AACo and Warrah. 1830's.

All this information compiled by Professor John Atchison of Armidale.





William Edward Parry was born on 19 December 1790 at Bath, Somerset. He was a son of Doctor Caleb Hillier Parry, an early research scientist on the merino. William, or Edward as he was usually known, was the fourth son and eighth child of Caleb and Sarah nee Rigby. Edward's mother was celebrated for her beauty, charm and unworldliness. Edward combined a pre-Darwinian deep evangelical faith with a keen interest in scientific affairs.


Edward attended Bath Grammar School and, at 12 1/2 years, entered the Royal Navy. He acquired the basic elements of seamanship while Admiral Cornwallis blockaded the French Fleet in Brest. After five eventful years with the Channel Fleet, Edward joined the Baltic Fleet, and in 1809 commanded a gunboat. A fortnight after his nineteenth birthday Edward was successfully examined for a commission. He was appointed lieutenant of the Alexandria.

Sir William Edward Parry.

After two more trips to the Baltic, Parry was employed in protecting the Greenland and Spitsbergen whaling fleets, acquiring expertise in astronomy and surveying. Appointed to Halifax in 1813 he took part in the war between England and the United States. In March 1817 he became second-in-command of Captain John Ross's naval expedition to Davis Strait. Parry was to spend nearly ten years in search of a North-West passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. In 1818 he sailed around Baffin Bay and reported it to be landlocked. The Admiralty remained unconvinced. In 1819 Parry was sent out again. He traversed the pack-ice in Baffin Bay, entered Lancaster Sound and found a broad channel which took him more than half way to Bering Strait. After wintering in the Arctic he intended to push farther west but was defeated by ice. Parry made two subsequent voyages to the North-West during the years 1821-23 and 1824-25. In 1827 he attempted to reach the North Pole over the ice from Spitsbergen. Although he failed, his record stood till 1876. Parry was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1821.


In 1826 Parry married Isabella, daughter of Sir John Stanley, baronet, later first Baron Stanley of Alderley, in Cheshire. They were destined to have ten children two of whom, twins, were born at Government House, shortly after their parents arrival in Sydney.   In 1829 Parry and his friend John Franklin were knighted for their services to Arctic exploration.


After his Arctic adventures Parry had been appointed hydrographer to the Admiralty. Escape from a sedentary irksome life came from an unexpected quarter. The Australian Agricultural Company was looking for a Commissioner to take charge of its enterprise. The post was offered simultaneously to Parry and Franklin. Both refused it. A week later it was offered to Parry again. The more he thought over the offer and discussed it with Isabella the more he liked it. The post would release him from uncongenial work, end his money worries, give him outdoor employment, and not separate him from Isabella. He accepted.


The Company wanted a man with proven powers of leadership and firm qualities of decision. They chose the right man. Parry's fame as an explorer would assure the Company of high standing in the colony as its affairs were set in order. As Commissioner, Parry's office superseded all powers formerly given to both Dawson and the colonial committee. Parry was empowered to inspect and call to account all persons previously in charge. Parry was enabled to act decisively and judiciously in remedying the situation. He was empowered to establish affairs on a sound basis and under an efficient system of management.


Parry was to pay particular attention to finances. A capital outlay of £200,000 had so far returned little but acute embarrassment. Financial control would now revolve around the Commissioner who had instructions to introduce strict accounting procedures. Vested with these firm powers of attorney, Parry and Isabella sailed towards the end of July 1829. They arrived in Sydney on 23 December. After some days discussing business matters with the former committee, Allan Cunningham, Thomas Icely and others, Parry sailed for Port Stephens. Lady Parry awaited her approaching first confinement with Lady Darling at Government House


During the night of 8-9 January 1830 the cutter Lambton slid into Port Stephens and tacked up-harbour. The following mdrning Commissioner Parry came ashore at Carrington where he was greeted by his predecessor, the Acting Agent. James Ebsworth remarked on the coincidence of dates, four years to the day since Dawson began the Company's settlement of the region. Two years had passed since the formal ceremony on Tahlee Hill. Parry came ashore to begin four years of painstaking toil.


The Arctic explorer was to assess and attempt to save the situation. He faced two basic and formidable tasks: his immediate aim was to establish sole authority over the estate and to organise an efficient and orderly system of administration; his second, and ultimately more important work, was to judge the suitability of the original grant.


By the end of 1833 Parry had achieved his mission and set the Company on a secure foundation. The calibre of Parry's achievements can be gauged by his handling of various issues affecting the corporation's future. We shall first of all consider his handling of the land question and then, in the following chapter, review his organisation of the colliery and the pastoral and agricultural estates.


The fulfilment of Parry's mission to assess the original land grant and, if necessary, choose new lands depended on the approval of the Secretary of State, negotiations were still pending between the Court and the Colonial Office. While he awaited the decision of the Colonial Office Parry began a detailed examination of the grant to appraise its nature for pastoral purposes.


He was aided by William Burnett, who had arrived on the William with Parry and come to the settlement as Superintendent of Agriculture. Burnett was a competent superintendent but a man of decidedly independent behaviour. Parry instructed Burnett to begin a systematic examination. Burnett inspected the 70 acres of cultivated land at Booral and was so pleased with the area that he recommended the formation of a 500 acre farm on the flats between the Karuah River and the timbered hills enclosing them. Burnett judged that the 160 acres of cultivated ground at Stroud were fair in quality but not equal to the land at Booral. On the other hand, the uncleared land at Stroud showed fair promise. The land from Stroud to Campbell Valley was very suitable for grazing but the ground between Campbell Valley and the Avon Flats was poor and scrubby. The beautiful expanse of the Vale of Gloucester impressed Burnett. The Superintendent of Agriculture judged very fertile the heavily timbered Barrington Flats. Unfortunately, a large section on the Barrington River was in the Clergy and School Reserve beyond the Company's western boundary. Within his first few weeks at Port Stephens Parry was satisfied that a portion on the western side of the original grant would suit. Parry was convinced that Dawson had assessed this land well. Burnett's judgement also vindicated Dawson's choice of the Stroud-Gloucester area.


Parry soon became aware of Government plans to open the coastal lands between the Manning and the Hastings rivers. The earlier settlements of Guilding and Onslow on the north bank of the Manning had been abandoned but they would soon be followed by William Wynter and other settlers. This caused Parry to act quickly. After discussion with Thomas Mitchell, Henry Dumaresq and James Ralfe, Parry obtained a reserve of 400,000 acres of land on the north bank of the Manning until he had an opportunity to examine the whole of the original grant. If Parry were to decide to cede land back to the Crown he hoped to find alternative land on the Manning River. Development of these new lands could be hastened by a steam boat plying between Port Stephens and the Manning River. Water carriage would be preferable to long land journeys through the bush. Parry, like Dawson, was fully aware of the importance of easy transport and good communications. For this reason he would prefer to stay close to navigable waterways. Parry's ability to begin the vital work of exploration and survey was dependent on the arrival of Henry Dangar from England. Dangar's earlier exploratory trips for the Company followed from his detailed survey work in the Hunter Valley. While working for the Government in 1825, he accompanied Peter Mclntyre, superintendent for T. P. Macqueen, in the selection of grants for Macqueen and for the Mclntyre brothers. During this work he chose for himself and his brother William, land to which Mclntyre believed he had prior claim. Dangar suggested a compromise which Mclntyre regarded as a bribe. A board of inquiry found Dangar guilty of professional misconduct. He was dismissed from office. After an unsuccessful appeal in England he sought employment with the Company. Dangar was appointed a surveyor to aid Parry. His terms of appointment stated that when the task was completed he would be placed in charge of the new stations to be established, probably in the interior. In early April Dangar arrived in the colony with his wife, Grace, and their infant son, William John. After travelling to Port Stephens, Dangar prepared for exploration.


June 1830 was occupied with exploration and reassessment of the original grant. Parry, accompanied by Charles Hall covered the ground explored in 1826 by Dangar, Armstrong and Harington and in 1829 by Armstrong. He also covered a section of the land explored by Ralfe during his delineation of the eastern boundary in 1827.


Parry resolved the persistent doubt about the nature of the pastures in the eastern portion of the selected land. Parry and Charles Hall soon realised the basis of earlier errors. Armstrong and his colleagues did not know the type of land fit for sheep. Their expertise in surveying had misled them in their judgement of the pastures and soils. In all probability this error would have been avoided if Dawson had personally examined this land. These lands were suitable only for cattle and horses. Their extensive grassy pastures were such as to trap the unwary regarding their suitability for sheep. There was only one portion of land between Bulahdelah and Farquhars Inlet fit for sheep. On the journey south from the Manning River at Gangat to the Larpent River over high and steep ranges Parry found only one valley fit for sheep pastures: it contained land equal to the best sheep runs at Telligherry. Parry concluded with a grim finding, out of 147,000 acres examined, only 13,000 were suitable for sheep.


After the birth of his son, Henry Gary, Henry Dangar set out to examine the reserved land between the Manning River and the range of mountains approximately 15 miles from its northern bank. Parry hoped that Dangar would find in this area, adjacent to the original grant and accessible to water transport, land suitable for sheep pastures. Dangar conducted a quick, but comprehensive, examination of the region and then returned to the Gloucester region. Dangar knew from his original 1825 journey that the country up the Manning from its junction with the Gloucester was not suitable: it was steep, broken terrain covered with thick growth. For this reason he travelled to the Dawson River region and examined the country in its vicinity. Dangar found that an inaccessible ridge extended to the South Brother and thus confined the country in a narrow belt to the seashore. Dangar judged it suitable for general purposes of colonisation; it was the best land he had seen so close to the coast but it was not adapted to sheep pastures on a large scale.


After returning to the Gloucester, Dangar surveyed the Barrington Flats prior to exploring along the course of this strong flowing stream beyond the boundary of the grant. Around Rawdon Vale Dangar found 15,000 acres of sheep pasture. Already Hunter Valley settlers had blazed a trail across the Mount Royal Range but had not occupied the country. This land lay outside the Clergy and School reserve. Dangar recommended its selection.


Although Parry doubted whether Dangar had made a sufficient examination of the reserved land north of the Manning River, he realised by July that some 400,000 acres of the original grant should be relinquished. He intended to organise further surveys of the remaining lands. Dr Alexander Nisbet was thus sent out to follow up the exploration of the eastern portion. Nisbet located about 14,000 acres of sheep pasture in at least two different locations. Nisbet also thought he had found a connecting route to the Apple Tree Valley discovered by Parry. While Hall and Nisbet examined the suitability of this land for sheep Dangar prepared for a second trip to the lands north of the Manning. Armstrong was instructed to survey accurately the south-western corner of the grant and to re-mark the western boundary. Armstrong's survey was all the more important as settlers were beginning to farm the lands between the Williams and the Karuah Rivers.


During October Dangar completed his survey. His recommendation that none of the lands beyond the Manning River would suit the Company's purposes meant that Parry would need to look elsewhere for alternate lands, probably west of the Dividing Range - a decision necessitated by Parry's recommendation to the Court to surrender the eastern portion of the original grant to the Crown. Parry had, at this stage, received a copy of a despatch from the Colonial Office enabling the Company to exchange from four to six hundred thousand acres of the original grant. This enabled the Company to begin seriously the search for new lands.


Sir George Murray's despatch was the result of long negotiations and strong argument between the Court of Directors and the Colonial Office. Eventually, however, the Court's lobbying, power was able to overcome initial objections. The Secretary of State would have preferred to avoid any alterations to the boundaries formally defined on 9 January 1828. On the other hand, Murray was convinced the Company's just interests required some relaxation of the first agreement. He assented, under certain conditions, to allow an exchange of four to six hundred thousand acres. The new lands could be taken adjacent to the retained portion of the original grant; alternatively, it could be taken separately. If the latter were adopted, Parry could choose it in either one or two locations. The Company was not permitted to take more than a total of three locations. Various conditions were applied, such alternate blocks were not to interfere with the reasonable claims of private settlers or with public aims, such as roads, contemplated by the Government. At least one quarter of each tract must be brought under cultivation or occupied by stock within three years, and the remainder within another seven years. The Company was to provide a fund of £300 per annum for the support of a clergyman, to be appointed by the Crown, upon the original grant. The Government retained the right to appoint a clergyman or to use the fund for other suitable purposes of religion and education. Similar conditions were to apply to the alternate selections. The Colonial Office also applied further concessions to the lease by the Company for 99 years of the Clergy and School Reserves. On the basis of this instrument Parry was enabled formally to surrender the eastern portion of the grant. The conditions imposed on the utilisation of these alternate land grants reflect the constant policy of the Colonial Office that the Company would use its lands in a profitable way and benefit the general welfare of the colony. The Company was now free to find alternate lands. Inevitably, this would make it a competitor with squatters for new lands. In these early days of squatter expansion no official attempt had been made to control the movement. The Colonial Office's decision would lead to a conflict with the interests of squatters and force the Colonial Government to adjust its politics to this new movement.


Murray's despatch also enabled Parry to lease other lands. Following the exploration of the Manning region, Dangar was instructed to survey the Clergy and School Reserves north of the Parish of Trevor. These lands adjacent to the Company's grant had been marked out by Ralfe during the early months of 1828 but had not been closely examined. Dangar completed this survey and reported that out of two thirds of the ten parish reserves surveyed not more than one quarter was fit for sheep pasture. This suitable land was scattered wholesale throughout the reserve. Parry decided to lease a section from the Church Corporation; in March it was agreed that the Company should lease the five northern parishes of Thalaba, Crosbie, Fitzroy, Verulam and Faulkland.


The exchange was taking more definite form as Parry decided on the precise limits of land to be relinquished. The Company would retain 457,920 acres of the original grant. Parry chose his boundaries wisely as the rocky mountain ranges and steep hills on the borders offered a natural protective barrier for the fertile lands from Booral north to the Manning. Parry relinguished the proclaimed reservation on the land north of the Manning and requested information from the Surveyor-General of land westward and north-westward of the retained lands. He soon learnt that official knowledge of the land around Liverpool Plains was non-existent. The Company would need to organise its own expeditions to explore the region northwest of the Barrington River.


Parry and his assistants spent most of 1831 exploring and surveying the rugged mountains of the Mount Royal Range with its abrupt cliffs and steep narrow valleys. At the end of 1830 Parry knew that sheep-farming, must be the main, if not the exclusive, object of endeavours upon the pastoral estate. The earlier plans to engage in such endeavours as viticulture and the cultivation of olive, flax, cotton and other products would now be limited as the main aim became more dominant. Calculating that each sheep required three to four acres the Company would be able to sustain 175,000 to 200,000 sheep if 600,000 acres of suitable land could be found. Parry was not optimistic about finding suitable land within Colonial Office specifications: the general proportion of good land to bad precluded the chances of finding suitable ground in one or two locations.


