
sides and the fire burnt for several days. This was the first
fire for three years on a lightly stocked run.
The Teviot Brook which runs through Coochin Coochin
runs out into a swamp just above where the old station used to
stand. In flood time the fish used to get stranded in this
swamp and as the waters subsided, the bigger fish, such as
mullet, were left on the short grass. We went out and gathered
in the fish afterwards.
It was not at all uncommon to find English bees nests
in the trees, in fact it was quite a common thing to do.
Nearly every hollow tree had a bees nest in it. I have also
seen an English bees nest suspended under the limb of a big
gum tree with lovely white comb. I have also found the bees
and their honeycomb in a low bush. Honey and butter mixed
together and spread on nice fresh bread was an every day meal
Our neighbours were the Priors at Maroon. The Hon.
Thomas Lodge Murray-Prior was then the Postmaster-General. He
sued to sign his name in full on all the official postal
announcements so that his Christian names were well known. The
other neighbours were Arthur Wienholt at Fassifern, Mrs.
McDonald and family of daughters at Dugandan. A new chum, well
connected in England, named Dalton, was living with the blacks
on Fassifern, and he appeared to enjoy life as a blackfellow
going about with them in a state of nudity and living the same
life as the blacks.
There were no selectors about in those days, all the
runs being held under long lease from the Crown. The majority
of the fat cattle from the Logan went to Tindals Ramornie Meat
Works. Ipswich was the post town for Coochin Coochin, the
mailman with his pack horse arriving on Sunday morning to find
his spare horses all ready yarded up waiting for him. From
Coochin, he went on to Maroon and Unumgar, and returned the
same way. The Dugandan scrub was a solid four miles through
without a break, situated between the Peak Mountain and
Dugandan. One-armed Watkins was the manager at Peak Mountain
station where sheep were then depasturing (1868).
Accompanied by a black boy, I took two draughts of fat
cows from Coochin to the Town Marie Meat Works which were in
charge of Carl Staiger and situated on the Bremer River a
short distance below Ipswich.
Up to the year 1870 private race meetings were held on
the Logan, each station owner taking it in turn about to give
the entertainment. In 1869, together with my brother Tom, I
attended a gathering of this kind at Tambourine where Captain
Williams presided. Representatives were there from all the
surrounding stations. There was a day's racing. Both my
brother and I had mounts on horses which we had brought with
us from Coochin, but our horses suffered defeat. I remember
Ernest White riding his favourite roan horse Teazem in the
hurdle race, riding in a four pound saddle.
There was also a paper chase, but the fences were too
high; nearly all the horses got stuck up at a three rail fence
near the homestead. Campbell McDonald got a spill off his
horse 'Mischief.' His pants got badly torn in the fall and to
the dismay of the onlookers, he began to tear them off. It
turned out that he had a pair of breeches and boots underneath
Frank Coulson was there with his once famous racehorse
'Colonel', and old snow white animal with both fore legs
heavily fired. That is an operation done with a hot iron
passed across both sides of each leg below the knee in order
to strengthen the sinews. Next year (1870), the races were
held at Nindooimbah, de Burgh Persse of Tabragalba being the
host. He was then a bachelor and had borrowed the Nindooimbah
head station for the occasion. Two days racing were held and
dancing at night till the small hours of the morning. It was
an expensive entertainment, so much so that no one else cared
to emulate Mr. Persse, and it turned out to be the last
private race meeting held on the Logan.
The invitations to the guests were not confined to the
Logan station, but were extended to Brisbane and elsewhere. I
was there with my brother Tom. On this occasion we were both
successful in winning races. I rode and won the maiden plate
with 'Popgun,' while my brother rode Harry Barker's horse,
'Manfred,' and won the hurdle race with him on each day. De
Burgh Persse rode in the hurdle race on the first day but his
horse fell and threw him off at the first hurdle and he
retired. The racehorses were stabled in the big old woolshed
on the side of the hill.
Amongst the visitors I remember were Ernest, Albert,
Duckett, and Willie White, Harry and Eaggie Barker, D. T.
Seymour, E. A. Ranking (now P.M. at Brisbane,) Dick Curtis,
Campbell McDonald of Dugandan, Tom Prior of Maroon, Frank
Coulson of Bromelton, and Arthur Robinson of Beaudesert.
Before coming to the Logan, T. Alford resided at
Mondure station near Nanango, and year after year, he brought
to Nanango races a good hurdle horse which he rode, and we
were hardly ever defeated. On one occasion, there were only
three horses competing and they kept together the three miles
over nine hurdles a blanket would have covered the horses at
any part of the race. Approaching the last hurdle, T. Alford
shook up his horse and got over the hurdle half a length to
the good and maintained this advantage to the end of the race;
the other two horses ran a dead heat for second place.
T. Alford once rode W. F. Digby's chestnut horse,
'Blazes,' at the Ipswich races. The horse fell at the second
last jump but was quickly mounted again and came in second.
When about 15 years old, I was sent from Coochin with a
black boy as young as myself, to Nanango to bring down 75 head
of cows. We met the cattle just beyond Nanango on the Mondure
road, where they were coming from, and there took charge of
them as well as two cattle dogs which followed us after the
station hands had left, which they took the opportunity of
doing when the dogs were out of sight hunting kangaroos. The
black boy and I brought these cows and dogs safely to Coochin
without a loss, passing on route, Nanango, Tarameo, Colinton,
Cressbrook, Esk, Tarampa, Grandchester, Franklyn Vale,
Normanby, Fassifern, and Moogerah.
Some cattle had been purchased at Euroombah on the
Dawson for Coochin Coochin; the delivery had to be taken at
Nanango by hands from Coochin Coochin. Jack Eyre and Jack
Inglis , two rowdy and frolicsome chaps, were despatched to
take delivery. Arriving at Nanango a few days in advance of
the travelling cattle, the spare time was put in by Eyre and
Inglis by matching their droving horses against local animals,
and by some clever handicapping, Eyre and Inglis won a race
with everyone of their old screws of droving horses, even to
the slowest packhorse. The races were run from one public
house to another, a distance of a quarter of a mile.
G. C. Watson, the surveyor, surveyed the lower end of
Coochin into small farms. Later on, a features survey of part
of the run was made by R. D. Graham, whose outside lines took
in all the best of the land as well as a double frontage to
the water-courses. The whole of the land within Graham's
outside lines was then purchased at auction at the upset price
by T. Alford for the owners of Coochin. In this way, the place
was secured in one solid block. In 1872, the old head station
was pulled down and a new building was erected further up the
run opposite Minto Crags.
During the latter part of Dec 1872, I left Coochin
Coochin and joined the staff of the Bank of New South Wales at
Brisbane, early in January, 1873. Mr. Alexander Archer was the
Inspector and Manager. Mr. Edward Denny Day the Assistant
Manager, and Mr. J. C. Cribb the Accountant. One of the first
jobs I was put to was the sorting and taking down the numbers
of dirty old Bank notes and cancelling them a nasty smelly job
it was. I was then put on the Exchange, when I had to call on
every bank in town with notes and cheques on other Banks. At
this time, the only Banks in Brisbane were the Bank of New
South Wales, the Queensland National Bank, the bank of
Australasia, the Australian Joint Stock Bank, the Union Bank
of Australia, and the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney.
On 24 May 1873, I attended some amateur foot races in
the Botanical Gardens in Brisbane. One of the races was open
to all comers, a distance of 440 yards. Along with my friends,
L. G. Board and Alexander Pritchard, and others, I entered for
this race. A good runner named Stacey, said to have been the
best runner in Brisbane, also entered. He came to the starting
post dressed in running shoes and tights, while I contented
myself with removing coat and waistcoat and boots, and then
tucked the bottom of my trousers inside my socks and ran thus.
I had not prepared myself in any way for the foot race, nor
had I even been out on a walk. There were about eight
competitors in the race, and when two thirds of the distance
was run, there were only two of us who had any chance of
winning. Stacey was leading by several yards, but as we
gradually neared the winning post, I overhauled him, winning
the race in the last few strides by a foot or two. It was a
most exciting finish, and the newspaper the next morning
described the race as being cleverly won at the post. The
prize was a silver cup which was afterwards presented to me by
the Hon, D. F. Roberts on the grounds, where he remarked that
he was always glad to see an amateur beat a professional.
At this time, the old General Post Office was still
standing opposite the Bank of New South Wales. It was a one
storied building with a verandah.
About August 1873, I was removed to the Toowoomba
Branch of the Bank of New South Wales, as Ledger Keeper. Mr.
J. T. Walker was the manager there, L. G. Dixon the
Accountant. I remained in the service of the Bank of New South
Wales until 31 October 1874, when I retired to take up the
management of Gwambegwine station near Taroom for the owners
of Coochin Coochin, to whom the place belonged. Cheffie Minter
and a black boy rode with me from Toowoomba. We went by Dalby,
Juandah, Rochedale, Carrabah, and Taroom.
Mr. H. T. Macfarlane was my predecessor at Gwambegwine,
and I took charge of Gwambegwine from him. During my residence
there, I delivered 600 female cattle to Mr. Andrew Scott of
Hornet Bank station, and they were taken out to the Hughenden
district to stock up Maxwellton station for Mr. Scott.
I also mustered and started away with three or four
hundred bullocks bound for Coochin Coochin. I went with them
through Palmtree Creek station, Taroom, Carrabah, and handed
them over to James O'Neil, the Taabinga stockman, near the
Auburn River. Taabinga station had just been purchased by the
owners of Coochin Coochin. I was curious to see the place, and
after handing over my bullocks, I rode on to Taabinga through
Cadarga, Boondooma, and Burrandowan, taking two days to do
about 115 miles. I remained about one day and then returned to
I made one trip to Hawkwood, going by Taroom and the
Auburn. My mission was to make some inquiries about some
Gwambegwine cattle, which had made over to that run. Old Mr.
George Hooper and family were then residing there.
