Tallow, Gundagai

The Sydney Morning Herald

20 August 1844

Gundagai. To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.:-

Gentlemen -In reference to a letter from your correspondent at Gundagai wherein he alludes to the existing tallow mania, I feel myself called upon to make one or two observations on the subject, which I hope you will give insertion to in your widely circulated journal.

A our correspondent declares himself an advocate for the boiling-down, but says "Graziers must themselves put then ladle to the pot, and themselves boil down their surplus stock on their own establishments." He further adds "It is scarcely credible what an amount of work can be done in this way by one pair of hands, with one small boiler, and three or four blacks."

Without wishing to convey any offence, I cannot but pronounce such an idea as utterly ridiculous and absurd. How a person can give publicity to such nonsense, after all that has been said and written on this subject, is really surprising to me. Had your correspondent taken the trouble to read the frequent remarks, which through the medium of your valuable journal have from time to time been made public, on the subject of getting up tallow for the English market, he never would have entertained such farcical ideas, much less have let them go forth to the public.

During my late stay in Sydney, I had the opportunity of witnessing the inspection of two different lots of tallow, got up in the manner above proposed. The result was, as might have been expected a decided failure.

In lieu of the casks presenting a solid body of clean and firm tallow, the contents proved to consist of in amalgamation of tallow, particles of meat, skin, and a variety of cartilaginous substances, intermixed with a fair proportion of maggots!

One of these lots of tallow (if this misnomer is applicable to it) was the produce of a number of sheep boiled down by a neighbour of mine, who told me that, disgusted with this attempt, he had resolved to send the reminder of the flock to a boiling establishment. The result was, that he obtained from the same description of sheep an average of 20 lbs of superior tallow; whereas, in the first instance, he had managed to extract 11 lbs in the shape of what appears to be technically called slush.

I quite agree with your correspondent that stock cannot be boiled down remuneratively after being driven 300 or 400 miles: for, as he very correctly states, it is only average cattle that can be brought Sydney in good order. The boiling system has, however, now become so general, that every settler has a public establishment in his own district, whereunto his stock may be driven in small drafts, without damaging them in their condition, and where  he is ensured against his tallow being spoiled.

Whether the profits derived from the public system have been too much in favour of the proprietors of the concern or not, I will not pretend to determine; but, it is evident, that since boiling down has become so general, a material abatement in the charges has taken place, and, I must confess, that, in my opinion, they are anything but unreasonable at present.

There is no doubt that these establishments, which, in many instances, have been formed at a great expense to the owners, have done the public important services, and I think it shows bad taste and a narrow-minded disposition, for any one at this hour, to throw reflections or discredit on them.

As the chief reasons which convince me of the inability of settlers boiling their own stock, I would merely mention the following:- Want of butchers to perform the slaughtering, in absence of which the hides stand an excellent chance of being cut, and rendered valueless the absence of a tallow chandler who understands the process of obtaining those two great desiderata, colour and hardness; and the want of a cooper to make your casks staunch, and avoid the loss through leakage,- a complaint so universally made of the lots which have reached the London market.

Craving your pardon for haying trespassed so long on your valuable time.

I remain, Your obedient servant,

Non Nobis Solum. Turumbeet,

 August 6.