The Willow Tree.

This was published in the


Australian Town and Country journal

7th January, 1871.


By an unknown author.



The stables were the last remaining structure. All gone now.



Towns and Villages of New South Wales.



IF my information is correct, no expensive zig-zag will be necessary when it is decided to construct the rail way beyond the fertile valley of the Page, a few curves and a tunnel, the latter some forty-five feet long only, will enable the traveller to reach Doughboy Hollow without, as now, driving or riding up, over, and down a portion of the Liverpool Range. And when tenders are called for this short tunnel I hope they will fall into the hands of gentlemen who know the value of such work, so that a repetition of the blunder made on the Western-road, the " Clarence Tunnel" I think it is called, does not take place. In that case over 42,000 ponds, was paid for what was actually done for less than 22,000 pounds by the sub-contractor, and it was a profitable piece of work for the latter.


The top of the range is reached by a well metalled road, about one mile long, and of easy gradients. From several points of this pull up, fine views of mountain scenery are obtained, but a really splendid burst of natural beauty rewards you upon reaching the top, where, for many miles, as far as the naked eye or a good glass can reach, are to be seen the ever-varying hill and mountain, with the forests of trees and bush, un trodden by man ; its grasses and herbs, the food of its wild inhabitants, the kangaroo, wallaby, and other animals who, possibly are charmed by the beautiful foliage and tho simple music of the feathered tribe.


Turning his horse northward, the incline, upon two "pinches," as they are called, being rather steep, a friend observing to me, upon one of my visits, " I wish I had my nerves strung as tightly as of yore, so that I could let my horses go down the range their full pace." This incline, although steep, is well metalled, and a fast trot downwards round a portion of the range, a well formed cutting introduces the traveller to some fine lofty and grassy mountains, upon several of which useful timber is growing", with a running creek, a tributary to tho Page ,between what appears a "gap." After leaving the top of the range, to the well-known camping ground, being black soil, it is generally very grassy, and is known as DOUGHBOY HOLLOW.


It is about six miles from Murrurundi, and is surrounded with lofty hills and ranges. It has been reserved for a village or township, but at present supports two houses only, both inns, kept by respectable landlords, one of them being the successor of the well known and highly respected T Evans, familiarly, but truthfully known as " honest Tom," one of nature's gentlemen ; a man who objected to a drunkard's money, advising him to go and work. A man who was always sober. Refusing to observe the ridiculous shouting practice of these colonies, by which the landlords are expected to join every man, or group of men, who appear as customers, and thus render themselve unfit for carrying on their business, he made it a rule never to drink with any one in his own house, and yet he did well, and could find bank notes to assist, when called upon, the widow, the orphan, the aged, and sufferers by accidents.


A good road, well metalled, but greatly cut up by heavy teams with narrow wheels, running round Chilcott's Creek, and skirting the lofty "Alps," passing through Lodor's run-now being rapidly taken up by free selectors, many of whom have selected sufficient ground for sheep and cattle in moderate numbers, one of whom is the quiet and respectable innkeeper, Mr, Mackay, of Chilcott's Flat, who, with his farm and inn, expects to add to his own as also to the wealth of the colony. The abundance of grass every where to be seen, the varied crops under cultivation, the cattle and sheep feeding and lying about, and the beautifully clear blue sky on a fine day, render a trip along this good road a treat, and I could almost invite the reader, if resident in Sydney, to improve his health, and to come forth into the country, with its songs of happy birds, it's fertile valleys, its grassy hills, alive with flocks and hords.


Passing over about five miles of this really pleasant country road after leaving the foot of the range, and some undulating ground, the traveller's horse will pull up to pay toll, the last at present on this road, and a description of the roads higher up will convince the reader why it should he the last, will bring him to that well-known spot, the WILLOW TREE, a small settlement and camping ground, situated on the banks of Chilcotts Creek. The hotel, with its large fruit and kitchen gardens, well appointed stables, and good paddocks, is now in the occupation of T. Guest, who, together with his industrious wife, hails from Richmond, on the Hawkesbury, and are noted for keeping their hotel clean, and respectable, as well as for their good table and the quality of their refreshing draughts. There is the useful smithy, opposite to the hotel, and I can testify, to the welcome ring of the hammer on the anvil, when an axle has broken or any other damage occurred by which the skill of the " village blacksmith" is called into requisition.