During March, Parry sent Nisbet and Hall on the first of three expeditions undertaken during 1831. Their examination of the Curricabark-Mount Myra - Cobark region, establishing that the only suitable land lay around Giro, along the Barnard River in the mile long valley surrounded by high ranges, confirmed Parry's growing fears. By May Parry faced a classic decision. Dangar, Hall and Nisbet had proved no land suitable to the Company existed within 25 miles of the western boundary of the Clergy and School Reserve: it would be necessary to go further west and cross the Great Divide. For this reason Parry instructed Nisbet and Dangar to set out in the first week of July to look for land west of Giro.


If Dangar and Nisbei could find sufficient good land, Parry would be able to establish a string of sheep stations, thus avoiding the need for an extensive establishment. As most of the increasing flocks were stationed between Telligherry and Gloucester, it would be convenient if lands could be found connected to the northern end of the estate. This would enable Parry to maintain expansion along a continuous line. George Jenkin, Charles Hall's assistant and resident in the newly completed Gloucester Cottage, would move further out as new sheep stations were established.


In early July, Nisbet and Dangar set out on an important and far-reaching journey of exploration over the Great Divide west of Gloucester Cottage. This was a journey destined to alter the future shape of development. It would, however, take time before Parry realised the import of the discovery. Nisbet and Dangar returned to Port Stephens towards the end of August. Parry was at first completely pessimistic about the result of their journey. His impression was that their only success lay in the discovery of a tract of fair quality land north of the Liverpool Plains in the valley of the Peel River. This land was totally inaccessible from the Port Stephens Estate and 130 miles from the nearest navigable water on the Hunter at Morpeth. Distance and communications would be forbidding factors in its development. Parry feared this was the end of the Company's hopes in that northern region. A few days later Nisbet and Dangar submitted detailed reports to the Commissioner.


Nisbet and Danger's route to the head of the Barnard traced in reverse Danger's earlier journey of 1825. This time, however, their vantage point on the top of the Great Divide gave them a view of twenty or thirty miles of country west to northwest consisting of open forest hills lightly timbered and showing a light russet appearance from frost. Shortage of provisions after a long and tiring journey prevented a detailed examination of this open country along the Peel and, after reprovisioning at squatter Parnell's station at Warrah they turned to Segenhoe so as to find a practicable route between the new country and the Port Stephens Estate.


Danger opposed Nisbet, who reported adversely on the Peel. Dangar realised there was little sheep pasture westward of the Company's boundary line, or between the Manning and Hunter rivers. The country between Segenhoe and Gloucester Cottage, and south of that line was so high and rugged as to prevent the making of a cart road from the Port Stephens Estate up to the Barrington Tops and thence into the Upper Hunter. Rather than attempting to construct a road from Booral to Gloucester Cottage, along the Little Manning River to the Barnard and thence up to the Great Divide, Dangar favoured another track: Dangar thought it better to travel from Booral to the Hunter River cart-road at Fal Brook and thence to Maitland and the Pages River pass. Such a route from Booral to Maitland was already in use. It was likely a shorter path would be discovered from Booral to the Hunter by going up the Paterson River and down the Rouchel Brook to the Hunter River road in the neighbourhood of Segenhoe. The discovery of such a path would be advantageous as Dangar, unlike Nisbet, considered the land on the western side of the range extensive enough for the needs of the Company: these lands possessed all the natural qualities characteristic of good sheep pasture.


Dangar admitted the serious problem of establishing communications. He also drew attention to further problems: the Company would have to convey supplies through the Hunter Valley, a district with which it had no connections. This would entail contributions to the construction and repair of roads and bridges; halting places would also need to be purchased for bullock teams. Maitland, as a natural focal point between Newcastle, Booral and the Upper Hunter, would feature in plans for communication between Port Stephens and the Peel. By making Maitland a point of communication the Company would incur the additional expense of maintaining a store. There would be the added drawback of Newcastle being the final port of shipment for wool from the new lands, instead of Port Stephens. Lastly, the Company would face the risk of driving clean sheep through an occupied district like the Hunter; this involved the likelihood of passing runs of diseased sheep. A route via Paterson River and Rouchel Brook would overcome this risk.


In spite of these problems and the uncertainty of discovering sheep pastures in other locations, Dangar favoured the area west of the ranges.. He suggested a closer examination of the area. He and Nisbet had, after all, only inspected and especially favoured the valley of the Peel, but thought Liverpool Plains would be useful as an auxiliary station. The Liverpool Plains, as Nisbet said, were not so suited to sheep but would form good agricultural stations.


Parry was won over by Dangar and decided to send him back to the area for a detailed examination. A closer examination was warranted. Dangar travelled to the area in October. Dangar returned to Port Stephens confident he had found two blocks of suitable land. After examining some 2,000,000 acres of country between the Liverpool Ranges and Wentworths Mounds along the Peel River, Dangar recommended to Parry that approximately three quarters of a million acres were suitable for pasturing sheep. Four hundred and sixty thousand acres of these lands lay along the Peel River; the other 295,000 acres were on the alluvial plains north of the Liverpool Ranges: these lands lay between the stations of squatter Thomas Parnell on Warrah Creek and squatter Major Druiit on Phillips Creek.


The proximity of the Peel to Port Stephens led Dangar to recommend it strongly. It warranted the cutting of a road through the rugged terrain of the mountain ranges to allow a direct means-of communication with the Gloucester. Dangar recommended the Peel River as a boundary because of the mountainous and barren nature of the country along its northern bank. He thought good land might be found north east of the course of the Muluerindi River from its junction with the Peel. On the other hand, he did not think the downward course of the Muluerindi from its junction would suit the Company's purpose since that stream then entered the flat alluvial meadows of Liverpool Plains with its surrounding hills covered with inferior pasture.


As a secondary choice Dangar recommended the land south of the Peel. This land at Liverpool Plains contained eleven brooks running from the highlands of the Liverpool Ranges to the plain country of the Mooki River. In a normal season, however, Phillip Brook was the only channel which carried a continuous stream of water to the Mooki. Although the remaining ten brooks ran through deep worn beds to the Mooki, their courses were merely marked by small drains which quickly dried up on the Plains. With shrewd insight into the possibilities of the region Dangar considered tanks or wells could be dug in these valleys to hold sufficient water for stock. He thought the drought during the summer months of 1831-1832 had been longer than usual. For this reason he estimated the water he had seen would be permanent except in an unusually dry season. The herdsmen attending squatters' cattle on the Liverpool Plains told him that a scarcity of water had been felt in the valleys during 1828 and 1829: it was hoped such excessively dry years would not occur again. In the event of the Company placing stock upon the lands between the Liverpool Ranges and the Mooki River this contingency could be offset by temporary removal of flocks to the northern region.  The larger streams of the Peel Valley were never lacking in water.


Dangar judged a large area at Liverpool Plains was quite suitable for sheep. He understood, also, that the stock proprietors currently occupying sections of these two lands along the Peel and at Liverpool Plains did not have a claim for a grant on any part of the land occupied. They had merely fixed their tents on the unsurveyed space and would remove to more distant locations when the land was appropriated for the Company . This was presuming the Government's attitude on the squatting issue.


Parry himself planned an expedition to examine Peel Valley and Liverpool Plains in person. On Monday, 5 March, Parry and Charles Hall travelled to Maitland where they met Dangar with a bush party despatched previously from Carrington. They then progressed through the Hunter Valley by the traditional route: Windermere, Glendon, Castle Forbes, Ravensworth, St Heliers, Segenhoe and St Aubins. The following Monday they camped on the banks of Pages River opposite the farm of William Henry Warland. The next day they crossed the Page, passed the high perpendicular mass of pudding stone known as "The Rock", rode to the foot of the Pass and ascended the ridge to the Liverpool Ranges. The Commissioner camped that night near a brook in Doughboy Hollow.

A page from Parry's actual diary.
A rough sketch of the two Pinnacle hills at Warrah, from Parry's diary.


Parry obtained his first glimpse of the rich Liverpool Plains on 14 March. Parry likened the grassy plains with their projections of forest land to a sheet of muddy lake-water. That Tuesday night, after travelling by a route known later as "the swinging ridges road", they camped at a stock station near two small hillocks on a ridge. The Gamilaroi name Warrah, meaning "falling rain", had been retained by squatters for this cattle station with its hut and stockyard on the west side of Warrah Brook. The 1200 head of cattle were owned jointly by three men, Thomas Parnell and Philip Thorley from Richmond and William Nowland of Patricks Plains.


Warrah was one of several unlicensed runs beyond the Limits of Location proclaimed in October 1829 as marking the boundaries of the Colony. After Henry Dangar had explored a route up the Dart Brook to the Liverpool Plains and found another pass beyond the Kingdon Ponds and Pages River, the way was open for squatter expansion from the Hunter Valley. In 1826 Otto Baldwin drove stock up Danger's 1824 route and preceded by one year Allan Cunningham who crossed the Plains on this way to the Darling Downs. Several proprietors followed Baldwin on to the Plains before 1829 to escape severe drought in the Upper Hunter. By 1832 squatters held stations on and around Liverpool Plains at Warrah, Boorambill, Yarramanbah, Phillips Creek, Murillo, Killcoobil and Mooki. North-east of the Plains the Loder brothers squatted in the Quirindi Valley. On the Peel, beyond the next mountain range, Woolomool and Waldoo marked, at this time, the limit of squatter expansion from the Hunter. With few exceptions these squatters indicated to Dangar and, also, to Parry that they acknowledged the Company's legal rights if granted land on Liverpool Plains and along the Peel River. These squatters were later to move their stock further down the Namoi and onto the unknown tablelands of New England.


After camping at Warrah, Parry, Dangar and Hall examined the three valleys and four brooks between Parnell's hut and Boorambil, a cattle station belonging to Joseph Onus and Robert Williams of Richmond. The ten or twelve mile long valleys stretching from the highlands to the Plains were ideally suited for sheep. A similar examination of the deep rich dark soil between Boorambil and Yarramanbah quickly convinced Parry of its fitness for the production of fine wool. At Yarramanbah, Taylor, the stock-keeper, showed Parry a single flock of 1250 sheep under the charge of one shepherd. The sheep had been on the Plains about three years. The country between Yarramanbah and Major Druitt's cattle station on Phillips Creek was similar to that between Warrah and Yarramanbah except for a proliferation of the unusual myall trees. At the first brook beyond Phillips Creek Parry concluded his examination convinced that the land sloping down in gentle undulating fashion from the Liverpool Ranges contained 200,000 acres of first-class sheep country. Parry arrived back at Warrah where he and Charles Hall pointed out to William Telfer a gentle rise of forest land suitable for store and huts should the Company occupy the land; this site was just above Parnell's stock station.


After this fruitful examination Parry directed his attention towards the northern selection recommended by Dangar. Proceeding from Warrah past Yoowhan Hill into the Quirindi Valley they camped with Old Ned and his wife occupying this run for George Loder of Windsor and Andrew Loder of Hunter River. The following night Parry set his camp by the Carabubbla Brook at the foot of Burragaundah under the wary eyes of a herd of very wild cattle. On Monday they followed Major Mitchell's dray-track until they reached a striking hill called "Duri". They then left Mitchell's track which continued across country to Woolomool station.


Parry traversed the passes between the hills which formed part of the range southwards of the Peel until the party reached the river a little beyond its junction with a brook. This route took the group past Dunover and Duri mountains, and across Tangaratta Creek towards Uriari Mountain to the Peel below Somerton. After following the river for some miles they passed over Carroll Gap to the junction of the Peel with the Namoi. Crossing over dry slopes devoid of water they again met the Muluerindi which they followed to Yarrenbool beyond Manilla. As this river veered too far to the north-east they steered a course to the Peel River via Moonaran and Sulcor to Attunga. A fresh in the stream of the Peel forced them to follow a circuitous route down the east bank as far as Woolomool hut. After devising a bridge over the Peel they camped with Cann, the stock-keeper for squatter Joseph Brown of Wollombi Brook, Darlington. With the exception of Waldoo, a station further up the Peel at Piallamore, past its junction with the Cockburn near Nemingha, no other squatters occupied this valuable land. Waldoo was run jointly by William Dangar of Patricks Plains, Edward Gostwyck Cory of Patersons River and William Warland of Pages River.


Cann accompanied Parry over the slopes and flats to the permanent water holes at Red Bank and Forest Brook flowing into the Peel, the undulating grassy slopes were suitable for sheep. Parry was convinced the land chosen by Dangar was well-suited for fine wool. Hall concurred. It only remained now to convince Governor and Surveyor-General. Parry applied to the Colonial Secretary for approval of his selection. At the end of May he received his first official indication that government policy would prefer him to take all the alternate land in the Peel Valley and to connect it by a road with the Port Stephens Estate.


On 4 June Parry was ushered into the presence of Sir Richard Bourke at Government House, Parramatta. Bourke wished to discuss applications submitted on 5th May for land on Liverpool Plains and along the Peel River. Bourke informed the Commissioner that his selection entailed monopoly domination of all the good land upon and about Liverpool Plains; it hindered future settlement. Parry replied that the two selections were the only choices possible after more than two years careful and expensive examination; large selections could never be made without some interference with the wishes of future settlers; the Home Government had limited the Company to two new locations and, in conclusion, it was extremely difficult to select large tracts of sheep country. Parry conceded the Company's purposes would have been satisfied if suitable land had existed close to Stroud and the Gloucester. In the absence of good land it had been absolutely necessary to make selections outside the Limits of Location.


Bourke acknowledged the substance of the replies. He shifted attention to the Peel. He suggested that the ranges running parallel to the river to the north-east and south-west would provide a more satisfactory boundary than the zig-zag western line proposed in the submission. Parry replied that such a natural boundary would normally be preferable but in this case it would include an immense proportion of very inferior land without permanent water. Dangar was then summoned. Dangar stated that the Liverpool Plains area was not, as a whole, desirable. For this reason the selection included merely enough land to make a neat block for survey purposes. The range south-west of the Peel as a boundary for the northern selection would include such a disproportionate quantity of bad and unwatered land as to cause a repetition of the original mistake in the Port Stephens area.


Parry's suspicion that Bourke's objections were not firmly held was confirmed when Thomas Mitchell joined the discussion. Bourke had little real knowledge of the area and Mitchell .tried to father his own opposition upon the Governor. The Surveyor-General added further objections, he stressed the hardship of turning out the "poor people" who had stock upon the Plains, the inexpediency of extending the boundaries of a colony already larger .than Ireland, and the way in which the Company's occupation of Liverpool Plains would hinder his plans for roads through the Hunter district. Bourke fully concurred with Mitchell's suggestions that the grassy slopes of the mountain ranges rather than the Plains would make good sheep-walks: on his travels in Spain Bourke had seen the extensive use made of mountain ranges for pasturing sheep.


