Goonoo Goonoo Shearing Shed.

George Fairbairn visits Goonoo Goonoo shearing shed to get ideas about how to improve Warrah's shearing shed.


P. G. King is Philip Gidley King, an amazing man in his own right. Born in 1817, In December 1831 King as a midshipman left on the "H.M.S. Beagle" with Charles Darwin and became his life long friend. In 1851 King was appointed superintendent of stock for the Australian Agricultural Co. and soon became assistant superintendent of the company's estates. In 1852 he moved to Goonoo Goonoo and was Tamworth's first mayor from 1876 to 1880.





According to arrangement, I visited Goonoo-Goonoo on Friday and returned the same day.  Mr. Frank Wyndham very kindly driving me out and in from Tamworth. The Hon. P. G. King and his son were both at home and received us most graciously.


The new shearing floors are similar in formation to ours as are also the catching pens but the roof of the main building is covered by one span supported by pillars and that of the shearing floors has a drop of about 9 inches from main roof which is left open for ventilation purposes, and notwithstanding the fact that the day was excessively hot and the roof building covered with iron, the shed felt quite cool and pleasant after coming out of the sun. 


There are two single lines of shears (21 on each side) and about 3 foot 6" apart, with a line of shafting for each floor.  Over each mans stand is a smooth wheel attached to the shafting which turns a smaller one, attached to the core of the tube, and covered with leather at the low end of this core is a small cog wheel which fits into another cog wheel attached to a small spindle which in turning vibrates a cradle, to which is fastened the cutter and hence the motion.  The revolutions of their shafting when working is 2000 per minute.  The whole is driven by a 10 H.P. engine which cuts her own wood when the machines are net working. The belting is leather and is carried across the shed by means of a short bearing between the two floors which carries two pulleys, each pulley running a belt for its own side.  The sharpening is done on a smooth iron disc, similar to Sucklings but covered with emery paper, and these papers have to be renewed about three times per day, and iron is with a spring wire staple and handle for holding the combs and cutters is hung up over their disc and all the sharpener has to do is to press it lightly against it and move it backwards and forward. 


Each shearer being provided with a small tin box, numbered, for holding his combs and cutters.  Besides one skilled mechanic there is only an engine driver and a boy to do the sharpening.  The water is supplied by a windmill 400 yards away, which also pumps sufficient for the gardens and household requirements.  The lift to the woolshed being 130 feet, the tank which receives the water, 2000 gallons.  This latter should I think prove a wrinkle for us. 


All the machines were working nicely and it all works simply lovely. I was in the shed two hours during which time no hitch occurred with any of the machines.  The previous days work for the 42 machines, was 3100, the highest score 117.  There is less whirr about them than Sucklings, the noise having a muffled sound.  Mr. King informed me that the only trouble they had was with the cat gut cores which were very apt to burn owing generally to want of oil, but the skilled hand, previously alluded to, can keep these repaired without any difficulty. They have a quantity of tin pyrites on hand for the purpose of repairing, and mend them as you would the stem of a pipe.  I also notice sundry cane splicings similar to the cutting of a broken limb on the necks of the tubing within six inches of the driving power, and Mr. King admitted that was a source of trouble occasionally also, but the afore said mechanic was quite able to attend to it. He also stated that the disabilities above mentioned, were unquestionably corrected, in the new "Tilsir"s Machine".  I tried one of the machines and found the vibration not at all disagreeable.  


At the start Mr. King states, they were almost disheartened over the number of combs which were broken daily and it soon became apparent,  after making every allowance for want of skill and negligence that they were too highly tempered, for the purpose of allowing them to come down afterwards but they subsequently overcame the difficulty by dipping them in molten lead and allowing them to remain while you would count six.  The process of sharpening has a great tendency to soften and Mr. King thinks that the cause is owing to too great an allowance for this in the tempering.  They pay 2/6  a piece for the combs, but Mr. Schmerber informs me that Wolseley gets them made in Sheffield for 9d. Sucklings cost 5/6 per one comb, if not broken, will shear 1000 sheep.  


They were shearing maiden ewes when I was there from which they lamb 12 months later than we do.  They are well covered but the wool is terribly grass seedy about the necks and shoulders. Pea appears to be plentiful over Goonoo Goonoo, but I saw no traces of it in any of the lambs I drove through. The weather here is very hot at present.





