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RICHARD SYMES ALFORD

MEMORIES OF YEARS GONE BY

and other items

By Richard Symes Alford,

“Hardeen,” Yeronga, Brisbane, Queensland

November 1908

Personal Reminiscences

          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 popularity.

          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 bridge.

        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.

Mr. Kerr 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.

Gilbert 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.

The 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 June 1866.

Darius 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.

Mr. Thomas 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.

Mr. James 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.

Barnes, 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 retired.

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.

Another 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.

Another 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.

The first 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.

Arthur 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.

The 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.

I left 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 with us.

          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 the pants.

          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 Gwambegwine.

          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 drowned.

          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 direction.

          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 minutes.

          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 Glastonbury Creek.

          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 protect him.

          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 years.

          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.

From 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.

A telegram 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 May 1883.

This run, 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.

Before 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.

Welford 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.

Shortly 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 arranged.

After this 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.

The 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.

The 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.

A main 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 sight.

Next day, 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.

During the 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.

The 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.

The casual 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.

Only men 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.

Another 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.

Flies are 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.

The horses 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.

Mankind is 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.

The 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.

The Barcoo Rot is caused through the unhealthy state of the blood. A pin scratch will fester into a big sore which will often leave an underlying mark.

Sandy 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.

The small 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 brushed off.

When the heat is at its worst, the thermometer often runs to 120º, and higher. Small birds often drop dead from heat.

The 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.

The soil 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.

In flood 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 side.

The 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 calves.

A friendly 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.

After 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.

The policeman was waiting for me at Welford Lagoon, but, of course, he had arrived too late.

I attended 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 nearest waterhole.

Just 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.

A surveyor 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 in gaol.

Later on, 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 extraordinary hallucination.

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.

One day, 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.

After a 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.

Immediately 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.

Leaving 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.

At 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.

We crossed 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

When 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.

Having 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.

Our cattle we sold at Homebush and fetched top prices.

I forgot 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.

After 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.

Upon returning to Toowoomba, I arranged to purchase another lot of fat bullocks off Mount Marlow. This time it was 500 head.

From 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 miles.

The 500 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 and Bourke.

Just after 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.

Wet 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.

The man 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.

I was 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 again.

The Sydney 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.

After this disagreeable trip, I decided to leave droving alone, and try my luck at gold mining at Croydon, a very unwise step, it turned out.

        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.

The 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.

After a 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.

Early in 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.

I stayed 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.

I left 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 Towers.

Here I 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.

While at 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 contest.

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.

They 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.

After 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.

After my 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.

There was 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 lagoon.

My brother 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.

On 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.

During 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.

Near the 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 upstream.

To reach 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.

The 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.”

The keep 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.

The steam 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.

While we 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 road.”

          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 us.

          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 death.

          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 month’s cream.

          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 for.

          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 days.

          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 increased settlement.

          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.

         

 

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