Parry replied the Company had no intention of hindering the access of settlers across the Liverpool Plains which would be open to public roads. The fact that such a fertile district was a desirable alternative to the Hunter community in drought seasons was scarcely a sufficient reason for denying it to the Company. The desire of Bourke and Mitchell to limit the Company to an enlarged selection on the Peel would necessarily extend the Limits of Location to an area even larger than Mitchell desired. Parry emphasised that the Company had an equal right to Liverpool Plains with the public and had already expended considerable capital in the colony. They were, in addition, prepared to spend a total of £1,000,000 sterling. A likely increase of sheep by lambing made it imperative to obtain a portion of the inland selections immediately: it was essential to construct buildings, hurdles, yards and make other arrangements prior to lambing. If Bourke would not sanction the selection at Liverpool Plains the Australian Agricultural Company could no longer fulfil the ends for which it was chartered. Dangar added that the Hunter district proprietors could just as easily feed their stock in drought years by fixing their stations more to the north and west of the proposed selection. Parry then continued: the proximity of Warrah to Stroud made it convenient for communication; it was unlikely that a suitable track could be found over the rugged terrain between the Gloucester and the Peel; he indicated also that the water-holes and brooks on the Liverpool Plains were important for washing and shearing sheep. Bourke suggested alternate selections on the Lachlan and the Goulburn rivers. The distance of the Lachlan, from Sydney rendered it unsuitable. Danger's knowledge of the Goulburn River area, previously recommended and later rejected by Allan Cunningham, as well as the number of grants scattered through this district below the Liverpool Ranges, suggested this district would not be suitable.


Government policy was so firmly against the granting of Liverpool Plains that Parry realised there was no- possibility of a satisfactory solution. Parry was then tempted to gain some area on the Peel by extending the Company's suggested boundaries to the ranges to the south-west and north-east. Parry proposed that a Government surveyor should immediately accompany Dangar to examine the southern ranges along the Peel Valley and the land in their immediate vicinity. Although this request was granted, Parry emphasised that he wished it clearly understood that he was not giving up his claim to the selection of two locations. He finally asked the Governor whether any portion of the Liverpool Plains could be appropriated to the Company. Bourke replied,

"No! I feel that I cannot sanction the granting of any of that to the Company."

The conference concluded with Bourke authorising Parry to write an official letter to him on the question and a brief discussion of the instructions for the survey of the Peel region.


The core of the opposition stemmed from Mitchell. One must understand how Mitchell viewed both his role as Surveyor-General and the independence of his department within the structure of Government and the public service. When Mitchell arrived in Sydney the Survey Department was in a position inherited from the previous administrations of Macquarie and Brisbane. Neither of these Governors had dealt adequately with the land problem. The Department, understaffed and lacking adequate surveying instruments, was faced with the seemingly impossible task of overtaking arrears of neglected work and keeping pace with the demands of a rapidly expanding settlement. These difficulties were paralleled by the total lack of a general survey to which smaller surveys were related. Even before he became Surveyor-General, on Oxley's death in 1828, Mitchell had been authorised by Darling to begin a proper trigonometrical survey as an essential preliminary to more detailed surveys. Allied to this basic aim was Mitchell's early awareness of the need, as he saw it, to divide the land into counties, hundreds, and parishes according to natural features. This need arose from the nature of settlement in the colony: settlers sought land along watercourses or streams in such a way that other settlers would never select the land between their back boundary and rocky ravines. For this reason Mitchell's surveyors, as early as March 1829, worked at establishing the natural lines of the country.


In addition, Mitchell also considered that his office as Surveyor-General should play a very Independent role. Mitchell, officially, and unofficially through the Permanent Under-Secretary of the Colonial Office, claimed to have authority, independent of the Governor, directly from the Crown. This stance, for which he had not good grounds, brought him into open conflict with Darling who, in March 1831, recommended his dismissal. Mitchell survived this crisis because it occurred just as Darling was being recalled. During the interregnum Mitchell achieved an aim consistent with his object of advancing his own fame when he persuaded Acting-Governor Lindesay to allow him to explore the region between the Castlereagh and Gwydir rivers to survey the land between the lines of Oxley and Cunningham. His sense of authority and his independent role were affronted when he found Dangar carrying out a survey on the Liverpool Plains. Parry regarded Mitchell's attitude to Dangar as irrelevant to the Company's claims. This hostility between Mitchell and Parry, two men of strong character and incompatible temperament, set the tone for the meeting and allowed personality conflicts to interfere with negotiations over very important policy questions, such as squatting rights of settlers already on the Plains and the wisdom of extending official settlement beyond the Limits of Location. Both Parry and Mitchell were men determined to fight to the utmost to safeguard interests entrusted to their care. Bourke distinctly stated considerable misapprehension existed at the meeting. There can be little doubt this grew from the mutual distrust between Parry and Mitchell arising from what can only have been a desire to protect the interests of their respective institutions.


Governor Bourke's sole concern was that the Company should not exclude the profitable occupation of land by other settlers. Bourke had only been in the colony since December 1831 and relied on his Surveyor-General on such policy issues as land. He was also a fair-minded man. This explains the readiness with which he acknowledged the point of Parry's replies to his initial objections and shifted attention to the Peel selection.


Australian land policy was still firmly in the control of the Colonial Office. When Earl Grey's Whig 'Reform1 Ministry came to office in November 1830, Viscount Howick, as Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Colonial Office, reviewed the issue of Australian land settlement. His Ripon Land Regulations of 1831 expressed what Howick regarded as an overdue innovation in the official control of land. These Regulations gained little support in the colony. Bourke was in a position where practice was racing well ahead of official policy. My June 1832 the great squatting movement of the decade was under way and Bourke was well aware that the desire of procuring good pastures for sheep was leading the colonists far beyond the Limits of Location. There was, as yet, no legislation in effect to deal with this movement which was posing unprecedented problems for a new administration. The year previously the Ripon Regulations abolishing the previous practice of land grants and establishing a minimum upset price of 5/- per acre had been introduced. These regulations applied only within the Limits of Location. The lands beyond the official boundaries of the colony posed unique problems. As Governor he was well aware of the need to exert some type of control over this dispersion. At the same time, Bourke did not wish to interfere with the profitable rearing of sheep. The following year, 1833, the Legislative Council introduced legislation: "An Act for protecting the Crown Lands of this Colony from encroachment, intrusion and trespass." This Act was specifically aimed to prevent the unauthorised occupations of squatters continuing so long as to create any title to the land in the occupier. Although there is no direct evidence to indicate that the June conference is linked to this legislation it is reasonable to conclude that the Conference, by highlighting many of the contradictions in the official attitude, led Bourke to move towards legislation aimed at controlling the squatting movement. Many of the issues which legislation in 1836, 1838 and 1839 attempted to remedy were covered in the 1832 negotiations between Parry, Mitchell and Bourke.


We have still to explain Mitchell's opposition to the Company obtaining land on Liverpool Plains. Why was Mitchell, supported by Bourke, so anxious to confine the Company to the Peel Valley? It is reasonable to conclude that this arose from his established principles on surveying. He was not opposed, in the ultimate analysis, to the Company having an alternative grant. His opposition can, then, only have arisen from the method in which this grant was chosen. Mitchell was anxious that the grant be chosen according to natural features and in such a way as to fit in with his general trigonometrical survey. By choosing the Peel Valley with its distinctive ranges, the grant would fulfil these conditions. If the Company chose land on the open Plains it would not be possible to survey it according to natural features as Parry had chosen a rectangular block. In addition, it would repeat the very difficulties Mitchell had been trying to avoid since 1829. The land between the southern boundary and the Liverpool Ranges would to be taken by other settlers and would afford the Company a back run for stock. Mitchell was, reasonably, concerned with survey procedures. Parry's concern was to acquire land for sheep pastures. He was certain he could not find the required 600,000 acres needed in the Peel Valley. The Conference, understandably, reached a stalemate with two determined men concerned basically with different issues adamantly holding their ground.


Warrah from the top of the Great dividing range. Over 1200 metres above sea level, and Warrahs South East corner, showing the 30 mile long southern boundary.

Given Mitchell's earlier clash with Darling it is not unreasonable to conclude that he saw, in this issue, a chance to further establish the independence of his authority from the executive wing of Government. Mitchell fought hard and long to establish the autonomy of the Survey Department and it is fair to assume that he capitalised on Bourke's lack of familiarity with Australian policies and conditions to gain a political advantage. With the experiences under Darling so fresh in his memory Mitchell would not have passed up such an opportunity. It is these aspects of the Conference, as much as his sheer determination to fight doggedly for the Company's interests, which explain Parry's criticism of Mitchell's behaviour. Parry believed that his own stand had gone to the very limits of respect for the Governor and expediency in politics but that this was warranted as he believed that the Company's very existence depended upon the acquisition of the two selections. Bourke obviously felt otherwise and expressed his regret that Parry 'should have indulged in a strain of invective against the conduct of the Surveyor-General, and have imputed motives to that Officer for which there appears no reasonable foundation. Parry did not agree. He persisted in his opinion that Mitchell was being obstructive. In spite of Bourke's strong reprimand he saw no need to apologise to the Surveyor-General.


Parry's response to Mitchell's obstruction was immediate. He acquainted the Court with the decision and requested Hart Davis to obtain from the Colonial Office a strong and immediate remonstrance against Bourke's decision. Parry's formal remonstrance to Bourke recapitulated all stages of negotiations and concluded with a strong protest at Mitchell's hostility to the Company. Parry also applied to Bourke for a licence of occupation of the Warrah lands to cater for 10,000 lambs expected in October.


The Commissioner maintained an even keel during these middle months of 1832. He assured the Court that the present officers of the Company were determined that nothing would prevent them bringing expenses within income with the utmost speed. In the meantime, Parry attempted to work within the limits of the terms of reference established by the Parramatta Conference with Bourke and Mitchell. Parry prepared instructions for Dangar to return north with G. B. White, Government Surveyor to establish by survey the location and nature of the ranges south and west of the Peel River. Dangar and White were occupied till early October in tracing the course of the Mooki, Namoi, Peel and Cockburn rivers and the mountain ranges on both sides of the Peel. They also travelled 30 miles up the valley of the Cockburn. This examination, the third and most extensive survey of the area conducted by Dangar, may also have led to Edward Gostwyck Cory's exploration of the unknown New England tableland.


On the basis of Danger's further recommendation Parry made a new application for the alternate selections. Any optimistic thoughts were dashed to pieces by the end of January. Parry's new submission had been referred to the Surveyor-General who continued his objection to the Company's selections.


Parry regarded Mitchell's criticisms as merely a further instance of his hostility to the Company; he made detailed rebuttals of each criticism offered by the Surveyor-General. Parry consulted with Dangar and then washed his hands of the matter. He sent an official letter to Bourke asking him to transmit copies of all the correspondence on the matter to Lord Goderich: it was useless and inexpedient to prolong discussion with the colonial government.


In response to Parry's request for a temporary occupation of land, Bourke had allowed a lease of 40,000 acres on the east side of Warrah Creek. Plans were made for a party of men to proceed to Warrah to begin construction of huts, store, hurdles and stockyards for the reception of breeding ewes immediately after the annual shearing at Telligherry. In October, Charles Hall accompanied William Telfer and a group of men to Warrah and began preparations.


The Company's occupation of leased land outside the Limits of Location presented unique legal problems. Parry was anxious to know whether the colonial Scab Act, 3 Wil. IV No. 5, and the jurisdiction of magistrates extended to the leased land. The government, faced with a totally new question applicable to a specific and unprecedented case, replied that it could not "be called upon to discover questions of this nature." This judgement meant, that both Bourke and his Attorney-General were still attempting to avoid many of the issues raised by the squatting movement.


By June 1833 the Company had erected buildings and was constructing a wool press on Warrah. This property was valued at £12,000 and would increase in value before the end of the year. The question of legal jurisdiction was thus of considerable importance. On 21 June, Parry was informed that the Scab Act was not applicable outside the 1829 Limits of Location. The Scab Act was specifically designed to protect stock owners from the scab-infected flocks of neighbouring or travelling pastoralists. No opinion was given by the Attorney-General on the second questions whether magistrates and constables were entitled to exercise jurisdiction outside the boundaries. Parry addressed a petition to the Governor and Executive Council seeking a redress of this situation: authority to occupy land outside the limits availed but little if the Company's property, men and stock were not entitled to legal protection.


Parry's political fight ended in complete vindication. During August 1833 Parry received a despatch informing him Lord Goderich had decided in favour of his original selection along the Peel and on the Liverpool Plains. After months of useless negotiation, as well as an additional survey of the Peel Valley, the Colonial Office had decided in favour of Parry's original submission. Both Bourke and Mitchell had been over-ruled by the Colonial Office. Why did this happen? There can be little doubt that this decision was due to the lobbying power of such members of the Court as Richard Hart Davis. The decision had been the result of negotiations between the Court of Directors and the Colonial Office following Parry's prompt representations after the June 1832 Conference at Parramatta. At this stage when colonial land policy was still in the hands of the Colonial Office such personal contact and lobbying power were decisive. Any principles regarding surveying procedures being fought for by Mitchell were receiving scant attention at the Colonial Office under Goderich. Goderich assumed that the ultimate disposal of Crown lands had been settled by the regulations of 1831. In complete ignorance of the conditions being created by the squatting movement Goderich regarded the Surveyor-General's Department principally as a means for obtaining a general map of the Colony. Mitchell, aware of the new and troublesome problems being created by squatters, persisted in his belief that a proper trigonometrical survey was essential. Even after the decision in favour of the Company, when Goderich resigned in 1833 and was succeeded by Edward Stanley, the Colonial Office still regarded a general survey and political, rather than natural features, subdivision into counties, hundreds and parishes as more important than Mitchell's trigonometrical survey. Against this background there was no hesitation in over-ruling Mitchell's objections once the Court used its lobbying power.


On 12 September 1833 Parry formally requested the colonial authorities to grant the Company immediate possession of the alternate selections in accordance with Goderich's instructions. He had also become alarmed at the increasing number of squatters' sheep around the Company's station at Warrah Creek and sought due authority to remove them. Parry acknowledged his willingness to allow proper roads to be made through the estates at the expense of government and to secure to settlers adjoining the Company's lands the use of streams for the cultivation of their lands. Mitchell was instructed to carry out all necessary arrangements. This instruction marked the achievement of Parry's mission but he had not been idle in other fields.





Parry's ability to win a political contest enabled him to resolve the land question. This ability was applied also in the confused negotiations over coal. Parry, by 1831, saw the colliery fully operational. His administrative skills and forceful personality also enabled him to systematise pastoral and agricultural endeavours. We shall examine Parry's handling of the colliery and the pastoral estate and discuss developmental problems.