On the northern side of the creek, now crossed by a strong and useful bridge, which would have been built years ago if the colony had been governed by any but imbecile and gabbling senators, there are several small but comfortable dwellings, attached to good paddocks under cultivation, the whole belonging to the proprietor of the hotel, but who retired some two years since from active life, after many years of honest persevering industry-first (I believe) as a shepherd, then as innkeeper, farmer, and grazier.


Within some five miles of this settlement, Warrah station, belonging to the AACo., is situated, and is under the superintendence of an intelligent and worthy Son of Scotland, ably assisted by the sons of well known gentlemen, who have held important positions in tho colony, both before and since the inauguration of responsible government. The Willow Tree is also the dopot of the mail contractor to Breeza, Gunnedah, and Narrabri. The difficulties of this service will be a little understood if I inform the reader that I have known sixteen horses being necessary to drag her Majesty's mail over some of the immense plains on this road after a few days rain, and upon one occasion it took the mailman fourteen hours to travel twenty eight miles with three relays of horses. At this present time the grass on these plains is so high that shepherds have lost their flocks of sheep, and even horsemen can barely find their way. A bush fire would be frightfully disastrous.

Travelling northward from the Willow Tree for several miles, you pass through some wild, but beautiful country, mountainous in the extreme, popularly known as " Loder's Ranges, the main road passing through them. The road to the next township, about fourteen long miles, is very hilly and mountainous, and although it has been metalled for several years, it is still a bad and a very expensive piece of road. On these ridges there is a great deal of black soil, most valuable to free selectors, but not useful for road-making, although there is plenty-more than one mountainous hill of fine binding conglomerate, within three miles of the Willow Tree, and in my opinion it would have been far cheaper, as also far better for the road, to have covered the whole of this piece of road, after being metalled, with this fine binding conglomerate. I am quite certain the immense quantities of fresh and expensive) metal, covering parts of it for miles, at intervals during the last four years has cost more than double the expense of carting this binding conglomerate the whole I distance, and even now it would be cheaper to do so, than, to eithor cover the new metal with a dirt which will never bind, or to allow the new metal to be crushed into powder and blown away, or buried (by heavy teams passing over it in the black soil.

About eight or nines miles on this road the free selector begins to make his appearance, and wheat without rust is seen waving in the wind, and doubtless other cereals will rotate in due course. There are several at intervals of half-a-mile, each appearing to possess a few cattle, sheep, and pigs, and one on the roadside is licensed to sell "colonial wine;" but I would recommend a little cleaner appearance in the domicile and the children running about this wine shop, or I am afraid many, like myself, although thirsty, will prefer to wait until they get to a running brook, or the next township. It should not be expected that decent people could drink from vessels that have been handled or mouthed by dirty people, or children dirty from their nose to their toes, These folks being so far from a market, or even a mill, I cannot imagine how they will get along successfully. Tamworth is about forty miles on one side, and Murrurundi about twenty-two miles on the other.

Kerosene shale has been found near the Colley Creek station; and coal, besides other valuable minerals, abound all over this grandly wild country. The scenery from some portions of the road-the tops of high mountain passes-would enchant the poet, the child of nature, if we did but possess him.

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25.09 | 09:36

Absolutely delighted to come across a part of my direct ancestors history about which I knew very little and shall endeavour to find out more
Thank you Prof. A.

23.09 | 22:23

Very interesting Kelaher family history. Impressive number of trained nursing sisters. Jack lent the Copelands a cream horse, Playboy, in 1950's, ridden by Kate

09.09 | 17:58

Wonderfully informative. Thank goodness for Jane and John Atchison's work

06.09 | 14:33

I am Jack Kelaher and I am proud of my pop, dad and ancestors.

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