About October 1875, I was removed to Taabinga station
near Nanango to take charge of it. Mr. C. R. Haly, the former
owner who had just left, had resided at Taabinga for about 18
years. He had both sheep and cattle on the run. He removed the
main part of his sheep to Glenhaughton near Taroom. When I
took over charge of the place, there were about 3500 head of
cattle and about 4000 sheep, and about 200 horses. I think the
prices paid were £6 per head of cattle, 10 /- per head for the
sheep, and £5 per head for the horses. Mr. Haly was a great
believer in salt for his stock. Sheep, cattle, and horses,
were give salt liberally, salt troughing being placed on
different parts of the run, and Liverpool salt distributed. It
was said tha Mr. Haly also dosed his children every morning
with a teaspoonful of salt.
Kangaroos and wallabies were very numerous on Taabinga
when Mr. Daly left, and he fully realised the harm they were
doing on his run. He made experiments to stop their increase,
by making pitfalls at intervals along the fences, but he did
no good whatsoever. We always had good kangaroo dogs with us
and they killed a few. I have seen eagle hawks swoop down and
Corporations Law the head of young kangaroos until they kill
them. A female kangaroo, when pursued by dogs, will sacrifice
her young by pitching it out of the pouch with her paws. In
this way she is able herself to escape. Other kangaroos will
make for logs and jump over them, and in this way check the
progress of the pursuing dogs. Finally the old man kangaroo
will run into a waterhole as a last resort. He is then a
dangerous customer. He will get into deep water up to his neck
and any dog that comes within his reach will be embraced with
his forepaws and ducked under the water and held there until
If the old man kangaroo is bailed up on land, or in
shallow water, he will try to embrace the dog with his
forepaws, and after taking a good grip, he will rip open the
dog's stomach with his hind legs. I once saw an old man
kangaroo bailed up when he steadily raised himself erect, and
throwing his head back more and more as the dogs approached
him, until finally he balanced himself on the point of his
tail, both hind legs were off the ground.
I remember losing a young kangaroo dog at Taabinga. It
was the first time she had been out with the dogs; she was
only about six months old. We never saw that puppy again for
nearly six months, until one day we were riding over the same
ground where she had been lost, when to our utter
astonishment, this puppy, now a full grown dog, joined the
rest of our dogs, greeting them most lovingly. Even the mother
appeared to recognise her long lost puppy. She was in splendid
trim for running, yet sleek and fat. It was interesting and
amusing to watch her catch frogs and grasshoppers. But it was
when she started after a young kangaroo that she showed off
her paces. She travelled like a streak of lightning, and had
killed and disemboweled the kangaroo before we came up to her.
Kangaroos had become so numerous on the stations that
efforts had to be made to get rid of them. We experimented in
various ways. We decided on organizing shooting battues, and
invited some of our neighbours and idle hands from Nanango,
with their guns, to join in the effort to destroy. We found
the ammunition, and several double barreled breech loading
guns. On arrival at the spot where operations were to begin,
the men with guns were placed about 100 yards or more apart,
standing behind tall trees, the men being placed in crescent
shape, with a hollow in the centre. Half a dozen horsemen then
rode out some distance and spread out, covering a mile or more
of country, and then gradually closed in towards the guns.
In this way some hundreds of kangaroos increased their
speed, and then followed the reports of scores of gun shots.
In most cases, the excitement of the men was so intense that
the shooting was very faulty, and when the drive was over it
was found that the execution was trifling. One man threw his
gun away and started throwing sticks at the kangaroos which came right up
to him. We found that it was no use persevering in this
Another experiment was tried. We built a large stake
yard, the stakes were about nine feet long standing on the
ends against a rail. This was built alongside a long line of
fence which formed a wing on that side. For the wing on the
other side, we fastened two long strips of unbleached calico
to trees and saplings for a distance of two or three hundred
yards. When the yards were completed, we placed a number of
blackfellows, about twenty of them, with their nulla nullas, a
short distance from the calico wing, giving them instructions
to close in behind the kangaroos as we drove them along. About
six of us on horseback then covered a large area of ground
some distance away from the yards and then gradually closed
in. When we reached the wings of the yards, there must have
been at least four hundred kangaroos within our grasp, but
alas! the leading kangaroos declined to enter the gateway to
the yards and began to turn back. This had the effect of
turning the whole mob. Then the fun began. Blackfellows, men,
horses, and kangaroos all mixed up together. Kangaroos began
to jump over the horses, others crawling underneath. We kept
on closing in towards the yards, and finally landed about
forty of them. While the heavy gate was being placed across
the opening, I stood at the opening, when an old man kangaroo,
after making a tour of the yards, came straight for me in
order to clear out. As I stood my ground, he bounded clear
over my head. A young kangaroo tried to follow the old man
kangaroo, and made a spring to bound over my head. I put my
hand above my head and stopped his flight by flinging him back
again to the yard. After the gate was placed in position, the
blackfellows entered the yard with their nulla nullas to
slaughter the vermin. The blackfellows had a very exciting
quarter of an hour before the last one was knocked over. I saw
one of the kangaroos with a nulla nulla clean through his
ribs, a portion of the wood being on each side. In this
condition he went once round the yard before he dropped dead.
We tried another drive from the other side of the yards but
this resulted in failure too, only a few being yarded. The
blackfellows, however, had another exciting time of it. One
old man kangaroo ran the gauntlet, passed six of them; each
threw a nulla nulla but it was not until the sixth man threw
his nulla nulla that the kangaroo was floored. It was an exciting few
At this time, kangaroos were being got rid of in the
Warwick district by shooting one by one. George Glissan and
two young men had been very successful. He was offered a bonus
of one penny a scalp to come to Taabinga, and as he saved the
skins of the old man kangaroos and sold them at a good price,
the penny bonus would give him an additional profit. He
accepted the offer, and it was he who initiated the system of
stalking and shooting kangaroos on the Burnett which proved
the means of exterminating the vermin. Glissan's example was
followed by others, and then came a bonus under the Marsupial
Act and the business of shooting kangaroos became highly
profitable. Scores of young fellows made a really good living
at the business. As many as 20,000 kangaroos were destroyed on
Taabinga alone and similar numbers were destroyed in the same
way on Tarong and Burrandowan, two neighbouring runs. Taabinga
initiated the system along with Glissan.
The plan adopted by Glissan and his boys was as
follows. When the kangaroos were sighted in the distance, the
horsemen dismounted, and the horses were used as cover by
making the horse walk beside the man, the fore legs of the
horse and the man's legs being side by side. When within
killing distance, the horse was stopped and the gun fired
across the horses' back or under his neck. When the kangaroos
were new to the business, the mob would not clear out until
five or six were shot dead. Large numbers were shot in one day
by each man. After a short time, less numbers were shot in the
day as kangaroos became more cunning and the mob would clear
out after the first shot had been fired. Finally, when the
kangaroos became a bit scarce, they had to be taken at long
range and rifles were used. The biggest numbers were shot by
moonlight. The horse was used at night just the same as during
the daytime for stalking, but much closer shots were got. At
night time, the sight on the gun cannot be used without being
made more visible. Some people would make a white chalk line
along the barrel of the gun; others would attach a piece of
leather over the muzzle of the gun, a hole of course being cut
out, for the barrels to pass through. This piece of leather
was left long enough for two ends, an inch or two long, cut in
the shape of a V, and when fixed on the gun it resembled the
ears of a horse. The sight was taken through the butt of the
ears. To avoid losing it, it was fastened with a piece of
string to the gun.
At the head of the creeks on Taabinga and Tarong runs
are the celebrated Bunya Mountains, on the summit of which is
Mount Mowbullan. With some friends I once ascended these
mountains, and Mount Mowbullan, the latter being the highest
point, and is a small bald hill, very stony but well grassed.
From the top of this spot, the view is magnificent, being a
perfect panorama.. The open plains of the Darling Downs are
clearly to be seen away to the south and to the north is the
timbered country of the Burnett. The dense scrub on the top of
the mountains is very beautiful, huge Bunya trees and monster stinging
trees with their irregular trunks diverging low down into
narrow ridges like upheavals, between two of which a man could
hide himself from sight. The Bunya trees in some instances
were seven or eight feet in diameter and the same girth,
without a branch, for a height of thirty or eighty feet’
thence upwards some of the thin branches spread out like an
umbrella. The Bunya tree can always be recognised at a
distance by the shape of the top, being shaped like the top of
an open umbrella. One great Bunya tree had fallen and was
lying there like a great wall, five feet high and thirty or
forty feet long. To get the fruit off these erect trees, the
blackfellow uses a long vine resembling a half inch hemp rope.
This is passed around the tree and then fastened loosely
around the body of the blackfellow. He then places his feet
against the tree and by slackening the vine with a sudden jerk
of his hands, sending it higher up the tree, he gradually
climbs or walks up the tree until he reaches the branches
which he then makes use of. The blacks used to come in from
all parts to these mountains when the fruit season was on,
making quite a carnival of it. The beautiful cedar trees of
immense girth had mostly been felled and after being branded
with an axe, left there to rot. Then there were the lovely
fern trees and orchids, also vines hanging from tree to tree;
amidst it all were the numerous birds, the wonga pigeon, the
whip bird, and lots of others. Altogether the surroundings
were really grand. On the northern side is a waterfall running
on to the Burnett. This place had shortly been visited by the
Duke of Manchester. On the Dalby side we found water cress
growing in beautiful spring water. Opossums and squirrels were
very numerous at night time. This place is well worthy of a
visit by anyone with leisure time.
I had one trip to Gympie with horses which I took over
there for sale, passing through Nanango, Manumbar, and down
On Burrandowan, there were a number of brumbies (wild
horses) which came across to the Taabinga side occasionally
and we took the opportunity of shooting all we could of them.
It was good sport. I had a pea rifle which always did some
execution if the horse was struck in the right spot and that
was behind the shoulder exactly midway between the wither and
the under girth. A fatal shot could be easily seen at a
distance by a few staggers and immediate discharge of blood
from the mouth and in a few moments he was dead. We kept them
off Taabinga in this way. Occasionally a scrub bull would make
its appearance from the other side of the Bunya mountains.
These we shot down with the pea rifle, the ball entering
behind the shoulder, but nearer the brisket as the heart lies
much lower in cattle than it does in horses.
I attended a private race meeting at Gayndah one year,
travelling by Nanango, Barambah, Boonara, Boonbyjan, and Ban
Ban. This was probably in 1878. J. J. Cadell's horses were the
principal winners, 'Battle Axe' being the best of them.