The former colonial committee had decided to discontinue coal operations. The question lay in abeyance with the suspension of Dawson. During this time the Directors negotiated a new agreement with Downing Street. By April 1828 William Huskisson, Earl Bathurst's successor, was prepared to review the matter. He would not, however, give any decision before receiving a written report from Darling.


Negotiations were concluded on 31 July 1828 when Horace Twiss, Undersecretary of State for Colonies, informed the Court that a new agreement had been approved. Sir George Murray, Huskisson's successor, sent copies of this agreement to Darling. The terms were quite clear even though they were not made public. They differed from the original agreement. A grant of 500 acres would be made immediately. This would be located at Newcastle. The Company had the option of including current government works. The Company would receive every assistance with convict labour. Instead of being given a lease of the coal lands, as in 1825, the Company would now receive a grant. The land would be subject to a quit-rent. The government reserved the right to resume the grant should the Company not raise a stipulated amount of coal in any one year. The sixth condition of the agreement was new, and contained the seeds of future litigation. As the Company had incurred heavy preliminary expense for the public benefit it should have opportunity to recoup capital outlay. For this reason no Governor should grant or convey any other coal mines for the next 31 years. If the company made use of this monopoly to impose an exorbitant price upon coal, sanctions would be imposed. Murray was thus carefully safe-guarding the public good with at least two conditions. Government retained the right to assist other competitors if the Company charged an excessive price and it held the power to resume the first 500 acres if at any time the Company did not produce two-thirds of the amount produced by the Newcastle mines in the years 1826, 1827 and 1828. There still remains the question of monopoly being in the best interests of the colony. Did this pave the way for rapid exploitation? The question of monopoly is, always, a controversial issue and one not easily resolvable. In this case it should be remembered it was granted as compensation for lack of return and failure of operations under the first agreement. It must also be remembered that the mines had been unsuccessfully worked for a considerable period and that, in this period of undoubted recession there was no other way of beginning coal mining operations on an adequate scale. Large amounts of capital and skills were required. The Company was able to supply both.


The Court of Directors readily assented to the conditions of this agreement. It requested the Colonial Office to ask Darling to continue the government coal works on the current plan for a reasonable time. This would enable the Company to make preparations to relieve the Governor of that charge.


While news of this agreement was travelling from London events in the colony further delayed the venture. These incidents stemmed from 26 May 1827 when the committee advised the Court of its decision to break up the coal establishment. After November various inducements had been held out to the miners to cancel their agreements and by September 1828 miners Thew, Dewitt and Hardy had quit. By December, when news of the new agreement reached Macquarie Place, Macarthur and Bowman were completing their withdrawal from active involvement in the Company. As a result of all these resignations nothing further could be done till the arrival of Parry.


Soon after his arrival Parry made vigorous endeavours to establish the colliery. On board the Elizabeth when it sailed into Sydney Harbour early in 1830 with Dangar was another officer, John Henderson, Superintendent of the Coal Department. In spite of earlier unhappy experiences Henderson was prepared to return to the colliery. This arrival enabled Parry to begin arrangements for coal-mining at Newcastle. It was an enterprise he considered would need careful nurture both because of the earlier failure and also because of colonial opinions on Henderson. After a brief examination of the coal fields on the south bank of the Hunter, Parry applied for permission to commence boring operations near the existing Government mines. Henderson wished to bore beneath the current working seam to ascertain the existence of other coal seams and to prevent unnecessary delay in the selection of the intended coal grant. Although Darling approved the request it was not laid before the Executive Council till 9th January 1831.


While waiting for permission, Henderson test-bored south of the Hunter. After an initial bore was sunk in a water-pit near the sea-beach close to the Government coal works Henderson decided not to incorporate the current works in the intended grant. Parry concurred. Henderson then shifted operations to the flat ground westward of the town. Quicksand made it impracticable to sink a shaft or to erect an engine. Attention was then directed to rising ground southward about half a mile S 60° W of the Government works. At a depth of eleven yards Henderson discovered a seam of pure coal, five feet in thickness. Parry requested permission to sink a shaft to ascertain the "dip" of the seam and to erect buildings. By mid-September 1830 a small pit had been completed eleven feet down to the seam of coal when a fast inrush of water interrupted work. Further work depended on the arrival of the steam engines in Newcastle from Macquarie Place. Pending their arrival Henderson employed his five men in boring operations in other parts of the same locality.


In August 1830 Murray sent Darling instructions for the transfer of coal mines. The Company was entitled to select 2,000 acres of coal grant land but was to take the first 500 acres in such a way as not to shut out the town from the water. In January 1831 Darling laid before the Executive Council a number of requests. Parry wished to sink a pit and erect a steam engine about 100 yards from the western boundary of the proposed town allotments at Newcastle; he wished to work the coal under any of the unlocated lands in that neighbourhood including, if necessary, the bed of the river. Parry asked to work the coal under the intended town and to be allowed a liberal water-frontage abreast of the spot selected for the sites of the steam engine and shafts. The Executive Council agreed, recommending reference to the Government Mineral Surveyor as to the depth below the surface at which the coal might be worked with safety. John Busby listed various readings depending on the seam being worked.


During March the government indicated its intention of breaking up the lumber yard and other establishments at Newcastle. Men employed in these works would be assigned to the Company. The assignment of these convicts came at an opportune moment because Henderson expected to begin coal sales within a short time and work at Newcastle was speeding up: William Croasdill was making preparations to move from Port Stephens to Newcastle to act as clerk and book-keeper under Henderson; Dangar surveyed a 1500 acre section of the 2000 acre grant and valued the works.


Coal sales began in September 1831 even before the completion of the works near present-day Brown Street. Government stockpiles had been expended three weeks earlier than calculated; Parry arranged to sell inferior coal from an upper seam of the A pit pending the completion of the colliery works. In spite of its inferior quality, this coal was probably better than the material being sold by the Government during previous months.


Parry made other preparations for long range development of the colliery. Ultimately, he hoped not to employ free colliers but to depend on assigned convicts. With the aid of convict labour and the officers Henderson, Croasdill, James Steele and his son, it should be possible to mine coal economically. Parry drew up new regulations for the shipment of coals at the wharf pending the completion of a new wharf further up stream. Eventually, Parry had placed the Company's works entirely beyond the town limits.


After Dangar marked out a 1500 acre block Parry sought approval for 300 yards of water-frontage, he delayed the selection of a further 200 yards until he had decided whether to take the 2000 acre coal grant in one or two blocks. He also sought permission to select 23 Watt Street and 52 Pacific Street in the town for an office and residence. Parry had good reason to be happy with progress. The Company had successfully bored for good quality coal and begun the erection of machinery over the seam. A new era was beginning in the economic and industrial development of New South Wales.


In early November 1831 Henderson reached the working seam.lt came up to expectations. Miners were then employed in the various underground works for drainage and associated tasks preparatory to raising coal. All was in readiness: the steam engine was functioning well; the railway and wharf had been completed and the wharf piles had been coppered to exclude the marine insect which had destroyed the old wharf. Parry attended the official opening on 31 December 1831. The wagons, decorated with flags, ran down the inclined plane from the pit's mouth to the new wharf where 2 tons of excellent coal were delivered on board the steam vessel Sophia Jane . Realism held the day Parry hoped the Company would reap a fair profit from coal sales.

By early 1832 the "A" pit was in full operation. Parry had brought the coal venture from embarrassing stalemate to accomplishment. During his remaining two years with the Company Parry was to settle the limits of the coal grant land and face the difficulty of obtaining labourers - a problem which would constantly constrain his successors. The term "Prime-cost" under which the Company had undertaken to supply coal to government at the pit's mouth was settled late in 1833 by an agreement between the Court and the Colonial Office. The Company agreed to supply this coal at 8/- per ton.


Parry solved the land question in two stages: in early 1832 he asked for a delineation of the first 1500 acres of the coal grant corresponding with the 300 yards of water frontage along the south bank of the Hunter. The first 1500 acres were formally surveyed by Dangar and G. B. White in July. This portion was bounded by the banks of the Hunter, the sea beach and connecting lines of the east and west. While these surveyors completed an examination of the Peel Valley, Henderson completed a more thorough examination of the coal deposits. This examination and the earlier joint survey decided Parry to take the 2,000 acres in one block and to ask for 500 yards of water frontage. This entailed a definitive marking of the road from Newcastle to Maitland in that section forming the Company's boundary along the Hunter River. After a visit to the Hunter District Governor Bourke promised to settle the final formalities. On 2 May 1833 the Colonial Secretary notified Parry that the Governor had sanctioned the submission of 18 October 1832 for the measurement of the coal grant and the allocation of two town allotments in place of surface rights to the Shepherds Hill region on the coastline just south of the township. During July 1833 Dangar and White surveyed the boundaries of the 2,000 acres including 55 acres of hill land to which the Company retained mining, but not surface, rights. This measurement was completed and formally approved.


The degree of control exercised by the Government over the Company has been amply exemplified by the definition of the grant boundaries and the location of the pit. The closeness of this control and its constant bearing on operations can also be seen in the allocation of labour resources - a theme which will be sketched lightly as it is given more detailed treatment in the later discussion of labour. 


Henderson had carried out his early surveys and initial test drillings with the skilled miners who accompanied him to Australia. Once he decided on the site for the "A" pit he was heavily dependent on the allocation of assigned convicts to help in the digging of shafts and in carrying material away from the pit mouth. Skilled miners were scarce and the Government, heavily committed to tunneling for Sydney's water supply, was understandably reluctant to assign men. Convicts assigned to the colliery, even as early as September 1830, scarcely exceeded the number of servants discharged regularly by gaining certificates of freedom or receiving tickets of leave.


Even when they were assigned men there were further difficulties. From the very first moment of coal operations came initial indications of friction between management and miners. The free miners belonging to Government refused to comply with their agreement on the plea of low wages. Henderson refused to deal with them claiming that their only object was to place the Company in the position of offering a high wage. This strategy undoubtedly revealed a hard bargaining stand but it was taken up when the Company's financial existence was indeed precarious. Parry stood firmly behind Henderson by insisting that, as these men would ultimately be in the Company's service, it was important to resist all such claims from the outset. Parry considered there was not a man upon the pastoral estate who did not perform more labour than the coal miners yet they received a ration and a half. For this ration and a half they performed a task of two and a half tons per man and usually finished about noon. Parry established a policy of dealing firmly with the claims of the free labourers and made representations to the colonial authorities to reduce the rations of convict miners to the same level as that of other prisoners. The authorities agreed to his request. Although there was as yet no real hint of organised trade unionism on the coalfield, it is not fanciful to see in this initial trial of strength between miners and management the rudiments of strikes a decade later.


Shortage of labour - both miners and service personnel - soon became a serious issue. The new agreement had stipulated that every facility and encouragement would be given to ensure an adequate supply of coal. On 31 August 1833 the colliery employed 37 miners and labourers, in addition to six mechanics. The mechanics performed essential work in the maintenance of pit gear, coal waggons, skips, the 329 yards of railway, the brickworks, chimney, boiler and the cutting of props lor the roof. These service tasks were as important to the venture as the work of raising and "getting" coal performed by the miners and labourers. Without them there was little chance of producing adequate supplies of coal to meet demand.


By September 1833 the Company had spent several thousand pounds in establishing the colliery and had not yet begun to reap any profit. Salaries and wages paid to the manager, book-keeper, engineer, brakeman and blacksmith amounted to near £2,000 per annum. It was difficult on this basis to expect any profit without a generous assignment of convict mechanics. Requests met with the response that the local authorities would not assign mechanics to the colliery. This decision came at a time when the operations of the colliery were proceeding with some prospects of success, there was a chance of reducing the actual cost of raising the coals to the low and uneconomic price at which they were sold. It was not possible to increase this price. The coal was sold at the fixed price of 8/- per ton. Parry felt it was impossible to run the colliery on an economic basis. He requested the Secretary of State for greater assistance in the assignment of convict labour, a request based on the stipulated conditions of the agreement. But, like the land question, decisions made in London had a habit of running far behind the actual situation in the colony. Parry could do little to offset this difficulty because of Bourke's refusal to act on the question.


In spite of this increasing difficulty of obtaining labour for the colliery by the end of 1833 Parry was adamant that the Company was established on a secure foundation. His determined handling of the land question had placed the Company in a potentially awkward situation with colonial authorities but his quick reference to London had vindicated his stand. With equal determination and clarity of mind he set the colliery on the firm path to production. Examination of other problems faced by Parry will reveal further that the period of his administration was basically that of securing the foundations.


Parry's negotiations on land and coal had clarified the Company's position in two basic areas. These achievements were paralleled in two associated fields. During the four years from December 1829 till March 1834 Parry reorganised the internal administration of the pastoral estate and developed an efficient labour force. His policies aimed to achieve strong central control in the running of all affairs, this control being, of course, centred in his own person. This control enabled him to reorganise the pastoral estate and to lay the basis for pastoral expansion by his successor. Parry's initial impressions convinced him of the need for strict central control to achieve lasting reforms. There was much to be reformed on the pastoral estate but he knew he must proceed slowly as a contrary course would be impolitic even if it were possible: almost every person had an inflated idea about his own importance. Within a few weeks he realised that Dawson had set out on too large a scale and that there would be a need to exercise strict economy in all departments if the Company were to be a success. The moves he made in a few departments can serve as useful examples of the type of control brought into all the Company's affairs by Parry.


Parry's aim from the beginning of 1830 was to make the accountant, William Barton, solely and entirely responsible to the Commissioner. Barton was a very good accountant but his exercise of power had involved him in many matters outside the normal area of his responsibility. His role with James Ebsworth in holding the corporation together during 1828 and 1829 had given him a taste of power which he was reluctant to relinquish. He would not revert easily to a lesser role in a restructured administration. Parry soon realised that the accounts department had been disorganised for a long time.


Barton had laid very serious charges against Robert Dawson for purchasing stock without adequate authority. This made it necessary to examine most minutely the accounts department. For this reason, and also to comply with a request from the former committee, Parry appointed Ebsworth, Hall and Wetherman to investigate possible irregularities. This trio submitted its report in mid-March 1830 and confirmed Barton's assessment that some stock had been purchased on insufficient warranty. The vindication of these charges, while confirming earlier allegations, made it only more difficult to restrict Barton. He constantly strove to exercise power in fields outside the accounts department, and particularly resented any move by Parry which could be construed as a tighter control by the Commissioner over the accounts department.


As late as April 1831 the accounts department was still in a state of chaos and confusion. There were even grounds to doubt whether Barton's method of accounting was the best for Company operations. Barton, however, would entertain no such suggestions. By May Parry reached exasperation. Barton's conduct had prevented Parry from compiling a general account. He ordered Barton to surrender all books, possessions and other papers. Parry decided to send all accounts to England for scrutiny and assessment. He appointed Wetherman, Armstrong and Ebsworth as an accounts committee. Barton was told to return to England.


