Settlement in Australia, The Early Days

Albury Banner and Wodonga Express

26 March 1920

The tide of emigration that flowed to Australia in consequence of the wise administration of the affairs of the colony while Sir Richard Burke was Governor,   did much to reclaim the inland portion away back from the coast. The success   of the emigrants depended to a large ex tent on the class of persons who came to the new country to carve out a home in what was then a wilderness. It is now difficult for the people .of the present time to realise the difficulties the emigrants who landed in Sydney in '37 and soon after went into the interior of the colony, which was then known as new country, had to overcome.

The emigrants landing in those days got no assistance from the Government; free grants of land had ceased before that time. Many of the new arrivals had to push back two or three hundred miles from Sydney before they could secure a portion of land whereon to settle. The isolated position of the homes of many of the settlers cut them off from communication with all centres of population.

I have now before me a letter I received recently from a lady who was born in the Albury district, in which she writes:- 'I can re member many incidents that occurred when I was three years of age. When my brother Jack and I were taken down to Yass to be baptised, he was then five and I was three years old. I have seen five of one family baptised in Wagga at the same time, and I have known several couples go from Wagga and the neighbourhood to Yass to get married. The first clergyman I saw in the Gundagai district was Bishop Broughton, of the Anglican Church, who had a carriage to travel in. He remained a night at Robert Jenkins' Bangus Station. I have heard of Father Lovett, of Yass, and Father Terry (the pioneer priest) having visited Tumut, Gundagai and Albury in the early days of settlement. Father Terry had a cattle station on the Billabong, between Kyeamba and Ten-mile Greek, in the early days, but he seldom visited the property. When the ship Lady Macnaghten sailed from Cork Harbour in November, '36, the late Joseph Cox, of Livingstone Gully, with his wife and six children, started for Australia.

On the voyage an epidemic of fever broke out. The vessel was inadequately supplied with medical requisites. To add to the seriousness of the situation the doctor died, and then suitable food for the children and sick people ran short. Joseph Cox was stricken down with fever and during his illness his wife died. Before the ship reached Sydney 72 of those who started died, and several others after landing died in the quarantine station. Two of the passengers were young women named Mary and Margaret Maloney. Those girls were friends of the Cox family before starting and by their attention to the children when their mother died and the father was laid up with fever, were probably the means of saving the lives of the youngest ones. When Joseph Cox left the quarantine station he had six children to provide for, who were all females except the late John Cox, of Mangoplah, who was the eldest. Towards the end of the year '37 Joseph Cox married one of the young women, Mary Maloney, who had attended to his children on the voyage, and then started for the Murrumbidgee where be settled at Gobarralong.

In 1838 he planted a paddock of wheat which he harvested about the end' of November, the time my wife was born. Margaret Maloney was not long in the colony when she married John Dodd, who resided near Appin. In '41, from the favourable reports he received from Cox, Dodd moved to Tumut, where he settled close to where Brungle Bridge now stands. At this time Cox was settled on Brungle Creek. When Dodd settled on the Tumut River he had a herd of superior cattle. A couple of years after Dodd went to Tumut he was thrown from his horse, and was so severely injured that he never thoroughly recovered, so the management of his affairs chiefly devolved on his wife, who reared a large family, and died in Wagga at the age of 86 years.

John Cox married in '45, and he and Joseph Cox took up Livingstone Gully Station the succeeding year. This was before there was a house in Wagga. My wife remembers the journey from Tumut to her father's new home. There was then a number of houses in Gundagai; and she states her mother went there to buy goods, and that her father got one of   his drays repaired on the south side of the river.

When passing Mundarlo Station my wife met Miss Emma Sawyer, after wards Mrs. P. S. F. Stephen, who for many years resided in Wagga. The 'Sawyer family took up Mt. Adrah Station in 1844. Matthew Sawyer, sen., is still re Biding at Bethungra. Soon after Joseph and John Cox settled at Livingstone Gully. Michael Norton built a slab and bark hut at Wagga, and soon afterwards erected a lockup and court house. Norton had been in the British army, and had been in the war against the Maories in New Zealand. He was a studious man. I remember when lie resided in Gundagai that he used to borrow books from my father. Norton frequently visited Livingstone Gully, and often supplied Cox with old newspapers. Joseph and John Cox were not long at the Gully before they had two paddocks cleared and fenced for wheat growing.

Joseph Cox planted an orchard, and some of the trees are still standing, and are now 70 years old. About the same time as the two Cox families came to the Gully, Nicholas and Tom Troy left Tumut, and got a license from the Crown Lands Commissioner, who then resided at Tumut, to occupy a station on the left bank of the Kyemba Creek, about 18 miles from Wagga. The Cox and Troy families had been friends at Tumut. Tom Troy was my wife's god father. Troy, like other settlers, grew wheat for home use. Troy's wheat paddock was near the   right bank of Kyeamba Creek, and only about a furlong on the south side of Toole's Creek bridge. Although the land where Troy Brothers grew wheat has not been cultivated for the last 60 years, the plough furrows can still be seen plainly where the present road from Wagga to Kyeamb'a crosses that old cultivation paddock where wheat was grown 70 years ago.   Some few years back when I was chairman of the league formed to promote the construction of a railway from Wagga to Tumbarumba there was a good season in the district for the production of wheat and hay. I considered that a favourable time to make the agricultural capabilities of the district known as widely as possible. I therefore arranged with the manager of the 'Daily Telegraph' in Sydney to send one of the agricultural reporters to Wagga so that I could drive him round and show him the magnificent harvest that was then being garnered.

On one of the days I was driving the reporter round through the harvest fields of Lake Albert, Forest Hill, etc., and during the day I took him to the top of the highest hill I could find, and standing on the seat of the buggy, I asked him to look round in various directions, and I then said, 'We have now in view fully 20,000 acres of wheat and hay that is now being harvested, which is equal, if not superior, to any other 20,000 'acres in any part of Australia. The reporter agreed that in all his travels he had not seen crops so good. In the early days, when the wheat had to be cut with the reaping hook, and thrashed by the flail, or the grain trampled out by horses, a wheat field on the stations rarely exceeded five acres, and 10 acres would be considered a large one. What marvelous progress agriculture has made since then. In '45, '46. and '47 the vacant spaces south and south-east from Wagga were fast filling up. In '46 Dan and Tom Toole took up Toole's Creek Station. Dan Toole had been a sheep overseer on John Keighran's Brungle Station some years before, and was well known to Joseph and Tom Cox. Both Dan and Tom Toole had been overlanders to South Australia with cattle. While her husband was erecting a hut on the new station, Mrs. Dan Toole re sided with Joseph Cox's family at Livingstone Gully.

Tom Toole was known to me as far back as '44, and Dan a year later.   Both these men were frequently on the overland track to South Australia in the early days of taking store bullocks to the Kapunda and Burra copper mines. The black tribes were numerous, cunning and fierce. When Dan Toole erected a hut and stockyard his wife left Livingstone Gully to reside on the station, and soon after her husband and his men started overlanding, the woman was left on the station alone, she then having no children. My wife, when a girl of eight or nine years, would occasionally stop a few days with Mrs. Toole to break the loneliness. The old Toole's Creek hut and stockyard disappeared more than 60 years ago, and the place became unoccupied. The land on which the station hut and stockyard stood is now owned by Jeremiah Doola, my wife's sister's husband.

(Written by the Hon. Jas. Gormly for the 'Albury Banner.')