Another trip I made was from Taabinga to Mondure
through the scrub at the lower end of the run. I also
travelled from Taabinga through the bush to Boondooma, thence
to Proston, Wigton, Mount Debateable, to Gayndah.
About May 1883, I left Taabinga after assisting my
brother Tom to bring his family from Coochin Coochin to
Taabinga. At Brisbane, I was joined by my brother, Willie, and
we boarded the steamer going North. When we reached the jetty
at Bowen, I was amused at the manoeuvres of the native blacks
who put off from the shore in their frail canoes the moment
the steamer got to the jetty. The blacks, two in each canoe,
came alongside the steamer when the passengers began throwing
threepenny pieces overboard. One of the blacks would
immediately dive and catch the coin before it had gone very
deep; the other black was all the time bailing the water out
of the flimsy bark canoe. They declined to dive for pennies, I
suppose because they could not readily be seen in the water.
It was a very amusing performance. We passed Townsville and on
through the beautiful coast scenery to Port Douglas, where my
brother and I landed and proceeded by coach to Herberton, a
two day's trip which could have been accomplished in one day
if so desired by the mail contractor.
On the trip, we amused ourselves by counting the pack
horses and wagons. I remember the numbers perfectly well.
There were 333 pack horses and mules and 150 wagons. We
observed that the mules were made to carry one hundredweight
more than the horses. This was particularly noticeable on the
return trip from Herberton when the load was made up of tin.
One small bag contained one hundredweight. On the horses there
was one on each side of the packsaddle, but in the case of the
mules, a third was placed across the top of the pack. These
pack animals had some ugly looking loads to carry from Port
Douglas; amongst them were boxes of various sizes. The wagons
travelling from Herberton appeared to be empty, as no loading
above the guard iron could be seen, yet in most cases, there
were five tons weight on the wagons.
Just before our visit to Herberton, there had been
trouble between the miners and the Chinamen. The miners had
ordered all the Chinese to retire four miles from the town.
From this we gathered that the miners objected to the Chinese
having any other occupation apart from being gardeners. The
Chinese, being a law abiding race, retired, everyone of them
with the exception of the cook employed at the Queensland
National Bank, the Manager, Mr. Stephenson having promises to
The miners, knowing that this Chinese had remained at
the Bank, put an advertisement in the local newspaper to the
effect that this man must leave the town by a certain day.
Upon the day specified, the miners rolled up at the Bank in
full force and demanded quittance of the obnoxious cook. Mr.
Stephenson had, however, sought and obtained the protection of
the local Police Magistrate, and the Police, who were in the
manager's office when the miners arrived, the doors of the
office being opened wide so that the miners could see the
occupants. After a somewhat heated argument with Mr.
Stephenson, the miners decided that discretion was the better
part of valour and they had to retire without accomplishing
the object of their visit. This incident happened only a short
time before our visit to Herberton, and was related to us by
Mr. Stephenson, who invited us to have dinner with him on
Sunday, which we accepted, and we enjoyed an excellent repast
prepared by the very same Chinese cook.
On Sunday afternoon, we rode out to Evelyn station
about four miles away and spent the afternoon with Mr. Henry
Halloran, the manager, a gentleman we had known for many
We returned to Port Douglas by coach, and joined the
northern steamer again, going on as far as Cooktown. At
Cooktown, we spent the evening at Mr. W. V. Ealston's private
residence (he was the manager of the Queensland National Bank
there). My brother Willie and I parted company at Cooktown –
he went on to Maytown to take up the management of the
Queensland National Bank branch there, while I returned by
steamer to Townsville.
Townsville, I went by train to Charters Towers, where I
purchased two horses and an outfit for the road. Next day I
journeyed out past Burdekin Downs station on to Dotswood
station, the manager being Mr. A. H. Glissan, formerly of
Drayton, an old friend. The most striking feature about
Dotswood head station, to my mind, was the beautiful mandarin
orange tree which was then fully bearing and a pretty site to
see, the largest tree of the kind that I have seen. Next
morning I went west passing Southwick station, Nulla Nulla,
Maryvale, Cargoon, Reedy Springs, Mt. Emu Plains, Wongalee,
and reached Hughenden about the middle of May 1883.
awaited me there, from the Hon. James Taylor, offering me the
management of the Mount Marlow station on the lower Barcoo
River. This offer I accepted by telegram and continued my
journey, next day going south via Hughenden station,
Lammermoor, then across to Cameron Downs on the head of the
Thompson River, which river I followed down to Muttaburra, all
rolling open downs country the whole distance, not a tree to
be seen except the coolibahs on the watercourse. Evidence of a
very dry season were seen on all sides. I continued following
the Thompson until I reached Westland station, then I
travelled east and struck the Barcoo River at Ruthven station.
I followed the Barcoo to Louisa Downs (a portion of Mount
Marlow) on to Mount Marlow, where I arrived towards the end of
including Louisa Downs, comprised 1400 square miles of country
with the Barcoo River running as near as possible through the
centre. There were about 17,000 mixed cattle on the run. A few
days after my arrival, we began to muster and deliver 2000
female cattle to Messrs. Lumley Hill & Durack. These
cattle were delivered to Durack who took them away west to
stock new country in Western Australia owned by himself, and
also Lumley Hill. I heard afterwards that owing to the
drought, these cattle did not reach their destination for
nearly two years. All the old hands left Mount Marlow
immediately after these cattle were got away, and I had to
start business with a new chum named Longton, and another
young fellow named Thompson from the Brisbane River.
Bill Perrier left the station I got him to draw out a plan of
the country giving the names of the different land marks and
the water courses, and with this document, I was able to
explore the run.
Lagoon telegraph office was about three miles away on the
southern boundary of the run (Powell’s Creek). Shortly
afterwards, Currie and Heagney opened a store and public house
there. W and J Whitman had the leading store at Windorah
(Stony Point), L. E. Ashby being the manager, and 'king' of
Windorah. David Ordinance had just given up the management of
Welford Downs. He was succeeded by George Stephens (Staines),
Fullerton was at Retreat. J. W. Raven was at Albilah, and
Angus Urquhart was at Ruthven. Royds was at Emmett Downs,
Davis at Highlands, and Wiley at Bimerah.
after taking charge of the place, a telegram came from Mr.
Taylor asking if I could muster 2000 steers if he sold them,
as Mr. Lumley Hill wanted to purchase. To which I replied that
if delivered in two draughts, I could manage it. The sale was
made, the purchasers being Hill and Douglas, for their
Rosebrook station on the Mayne River (Diamantina). Mr. A. B.
Douglas came over to take delivery from me in two draughts as
delivery, we put down our tools and let the cattle and horses
rest. The steers sold to Hill and Douglas had to be counted at
Rosebrook, so I went over there accompanied by Warry Taylor.
We went through Welford Downs across to Jundah on the
Thompson, thence across to Farrar's Creek (Diamantina), passed
Connemarra and Tally Ho to Rosebrook on the Mayne. This was a
most unpleasant trip owing to dry weather and heat and
shortage of drinking water. We saw the cattle branded and
returned to Mount Marlow.
country and surroundings on the Barcoo were entirely different
from anything I had been accustomed to on the coast and to me
it seemed like being in another world. The timber was all
stunted in growth, the water thick and muddy, yellow in
colour, the soil loose and soft on the ridges. Instead of one
channel to the watercourse, there were numerous channels,
especially in the river. There is the main channel and
billabongs which make up the smaller channels. The timber is
chiefly of the brigalow species such as mulga, brigalow and
boree. At first, I was unable to distinguish one timber from
the other. Coolibah grows along the main watercourses. Then
there is the needle bush with sharp pointed leaves which make
you jump if your leg brushes against them when riding along.
The 'Dead Finish' is a hard, tough, crooked timer, of short
growth like the rest of the timber. It will not give way if
you come against it, and your pants will get torn. This sever
drought continued until 1884, and we lost half the herd. The
losses on stations above and below us were heavier. We put
most of our working horses together and sent them over to
Tocal on the Thompson where a piece of country with fair grass
and water kept them in good heart and they stood to us when we
wanted them after the season broke. During the last two months
of the drought, we deserted the head station, and camped in
tents on the banks of the river alongside a big waterhole. The
cattle died in hundreds on the river frontage, mostly through
bogging, but a number of them died on the flats from sheer
poverty and exhaustion. Three of the waterholes had over 500
head of cattle dead in each of them, several holes with two or
three hundred dead, and smaller holes with lesser numbers.
Some of the smaller holes you could almost walk around on dead
cattle without touching the ground. I always carried a
revolver strapped to my saddle, and many a bad case was put
out of its misery by a bullet.
remnants of the herd consisted chiefly of male cattle and
motherless calves (poddies), most of the grown female cattle
had succumbed. It was a pitiable sight to see the villainous
crows perched on the backs of living helpless bogged cattle,
and having pierced a hole in the hide, eating the flesh away
piecemeal. Dingoes could also be seen eating the same live
cattle when helplessly bogged.
road passed along the Barcoo through the centre of Mt. Marlow.
The carriers, when passing through the stations, got the
credit of helping themselves to beef and mutton. On one
occasion I discovered evidence of this on the run. While
riding along not far off the road, I came across a dead beast
which had apparently died a natural death. I was curious
however, and made further investigations. Dismounting I took
the fore leg of the beast in my hand and dragged the carcass
over to the other side, and to my astonishment, the hide on
the underneath side remained on the ground. Upon making a
closer scrutiny, I discovered that the brands had been cut off
the hide and removed, also the ear mark and all the meat from
that side cleaned off to the bone. The upper portion of the
beast had been carefully left alone. Such was one of the
methods adopted by the western carriers to secure meat free of
cost. After this incident I was not inclined to be too
friendly with these teamsters, and later on, when two or three
of them travelling together with their teams and about 100
head of bullocks came on to the run and camped for several
days in one camp, I served them with written notice to move
on. Grass and water at this time were very scarce. My notice
was not heeded. I then got a couple of hands with me and
started from the head station at dawn of day, having put our
horses in a small paddock overnight, and proceeded to the spot
where the men were camped. We easily found about thirty of
their bullocks away from the roadside, and further off the
road than the prescribed distance. We drove those bullocks to
the head station yards and impounded them. Written notice was
then sent to the owners that unless poundage fees at the rate
of five shillings per head was paid, the bullocks would be
driven on to the Isisford pound, 75 miles up the river. No
notice whatever was taken of my letter. That night, two hands
were sent to sleep across the slip rails and all loose rails
were firmly wedged. During the night, the noise of bullock
bells awakened the men who saw the bullocks moving away, and
on reaching the other side of the yard, they discovered some
rails down and a couple of the bullocks outside. The rest of
the bullocks were prevented from getting out and the rails
fixed up again. Of course the bullock drivers were at the
bottom of the business, although they kept carefully out of
the same two men started off with the bullocks towards
Isisford where they were to be impounded. They camped that
night at the Eight Mile Yard where a repetition of the
previous night's work occurred. The teamsters once again tried
to get possession of the bullocks, and they would probably
have done so had it not been for the ringing of the bells.