Barton's friend, William Burnett, Superintendent of Agriculture, also showed signs of insolence and awkward behaviour. Although Burnett had carried out useful work in establishing a camp at Booral for the prisoners engaged in clearing land, preparing ground for cultivation and superintending agricultural activities , he displayed a penchant for creating trouble. Burnett and Barton seemed to be leagued together. During the early months of 1831 they both did their utmost to prevent Parry bringing their departments under his own control.


Their dismissal exemplified an extreme move made by Parry in his attempt to introduce order and efficiency. Parry's strong minded personality would brook no opposition as he moved towards his aim of central executive control. Parry's clash with Barton can be seen as a smaller scale reflection of his later dispute with Mitchell. There were elements of determination and stubbornness in both the personalities of Parry and Barton which exacerbated the situation but beneath the surface reality lay a very important administrative principle. Barton was convinced, almost to the point of obsession, of the independence and autonomy of his office as accountant. He did not seem willing to concede the overriding authority given to Parry in the new office of Commissioner. This strong sense of conviction on the part of both men led to Barton being sent back to England and to his being dismissed by the Court.


Barton blamed Parry for his dismissal. Not only did he persist in a determined defence of his own position but he issued three apologias. Prior to his dismissal a summons for assault had been taken out against Barton. It was alleged in a Quarter Sessions hearing that Barton had physically assaulted an assigned servant named William Parrel. Although Barton had been found not guilty his subsequent dismissal strengthened his feelings against Parry and resulted in the publication of two pamphlets by him in 1832 entitled The Memorial and Justification of Mr. Barton and Report of a Trial upon an Indictment promoted by Captain Sir W. Edward Parry, R.N. In both these publications it is apparent that Barton's awareness of the need for strict methods of accounting had led him to exaggerate his own role in the total system of administration. These pamphlets were followed by another in 1833 entitled The Affairs of the Australian Agricultural Company recapitulating the points of the previous publications and stressing the need for accurate methods of accounting if the Company were not to flounder. What the pamphlets do not state is that Parry was the last to deny this point; in fact, this was Parry's constant object during the months from January 1830 till May 1831 when Barton's behaviour and refusal to acknowledge the Commissioner's authority led to his dismissal - a move which had been suggested earlier by the Court.


When his three pamphlets did not bring about his avowed object Barton returned to New South Wales and brought actions in the Supreme Court. These cases were heard in March 1834 as Parry was preparing to return to England. They accurately reflected the difficulties faced by him in the early years of his administration. The first case of Barton v Parry was heard before Judge Dowling and a special jury. This was a case of libel and malicious prosecution alleging damages arising from the method in which Parry had brought charges against Barton in 1831 in the case against Parry. The jury gave a verdict for the plaintiff on the first count, damages one farthing; and on the second, a verdict for the defendant. Two days later a second Barton v. Parry case was brought to recover compensation damages for loss of the plaintiffs assigned servant. The jury returned a verdict for the defendant. Barton withdrew a third case against Parry for non-fulfilment of his contract. The tenor of all these cases, like that of the three pamphlets, is that Barton did not concede Parry's new mode of control arising out of the greater powers delegated to the Commissioner by the Court of Directors. This mode of authority superseded the powers previously given to Barton, a political point which Barton would not concede.


After the dismissal of Barton, and Burnett, Parry experienced little difficulty in making his power felt in all pastoral and colliery endeavours. By the end of 1831 the office of the Commissioner was firmly established in day to day administration. All policy decisions either found their origin with him or were relayed from London through him. They were then implemented through an efficient chain of command through trusted and proven officers - a process which can be best seen in the reorganisation of the pastoral estate. Parry was soon aware of the anomalous situation faced by the Company in its relationships with the Government. The geographical location of the pastoral grant and the lack of settlement on the Manning River and in southern New England in 1830 meant that, by default rather than conscious intention, the Commissioner became a local government authority for a large area east of the Hunter Valley and north of Newcastle. While this was an undoubted boon to Governor and Colonial Secretary it posed problems for Parry. From the earliest days the Company's conscious policy had been not to seek extra-jurisdictional privileges but to aid settlement and development. Parry, like Dawson, had no desire to see the Company develop into an autonomous and self-contained colony within the larger colony. Parry was determined that the Company would fit harmoniously into the larger unit and be regarded as such an element. An example of the problems faced in achieving this end can be seen in the role of the police on the estate.


Initially, Dawson had requested transfer of a corporal's guard from Soldiers Point to the Company's settlement. The soldiers performed police functions on the estate but retained an independent role as servants of the Crown. When Parry arrived at Port Stephens Lieutenant Donelan, of the 57th Regiment, was in charge of the post and was also resident magistrate at Carrington. In this latter role he was paid by the Company. Parry, in his office as Commissioner, also performed the duties of a magistrate.


This harmonious situation existed until October 1830 when Parry was advised the Colonial Treasury would no longer pay the salaries of the two free Government constables. The Company would be obliged to provide their salaries. Parry immediately protested on two grounds: one arising from the economic difficulties still faced by the Company; the other a very important constitutional principle. Government salary had been the only sign that the police belonged in any way to the Government. To Parry to withdraw payment was unjust and unconstitutional. The Company, as the largest settler in the colony, was deprived of privileges which the meanest settler could claim: the protection of the laws at the public expense. Parry was determined not to bear the brunt of this additional expense because it was taxation without the reception of an equivalent gain. Constitutionally the Government could not expect to exercise control over a police and magistracy whom they did not pay. With the pending departure of Donelan and his regiment from the colony Parry was undecided whether the Company should pay the Magistrate any longer. For the moment it was not possible to resolve this impasse, although Parry fought hard and long over what he saw as an important issue.


Throughout 1831 he barraged both Secretary of State and Governor with submissions. By early 1832 he was ready to seek a definite answer on the constitutional position. Goderich and Bourke had admitted the justice of a principle which Parry had striven to establish: the servants of the Company were entitled to protection at the public expense. Parry now made further suggestions, the Government should maintain six mounted police, including one non-commissioned officer. These men should be divided into two detachments, with headquarters at Carrington and Stroud. The Government should maintain one free constable. An officer should visit each station once a fortnight to dispose of any magisterial business outside the jurisdiction of the two magistrates in the Company's service. Parry proposed that Captain Moffatt's detachment from the 17th Regiment should be withdrawn and that the Company should maintain, at its own expense, two watch house keepers, one scourger, one police clerk and two other constables; the Company would also pay various administrative costs. Parry judged that these suggestions would rectify the unconstitutional position under which the police were currently operating on the estate. Parry's submission was laid before the Executive Council but was modified considerably. Bourke considered the recommendations inadequate and determined to supply police and constables. The Governor recognised the special conditions prevalent on the Company lands and acknowledged their large investment. For this reason the Company was entitled to particular consideration. The submission led, at least, to the recognition of the need and right for a Government Police Force at Port Stephens. In spite of this political settlement nothing was done in practice. The same anomalous situation of the Company paying Government employees persisted. At Parramatta after the heated conference over the alternate land grants, Parry again raised the issue. No satisfactory compromise was reached on the problem of either the police establishment or the magistrates. This drove Parry to political action. Governor Bourke's refusal, or inability, to come to a practical arrangement on the police establishment was an anomaly which could not be permitted to continue; Parry informed Captain Moffatt, the resident magistrate at Port Stephens, of immediate reductions in expenditure. Parry took these steps with the intention of showing the whole unconstitutional position in its true light. Even though the situation was degrading to any magistrate, and especially to a military magistrate, it was proper, in practice, for Parry to consider the police as simply one of the departments of the Australian Agricultural Company: the magistrates and constables were in practice Company employees, not Crown servants.


Not till 1833 was a solution achieved. During September the Colonial Secretary informed Parry that the Secretary of State agreed to the appointment of a stipendiary magistrate and a constabulary substantially along lines proposed by the Commissioner in March. In addition, Bourke proposed to withdraw the military detachment on the basis that the change of location had been authorised by the Secretary of State. Parry had suggested the withdrawal of the infantry detachment and its replacement by a smaller number of mounted police. Parry could not consent to the complete withdrawal of all military force because of the Aboriginals' great dread of the military. The maintenance of this feeling was absolutely essential to the security of persons and property scattered over wide lands.


Repeated attacks had been made by the Aborigines upon servants at the various stations up country so the Commissioner had solid grounds for his appeal. For Bourke to base the withdrawal of the military on the change of grants, as he did, was fatuous: no portion of the abandoned land east of the Stroud-Gloucester valley had ever been occupied by their employees. Parry again requested the appointment of a non-commissioned officer and three privates of the mounted police. This request was granted in December 1833 with the stipulation that the infantry remain on the estate. Parry's aim in establishing control was not sought as an end in itself but as a means of guaranteeing the success of the corporation. In particular, he aimed to create a happy and contented labour force. Endeavours in this field were undoubtedly influenced by the force of Parry's own personality with its typical early Victorian religious outlook inherited from his mother. His biographer has described this as an infectious enthusiasm and trust in God, and as an evangelical piety that increased with age. This aspect of his character was clearly reflected in his attitude to the employees, both convict and free. Allied with his aim of central control it resulted in a paternalistic concern for the employees that went much further than the economic relationship of master and servant.


During his first month at Port Stephens Parry was clearly disturbed over the low tone of religious and moral feeling. Small attendances at Sunday services worried him. Following the pattern established during his years in the North Sea and Arctic he determined to reform by constant example and service. This policy would lead to the erection of churches and schools and the concomitant rule of peace and order. The better disposed servants were anxious to have a school for their children. By catering to this desire Parry would gradually obtain contented servants and, thereby, a happy labour force.


At first, this concern found expression in the rather negative policy of rooting out what his evangelical mind regarded as evils. He quickly noted that the serious offence of selling spirits without a licence was prevalent. This practice had begun in late 1827 but was still common when Parry arrived. As Commissioner and magistrate, he at once took steps to lesson this "illicit and ruinous custom." This was only one of the more obvious works undertaken as he began the arduous task of establishing a system of order and efficiency.


After quickly establishing his authority amongst most of the servants, Parry adopted a system of gratuitous payments to encourage harder work. He later established a regular pattern for the hours of labour. The previous practice of servants breaking off work to go to breakfast was abolished by arranging an early breakfast before work. Reforms touched all sides of daily affairs. For example, he introduced various regulations in the medical department at Stroud and stationed a convict surgeon at that settlement. Surgeon White's assignment to Stroud added to the comfort of the servants at Booral, Stroud and the stations beyond Gloucester. 


At the same time, Parry and Isabella strove to improve the moral and spiritual welfare of the servants, free and assigned. They were especially anxious to obtain the services of a good minister of the Church of England. This was a constant part of Parry's policy. By early 1832 the externals of religion were being observed with services twice every sabbath at Carrington and Stroud and once at Booral but Parry was anxious to see a zealous minister in constant residence to guarantee lasting benefit. Parry had not approved of the 1830 arrangements between the Court and Colonial Office on the land exchange whereby the Company would be bound to contribute £300 per annum from each of three estates for the support of clergymen. He was pleased when the Ripon Land Regulations of 1831, forbidding the alienation of Crown Land except by auction, put an end to these negotiations. Parry then entered into discussions with the Reverend Samuel Marsden, President of the Council of the Church Missionary Society in New South Wales. Parry suggested to Marsden an alternative arrangement, which would free the Company of any involvement with the Government over matters affecting the church. Such involvements led only to constant complications as had been shown by previous negotiations over police. Marsden agreed that the Church Missionary Society would nominate a zealous, active and young minister; he would migrate at the joint expense of the Society and the Company. This minister would reside at Stroud and periodically visit the few persons attached to the Liverpool Plains and in the Peel Valley .


Not till 1836 did these plans come to fruition with the arrival of William Macquarie Cowper. Until August 1833 Parry depended on the periodical visits from Newcastle of the Reverend C. P. N. Wilton. Between August 1833 and 1836 the Company engaged a resident chaplain under an arrangement which served as a useful example of Parry's outlook. Rev. Charles Price, Congregational Minister, became chaplain. Price had ministered to the Congregation in Sydney until the arrival of Rev. William Jarrett. Price then offered his services to Parry who, satisfied of Price's character and qualifications, made an arrangement with him, initially, for one year. Price agreed to conduct the Sabbath service and administer the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper according to the Liturgy of the Church of England. He could not, in conscience, conform to the baptismal services of the Church because they invoked a belief in baptismal regeneration and the need for sponsors other than the children's parents. Parry agreed with Price that the former of these beliefs was contrary to Scripture and the latter was not required by it. Further, he did not envisage any friction between the chaplain and the Company's servants on these issues. On 22 December 1833 Parry achieved "one of his fondest aims" when he and Isabella attended the opening of the chapel at Stroud dedicated to St John.


Parry was thus closely concerned with much more than the mere economic employment of men as servants. As settlement gradually moved north from Carrington to Booral, Stroud and Gloucester, Parry concentrated on the establishment of a good school at Stroud. As yet no married men were employed at Gloucester and he was able to regard Stroud as the centre of these endeavours. A temporary school was maintained at Carrington with a part-time teacher pending the abandonment of that settlement. The Stroud school, under an assigned servant named Burton, quickly achieved a reputation for efficiency. In 1830 a Savings Bank had been established. Parry hoped salaries would now be wisely invested and not squandered on spirits. A Post Office was opened at Carrington the following year.


Parry regarded all his achievements, such as schools, churches, bank, post office, police and magistrates, regular working hours and strict control of policy making, as the means by which he would civilise the free and assigned servants. To miss this is to neglect an important component of the man's ideology. Parry, motivated by a strong sense of duty and a compelling awareness of responsibility, strove to impart these qualities to others. Parry imparted this outlook to the officers who served under him in positions of authority and responsibility. He welded the officers into a loyal and co-operative group and handed down a highly competent and successful team. Such men as Charles Hall, the Superintendent of Flocks, and his brother Henry, superintendent of Agriculture after Burnett, enabled Parry to develop a spirit of co-operation between two very important departments of the pastoral estate. Henry Hall later became Superintendent of Stock for the cattle and horse departments, and aided in the later expansion of these departments to the interior. James Ebsworth, after a brief holiday in England, returned to Carrington during 1831 with a young wife. Ebsworth quickly developed into a capable accountant and assistant Commissioner. On more than one occasion in later years he filled the responsible office of Acting-Commissioner. At the colliery these men were matched by such men as John Henderson and William Croasdill. By the end of 1832 most of the officers on the pastoral estate were resident at Booral and Stroud close to the centre of operations. At these centres of settlement they worked closely with the free and assigned servants endeavouring to foster Parry's concept of hard work.


