In Memory Of The Horse

13 June 1961 The Canberra Times

Sir, - Congratulations to Captain Eddison for his project of a park within easy reach of Canberra, as a memorial to that park, disappearing animal the horse.

It was the stock horse and draught which for a century and a half enabled our country folk, land and business, to extend settlement and to bring into production our wide acres.

I can think back to the 70's, when in the bush, no transport or production was possible without the energy of the horse - no railways, beyond a very few within a radius of 100 miles of Sydney, and of course, no combustion engines.

The horse was the king-pin of production work throughout the then colony.

It was Cobb's Coaches that blazed the trail for the subsequent railways to follow.

The marked expansion of traffic between country towns which made for quicker mails, gave new life to trade begun in 1861, when Cobb and Co's coaches operated their fast stages in N.S.W. at the Lambing Flat Gold field (Young).

Their motive power was the inevitable horse. Town after town was added to the web, as quickly as new coaches could be built and horses of the right type could be purchased.

Bathurst became Cobb's central office for the colony early in 1870, at which time the company had 6,000 coaches in harness and a replacement of an additional 6,000 spelling in scattered, resting paddocks.

My father was a busy man at Wagga in those days, keeping up Cobb's demand for horse-flesh for their coaches working the Riverina and near districts - Albury to Narrandera, to Tumut, to Coota, to Goulburn.

Cobb's required horses of a blood-draught-cross, geldings or mares, 15 to 16  hands of good bone and style, to do a 16-mile stage in not more than two hours. They had to be three-four years old and unbroken - price 5 to 6.

Dad knew all the stations within a radius of 100 miles of Wagga, with the class of stock they were carrying.

Cobb's coachers had a working life of from two to three years, then the constant pounding on the hard roads would cause splints to form, causing lameness which would interfere with the punctuality of the mails.

So they would be drafted off quickly to the sale yard, when farmers were not slow to buy culled, Cobb's coachers, often paying more than their original price when unbroken.

Captain Eddison might recognise in his horse park the work done by Cobb's coachers.

The late Fred Campbell was a keen lover of horses. 

He carried on his Yarrowlumla and Coolamine Plains Stations, over 100 head, mostly for stock work. 

Not far from Yarrowlumla Homestead, he fenced in about half an acre as a horse cemetery and surrounded it with Hawthorn trees.

I wonder if the march of progress has left any sign of this fine pioneer's affectionate regard for his horses?

Go to it, Captain Eddison, well might you exclaim, "a horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse." '

W. P. Bluett,

 Brindabella.