Next morning the paddock was searched in vain for the horses-
they had been let out. One of the men started off on foot
driving the bullocks on towards Isisford, the other man
returned to the station for fresh horses. I met this man on
the road and went on after the bullocks myself. On the
previous day, I had sent a telegram from Welford Lagoon to the
Poundkeeper at Isisford, asking him to come and meet the
bullocks and take them off our hands.
temporary absence of the two men from the yard, someone had
been there and removed the whole of their saddles, bridles,
and packs. The tracks of some horses were picked up and
followed into an adjacent scrub where a fire was still burning
and the remnants of the saddlery were discovered. It was a
clean burn for only the iron work was left. The station hand
who followed the tracks, gathered up all the buckles, bits,
stirrup irons, and iron work, which he afterwards used as
evidence against the men. During that afternoon, the Isisford
Poundkeeper met us and took charge of the bullocks which we
were glad to get rid of.
carriers came along and claimed their cattle, but they had to
pay the Poundkeeper about £30 by way of poundage fees. The
carriers then started off on their return trip. They had not
proceeded many miles before a policeman overtook them and
arrested them on a warrant which had been issued at my
request, charging the men with having burnt the saddles etc.
Both men were locked up in gaol for a few days and were put on
trial before Mr. H. B. Gough, P.M., who committed them to
their trial in the District Court. They were then let out on
bail. The Attorney General in his wisdom, decided not to file
and bill and the men got off without trial.
working man on the Barcoo consisted of the real scum of the
earth. These men travelled with riding horse and pack horse
from one township to another, stopping at the intervening
stations for a few days work, and as they demanded and got at
the rate of £2 per week, they seldom stayed longer than two or
three weeks, when they would give a week's notice.
cooks can be got, the majority of them are no good. One of my
cooks, when clearing away the tea things, seized the table
knives in one hand and rushed at me in a most savage manner
because I told him that so long as he was servant of mine, he
must do as I wanted. 'Servant!' he shouted, 'I am not your
servant!' 'What the devil are you then? I asked, 'I am your
Help!,' he replied.
beast of a cook got on the drink and just when he should have
been preparing breakfast, he came along to the back door of
the dining room, stark naked, and demanded some grog. I had
none on the place. In any case he would not have been given
any. He then showed fight when I seised him by the arms and
bundled him outside neck and crop. Further trouble was
prevented by Longton coming along and taking him off to the
hut where he was locked up.
one of the greatest curses in the West, where they appear in
the summer months in millions, the common house fly being the
worst of the lot. Then there are the sand flies and the March
flied. At night, the mosquitoes are in full force; only cheese
cloth will keep them out, mosquito netting is not fine enough.
and cattle have a bad time of it with the common house fly.
Cattle are driven in large mobs from the scrubs out into the
open country where they all stand together in one big mob,
their tails going all the time. In this way, the flies are
driven off. Mustering the cattle when the flies are bad is
made easier for they are found in big mobs and outsiders that
have been missed for months are gathered in. Horses may be
seen in various sized mobs walking one behind the other, the
head of one horse being against the tail of the other. After a
time, the leading horse stops and this brings them all to a
standstill, when they pair off head and tail, one protecting
the other. from the flies with his tail. The unfortunate horse
without a tail is friendless and stands alone. The heads and
eyes of the horses, after a time, become irritable, then they
begin rubbing against trees; the hair comes away, then a bit
of the skin. At this stage, of course, the flies increase
their energies, the sore gets from a small thing to a big one,
and in some cases you will see a sore as large as the palm of
your hand underneath the horses’ eyes. The paddock horses will
come to the yard of their own accord in the early mornings in
order to stand with their heads in the smoke from fires which
are made from green bushes to hunt the flies.
also worried by the same fly and various methods are adopted
to keep the enemy off. A small bush carried in the hand and
used freely is one way; others smear their faces with castor
oil. The best plan is to get some black netting and make a
veil to pass over the hat and round the neck, elastic top, and
bottom. The swagman will fasten bits of string to his hat to
the end of which is attached small pieces of cork; these
dangle about his face and keep the flies in check.
Belyando Spew is what vomiting is called. It is brought on
when you are in the best of health just through a fly lodging
on your lip or in your mouth when you are eating your dinner.
Rot is caused through the unhealthy state of the blood. A pin
scratch will fester into a big sore which will often leave an
Blight is common enough and makes its appearance without any
warning. Your eyes may be well tonight, but in the morning
they will be bad with the Blight. I was taken this way myself
when about twenty miles from the head station, and I had to
ride home through the bush alone. A most unpleasant ride, I
can assure you.
sand fly is worse about the watercourses. The March fly is
nearly as large as a blow fly. It lodges itself on the horses'
belly, and it stings like a stab from a knife. The horse you
are riding will take himself over a low bush and pass the bush
between his legs. In this way the March fly is shaken or
heat is at its worst, the thermometer often runs to 120º, and
higher. Small birds often drop dead from heat.
redeeming feature of the Western country is the beautiful
climate in the winter, and luxurious growth of grass in a good
season. Horses and cattle and sheep are simply rolling in fat.
The Mitchell grass which grows there to perfection is one of
the best and hardiest grasses anywhere in Queensland, and
fattens stock up splendidly.
is soft on the ridges; a horse will sink below his hoofs even
in dry weather and in wet weather, the ridges are very boggy.
Sometimes weak animals will bog and die on ridge country after
heavy rain. More than once I have followed tracks, after heavy
rain, on ridge country, of a kangaroo and pursuing dingo, both
tracks being easily seen. After a short run, the kangaroo's
remains clearly show that the dingo had caught his prey.
time, the water spreads over a wide stretch of country, the
country being flat. On the lower Barcoo, which is several
hundred miles from the head of the river, it sometimes happens
that the river will come down a banker without one drop of
rain locally. I saw this happen at Mount Marlow. We crossed
the river in the early morning and mustered a big mob of
cattle, bringing them back to the river in the afternoon. When
we crossed in the morning, the river was dry, but in the
afternoon, there was water half a mile across. You could kick
up the dust alongside the flooded water. A heavy storm must
have fallen about Tambo, the head of the river several hundred
miles away. This is an instance of the danger of people
camping in the channels of a river for the sake of some feed
for their horses. Of course we had to let the cattle go, and
wend our way up the river to the adjoining station Albilbah,
where we crossed in a boat and swam the horses to the other
country is mostly very flat where the watercourses are
located. The consequence is that there is difficulty at times
to tell in which direction the creek is running; this is
especially so in scrubby country. You may find yourself going
up the creek instead of down, merely because a branch of the
creek has joined on just where you thought you would cut off a
bend in the main creek. It is always best to keep an eye on
the drift wood about the foot of the trees which indicates the
direction the creek is running, the driftwood of course being
on the upper side.
I was once
stuck up by the muster hands when we had a big yard full of
cattle with several hundred calves to brand. The men had been
drinking grog overnight and were unfit for work. Three of them
declined to work and were paid off. Three of us then had to
put through about 500 head of cattle and brand about 300
traveller informed me that the man in charge of a big mob of
travelling cattle, which were travelling up Powell's Creek,
was picking up some of the station cattle and taking them
along with him. A telegraphic message was sent by me from
Welford Lagoon to Blackall, asking for a policeman to be sent
to investigate matters.
allowing sufficient time for these cattle to get over the
boundary of the run, I went after them, overtaking them a
short distance on the neighbouring run. The man in charge
denied of course, having, to his knowledge, any of the Mount
Marlow cattle, but after riding through his mob we discovered
about six head bearing the Mount Marlow brand, which I
claimed. Riding in front of these cattle, which kept together,
I stopped in front of them, the remainder of the mob passing
on, leaving me with the station cattle, which showed no
inclination to go with the mob. As I took the cattle away, the
man in charge remarked that he was now that number short in
his mob, evidence to my mind that he had deliberately made up
his numbers when going through the run.
policeman was waiting for me at Welford Lagoon, but, of
course, he had arrived too late.
a race meeting at Isisford, racing a horse called 'Dynamite,'
which I bought from Mr. J. W. Raven of Albilbah for £100. He
won a race for me and was afterwards raffled for £100, so I
came out of the investment alright. H. B. Gough was Police
Magistrate at Isisford; Richard Frost had the hotel; Harry V
Geary was at Portland Downs; R. A. Hopkins at Wellshot. All of
these, and many others, were at this race meeting. Later on, a
race meeting was held at Welford Lagoon. I was lucky enough to
pick the two horses, 'Highlander,' and 'After Dark,' that won
the double event, and won about £25. There was only one
bookmaker, and he thought so little of the chance of these two
horses winning that he laid the bet three or four times over,
a most unusual proceeding and somewhat risky to say the least
of it. After the horses had won, of course, this bookmaker saw
that he was landed in a hole for he had pledged himself to pay
£25, four times over. He got out of the difficulty by tearing
some leaves out of his book and repudiating all the bets
except the one made to me. There were some strong words, but
all the same, he never paid anyone but me. Of course the man
should have been taken by the neck and pitched into the
before leaving Mt. Marlow, I had an opportunity of selling a
small buggy which I had on hand. Unfortunately the pole and
crossbars were away at the blacksmiths at Albilbah Station, 45
miles up the river. In order to complete the sale, there was
no other course open to me but to ride up to Albilbah and
bring the things back on horseback the next day. I rode to
Albilbah and next day returned with the pole and crossbars,
having carried them on my shoulder all the way.
