Footprints of History Lake George and Tumut
The Farmer and Settler
24 November 1922
Labor was cheap; they could hire a good man for £12 a year and his keep. Mr. Whitty who owned West Blowering station across the river from Yallowin was supposed to be one of the best, employers. He used to give his men £5 a year and a two-year-old filly. Rations then were served out in wheat, and each man had to grind his own, flour.
Blackfellows were very numerous at Yallowin when my, father and his brother took up the place. It was a favorite spot for several tribes to meet and at times as many as six hundred were camped near the house; but owing to being thought well off by two or three old blacks who could speak a little English and appeared to exercise a lot of control over the others, they never had much cause to complain. A bullock was usually killed and distributed among them when they came, and the only trouble was their dogs, nearly all pure dingoes, which occasionally would tear a beast down. Upon one occasion a pack of them ran a beast close to the house, and my uncle was so exasperated that, he took the gun across to the blacks' camp and threatened to shoot all the dogs there. He shot one or two, and instantly he was surrounded by, 200 or 300 men threatening him with their spears. My father was sure they intended killing him, and firmly believed, that if their old friend (mentioned before) had not quickly interceded they would have done so. It taught my uncle a lesson to control his temper in future, even under the most trying circumstances. The dingoes (wild ones) gave a lot of trouble. The first beast they killed for beef on Yallowin was drawn off the ground on a limb of a tree close to their hut. Next morning the only part there was, any flesh on was the hind quarters. While they slept, the dingoes had devoured all they could reach. The nights were hideous with their mournful howls, but its time passed they were very much reduced by trapping, and my, father and his brother got some dogs, a cross between a mastiff and kangaroo slut. I can remember them well. They were absolutely the best dingo killers that ever ran.
The Reward of Enterprise.
After thirty years of partnership with his brother, my uncle, who was married, purchased a very fine property a few miles up the river from Tumut known as Springfield, where he spent the remainder of his days in comfort. His two sons still own the property, which is cut up into three or four dairy farms.
My father's sister, after keeping house for her brothers some yours; married the eldest son of a neighboring squatter, and he purchased one of the best farms on the flats across the river from the present township, where he lived from the time of his marriage up to within twelve or eighteen months past, when he passed away at the ripe age of 93, his wife having long predeceased him.
The Worst Drought.
My father related that the worst drought he ever experienced was in 1850 and '51. It begun in 1850 and did not break till May, 1851. The Tumut River was nearly dry, and the whole country appeared to be on fire. It was in this drought that the terrible day known as 'Black Thursday' happened in Victoria. The drought extended as far as Goulburn; but below that, food was good. My father was on his way from Sydney with his team than and lost a number of bullocks through the Cumberland disease.
In conclusion, my father and mother celebrated their 'Golden Wedding' at Yallowin on the 6th May, 1901, all the members of the family (eight sons and two daughters) being present, most of the sons having their wives and families with them. The celebration was a happy event to the old couple, and to have all their family meet once again to wish their honored parents all the happiness that they were justly entitled to. I cannot close this sketchy biography without mentioning my mother, one of the best and most capable women that Australia ever produced. We are so prone to give all the credit to the man that has made a success of pioneering, but in so many cases the woman, the good and noble wife, makes the greatest sacrifice, and if it had not been for her help and sympathy many a man that has been successful would have proved incapable.
In my father's case, he never begrudged all the credit of hit success in life being given, to my mother. Our old home, surrounded by ornamental trees, and the largest and most lovely flower garden that was in the Tumut district, was entirely due to my mother. She was passionately fond of flowers, and one of the most successful gardeners.
If there is any good in our family, we must thank our parents, for our home life was a happy one, even if at times it was very busy. The long winter evenings were spent in games, or we would form a circle round the fire and take turn about reading aloud. It was surprising what a number of books we would get through in a winter. The family intercourse appears very lax in the present day, and does not tend to devote that love for home and stability of character that can only be inculcated by home influence.
If life on the land was made more attractive for the children, by giving them an interest in everything and cultivating the love of nature, we would not have so many flocking to the cities. Seven of my father's sons are interested and always have been gaining their livelihood off the land. The only one that has not followed in his father's footsteps is T. H. Wilkinson, late Stipendary Magistrate of Sydney, and his health prevented him from enjoying the country life that his older brothers ever found so entirely absorbing.