Shooting Excursion to
(By our Special Reporter.)
were a merry party of twelve who sallied forth to the Church-street railway station, West Maitland, on the morning of Tuesday last, the 3rd instant, to take passage by the mail train for Willow Tree, en route to New Warrah station, where we had arranged to
engage in a shooting expedition, to extend over several days. The tour had been anticipated with unusual interest, and preparations for it had been going on for Several days previously. Most of the party had taken part in similar events in former years, and
had so thoroughly enjoyed themselves that the prospect of another tour was very heartily relished. We sent our horses - six in number - on to Willow Tree on the previous day, to avoid any inconvenience or delay, as we had several miles to travel after leaving
the railway train. On Tuesday morning several of us visited the railway station at 7 o'clock to see that the vehicles and stores were safely trucked, and by 8 o'clock the whole party, save two gentlemen from Sydney, who were to arrive by the train, were prepared
for the journey. Though the thoughtful kindness of our respected captain, Mr. R. W. Thompson, who had made special application in our behalf, we were enabled to travel at tourists' rates, a considerable reduction on the ordinary fares. Bright genial weather
prevailed at starting, and its continuance was sincerely wished for. How far that wish was gratified will be presently seen. The party, with the exception of three members, was composed of residents of West Maitland, and it represented varied interests. We
were successful in securing a carriage to ourselves, and our comfort was complete, in every particular. We were unanimous in our determination to leave behind the cares attendant upon the pursuance of our ordinary avocations, and go in for true, hearty enjoyment.
While no pleasure except that derived from work, occasional cessations from labour are essential to the enjoyment of health, and the consequent happiness derivable there from. And what greater enjoyment could there be than to retire for a short period from
the dust and excitement of town life, to the clearer and quiet atmosphere of the country. What could one desire more than abundant food, wholesome bracing air, and plenty of healthy exercise. It was indeed a truly happy party. During the journey to Willow
Tree, which was reached shortly after two o'clock, we occupied our time in discussing the advantages of such a trip, and playing various games. On arrival at Willow Tree we left the train, a horse team from Warrah station was waiting to take our stores. Fully
half an hour was occupied in removing the stores and vehicles from the trucks. The team from the station was soon laden with clothes and other goods, and the remainder of the goods were placed in a buggy and spring cart we had with us. Our baggage filled all
the available conveyances, but some saddle-horses had been forwarded from the Warrah station, so that there was no difficulty in accomplishing the remainder of the journey. After traversing four miles, the greater part of which was rough country, we
reached the residence of Mr. George Fairbairn, the genial superintendent of the station, where we were hospitably, entertained. After a brief stay, during which we obtained some additional horses, we started for a place known as the " Washpool," which was
to be our camping ground.
The Washpool was reached shortly before 5 o'clock. It should be mentioned that Mr. Fairbairn's residence is situated about four miles from the Willow Tree railway station,
and a similar distance has to be traversed before the camping station is reached. The " Wash pool" derives its name from the fact that the Company's sheep are washed here. Extensive sheds and a number of huts for the men are provided. The appliances are said
to be more extensive and complete than on any station in the northern part of the colony. We arrived at a season when a full inspection of the operations could not be obtained. The washing season has not yet begun, and all work in that direction has been suspended.,We
found that improved machinery is employed. The reception yards for the sheep are very extensive, and of the most complete description. Attached to these yards are the washpool and "races," extending over a large extent of ground. Five large boilers are provided
for supplying hot water, and these are connected by pipes. A number of men can work at one time in the washing process, twenty-four tubs being available, some feet apart. Those who have witnessed the " washing " say that it is a most interesting process. After
the washing has been completed, the sheep are conducted to the shearing sheds, which are situated near the Superintendent's residence. Here also are the general stores, office, and sorting room. We may have an opportunity of referring more fully to these in
a future article, our stay there being of only five minutes' duration. On our return we hope to have a longer stay.
Our readers know that the Warrah station is the property of the Australian Agricultural
Company. It is situated in the Liverpool Plains district, and lies on the western slope of the Liverpool Range and towards Quirindi. It covers an immense area of country. The run is divided into paddocks, and the sheep can roam with perfect security. Sheep
breeding is carried on to a very large extent. It is considered a very profitable business on account of the high price obtained for wool. A large portion of the land is lightly timbered, and is capable of sustaining, as it does sustain, large flocks of sheep,
the nutritive quality of the grass being remarkably favorable. We are told that between 100,000 and 120,000 sheep will be ready for shearing next season. The influence of the recent showers has improved the appearance of the country, and the grass has grown
so luxuriantly that it is able to sustain a large herd of fine cattle. In short Warrah is a magnificent piece of country. It has the advantage of being well watered, and is able therefore to tide over a good spell of drought. Agricultural products required
by the household are grown on the estate.
We arrived at the woolshed shortly before 5 o'clock, and at once set to work to unload the conveyances. Two very comfortable huts, each containing three rooms,
were placed at our disposal. Three rooms were set apart for the arms and ammunition, one was used as harness room, and the other two as sleeping and dining rooms. The first night all slept in one room, but on the following night (Wednesday), we occupied the
two rooms for this purpose. All the stores being unpacked we began to stow them away, and this work being concluded we set to work to prepare for tea. We were fortunate in securing the services of a cook. All sat at one table, which literally groaned under
the influence of a plentiful supply of eatables. After passing the evening in a comfortable way we retired to rest, and as may be naturally supposed, we slept well after the long journey we had to undergo. What struck us most was the absence of cries of any
kind. This was our experience of the first night, and we had not entered upon the second night's rest at the time of writing. Mattresses sent from the station were placed on the floor, and we lay with our feet to a blazing fire.
Wednesday was a truly lovely morning bright and cheerful, and there was every prospect of our having a day's excellent sport. Breakfast being over, we prepared ourselves for a kangaroo drive. We took with us a large supply of ammunition,
sufficient for a full day's slaughter. As we left the rich flat land we approached what is known as " the pine scrub," the brush being dotted over here and there with graceful pines, some of fine growth. Our captain is a keen sportsman, and possesses judgment
and courage. On reaching the brush we separated ourselves, by direction of the " boss," as our captain was more familiarly termed, and began to wait the arrival of kangaroos, which had been disturbed by an advance body of scouts. It was a new drive, and all
things considered it was a fairly successful one for a start. Presently droves of kangaroos came rushing along well-beaten tracks, but they did not come close enough to enable us to effect much destruction. We felt that had we taken up our positions some hundred
yards closer to the track the profit would have been extraordinarily large. We obtained seven in the first drive. After discussing our experiences of the morning, we returned to our huts, and taking an early dinner made a second start, going this time in the
direction of Mr. Loder's fence, at a point known as the "Pinnacle." We now had better luck. We succeeded in a short space of time in despatching no less than twenty-two kangaroos and wallaroos. This latter drive was characterised by some interesting events,
which will be referred to in a future letter.
Warrah, Wednesday evening.