arrived at the station one afternoon with his man-servant in
attendance, their mission being to mark out the boundary line
between Mount Marlow and Albilbah. The surveyor and I had
known each other for many years, but as he approached me, I
could see that something was wrong with him, for he made
rambling remarks and failed to recognise me. He did not show
any signs of drink; he appeared to be perfectly sober. His
man-servant informed me that he had been drinking heavily at
Blackall and Isisford, and was suffering from the after
effects. The surveyor, in a confidential tone of voice,
informed me that a policeman was following him up. He took
hold of my hand and placed my finger on the back of his neck
to let me feel the spot where he said that a bullet had struck
him, which had been fired by the policeman. He was wearing a
white helmet hat, and had a saddle pouch in his hand. Suddenly
he started off at a brisk walk down the hill in the direction
of the river. After he had gone some distance, I ran after him
asking where he was off to, and he replied that he was off to
the Commercial for a game of billiards. After bringing him
back to the house, he calmly stood under the shade of a tree
with his helmet and saddle pouch, whispering to me that he was
I took him to the bedroom, shut the door, and sternly informed
him that he was again in gaol. He appeared to be quite
satisfied and while kneeling on the bed, which was alongside
the window, he put his arms on the window sill and began
talking to an imaginary crown outside, one of whom he asked if
he could 'dance the cadence.' Shortly afterwards, he went off
to sleep. The next morning, he was in the same state of
health. His man-servant took charge of him for the day. I was
out on the run all day, and on my return at sundown, I found
him quite recovered. He greeted me in a friendly way,
addressing me by name. He declared that he could remember all
that had happened, and he could call it nothing but an
Next day I
went with him to the boundary of the run, and showed him the
starting point for his survey line. He had only a prismatic
compass with him, and with this instrument, he essayed to run
the line while on horse back with the assistance of his
man-servant. As the line went through a dense scrub for some
distance, and over the top of a high mountain, his work when
finished was unreliable and inaccurate. He returned to the
station in a few days and announced the completion of his work
as far as a 'precipitous mountain' and could go no further. Of
course, his survey was perfectly useless and had to be done
over again. Needless to say, he received no payment for his
labours. The poor chap died some months after, and I believe
his widow put in a claim for payment for the work.
One of my
trips from Mount Marlow was to Adavale, travelling up Powell's
Creek, through Gooyea and Milo. At Adavale, the coach carried
me to Charleville and on to Dulbydilla, which then was the
terminus of the railway line. I took the train to Toowoomba,
and after a stay of only a few days, I started with McHugh the
butcher, for Brisbane, thence by steamer to Rockhampton, and
by train to Barcaldine, coach to Isisford, and by horse to
Mount Marlow. We then mustered and delivered about 150 fat
bullocks to McHugh, which went by Blackall to Mitchell, where
they were trucked to Toowoomba.
riding near the main road up the Barcoo, we noticed some
bullock tracks making straight away from the road. We followed
the tracks for three or four miles, when they branched off to
the neighbouring run (Ruthven); a bit further on, we came to
the camp of some bullock drivers with their horses and
bullocks on splendid grass and water. A thunderstorm had
lately fallen there, and these chaps having discovered it,
were making the most of it. They had been camped there for a
week and evidently intended to stay on. As they were off our
country, we left them alone.
residence of three years at Mount Marlow, I retired about
September 1, 1886. Just before leaving the station, I
purchased about 250 head of the station bullocks, the ages
being none under six years. We put together a really first
class mob, having been lucky enough to pick up with some old
bullocks that had previously been missed. With the assistance
of two hands, I started off for the Sydney market, via Bourke.
after leaving the run, we ran foul of three or four different
mobs of travelling cattle, all going in the same direction,
and all within a few miles of each other. In order to get
clear of the whole of them, we pushed our mob along, and went
a long stage of 18 miles which put us ahead of the lot. Corrie
Macdonald's mob from Cork station was the last mob we passed.
After this, we saw no more travelling cattle.
the Barcoo at Retreat station, we crossed over to Kyabra
Creek, which we followed up to Kyabra station. We then left
Kyabra Creek, and then went on two or three long dry stages to
Norley and Mount Margaret station s, and reached Thargomindah
in three weeks, a very quick trip. From there, I sent a
telegram to Pitt Son & Badgery, at Sydney, ordering trucks
to be sent to Bourke for us to be ready on a day named three
weeks ahead which meant an average of twelve miles a day.
Thargomindah, there was only one Bank, the Commercial of
Sydney. I was unknown at this place, but I ventured to ask the
manager to cash my cheque for £5. This he refused to do, with
the remark that he had been 'slipped up too often.' With a
doleful and downcast countenance, I was passing the leading
hotel when the landlord ( a gentleman now holding a leading
position in Parliament), accosted me and asked what was my
trouble. When I explained to him, he at once offered to cash
my cheque, which he did for me. He proved a friend in time of
need and I often repeated the story.
the Border below Hungerford, and went in through Fords Bridge,
arriving at Bourke in time to claim our railway trucks. We
lost no cattle, and travelled the distance, 520 miles, from
Mount Marlow to Bourke, in the record time of six weeks, or an
average of 12½ miles per day
crossing the bridge over the Darling at Bourke, we had, like
other drovers, to get the assistance of a small mob of milkers
to give us a lead. The use of them for half and hour or less
cost £1, but it was money well spent. These milkers were being
constantly in use for this purpose, and had become extremely
knowing. It was really amusing to watch them. As they
approached the bridge, they would hang back, shirking the job,
but the moment they put their feet on the bridge and saw the
big mob following, off they went full gallop. When safely over
the bridge, they would stop short, and sharply turn the corner
and come to a dead stop, letting the big mob pass on.
secured the trucks by telegram from Thargomindah three weeks
in advance saved us any delay and we loaded the cattle
immediately. Several other mobs had arrived at Bourke a week
and ten days before us, but not having ordered the trucks in
advance, they had to wait.
we sold at Homebush and fetched top prices.
to mention that the two men I had with me, stuck me up on the
long dry stage between Kyabra Creek and the Bulloo
(Thargomindah), demanding higher wages, as they saw by the
pace that we were travelling at, that instead of a trip of ten
or eleven weeks, it was going to be only six weeks. Of course,
I had to agree to their demand.
banking the proceeds of the cattle, I went on to Melbourne and
there saw 'Arsenal' win the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, 2
November, 1886. 'Trenton' was second, with 'Silvermine' third.
Needless to say, my money was not on the winner.
returning to Toowoomba, I arranged to purchase another lot of
fat bullocks off Mount Marlow. This time it was 500 head.
Toowoomba, I went to Taabinga station and there purchased for
Mount Marlow station, the blood stallion 'Mameluke' and six
saddle horses. I engaged John Kendall and another man to go
with me. The saddle horses were only newly broken in and gave
us some trouble at first. We travelled out by way of
Burrandowan, Boondooma, and on to Taroom, through Hornet Bank,
Mount Hutton, Forest vale, Nive Downs, and Tambo. We left the
Barcoo River at Tambo, and went across to Terrick Terrick
station. From Terrick, we went due west across country. I had
a steel file in my saddle pouch and with it we cut the wires
of each fence that stood in our road. Only the three top wires
were cut. To the three bottom wires we fastened a piece of
sapling and made the horses jump over. A panel's length of the
bottom wire was used for patching up the fence. When we struck
the Barcoo again at Louisa Downs, we found it in a flooded
state and after reaching the Mount Marlow head station, we
were informed that in consequence of the flood, no mail had
been received for three weeks. From Terrick Terrick to Mount
Marlow by the way we travelled was a distance of about eighty
head of bullocks were then mustered and we started off with
them taking the Adavale road on this occasion. We followed up
Powell's Creek through Gooyea and Milo on the head of the
Bulloo River and then past Adavale. We then went through
Gumbardo and down Beechal Creek to the Paroo River, which we
crossed at Eulo. Then we went on through Tinneburra station,
crossing the Warrego at the Cuttaburra. We crossed the New
South Wales border at Barringun, then on to the Darling River
passing Adavale, we discovered a case of pleuro in the mob,
and from then on until we got to Bourke, we had fresh cases
showing out each day. These sick cattle we dropped by the
roadside, where no doubt they died.
weather had set in which made matters worse for us. From my
previous experience of the bridge at Bourke, it was risky to
put the cattle across it owing to the slippery state it would
be in, so we decided to swim the cattle over the Darling
River. The river is about 100 yards wide about there. We
spread out our cattle and forced them into the water. They
swam splendidly, just like a lot of ducks. The leading cattle
were too slow in climbing the bank at the other side, the
result being that the cattle behind were compelled to turn and
swim back again. There were only three of us with the cattle.
John Kendall was successful in getting to the other side with
his horse, so that he was able to look after the lot that had
crossed while two of us were left with the remainder of the
mob. It was now sundown and raining. After fixing up camp for
the night, I left the cattle with my mate and started off with
blankets and tucker for Kendall on the other side of the
river. Crossing at the bridge, I worked my way round to
Kendall, leaving my packages with him, and arranged for
Kendall to have his mob in sight the next morning so that we
could see his mob over the river. Next morning we got the
remainder of the cattle over the river, all except about
fifteen head. These we took to the bridge and got them over,
but not without most of them slipping down on the wet boards.
with the horses had his instructions to follow us to the
railway trucking yards where we intended camping for the
night. Kendall and I got the cattle to the trucking yards and
fixed up our camp, but there was no sign of the man with the
spare horses, blankets and tucker. We had the night to
ourselves, watching the cattle turn about. We had to stick
closely to our two horses, but 'man proposes and God
disposes,' for alas! the horse that was tied to a tree broke
away owing to a gust of wind blowing sparks and smoke from our
fire over him, giving the poor animal a great fright. Next
morning at daylight, I left Kendall with the cattle, and went
off on foot in search of the lost horse. I found him amongst
some other horses, but failed in my efforts to catch him. Then
I walked off, making for Bourke, a distance of a couple of
miles. Being wet weather, I gathered mud and loose grass on my
boots, making my journey very laborious. Having reached the
township, I hired a horse and saddle, and picked up our lost
horse on the return to camp. Fortunately the lost man with the
packhorses had turned up during my absence.
anxious to get rid of the cattle, but was doomed to
disappointment, as advice came from Pitt, Son & Badgery,
that trucks for only half the mob had been sent along, the
market at Sydney not being good at the time. That afternoon,
we trucked half the mob. The leading cattle were sent away as
they had given us the most trouble. With the remainder we
started to travel up the Bogan River to Nyngan. The wet
weather continued and the roads were in a heavy state. Anyone
who has travelled much with cattle, will have observed that
each beast has its own particular position in the mob. The
same cattle are always to be found in the lead when once they
have settled down, likewise to the right, to the left, and to
the tail of the mob, the same cattle are to be found, each
beast having its own peculiar place and mates. Our mob without
the leading cattle, was like a ship without a rudder; the
consequence was that we had considerable work to make them
draw along. After a day or two, new leading cattle were broken
in and we had less trouble.