The unstable nature of the work force continually hampered and cramped operations. Parry requested Darling to re-establish a former regulation of assigning 25 prisoners from every newly arrived ship until the requisite number was furnished. Requests for prisoners in 1830 were so numerous and pressing that it was not possible to assign so large a number of men from each ship. Parry knew that colonial, social and economic development had changed so quickly in six years that the Company would face a difficult labour problem as activities expanded. Darling, aware of agreements, guaranteed to assign as many men as possible and as was compatible with the scope of the Company's operations. Men would also be assigned from convicts disposable in the road parties.


In spite of this undertaking, departures almost equalled arrivals during 1830 and 1831. The situation scarcely altered in later years. From May 1832 to July 1833, 5,020 convicts had been assigned to private settlers: out of this number, the Company had received a mere 30: 13 of these were above 18 years of age; 4 were aged 18 and 13 were under 18. Four of these latter were not yet 14 years old. For the most part these men were unskilled. During the same period 77 servants had been discharged, had gained their certificates of freedom or obtained tickets of leave. Only 8 of these had been retained on salary. The nett result was a decrease of 47 servants at a time when efforts were being made to expand all departments and to establish a new station at Warrah. As well, the Company was bedevilled with inefficient men. Newly assigned convicts, trained as shepherds, frequently lost themselves and the sheep in the bush, they were often away from the hurdles all night when the warrigal or native dogs dispersed the sheep and tore them to pieces. Parry found it necessary to be firmer with these men. It was still necessary as late as May 1833 to bring shepherds before the magistrates on charges of extreme carelessness. One convict, for example, boasted that he had cost the Company 200 sheep.


In spite of these problems Parry was able to bring the pastoral estate to a stage of considerable achievement. This can be seen from an assessment of stock figures. When Parry arrived at Port Stephens there were 21,365 sheep, 245 horses and 2,227 cattle. By the end of September 1833, the Company possessed 40,486 sheep, 289 horses, 56 ponies and 2,780 cattle. Its agricultural department had prepared 325 acres for crops. To appreciate the extent of his achievements in spite of a severe labour shortage it will be necessary to scrutinise the pastoral estate.


On Parry's arrival pastoral operations were in an uncertain position. Sheep were scattered over thirteen runs at Telligherry, Golden Valley, Campbell Valley, Tookes Range, Macarthurs Range, Avon River, Gloucester Valley, Gloucester River and the Barrington. Extension of runs into the northern end of the estate facilitated a marked improvement in the flocks. At the same time, there was still serious ground for concern. Scab, a fungoid affliction, still prevailed among three crossbred flocks. Charles Hall did not know how to treat it. In the horse department the bulk of activities was confined to the horse station established at Pindyambah, on the north shore of Port Stephens. There had been little serious attempt to develop the horse stud. The cattle were in reasonable condition but the former breakdown of management and administration had resulted in large numbers breaking loose from the main herds and wandering wild in the hills and forests between the Stroud-Gloucester valley and the coastline. In agriculture little long term work had been achieved except the clearance of some brush land at Stroud. Parry was astounded at the labour resources expended upon No. 1 Farm, a virtual swamp in the hills immediately beyond Tahlee and Carrington. An examination of each of these departments will enable us to assess Parry's achievements and to sum up the progress.


Parry's achievements depended essentially on the trust he could repose in competent officers and in his solving of the land question. This meant, in essence, that during the first two years, efforts were confined to a holding operation pending resolution of the land question. After the successful discovery of suitable lands Parry was able to plan for future expansion even if political opposition meant that pastoral operations were confined, for the most part, to the coastal grant till the end of his period.


The sheep department was placed under Charles Hall, who resided at Telligherry, an open section of pasture land on the Karuah River just north west of Stroud. He was assisted by George Jenkin who resided at Gloucester. The thirteen runs between Telligherry and the, Barrington were divided into two groups, one under charge of Jenkin. Gradually, the service facilities for the sheep department were transferred from the unhealthy Carrington flats to the Stroud region. A small shearing shed constructed during 1827 at Worwhy south of Stroud soon proved inadequate. During 1831 Hall constructed a large shelter shed at Telligherry to supplement Worwhy.


During 1830 and 1831 the Company experienced heavy losses of sheep. In the third quarter of 1831, 568 sheep died from age, disease and accident. Parry was disturbed over these heavy losses. By November 1831 he placed more credence to continuing rumours that large numbers of aged sheep had originally been purchased in the colony. Such reports had been circulating for some time. The Company entered the 1831 shearing season with unsolved and serious problems.


The 1831 clip was smaller than in 1830 a factor general throughout New South Wales and attributed to the weather. On the other hand, the texture of the Company's wool was very clear and much improved in quality. Not a single sheep had been lost from scab. These changes reflected both the movement to the new pastures north of Stroud and continuously improving shepherding techniques.


Improvement in the wool texture indicated the marked improvement in the sheep department. The Court had registered complaints about the first clip shorn during November and December 1830, and offered for sale during 1831, this wool had arrived in England in unsatisfactory condition and the prices for fine wools had been extremely low in comparison with the coarse varieties. Hall's comments on these complaints illustrate pioneering conditions at the Gloucester. One bale of wool shorn from scabby colonial sheep had been washed by the Aborigines and shorn by the shepherds. These fleeces, broken and damaged by scab, were neither classed nor breeched. They had not been intended for export as Hall estimated their value sixpence to eightpence per pound. These broken fleeces had been sent inadvertently to England where they sold for two and a half pence less per pound that the wool from the thoroughbred French merino ram fleeces which had received the utmost care and attention in washing and sorting. The Court also complained of grass seeds in the fleeces, these seeds impregnated the fleeces when the sheep fed amongst the ranges when pastures ran low. There were further difficulties, wet weather during shearing reduced the yolk - grease or natural fat -content of many fleeces. The tenderness of the 1830 staple resulted from the age of the sheep and continued breeding. Such sheep could not be expected to yield anything but light tender fleeces.


These mixed successes, heavy losses accompanied by the gradual elimination of scab and the marked improvement in wool texture, caused Parry to delay any extensive examination of flocks quality. Not till he had completed the search for land did he begin to look closely at the flocks. During May 1832, Parry made an ominous discovery. After consulting various sheep returns Parry found that since his arrival in January 1830 there had been an increase of only 2,257 sheep to the flocks, there had also been an average loss each quarter of 1,300 sheep. This alarming state of affairs demanded full and immediate investigation. Parry decided to appoint a committee to investigate. He informed Hall of his intention. He then opened the latest despatch from London, a despatch which drew his attention to the irregular situation in the sheep department. Parry was struck by the coincidence. He appointed James Ebsworth, Charles Hall, William Wetherman, James Stacy and Thomas Ebsworth.


Parry entertained little doubt that the basic cause of both the small increase and the enormous decrease would be found in the sheep purchased by Dawson in 1826 and 1827: the shepherds referred to them as the "rotten old sheep". If this were so, the full effects still remained to be felt and would continue until all had died off. There were still about 4,000 of these sheep on the estate.


At the end of August the committee presented its detailed and thorough report, the fruit of careful investigation covering all developments between January 1830 and April 1832. The conclusion was firm, the small increase was due chiefly, if not entirely, to the number of old and rotten sheep originally purchased both in Europe and New South Wales. Parry regarded this unfortunate fact with pain and regret but also looked on the brighter side. These causes were then ceasing to operate and were never likely to recur. Although numerically no progress had been made, in reality a very important qualitative change had taken place. On 31 January 1830, the Company possessed 11,933 ewes. Of these, 7,445 were old ewes incapable of bearing lambs. The remaining 4,488 were young ewes. On 30 April 1832, the Company possessed 12,696 ewes, of these, 4,013 were old and 8,683 young. This meant that besides a numerical increase of 763 ewes the Company had 4,195 more young and healthy ewes available for breeding than at the beginning of 1830. There was no reason why rapid increases should not henceforth occur.


Parry nurtured his optimism,  he judged that whenever breeding was confined principally to the Company's own ewes the increase would be extremely rapid. It was likely that the period 30 June 1831-31 December 1832 would witness an increase of five to six thousand sheep by lambing. By December the Company should possess a total of 32,000 sheep. The production of some 6000 lambs and the positive aspects of the 1832 Report fostered hope for the future welfare of the Company's flocks.


The 1832 shearing season was marked by a new method of sheep washing. This device was proposed and invented by James Stacy, a Company employee, sheep were washed in warm water, each animal passing through two tubs and then swimming across a stream. The tubs were supplied by a pump which raised the water level to equal with the level of the river bank. From the river bank troughs communicated with two boilers for hot water and a reservoir for cold. From these boilers and reservoirs water was regulated in the tubs by leaden pipes and stop-cocks. Under this method the tubs did the main washing and they could be maintained with low river levels - a great advantage given the dryness of the season. Not only was this method quite inexpensive but it washed the wool to the required standard of cleanliness. Like all other methods the process did not rid the wool of the grass seeds and flowers of native shrubs picked up by the fleeces at all the sheep stations. Nothing could be done about this, given the native condition of the land, the impossibility, for some time, of clearing and cleaning the estates. As a temporary measure a few hundred acres between the washpool on the Karuah and the sheep shed at Telligherry were cleared. Although the records do not state so explicitly, the difficulty caused by the burnt stumps and logs can be inferred to reflect the open nature of the forest country before colonisation. Aborigines - the Worimi - were numerous in the Port Stephens region and regularly hunted the abundant wild life in the Stroud-Gloucester valley. Their hunting practices included regular burning as kangaroos, emus, bush rats and other animals were driven into the heads of gullies. The expansion of pastoral activities gradually led to a lessening of this practice. This resulted in a return of undergrowth and the virtual closing of the forests for grazing purposes by 1846.


At the beginning of 1833 the Company began pastoral operations in the interior. After shearing, William Telfer transferred 6000 lambs and ewes over the mountain track via the Pigna Barney River and the Barrington Tops to Warr'ah Creek. After a fine feat of droving over a rough track Telfer arrived at Warrah during February with the loss of only six sheep.


The expansion of sheep grazing to the inland station culminated Parry's work in the sheep department. By the end of 1833 the flocks consisted almost entirely of Company bred sheep, for the first time since 1826 a very rapid increase could be anticipated.


Parry had been unable to make much progress in the cattle and horse departments before the dismissal of Burnett. After Burnett's dismissal he appointed Henry Hall, an efficient officer who soon reorganised these departments. Hall and his men rounded up the stray cattle running wild in the hills east of Stroud and established cattle stations at Bundabah.The Branch, Gloucester and Bulahdelah. This last station, east of the adjusted boundary, was later abandoned. By the end of 1833 the herds had increased sufficiently to make the Company independent of future purchases.


Hall and Parry achieved a comparable reorganisation of the horse stud. In spite of earlier assessments that Pindymyambah was suitable, plans were made at the end of 1831 to transfer the horses up country. The older stables at Pindyambah had proved decidedly unhealthy and resulted in the deaths of several valuable breeding horses. Parry then chose a new horse station at Alderley, between Booral and Stroud. New stables were completed. When the horses were transferred a marked improvement in their condition occurred. Alderley was developed as the main breeding station.


In the agricultural department early progress was made in clearing land at Booral and Stroud to achieve self-sufficiency in grain. Within the first two years several hundred acres of land were cleared and planted with such crops as wheat, maize and tobacco. By the beginning of 1832 the Gloucester Flats were cleared and maize seed planted. A fine water-mill was built at Stroud to aid the development of crop growing and to save the expense of double transport of grain to colonial mills and back to the estate. By the summer of 1833-34 the Company was producing good wheat crops at Stroud and Booral - at a time when the Hunter District wheat crop was a total failure from lack of rain.


This examination shows Parry's achievements. With the aid of competent, officers he had brought order and efficiency into the operations. Except for the important and far-reaching transfer to Warrah he had undertaken no marked expansion but had consolidated and ordered the work of his predecessors. The reason for this lack of innovation is clear, any rapid expansion of pastoral activities depended on the acquisition of the inland grants and on a marked increase in stock numbers. In the first field Parry was blocked till September 1833 by the refusal to cede the alternate grants. The despatch that informed Parry of the favourable decision on the land also informed him of the choice of his successor. Parry had been appointed Commissioner for a limited period - determined by his leave of absence from the navy -and for a specific purpose, to bring order into affairs and to choose alternate land if he deemed the original land unsuitable. Judged against the terms of his task Parry must be regarded as a very successful Commissioner.


Parry handed over command to his successor in March 1834. On 20 May 1834, farewelled by Henry Dumaresq and Phillip Parker King, the Parry family sailed out of Port Jackson on the Persian and returned to England.











Henry Dumaresq assumed control as Commissioner on 18 March 1834. Dumaresq was well known. Born in 1792, the eldest son of Colonel John Dumaresq of Bushel 'Hall, Shropshire, England and Anne, nee Jones, Henry went, with his brother William to the Royal Military College, Great Marlow and served during the Peninsular War and in Canada. He took part in six battles of the Peninsular War, and served on Wellington's staff at Waterloo where he was severely wounded. His premature death at Tahlee House, Port Stephens, on 5 March 1838 was a consequence of this wound. While on service in Mauritius he became military secretary to General Ralph Darling who married his sister Eliza. When Darling accepted office as Governor of New South Wales Henry, a Lieutenant-Colonel, was invited to become his private secretary. Another brother, Edward Dumaresq, accompanied Darling as far as Van Diemens Land and William came with him to Sydney.


Henry Dumaresq was immediately appointed clerk to the Executive Council. He also served as Darling's private secretary until 1831. While in London in 1828 he met the directors of the Australian Agricultural Company in which he had become interested through James Macarthur. This led to his appointment as Commissioner. In 1828 he married Elizabeth Sophia, elder daughter of Augustus Butler-Danvers and his second wife Eliza Bizarre, nee SturO On Governor Bourke's arrival, Dumaresq retired to St Heliers, on the Upper Hunter near Muswellbrook. Dumaresq devoted himself to pastoralism.


Henry was renowned for quick temper, great ambition and warm humanity. His brilliant wit was tempered with good humour and his 'urge for great possessions' was modified by common sense. He firmly believed in a hierarchical society. Hence he received a share of banter in Frank the Poet's "A Convicts Tour of Hell" as the hopping colonel - hopping because of a limp associated with his war wound who punctually paid all arrears - a reference to his punctilious and efficient nature. His conservatism was matched by a sensitivity to criticism. 


Between September 1833 and March 1834 Dumaresq visited Carrington and Stroud preparing for the transfer. This interim period was essentially a time for mastering Parry's management system. The task of building a structure of expansion awaited Parry's successor. The Company's future would depend on Dumaresq's ability to utilise the inland grants. He would face major problems in transferring stock, in developing permanent buildings and providing adequate service utilities in pastoral operations, and in opening effective lines of communication. At the base of all these problems would be his major task of land utilisation. Dumaresq was also aware the squatting movement was beginning to gather momentum north as the effects of long drought and recession eased. The Company's occupancy of two large grants must inevitably pose major problems of law enforcement and demarcation of boundaries. Although Parry had secured the Newcastle coal mines Dumaresq anticipated further problems with labour shortage and inefficient operations as development of new pits and added installations continued. The problems facing Dumaresq were formidable. We must now examine his handling of these challenges. This will be achieved firstly by an examination of the Hand, pastoral, agricultural and squatting questions. The next chapter will then deal with the coal, labour and management issues.