Your letter of the 28th is duly to hand. With regard to the haymakers, it has always been a recognised standing rule that they get as much tea, sugar, flour and beef as they can use, without the question of rations being raised at all, that is of course in reason, and Mr. Humble informs me that this has been done both here & at Windy but that the Windy men struck for extras in the shape of plums, currants, potatoes etc. No matter what allowances you may concede to this vagabond of travelling mendicants a majority will generally be found amongst them to jack up, as they term it, as soon as they have earned a pound or two, and in order to be plausible, will raise some imaginary grievances in the hope that it will not be granted.  Were these men to receive 10/-per day it would not suffice to content them after they had earned enough to afford them a good spree.





I write to you but in the event of your absence, perhaps the letter will be forwarded to Mr. Gregson.


It has been proposed to connect Blackville with the main telegraph line at Breeza, by way of Walhollow, Mooki Springs, and Kickerbil, but the government require before constructing the line a guarantee from residents that interest on cost of construction will be met with office and residence for operator at Blackville. Messrs Dangar, Croaker, Dougan and Higgins will subscribe to the bond and I propose to connect with the line by telephone.


If the A.A.Co become one of the guarantors, Windy would then be in direct communication with Warrah and Newcastle. I should be glad of an early reply.





As to your question why the lambing per centages have not been so great since paddocking was adopted as formerly, there can be no doubt that under the new system, we lose more lambs and have more dry ewes than we had in the old hand lambing days.  The former is caused by traffic through the paddocks and losses through fences and other casualities to which lambing ewes, not having 5 men to watch them day and night may be subjected and the latter I think is owing to the ewes being scattered about more than they were when shepherded and thereby missing the rams when in season.  The only remedy which suggests itself to me is either to decrease the size of the paddocks or else increase the percentage of rams.  But should you be thinking of reverting to the old system of hand lambing, I must tell you candidly that it cannot be done without serious injury.





Tickle and a full gang have gone out to the rabbit fence this morning and after finishing off the north Windy boundary will, if we can get wire across, finish the line as far as the timber at Harrisons Ridge, after which they will take up the south boundary from Cattle Track to Warrah Creek.  Some men, as I previously informed you are now employed renewing a portion of this line, and two others have been sent out this morning to renew and repair where necessary. The men now employed renewing, will also be put on to repair when they have finished what they are at, so that Tickle will be able to go ahead, quickly when he gets properly started.





It is not necessary to say much about the cattle of the Companys own breeding.  With the exception of the last arrivals from Gloucester, which have not yet lost their stunted hide bound appearance, the whole of them are in excellent condition.  No transfers from Gloucester have taken place during the month.





Your letter of the 31st last reached me.  I note what you say in reference to material for erecting a water tank foundation and will arrange to inspect the clay and sand, but I hope you will eventually see your way clear to adopt the recommendation in my letter of the 30th.   I have since had a conversation with Lawrence in reference to this and he considers they would be of no use whatever.  Nothing can be more suitable for the purpose than the ends of the iron troughs brought up to the taps, and in this view I entirely concur.  Therefore if the order for making them should be already placed, I hope you will countermand it, and in case interfere with the present formation of the ends of the troughs and that is assuming that say every 120 feet are furnished with an end.


We have had two hot water boilers from the Washpool fitted up at Harrison's, and the old spouting tank, at the Old Warrah stud paddock.  The Borambil Creek well, the timber from which gave way from the decking to the water line, has also been repaired.


Mcgrath has, after several months consideration, decided to run the risk of allowing the Co. to pay up interest to the government and he considers this a great concession, but more he will not do, refuses point blank to contribute towards cost of fending and has given me till next Tuesday to return him a definite answer.  His terms are 10 years lease at £74.6 per annum, less interest on unpaid balances.


Philip Gidley King. Tamworths first Mayor.

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12.06 | 20:33

What a wonderful story, enjoyed it very much.

06.06 | 22:53

What great history that now seems to be forgotton. ⚓🦉🐉🦂💙👑

10.05 | 15:31

Takes me back to wonderful childhood days visiting "Merrieton" and "Towarri". At about age 12, I thought Tony (aged about 24) was the most handsome chap around

06.01 | 15:43

Which farm did "Pop Mackelvane" have, I was there during the last part of the second war.

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