A few days
before reaching Nyngan, when the third man was on watch, half
the mob was allowed to get off the camp. Fortunately we picked
up all of them next morning, some distance back along the
road. It was a great relief to me to see the last of these
cattle on the trucks, for the trip had been a troublesome one.
One of the brutes actually jumped on the top rail of the fence
of the trucking yards and there balanced for a few seconds,
and finally the heavier part of him proved to be on the
outside of the yard, for he fell outside and we saw him not
market had not improved so the agents there consigned half our
mob to Melbourne. I went with the Melbourne portion. The nett
returns from the whole 500 head just about cleared me with
nothing over for my own labour and hardships. Kendall took
charge of the horses and travelled them overland from Nyngan
to Taabinga, a long lonely trip, by himself.
disagreeable trip, I decided to leave droving alone, and try
my luck at gold mining at Croydon, a very unwise step, it
I left Brisbane by the slow old steamer 'Victoria,' on Wednesday, 7 September, 1887. It followed the coast to Thursday Island, thence to the Gulf of Carpentaria, where we transshipped into a small river boat and followed the sinuous course of the Norman River until near Normanton, where we landed and were taken the rest of the journey by waggonettes to the town of Normanton. Next morning, we got inside one of Cobb & Co's coaches bound for Croydon, reaching our destination after two days' very uncomfortable travelling. Just a fortnight from Brisbane. The coach was overcrowded, six passengers inside, three on the box seat, and one or two on the dashboard with a rope stretched across for feet to rest on.
weather was hot and sweaty, the roads terribly dusty. At night
when we arrived at the stopping place, the passengers looked
like blackfellows, being covered with sweat and dust. There
were two mules in the pole and three horses in the lead. The
whip was kept on the mules pretty freely to make them keep
pace with the horses in front. Our coachman, when taking a
short cut off the road, ran the coach into a tree and broke
the pole. After replacing the broken pole with a sapling tied
up with a clothes line, we finished our journey without any
further mishap. The deep ruts along the road were covered to
the level of the road with fine dust ( as fine as flour), the
result was that neither the coachman nor anybody else knew
when we were going to drop into a deep rut. We used to get
there without any warning and the inside passengers had a bad
time of it, occasionally being shaken from the seat to the
roof of the coach.
stay of several weeks at Croydon, and foolishly investing
money in some of the mines, I returned to Normanton by coach,
thence by steamer to Brisbane.
the year 1888, I paid a second visit to Croydon, going by
steamer to Normanton as before. This time the wet weather was
about, and the coach was unable to travel. Two of my fellow
passengers deputed me to buy horses and saddlery for three. I
made the purchases from a bullock driver and we drew lots for
the horses. Mine proved to be a piebald which was about the
best of the three. We started off riding and did the trip to
Croydon in about three or four days.
there for about two
months and during that time, I went down the shafts of a
number of mines, some with the aid of a bucket and windlass,
others by ladders fixed to the sides of the shafts. One shaft
I went down about two hundred feet, the ladder being made of
saplings and fastened very loosely to the side of the shaft
which was exactly perpendicular. I went down very comfortably,
but on the trip up, I began to tire when about two thirds of
the trip had been accomplished. I rested for a moment, and
then began to realise that, if I fell, it would be about 150
feet. I started off again, going very carefully, feeling all
the time that the ladder was more rickety than before, so I
went more steadily, remembering all the time that it was a
deep fall below. Finally, I grasped the top of the shaft and
got clear of it with a big sigh of relief.
Croydon with two horses, and rode towards Georgetown, on my
way to Charters Towers. I went through Georgetown, then across
the Stockman's Range down to the Einasleigh River, through
Carpentaria Downs, Hillgrove, and Dalrymple, to Charters
sold my turnout for just what it would fetch. I took the train
to Townsville, and steamer to Rockhampton, where I stayed for
a few days during which time I went out to see Mount Morgan
with C. G. Alford, E. K. Ogg, and J. T. Y. Tilbury. Later on,
I returned by steamer to Brisbane.
Croydon, I saw a contest between a white and a black man, at
high jumping. It was a closely contested match and well worth
seeing, for the jump that was cleared must have been a world
record. They started at five feet and went by inches up to six
feet two inches, which both of them cleared. At six feet three
inches, both of them failed, and it ended up in a drawn
I also saw
a stand up fight at the back of Temples Hotel, just off the
main street. An insurance agent had made some offensive remark
to a leading storekeeper whilst the latter was in the company
of his wife the previous evening. Meeting next day at the
hotel bar, words led to blows and a challenge to fight outside
eventuated. I arrived on the scene just as the battle began.
Both combatants were stripped to the waist, only a singlet
covering the upper part of the body. Both had friends standing
behind them as seconds, one of whom was the editor of the
local newspaper, and upon a policeman arriving upon the scene
to stop proceedings, this editor announced that he was a
justice of the peace and that he would take responsibility.
fought for several hard rounds, the scientific boxing of the
storekeeper told its tale and the insurance agent was knocked
out. After the fight, the newspaper man was accosted in the
street by the editor of the opposition newspaper. They were
not the best of friends, but the new comer ventured to enquire
about the fight. He got a short reply, and after a few hot
words, these two got to blows, and when the policeman turned
up, he arrested the editor (who was not a justice of the
peace) and let the other fellow alone.
being quickly bailed out, he proceeded to his office, and
within a short time, he had the whole of the details of the
fight, at the back of the hotel, published in large type,
giving the names of all who had taken part in it. The paper
was a curiosity.
return to Brisbane, I went to Taabinga, which had just been
sold by my brother Tom to Mr. Arthur Youngman, of Melbourne. I
remained there until after the delivery of the station and
stock to the new owner. When I returned to Brisbane, Mr.
Alexander Archer, the manager of the Bank of New South Wales,
gave me the job of reporting on their station Gulnarbar, near
St. George, and also to take charge of it for a short time
during the illness of the manager, R. Underwood.
a severe drought during the time and the cattle were beginning
to die of poverty and through bogging in the waterholes. There
were some large lagoons on this station which were covered
with wild fowl, chiefly black ducks. There were some good
sportsmen at St. George, so I arranged with them to bring
their guns and small boat for a shooting expedition. They
killed a number of the ducks and scared a number away from the
Willie was then the manager of the Queensland National Bank at
St. George. My brother Tom had just started a business in
Brisbane as a stock and station agent, and on my return from
Gulnarbar about the end of October, 1888, he induced me to
take over the business from him as he had just been appointed
Pastoral Inspector for the Queensland Investment and Land
Mortgage Company. My office was in Power's Building adjoining
the Town Hall. I have continued that business for just twenty
years, but my office is now in the Courier building, having
removed there about March 1903.
Saturday, 2 December, 1893, I married and now have three
daughters. The two eldest are attending Miss Burdorff's
school, and the younger one attends the state school at
Yeronga, where we have resided ever since my marriage.
February, 1893, there was a record flood in Brisbane, being
fifteen feet higher than any previously recorded flood. On
Thursday 13 February, 1896, there was another big flood, but
not nearly as big as the 1893 flood. This flood will long be
remembered by the writer, for I was on board the S.S. 'Pearl'
when she sank in the Brisbane River. The River being a banker
and the bridge considered unsafe for traffic, it was closed up
and passengers were taken backwards and forwards in ferry
boats of which the 'Pearl' was one. About 5pm, I was on my way
home, and boarded the 'Pearl' at the Queen's Wharf. Passing up
the gangway just in front of me was a kanaka, his wife, and
daughter, all well dressed and evidently comfortably off.
other side of the river, and only about thirty yards from the
wharf on the South Brisbane side, the S.S. 'Lucinda' was
anchored, and there was also another smaller steamer anchored
in a line with the 'Lucinda' only about thirty yards higher
the South Brisbane wharf, our steamer, the 'Pearl,' had to
pass between these two anchored steamers. Just as we
approached the 'Lucinda,' the captain of the 'Pearl' gave the
order to 'stop her,' believing, no doubt, that there was
enough speed on to take us to the wharf, and probably there
would have been but for the strong current which had not been
taken into consideration.
captain was at the wheel and I and others were sitting under
him on the lower deck at the bow of the steamer. We began to
see at once that the strong running flood waters on our
broadside would prevent us getting past the 'Lucinda.' Sure
enough, just as we got half way past, the keel of the 'Pearl'
struck the anchor chain of the 'Lucinda,' and the bowsprit of
the 'Lucinda' struck the top deck of the 'Pearl.'
of the 'Pearl' ran onto the anchor chain and in an instant she
was on her side. We sprang to our feet and pulled ourselves on
to her side and stood upright. The next moment, the stern of
the 'Pearl' went under water, the bow shot in the air,
bringing us abreast of the bowsprit of the 'Lucinda,' which I
embraced with both arms and hung there.
from the submerged steamer escaped and surrounded me in a
cloud of it. The 'Pearl' then sank out of sight underneath me.
I swung myself astride across the bowsprit and remained there
for a few minutes, quite dazed. The whole incident was so
sudden that no word was uttered by anyone, not even an
exclamation for a woman or a child. When I recovered my
senses, I crawled along the bowsprit, and dropped aboard the
'Lucinda' without a wet spot on me. I then gave some
assistance to pull on a rope, the end of which had been caught
by a man in the water.
were hauling him on board, we saw another poor old bald headed
man drowning underneath us. He was no swimmer, his hands being
flung wildly about his head. The next moment the end of a nine
foot rail struck him on the forehead and out of sight he went.