The land question involved survey of the inland grant and the establishment of stations. The practical results of survey not only resulted in the discovery of lines of communication but led Dumaresq to attempt a further, but unsuccessful, exchange of land. Detailed survey was the first priority.


During November Armstrong, now a private surveyor in Sydney, had been authorised to undertake with Government surveyor Ralfe, the final delineation, marking and description of the new lands. During January Dumaresq travelled to Warrah where Armstrong and Ralfe had begun their survey. After completing work on the Liverpool Plains grant, the two men travelled to the northern grant. They then marked out the northern area in the Peel valley.


Dumaresq familiarised himself with the two grants. After inspecting Liverpool Plains he visited the Peel to prepare for the future development. He selected a place for the principal establishment and decided it would be occupied in June when he made a second inspection. His favourable opinion of the Peel was confirmed on this visit during which he decided on the exact site for buildings at Tamworth. The spot chosen by Dumaresq at the confluence of Goonoo Goonoo Creek with the pre 1910 bed of the Peel had many advantages: the land on the flats could be used for either cultivation or grazing while the sloping ground behind Goonoo Goonoo Creek was well suited for buildings. Work commenced immediately on a shearing shed.


Once Armstrong and Ralfe completed survey the Surveyor-General pressed for formal relinquishment of the eastern section of the original estate. Subsequent survey had established the need for further adjustment so Ralfe awaited Mitchell's orders to renew survey. Dumaresq was anxious to finalise formalities but depended on the completion of Armstrong's charts and reports which were not ready till January 1835 by which time Ralfe was finishing a preliminary topographical survey of the country beyond the western boundary of the Clergy and School Estate. His main work, as part of Mitchell's desire to produce a topographic map of the colony, comprised a trace of the Karuah, Gloucester, Little Manning and Barrington rivers to their headwaters in the Mount Royal Range. Ralfe's survey produced an unexpected boon in early 1835. While completing a trace of the Barnard River to its source Ralfe discovered and marked a path over the range to the head of Ogunbil Creek, a tributary stream of the Peel River. Ralfe had not only established the topography of the Barnard-Manning system but marked a line of road from the Gloucester towards the Peel. The importance of such lines of communication would be of major importance for future operations.


The basic aim in all this survey work was to determine, with precision, the boundaries and exact locations of the Company's grants. As late as the end of 1834 Mitchell and Dumaresq wrangled over the boundaries for the coastal grant and these boundaries were not finally determined till October 1835. Mitchell, with his eye on the arrears of work in the Survey Department, was anxious to finalise.


Like all sheep owners Dumaresq was aware of the inconvenience of neighbouring pastoralists. He was conscious of the vast areas required for the successful rearing of numerous flocks. He emphasised that the selfish policy which had led to the Spanish Laws of the "Mesta" was known and felt in New South Wales. Dumaresq proposed to relinquish more land adjacent to Port Stephens in exchange for the Quirindi Valley between the Liverpool Plains and Peel River grants. The Company could thus connect its two inland grants. He also hoped to obtain the land on the east bank of the Peel opposite Tamworth to secure an unrestricted outlet through the Moonbi Valley. Dumaresq planned to secure plots between Maitland and the Peel to provide staging stations for teams. He thought it would be necessary to purchase other land between the Gloucester and the Peel to forestall settlers from the Williams River.


These plans reveal a concern to protect the Company's interests. This arose from Dumaresq's deeply held conviction that the corporation was an agency for the public good. His plan to relinquish harbour land at Port Stephens was not an irresponsible desire to alienate useless land. Dumaresq was firmly convinced of the potential of Port Stephens for private settlers.


When Governor Bourke responded with decided coolness to the plan of exchanging Port Stephens land for the Quirindi Valley, Dumaresq merely changed tactics, swinging his campaign towards the land opposite Tamworth. Although Dumaresq persisted with his plan the matter was settled in 1838 following reports that the districts of Liverpool Plains and the Peel River were to be thrown open for sale to the public.


The stages leading to rejection of Dumaresq's plan helped to clarify the Company's role. The Company should be allowed to expand its operations only within the limits established by the original Charter and the land exchange agreement. The government fully realised the valuable work performed by such a corporation but was equally determined it should not extend its operations and move away from its role as a developmental corporation.


Dumaresq's, long term achievement lay in co-ordinated development of pastoral activities by a related use of coastal, Liverpool Plains and Peel River grants. This did not mean a simple transfer of pastoral activities away from the Port Stephens lands and a concentration on the inland grants. Rather, it meant a more intensive development between Stroud and the Manning River allied with a slowly intensifying use of the inland grants. This was essentially one of developing the northern end of the coastal grant in conjunction with the Peel River grant as a sheep station once lines of communication were discovered. After some initial use of Warrah lands for sheep, the Liverpool Plains grant was used for cattle and horse grazing. The following discussion will show how Dumaresq laid the basis for this development and also taught the Company to contend with the serious problem of drought in the interior by co-ordinating development of the interior with greater use of the coastal grant. His main pastoral concern was with the sheep department but he also was concerned with cattle and horses. The gradual development of agricultural pursuits accompanied this progress. The discovery of lines of communication and the maintenance of an efficient system of management are essential elements of the story of adaptation to the conditions of the Australian environment.


When Dumaresq took charge the sheep department was in excellent condition. The 1833 shearing had been highly successful with the export of 270 bales of wool. This clip included the Company's first wool grown in the interior, 5 bales of Warrah wool. This was dirty because of drought conditions. Although many proprietors on the Upper Hunter, faced with the same difficulty, despatched their wool "in the grease", Charles Hall had attempted to wash the Warrah sheep with scanty supplies of hard water. On the positive side, there had been a marked improvement in the wool, especially from the sheep on Liverpool Plains. All flocks on both estates, at Warrah and Port Stephens, were very healthy, there was every prospect of a large and rapid increase of sheep.


In spite of this auspicious beginning in the interior, Dumaresq was forced to make an important decision. In June 1834 he instructed the shepherds to remove all inland sheep to the Peel away from the trespassing, scabby flocks of other settlers at Warrah. Company sheep were in excellent condition and he feared that there was high risk of infection. For the present, at least until Government extended application of colonial legislation outside the boundaries, Warrah would be occupied by cattle and horses. These changes in the land use of the inland stations necessitated a transfer of superintendents. Charles Hall moved permanently to the Peel to take charge of this important station. His position at Telligherry was taken by John Swayne.


The development of sheep stations at Port Stephens and the Peel proved its worth at the 1834 lambing season, 13,000 lambs were dropped. Hall was especially pleased with the lambing at the Peel. He expressed satisfaction with the land occupied on the flats and slopes around Tamworth. Against the background of this intensifying use of the Peel Estate James Ralfe's discovery of a track between Gloucester and Tamworth a few months later assumed considerable importance. Dumaresq quickly realised the advantages of a direct link between the northern end of the coastal estate and the Peel. Not only could the Company utilise valleys along the route but it could prevent its occupation by Williams River settlers. Dumaresq, eager to capitalise on Ralfe's discovery, sent Swayne and Jenkin to form sheep stations at Coneac and Curricabark. Securing these places could maintain a succession of runs along the 80 miles from the Gloucester to the Peel and prevent encroachment. The belief of Mitchell and Dangar in that a route would be found between Gloucester and Tamworth had been justified.


The story of Dumaresq's development of the sheep department revolved around the consequences of this, and a later, line of communication. By late 1835 Dumaresq was convinced of the need for a better route. Although Ralfe's track had been reasonably satisfactory Dumaresq felt it possible to find a more convenient line. William Telfer was sent to explore the land along the edge of the New England tableland above the north bank of the Barnard River. After eleven weeks exploration Telfer succeeded in finding a route from Giro to Nowendoc and thence to the top of the Dividing Range near to Ralfe's entry point at the head of Ogunbil Creek. Although this route ran more or less parallel to Ralfe's route it provided a better line.


Before rendered redundant by Telfer's route, Ralfe's line was crucial during one very severe season. By September 1835 many of the sheep at Tamworth were threatened by a severe drought. The situation was grim, after five days spent searching for suitable land for the lambing ewes, Hall found only one suitable spot. Communications between the different regions of the colony had been rendered almost impossible by widespread drought conditions. The advantages of an east west communication along well watered valleys soon showed its worth. Dumaresq directed that 20 bullocks be broken in to carry packs over Ralfe's mountain track to the Ogunbil.


Dumaresq made arrangements for reduction of the Peel establishment which consisted thus far of these runs and out-stations associated with the Tamworth and Goonoo Goonoo head stations. Drought conditions on the Peel forced him to make arrangements for washing and shearing most sheep at Stroud and Worwhy. All dry sheep would be brought down the mountain track while the lambing flocks would be left at the Peel. These dry sheep would be shorn as speedily as possible and then returned to the Peel. In the meantime, the sheep stationed at Telligherry and Gloucester would be shorn. By that time it would be possible to decide whether it was better to shear the lambing flocks at the Peel or make alternative arrangements. In spite of the scarcity of the grass the lambs reared at the Peel would exceed the numbers usually weaned. Dumaresq attributed this success partly to the fine lands on the Peel but more especially to good management and active care. His decision to shear many of the Peel sheep at Worwhy, made against a background of severe drought, set a pattern which would be maintained for many years. Until the restructuring of the Company in 1853 and sale of the Peel Estate many of the inland sheep were driven over the Telfer track to the coast for shearing. They were then returned to the Peel or replaced by equivalent numbers of sheep from the coastal estate. The combination of dry seasons in the interior and resultant water shortage was a factor in this practice. The economics of transport in pre-railway Australia, as will be seen later, was also a factor. During Dumaresq's term of office the practice was begun for the 1835 shearing. It was repeated in 1837 when 9000 fully-grown sheep were driven over the mountain track via Nowendoc and Giro to the new shed at Telligherry for shearing. In 1838, 7000 wethers from the Peel were shorn at Telligherry with 35,000 sheep from the coastal runs.


In 1835 the foundations for this practice were, however, still being laid. Bough yards were constructed on Ralfe's track by the labourers and artisans withdrawn from the inland. These yards facilitated the transfer of sheep. Although the experiment proved successful the mountain track was too rugged for the ewe flocks which were shorn at Tamworth. Following the discovery of Telfer's track Dumaresq decided to locate stations on the new line of road to facilitate the gradual transfer, to and fro, of stock and to provide a relief station in times of drought. Dumaresq's death in March 1838 prevented his seeing the realisation of this plan but James Ebsworth, his locum tenens, carried the policy to fruition. Dumaresq had, in 1837, established a station at Nowendoc, roughly half-way on the line between Gloucester and Tamworth but it was left to Ebsworth to establish two stations between Bowman River, north-east of Gloucester,


 The formation of stations at Giro and Upper Barnard, with an out-station midway between the two, enabled the Company to strengthen its occupation of land between the northern extremity of the coastal estate and Telfer's route up Hungry Hill to Nowendoc and beyond to the Peel. The country in the valley of the Barnard River provided a most beautiful run for sheep and proved very successful in subsequent years.


These stations were all part of the Gloucester section. The coastal estate comprised two basic sheep stations with associated runs. The southern station, centred on Telligherry, comprised six runs and provided most of the essential service facilities such as the shearing shed. In 1837 a larger shed was built at Telligherry to replace an earlier shed built in 1827 at Worwhy, south of Stroud. The northern section of the coastal sheep department was centred on Gloucester. The superintendent at the Gloucester was responsible for various stations and runs, those around the Gloucester and Barrington valleys as well as those on the Barnard River and at Nowendoc. He was also responsible for the sheep station formed at Gangat in 1835 near the Manning to command any sheep pastured on the land ceded back to the Crown.


There was little need to expand activities at the Telligherry station. Most development was concentrated on the Gloucester section which contained numerous scattered stations. The station formed in 1837 at Bowman River proved excellent for stud purposes. All young ram flocks were moved to Bowman River where the combination of abundant pasture and close attention to vigour and health facilitated development of a fine ram stud for breeding and sale purposes.


Dumaresq was satisfied with the character of all sheep on the coastal estate. It was not possible to improve their quality. Efforts after 1837 were confined to culling out in order to maintain a high standard. These sheep were classified according to place of origin as English, French, Saxon, colonial or cross-breeds and put under the charge of a station overseer. The stations were permanent locations along the valleys of the numerous rivers and creeks. Huts and permanent yards were constructed at the headquarters of each station and, in later time, often formed the nucleus of villages and towns after sale of this land. Usually there were seven men at each station: an overseer, cook, nightwatchman, and three or four shepherds. Each shepherd had charge of approximately 300 sheep - a figure rendered necessary by the broken, hilly nature of the country. These sheep were taken out of hurdles each morning and counted. They then walked a circuit of some 8 or 10 miles under the care of a shepherd. At night they were returned to the hurdles and folded for the night under the care of a watchman.There were numerous such stations attached to the Gloucester and Telligherry head stations. The overseer at each station was responsible to the superintendent who resided at either Telligherry or Gloucester. These two men, in turn, were responsible to the Superintendent of Flocks. This well developed system of administration resulted in good care of flocks on land which was mountainous in nature but which provided suitable pastures on hillsides and in the open forests.


At the Peel, experience gained during 1835 developed a different system. Catarrh, an inflammation of the mucous membrane, had broken out in the colony for the first time during the previous year. The contagion, which first occurred near Boorowa on the southern tablelands, spread rapidly through the colony's flocks and carried off many sheep in County Argyle and in the Upper Hunter. During 1835 it appeared in the flocks at Goonoo Goonoo, the Company's second head station on the Peel. These diseased sheep were immediately removed and then constantly changed to different pastures. Frequent movement made it impossible to convey hurdles to fold the sheep. This procedure not only enabled the Company to escape the colony wide contagion with the loss of a mere half dozen sheep but, quite fortuitously, to modify its previous practices at Warrah and the Peel. The overseer gradually dropped the use of hurdles and increased the number of sheep in each flock, two shepherds were employed to each 1000 sheep. The advantage of wide undulating land on the Peel Estate lent itself to this practice which was extended to the runs attached to Tamworth.