A number of the passengers who could swim escaped with a good
wetting, but about twenty lives were lost including the
kanaka, his wife, and his daughter. No doubt the kanaka was an
expert swimmer, but he probably lost his life through trying
to help his wife and his daughter. I suppose that there were
about one hundred passengers on board at the time of the
disaster. I lost my umbrella, newspaper, and parcel of boots.
Needless to say I have no recollection of parting with them.
Now and again I attended the races at Ascot, but only
once had I a good stroke of luck. Along with Charles and
Alfred Ogg, I reached the course shortly before the first race
started. The horses were taking their preliminary canters. We
were all closely watching the horses before deciding which
horse to back. Before I had come to a decision, my two mates
had fixed an old 'Boscobel' and their money went on him.
Shortly before these races, I had been advised to back a mare
called 'Monkshood' in her next three races. Twice she had lost
and this was her third race. I looked for her and she appeared
to be in the best of condition; moreover, the boy riding her
had a whip and a pair of spurs. This decided me to take a
ticket on her on the Totalisator. The race was run and the
finish was a very close one. As the horses flashed past us, I
noticed 'Monkshood' make a splendid final effort, but when the
numbers were hoisted, her number was underneath another one-
only two numbers were put up. Of course, we thought that the
mare had run second. My mates and I went off four our lunch,
when I was feeling annoyed at my bad luck in losing the race
by a trifle. After lunch, we returned to the Totalisator and
we found to our astonishment
only two names on the board viz 'Beauvoir,' and
'monkshood.' To make sure of a win I took a ticket on
'Beauvoir' for the run off. The run off was won easily by
'Monkshood,' and I lost ten shillings on that event, but I had
still to draw my winnings on the first race. The dividend
proved to be £27 / 15 /-, which I carefully pocketed and
looked pleasant for the rest of the day, notwithstanding that
I had lost £5 of it trying to strike another winner.
On returning home, I handed twelve sovereigns to my
wife as her half share of the day's outing, as she had given
me five shillings to invest for her.
When a small boy at Toowoomba, I went with my brother
Willie to see the circus. The morning newspapers had announced
that anyone who bought a front seat ticket would be entitled
to a chance of winning a new silver watch which had been
bought for presentation. At the door we were given a ticket
with the same figure stamped at each end of it. The ticket was
then torn in half, one half being placed in a box at the door,
the other half we kept. Just before the performance began, the
box was well shaken up and deposited in the centre of the ring
where all could see it. A little girl from the audience was
then asked to draw out one ticket, and this ticket happened to
correspond with my number. I lost no time in stepping forward
to claim the prize, not waiting for an invitation to do so. On
examining the watch afterwards, I found that it was a very old
one, with a discoloured face and a broken hand. However, I
sold it next day for thirty shillings. I heard afterwards that
a new watch had been purchased for presentation but one of the
employees effected an exchange for his old used up watch.
As an instance of how I was taken down by a man who
'lived on the game,' it was after one of my road trips when in
Sydney. Along with a friend, I went to see some sports, and
between the acts we were attracted by a crowd standing around
an individual who was holding forth and showing his skill.
This fellow had in his left hand a small felt purse, and with
his right hand he appeared to throw five sovereigns into it,
one at a time. He then closed the purse and offered to sell it
and the contents for two sovereigns. Finding that no one
seemed inclined to accept his generous offer, he emptied the
purse and repeated the operation. This time he made a set at
me, probably noting my sunburnt hands and face, and riveting
his eye on me just as he appeared to throw in the last of the
pieces of gold, he gave me a knowing wink remarking 'I only
want a start.' I was soft enough to believe that the man meant
what he said, and that for once, the five sovereigns would be
there. I gave him my two sovereigns and took the purse with
its contents. From the outside I could feel what appeared to
be five sovereigns, but, on opening the purse, to my disgust,
I found five farthings. The onlookers enjoyed the joke.
Some years ago, when a young man was out herding cattle
at Glenhaughton, he climbed a tree to help kill the time, when
he slipped, and in falling, his leg caught in a fork of the
tree, and there he hung by his leg. Some time afterwards, he
was found in that position, quite dead. There was evidence
that he had tried his best to cut off his own leg at the knee
with his pocket knife.
A very old colonist related the following incident to
me. We shall call him Mr. Luke. An employee of Mr. Luke went
with him from the Darling Downs to the Dawson, where he took
up some new country and named it Bungabar. The employee, Grey
by name, was a good worker and could turn his hand to any sort
of work. Most people have some sort of a hobby. This man's
hobby was collecting horses and reselling them at an advance
in price. One day a traveller arrived at Bungabar with a lame
horse. He was on his way west to inspect and report on some
new pastoral country. He wanted another horse to take the
place of the lame one. As Mr. Luke had none to spare, he
suggested that Grey should bring in his horses for inspection.
After a good look at each one, the traveller selected
the best looking one in the mob and he asked the price. The
mare was a thoroughbred and a real good sort, and eighty
guineas was the price. The traveller agreed to buy her if Grey
would take his lame horse, being taken for the remainder of
the purchase money. The traveller took his departure and then
Grey began to sell off the rest of his horses converting them
into cash. About a fortnight after the traveller had left,
Grey gave notice that he wanted to leave the station. He was a
good hand and Mr. Luke did not want to part with him. He asked
if he wanted an increase in his wages. Grey replied that he
was satisfied with his wages and his work, but he said, 'I may
as well tell you in confidence, that the thoroughbred mare I
sold to that traveller belongs to the Chief Inspector of
Police at Drayton from whom I stole her. The traveller is
nearly due to arrive at Drayton on his return. The mare will
at once be recognised and the Police will be after me.'
The day after Grey had taken his departure from
Bungabar, a policeman in plain clothes arrived at the station,
and said to Mr. Luke 'You have a man working here named Grey?'
'No,' was the reply, 'I had, but he left here yesterday
morning.' 'You don't say so,' said the policeman, 'why it must
have been the very same man I had dinner with yesterday on the
The horse stealer had meanwhile slipped along passing
through Dalby, but carefully leaving Drayton away to the left,
and on to Leyburn. On reaching Leyburn, Grey pitched his camp
on the creek a short distance from the Hotel. Later on, he
could be seen reading the newspaper by lamplight in the coffee
room of the hotel. Shortly afterwards, Grey observed the
landlord of the hotel speaking in an undertone to a stranger,
both looking hard at him. Immediately they were out of sight,
Grey rose from his seat and went around the front of the
hotel. Two horses were tied up at the fence which belonged to
the stranger, who proved to be a policeman in pursuit of Grey.
The policeman had left his revolver strapped to his saddle.
Grey quickly mounted the horses and lead the other one. Some
one rushed inside the hotel and informed the constable , who
hurried out shouting after Grey, telling him that he was
taking away his horses. The cool reply came back, 'I know I
am, but I will leave them for you near Goondiwindi. In the
meantime, you can have my horses which are hobbled out on the
creek. Good bye.'
Nothing more was ever heard of Grey.
Two bushmen named Mathew and Thornbury were staying the
night at a bush public house, when they went to the creek for
a bathe. On the way they met a blackfellow with half a dozen
nice fish. They bought them from the blackfellow for one
shilling. The blackfellow then retraced his steps and never
went near the hotel. After their baths, Mathew and Thornbury
decided to have a joke with their landlord at the hotel, with
whom they were both well acquainted. They held up the fish
with great pride and asked the landlord how it was he never
caught any of them. 'How on earth did you catch those fish,'
said he, 'I have tried over and over again to catch them, but
have always failed.' Thornbury explained that he and his mate
were expert swimmers, one of them diving into the water and
smartly swimming after the fish, would lay hold of them by the
tail, and with a sharp jerk, fling them on the bank of the
creek. Mathew and I often catch fish in this way, he said.
The publican believed the story for he could not
understand how otherwise they could have got hold of them 'I
never heard of such a thing being done before,' he said, 'why,
if I try to hold a live fish by the tail in a tub of water, I
cannot hold him.' Thornbury then explained that it was the
peculiar twist they gave the tail that enabled them to do it.
Drinks all round at the landlord's expense followed.
Mt friend, T. Macdonald Paterson was a Scotchman to the
backbone, and the bagpipes had the same effect on him as they
had on most Scotchmen; they make them excited and lively. One
day I was sitting with him on his verandah. It was after we
had finished tea, and it was moonlight. Suddenly the bagpipes
began to play just across the street. Paterson was on his feet
in an instant, calling me to follow on. I went quietly inside
the house and got my hat; he went off bare headed. Walking
leisurely along, I reached the spot where the bagpipes were
squeaking, and two men were dancing the Highland Fling with
the greatest enjoyment. I looked around for my friend Paterson
but he was nowhere to be seen. After a time, the dancers tired themselves
out and when they ceased dancing, I discovered to my
astonishment that one of the dancers was Paterson himself. He
and his wife enjoyed a good laugh at my expense later on.
In the early days, one of the Queensland Judges was
noted for his eccentricities. It was not uncommon for him to
fall asleep on the Bench whilst trying an important case.
Eating butter wholesale was a weakness of his also. His habits
were unclean, he being careless about washing himself. A good
story used to be told about him.
He stayed the night at a bush public house after a long
dusty ride in a dry season when water was extremely scarce.
The water for the public house had to be drawn some distance
in a wooden cash fixed in the fork of a tree. This was the
only water on the place. Shortly after everyone had retired
for the night, the landlord heard a noise as of some animal
had got into his precious cask of water. When he got to the
cask, he saw the Judge enjoying a bath inside the cask, and
when remonstrated with, he replied, 'It is alright, don't get
excited, I'm not using any soap.'
A gentleman once saw a well dressed lady riding on to a
racecourse. She was decked out in all her finery, looking very
attractive. He exclaimed, 'By God painted!' The lady overheard
the remark and she replied, 'Yes, painted by God.'
The following strange occurrence is worth recording
here. A visitor from Queensland put up at one of the leading
hotels in Sydney. The place was full, and when he went down
for his dinner, there were only a few vacant seats at the
table. Shortly after he took his seat, a stranger came into
the room when only one vacant seat remained, and that was
alongside the Queenslander, which he secured. A conversation
was entered into between the two of them, the stranger
informed the Queenslander that he had only that day arrived in
Sydney from England. He said he had come to Australia to
search for a long lost friend who had gone out to Australia
many years ago. The Queenslander told him that as he had lived
all his life in Australia, perhaps he might be of some
assistance to him, if he would mention the name of his lost
friend. The name was willingly given to the Queenslander, who
appeared to be greatly astonished. 'Do you know,' he said,
'that I am the only person in Australia, except the principal
himself, who can give you the information you are seeking.
Your lost friend is a very close friend of mine, who is known
in Australia by quite another name. In strict confidence he
gave me his real name, (the name you have just mentioned). It
is a remarkable occurrence that we should have met in the way
we have done. I can give you the assumed name and address of
your lost friend.'
A young fellow aspired to be an auctioneer, and while
travelling on the road with bullocks, he thought the time
opportune for practising the work. When he was left alone with
the cattle and they were on a good bit of grass, he tied his
horse to the tree and got into one of the branches and began
to hold forth as follows: 'Now then, gentlemen., what shall I
say for the beautiful white bullock? Five pounds, thank you
Sir, five, five, five-ten, all done at five-ten, no advance.'
When a deep bass voice from under the tree called out 'Knock
him down, you fool, he ain't worth half the money.' The
aspirant to wielding the hammer quickly scrambled out of the
tree to find an old swagman sitting quietly under the tree.
If bank managers of the following description are
permitted to go to heaven, then there is a chance for most of
The Bank held a mortgage over a cattle station, the
owner of which desired to add to his herd by putting on some
more bullocks. He held an interview with his bankers, and the
manager consented to his buying four hundred head of bullocks,
to be paid for with a promissory note falling due at the Bank three month after
delivery of the bullocks, and the manager promised to honour
the bill when it came due. The bullocks were purchased on the
terms mentioned, but the vendor did not give delivery until he
had got the assurance of the bank manager that the bill would
be met on maturity. The bullocks were then put on the
purchaser's station, and paddocked there, the vendor taking
the purchaser's promissory note at three months in settlement.
What happened? Not long before the three months expired, the
Bank took possession of the station with all the stock
including these bullocks, and when the promissory note was
presented for payment at the Bank, it was dishonoured. The
vendor never got one penny of the £2000 purchase money nor had
he any redress against the Bank. I knew this man, and often
conversed with him about this business. He took to heart the
heavy loss he had suffered and for years he tried to get some
compensation from the Bank, but without result. He died a few
years afterwards, and I am certain that this loss hastened his
The same Bank held a mortgage over a large Butter and
Cream Factory which had been established for some time. The
local dairymen had always received prompt payment for their
cream supplies at the end of each month, and confidence was
established. The Bank, in its wisdom, decided to foreclose on
the factory, and waited an opportune moment for doing so. That
time arrived a few days before the payments for the month's
cream feel due, and just when all the farmers' cream was
inside the factory. The Bank took possession before the end of
the month and got all the advantage of the unpaid for cream.
The farmers were left lamenting and suffered the loss of a
Another Bank in Brisbane held a mortgage over a large
butchering business. The firm had been in business for many
years, and its reputation was good. This firm decided not to
buy any more stock unless the terms of payment were a Bill at
four months. This firm at the time was the only large firm of
butchers who were able to make large purchases of cattle.
Vendors on all sides agreed to their terms and large purchases
were made. When they had bought a very large number of cattle
on bills, the Bank stepped in and took possession of
everything. The result was that Promissory Notes to the tune
of about £30,000 were never paid. The vendors lost heavily,
some of them losing from £2,000 to £4,000. Finally the Estate
paid at the rate of two shillings in the pound.
Such conduct on the part of Banks should, in my
opinion, not be allowed. An Act of Parliament should be framed
and passed to protect creditors in cases of this sort. The
property purchased should be held to be the property of the
vendor and held in trust by the purchaser until actually paid
Another instance came under my notice where a vendor
was let in through the smartness of a Bank manager. A draught
of fat bullocks was despatched on the roads for southern
markets, Melbourne being their destination. When the mob had
gone two thirds of the journey, advice came back to the owner
that the man in charge was drinking and neglecting his work.
Thereupon the owner followed after and overtook the cattle
near the Victorian border. A few days afterwards, an agent
from Deniliquin brought along a buyer, and a sale of the
bullocks was effected. Just at this time, the race for the
Melbourne Cup was to be run, and the vendor of the bullocks
hastened off to see the race. Before leaving, he arranged with
the agent to place the proceeds of the sale to his credit in
the Bank. The purchase money was handed to the agent who
placed the money to the credit of his own account in the first
instance, and after deducting his commission, he sent his
cheque for the balance to the credit of the vendor at his
bank. It turned out that the agent's account had been largely
overdrawn for some time, and the money from the sale of these
bullocks squared it off. Later on when the agent's cheque,
which had gone to the credit of the vendor came back for payment,
it was returned dishonored.
The vendor never got one penny, and suffered a loss of about
£2000 on the transaction.
Dingoes are often very numerous and very troublesome on
cattle stations. They travel about the country in large
numbers but after a few weeks they disappear, only a few
remaining. They are most troublesome when the young calves are
about in the spring of the year. A cow will hide her calf in
the long grass and will leave it there while she goes off to
the creek for a drink. During her absence the calf is attacked
and killed by native dogs. Sometimes there are big losses in
this way. When three or four dingoes get together, they will
attack a half grown beast, especially if weak and unable to
get away. Eventually the animal is worried to death.
In flat and timbered country it is generally a good
plan to carry a compass, for it is not too easy to find your
way about if the sky is overcast, even old bushmen get
bothered at times. If no compass, it is a good plan to let the
old horse have his head and he will take you home. Some horses
are past masters at this business.
While written these memoirs, I can look back to over
twenty years continuous residence at Brisbane, in business all
the time. During that long period, I have not at any time been
out of the city for a longer period than twelve continuous
Briefly speaking, the following are some of the trips I
have made outside of the city. Under instructions from Senator
J. T. Walker, I went to inspect and report on Mount Ubi estate
on the Mary River, above Gympie, a property that Mr. Walker held a
mortgage over. I went by train to Eumundi on the North Coast
line, thence by horse through Kenilworth station to Mount Ubi.
The homestead is very prettily situated on a rising piece of
land overlooking the Mary River. A few gold miners were in the
vicinity of this property and were getting small lots of gold,
enough to make a living out of them. I discovered that all the
female cattle had been removed off the place. I returned to
Brisbane and then proceeded to Esk where some large lots of
cattle were being sold by auction. The missing cattle from
Mount Ubi were amongst the lots to be sold and I stopped the
sale of them. They were then taken back to Mount Ubi. Shortly
afterwards, Mr. Walker took possession of the property and
stock in accordance with my report. He has worked the property
ever since, and it has increased very much in value owing to
Mr. Eddington, of the Bank of New South Wales, gave me
instructions to inspect forty or fifty shorthorn bulls for the
Bank at Maroon station (Prior’s estate) beyond Boonah. I
travelled by train to Boonah thence by horse to Maroon. I
stayed one night at Maroon, inspected the bulls next day, and
returned to Boonah in time to catch the train. About 40 bulls
were purchased and sent out to Brighton Downs cattle station
on the Diamantina River.
Hon. John Leahy of the Australian Estates Company
instructed me to proceed to Mr. F. M. Bowman's freehold on
Coochin, Denelgin by name, and make a report on it for Mrs.
Onslow of Camden Park, New South Wales. One of the Mr. Onslows
accompanied me by train to Boonah where we were met by Mr.
Bowman Jnr., and driven out to Denelgin. I saw some of my old
haunts on Coochin as I passed along. Passing right by the spot
where the old Coochin Coochin homestead used to stand. I went
all over Denelgin the following day and then returned to
Brisbane on the third day. I had several trips to Beaudesert
and Birnam Estate, which was at that particular time being
kept up by two of my step children Ivan and Clara Warner.
Our Christmas holidays with the family have been spent
at the seaside, such as Wynnum, Manly, Cleveland, and
Southport. We have also made trips to Redcliffe and Sandgate.
My wife and I spent the Christmas holidays one year by taking
the train to Southport, thence by coach along the main beach
to Tweed Heads, from there by steamer to Murwillumbah, where
we put in one of the hottest nights I have ever experienced.
We returned by the same route.
Another of our journeys was by train to Tweed Heads, on
by steamer to Murwillumbah, and by train, past Byron Bay,
Lismore, to casino. We left the train at casino station and
went to casino township which was over a mile away. We
returned the same day to Byron Bay. After a day’s stay at
Byron Bay, we returned home.
Another of the honeymoon trips was to Sydney by train.
We stayed two or three days, being accommodated at my brother
Charley's house, 'Ardath,' Darlinghurst. We heard Christmas
carols sung on Christmas Eve for the first and only time. We
returned to Brisbane by train.
Yet another Christmas trip with my wife was by steamer
'Oroya,' to Sydney. We put up at the Hotel Metropole during
our stay in Sydney, and we had Christmas dinner with my
brother Charley and his family at Glan-Y-mor, Neutral Bay. We
took sll the beautiful tram rides about the Sydney suburbs,
and also took the train along the Illawarra line, travelling
to its terminus, Bomaderry, on the Shoalhaven River, which we
afterwards crossed in a coach, and had our dinner at the hotel
at Nowra. Before leaving Nowra, we walked to see the
celebrated suspension bridge over which we walked. The same
afternoon, we returned by train to Kiama where we stayed the
night. We saw the great Devil’s Blow Hole on the beach. This
is a very pretty little town which is built right on the main
ocean. We returned to Brisbane on the steamer 'Ortona.'
Previous to this I had made two trips to Sydney with my
brother Willie, going to and for in charge of gold, the
property of the Royal Bank of Queensland. On my first trip, my
brother Charley was living at Randwick. The second trip they
were living at Neutral bay, not far from the ferry. I look
back to all these holiday excursions with great pleasure.