After the 1835 shearing and the regrowth of good pastures Dumaresq established a third head station. He arranged for 10,000 sheep to be driven to Canns Plains at the heads of the Spring and Middle creeks, tributaries of Goonoo Goonoo Creek. This secured effective use of the country in the southern half of the Estate. By 1842 the Peel Estate contained 22 sheep stations attached to four head stations and caring for 21,606 sheep. Each head station was under the specific care of an overseer while general responsibility for the whole estate was vested in the Superintendent of the Peel who resided at Tamworth from 1834 till 1841 when he moved to Goonoo Goonoo. During the period of Dumaresq's commissionership, Charles Hall was Superintendent of the Peel. Hall's good sense and careful management enabled the Company to achieve solid successes. Early in 1835 he introduced at each station a system of gratuity payments which engendered a spirit of rivalry and zeal amongst the stations. This quickly proved effective during the severe conditions prevalent that year. While neighbouring squatters lost all their lambs and many of their ewes the Company's flocks registered scarcely a loss. One maiden flock produced 98 lambs to each 100 ewes.


The success achieved during 1835 and 1836 was largely due to Charles Hall but he was ably assisted by competent overseers in Thomas Hewitt and the Telfer brothers, Andrew and William. It was Andrew Telfer who, in 1837, successfully increased flock sizes at this station to 1500 sheep. These achievements led Dumaresq to have marked confidence in the future and to expand operations. As the movement of squatters north to New England and the Gwydir progressed there developed an extensive market for rams. Dumaresq decided to establish an inland breeding stud. By sending to the Peel some of its best flocks of French merinos the Company would build up a steady clientele amongst the northern squatters and effect a change in the animals used in its own flocks. The stud would, hopefully, produce an animal with more bone, better constitution and heavier fleece than at the ram station at Bowman River.


Rams of such character were eagerly sought. By the end of the third year of operations on the Peel the character of the stations as producers of high quality coarse woolled sheep was established. Thus, under good management, the Peel Estate developed into a well run and efficient pastoral enterprise, specialising in the growth of coarse wools and the breeding of new strains of rams suited to the northern climate and soils.


Dumaresq also experimented with breeding tests on the coastal estate. During 1837 the Company imported three rams and eleven Leicester ewes in an attempt to improve the blood quality of its sheep stock. This test had been recommended by the Court but Dumaresq felt uneasy about the plan to introduce a Leicester cross into the flocks. He knew that time and experience would decide the outcome so he proceeded cautiously. By the end of 1838 his caution had shown its value. The cross produced mixed results, success with the pure bred Leicesters had not been great, only three had survived. On the other hand, a cross of 100 French and Saxon ewes with Leicester rams had proven its value, about 90 lambs had been produced from this flock. In spite of this attempt at crossbreeding the sheep department of the coastal estate specialised in pure bred sheep of English, French or Saxon origin. The wool from these sheep consistently produced both the Company's and, therefore, the colony's finest wools.


Dumaresq must be given the credit for bringing the sheep department into full and effective operation during his short term as Commissioner. His expansion of both estates was based on sound management techniques. His policy of production specialisation for coarse and fine wools and development of breeding studs was geared to market requirements. By the end of 1838 the sheep department was being run along established and proven lines. The Company had learnt to contend with serious droughts inland and on the southern section of the coastal estate by developing efficient lines of communication and rotating sheep around pastures. Dumaresq's achievements in pastoral operations were reflected also in the cattle department and with the horse stud.


The removal of all sheep from Warrah to the Peel triggered new developments in the other two stock departments. The eastern portion of the Liverpool Plains Estate was used in conjunction with the southern section of the Port Stephens Estate exclusively for horses and cattle. This enabled Dumaresq to expand activities in both departments. During 1834 sixty-one yearling fillies and foals were transferred to the Plains. Dumaresq proposed, ultimately, to send all the young horse stock to Warrah except the horses kept exclusively for the Indian market. He expected the horses would benefit in size and figure from the luxuriant summer feed upon the Plains. The removal of these animals to Warrah enabled Dumaresq to form a separate station on the Avon River for the young stallions. The brood mares were left on their run at Alderley. By September 1835 the effects of these moves were becoming obvious. At Alderley, where Dumaresq classed the mares for the approaching covering season, he was very happy with the produce of the Cleveland horses out of colonial mares. Dumaresq was fully confident that, eventually, horses equal in figure and size to the best description of English hunting and carriage horses would be produced.


To achieve a better classification of the brood mares and to obtain better pastures Dumaresq decided to remove half of the brood mares from Alderley northward to the Avon Valley. As the young stallions had previously been transferred to this area, land was enclosed to keep the colts separate from the mares. Fences from the rocky points of the steep hills between the Gloucester and Barrington rivers to the banks of the Gloucester were built to enclose paddocks of bush pasture. The colts and pure Durham cattle were kept in the paddocks while the mares roamed at large. These physical improvements were completed by early 1836 and enabled Dumaresq to transfer seventy mares with their foals from Alderley to the Avon. Once there foals were weaned and the mares were kept on the Avon station. This Avon station was attached to the Gloucester sheep station and placed under the superintendence of George Jenkin.


Parallel developments were effected in the cattle department. By August 1834 the disease "Black Leg", which had resulted in the loss of 220 cattle over a twelve month period, had disappeared. In the previous month 733 cattle had been transferred from Port Stephens to the Warrah lands in a move which would involve the fattening of cattle on the inland grant and the development of the Gloucester region as a high class breeding station for the Durham fine bred cattle. The pure bred Durham cattle were kept with the horse colts in the enclosed paddocks developed at the Avon and the Gloucester in the early months of 1835.


Within a year Dumaresq had successfully regained control of the cattle department, maintaining the stations established at Bundobah, the Branch, Gloucester and Bulahdelah. Other cattle were kept at the Peel. The stations of increasing importance were at the Gloucester and the Liverpool Plains, 1300 head of cattle were kept at Warrah and 220 at the Yarramanbah heifer station. During the latter half of 1835 a bullock station was formed on Phillips Creek. Dumaresq intended to eliminate the Buladelah station by removing cows and bullocks to Warrah. The Gloucester station would continue to be the station for the pure and half-bred Durham cattle.


Dumaresq felt pleased with the stations established on the new locations. Liverpool Plains was excellent for cattle, it combined the rich, spring pasture of the Plains with the sheltered gullies of the Liverpool Ranges. As soon as the Company was in a position to enforce uninterrupted possession of the land it would enjoy every pastoral advantage which the country offered, but as late as July 1835 numerous herds of squatters' cattle occupied the Company's lands. Until the government corrected the anomalous legal position of lands outside the boundaries it was impossible to guard completely against the inconveniences arising out of such a situation. In an effort to guard the Company's quality stock, Dumaresq had ordered his men to castrate all trespassing bulls and to impound all entire horses. Confident that the Government would soon alter the legal position of these lands, Dumaresq preferred to temporize rather than assume the right which power as well as property conferred. He thus had not resorted to violent measures to rid the estates of trespassing herds. By early 1836, when the Scab and Impounding Acts became effective outside the Limits of Location, the land at Liverpool Plains was free of the trespassing herds of strange cattle and horses, there had been a large increase in the Company's herds on the Plains.


By April 1836, then, the Company had achieved its long established reputation as a breeder of quality cattle, the Gloucester pure bred Durhams were undoubtedly the best cattle in New South Wales by that time. Going hand in hand with this successful development of pastoral activities was the gradual formation of a successful, if small, agricultural establishment. This was achieved at two levels, by tenant farming and by developing agricultural operations alongside the larger pastoral concerns.


The system of tenant farming was developed to a considerable extent during 1834 to 1838. It was then more highly developed by Dumaresq's successor. Early in 1834 a portion of the southwest section of the Port Stephens Estate was leased as the first stage of the Company's plans to encourage settlers to work in conjunction with its larger operation. Lawrence Myles lease of this land kept off trespassers from the Williams River region, prevented the cutting of cedar and permitted better use of the land. Two years later the Company's farm on the Williams River was leased to a Mr Newton and a lease of 40 acres of brush land was made to Thomas Nicholls, a Company employee. These leases were let with a conscious policy of establishing a system of tenant farmers upon the estate. In part such a system offset the disadvantages arising from the labour shortage. The lease taken by Nicholls had several advantages, the lessee guaranteed to clear land, make improvements and deliver to the Company any surplus grain. The Company, in turn, provided Nicholls with an assured market and enabled him to obtain the services of convicts from the Board of Assignment. The establishment of such a system of tenants enabled the Company to clear brush land and encouraged the settlement of respectable parties around Stroud. By helping respectable men with small capital to become tenants and reimbursing them for all substantial improvements, the Company enabled tenants to utilize their capital for further improvements. These improvement leases definitely aided the growing independence of men such as Nicholls and later the Renwicks and Maytems who held them. 


At the same time, the Company continued its own agricultural operations. Dumaresq's prime aim was to grow grain on the inland grants and reduce their dependence for wheat and maize supplies from Stroud and Maitland. Drought conditions in 1835, 1836 and again in 1838 made this task almost impossible. In this situation land use at Booral and Stroud was geared more and more to agricultural production. Crops of wheat, barley, hay and maize were soon being grown. Ground at Booral was prepared for tobacco. A thrashing machine was erected at Booral and a kiln for drying of wheat and maize was built adjacent to the Stroud mill. Stores were built at Stroud to house goods carried by water to Booral wharf, completed in mid-1835. Gradually operations were moved away from Carrington. As a result of these operations Stroud assumed its important role as the headquarters of the Company. By 1837 Stroud had achieved its reputation of being one of the most pleasing and delightful settlements in the colony. Like the 'lang town o' Kirkaldy' this neat and elegant village consisted of a single street. The neat cottages of the Company's servants, with their flower gardens and shrubberies in front, gave Stroud the charm of a Massachusetts' village. Stroud soon became the model inland town of New South Wales.


The co-ordinated and successful development of pastoral operations was achieved at a time when the squatting movement was gaining momentum. When the long drought, begun in 1827, broke in 1831 there was an upswing in the colony's fortunes. Favourable seasons and a revival in the English wool trade, combined with an inflow of settlers with capital to send men beyond the Limits of Location in search of pastures. By 1834 the colony was again on a prosperous footing. It was inevitable that on the open Liverpool Plains and in the Peel Valley there would be some interaction between the Company and the squatters who occupied the open lands within and around the Company's grants. It is in this connection that claims have been made of the exploitative nature of the Company it has been alleged that by ruthlessly dispossessing these squatters the Company showed little regard for the feelings of men who had pioneered settlements of the region.


When Telfer occupied the original lease on east Warrah Creek he made no attempt to displace squatter Parnell on the opposite side. Parnell was still there at the end of 1833 when the Liverpool Plains grant was laid out by survey. When the Company obtained legal possession in 1833 and began larger scale operations no attempt was made to displace the trespassing herds and flocks. Refusal of the Government to extend the Scabby Sheep Act outside the Limits of Location until 1836 posed a definite problem, and it was this refusal that caused Dumaresq to move all inland sheep to the Peel. Even after horses and cattle were transferred to Liverpool Plains the squatters' stock remained. It was against this background that Dumaresq, in mid-1835, ordered his men to castrate all trespassing bulls and to impound all stallions. He was doing nothing more than any sensible stock proprietor would have done. The squatters, with their stock, stayed on and around the Liverpool Plains grant, until early 1836 when the movement further out onto the western plains gathered momentum. They moved on of their own accord, they were not driven out.


The Company, rather than exploiting the situation of these squatters, actually benefitted them. This was consciously done at two levels. It has previously been established that the Company, early in 1837, established a breeding stud on the Peel River grant. This was done, in part, to meet an extensive demand for rams by squatters. The Company built up so steady a clientele amongst the northern squatters that by 1840, when the movement was extending rapidly into Northern New England, Gwydir and the Moreton Bay Districts, its stock sales were an important factor in enabling the expansion to take place. The Company's stock were eagerly sought at all such sales. So important were these sales that it would be an interesting, if impossible task to determine the influence of A. A. Company stock in establishing many of the high class flocks and herds of Northern New South Wales and Southern Queensland. The important work carried out by the Company in the early decades of pastoralism to improve the breeds of sheep, cattle and horses has been neglected. This contribution was so much in danger of being forgotten as early as 1888, as a result of extensive improvements in pastoralism after 1860, that Thomas Bawden, felt the need to spell out that it was a stamp of pure pedigree to be able to refer back to the Company as the breeder. In carrying out this work the Company selected some of the best men obtainable from the various parts of England for managing the different branches of tis extensive establishments. Admittedly, Bawden's experience was based on his long associations with the Richmond and Clarence valleys with its communication lines into Northern New England but his testimony receives corroboration from other quarters.


Stock sales, were a very important side of the Company's pastoral activities between 1834 and 1838. Not only did they provide a source of revenue but they boosted the quality of colonial stock inside and outside the Limits of Location. Dumaresq arranged the first sale at Maitland in 1834 to coincide with the racing season. He offered ten brood mares, ten Scotch bulls and 100 pure rams. By exhibiting the improved stock, bred on the estates, at Maitland he was able to attract buyers from a wide area. These sales were held annually. Buyers expressed deep satisfaction with their purchases.


Another very valuable outlet for stock sales lay in the market for stud horses which also developed from 1834. Captain Collins, of the 13th Light Dragoons, arrived in the colony with powers to purchase horses suited for the use of a cavalry and artillery of the Madras Army. He was so satisfied with the quality of the Company's horse stock that he selected seventeen colts and three geldings. Thereafter Collins paid annual visits to Port Stephens to purchase stock for the East India Company. He was convinced the Company's horse stud was the best in New South Wales. This traffic in remounts for the Indian Army continued for nearly a century and added the word 'waler' (a horse bred in New South Wales for the Indian cavalry) to the popular speech of both Australians and Anglo-Indians.


The second way in which the Company contributed to the squatting movement lay in the way in which its valued employees used the knowledge gained in its service to go squatting. In 1837, for example, Dumaresq lost the services of two of his overseers on the Peel, William Telfer and Thomas Hewitt. Dumaresq realised that men such as the Telfers were in great demand and were frequently offered high wages to undertake greater responsibilities by being in charge of large stations. Thomas Hewitt, in particular, used his experience well. After leaving the Company, Hewitt managed Stonehenge Station, one of the most northerly in New England, for Archibald Boyd. He blazed an important trail from Tenterfield to the Clarence region and marked a route which is in use to the present day. Other employees who used their experience to great advantage were James White of Belltrees and James Charles White, both of whom established pastoral dynasties extending over northern New South Wales and into Queensland. William Hampden Dutton, whose experience with the Company had been relatively brief, returned to the colony and later expanded his pastoral interests into southern New South Wales and, eventually, into the Wakefieldian province of South Australia.


Henry Dumaresq, then, played an important role in developing the Company's pastoral interests both on the retained portion of the coastal grant and in gradually extending activities to the interior garants. The achievements of these four years were an important factor in the pastoral expansion of northern New South Wales.



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Dr lynne dumaresq | Reply 25.09.2022 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.

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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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