Managers letter 1876.

Richard Hudson was the manager of Warrah. 
Jesse Gregson was the AACo Superintendant.

At the end of 1875 there was 104,564 sheep on Warrah, 9630 unweaned lambs, and 2718 cattle. Twelve months before the drought, Jesse Gregson had remarked that,  


..."The hardships so severe in other parts of the colony were scarcely felt upon the Warrah property"... 


Then the 1877 drought set in. By the end of 1877, over 800 cattle, and 30,000 sheep were dead and 43,000 sheep were sent to pastures in new England.  


No mention of the rainfall recorded, however there was only about 300 mills of rain recorded in both Boggabri and Muswellbrook in 1877, 280 mills at Dubbo and just a 100 mills at Bourke. Plus it was already dry at the start of 1877. Armidale received 600 mills in 1877.


Hudson to Gregson. 2nd January 1876.

Agreeably to appointment I reached Warrah on December 28th and took charge on the first instant. During the interval I visited various parts of the run, and am pleased to be able to report satisfactorally of things on the whole. The district generally has been suffering from protracted dry weather but I consider that, in the face of an unusually dry season, the Company is rather fortunate in having at the present time on Warrah a very good supply of grass and water. It seems to me that the feed is most deficient where the trefoil was heaviest in the spring. This would be accounted for in the fact that the trefoil in a great measure helps to destroy all other grass. In the forest country the feed is looking very nice and fresh and more especially in the high land and back from the creeks. From the close proximity of the forest land on Warrah to the main range of the colony, I think we are not likely at any time to be short of grass in that direction. 

The creeks all show a very good flow of water, and I was surprised to find so much surface water on the other country. In the timbered country the creeks are all mostly running strong, and except fot Phillips Creek which is comparatavely dry from Black Creek upwards, are likely to continue running for some time. 

The wells at present in use are at Harrison's Ridge, Parsons Hill, Round Island and Brown Ridge are in full swing and show an ample supply of water for all present purposes. The dams appear to hold well and those at any distance away from the creeks are very valuable now.

The cattle, numbering in all 2,718, are looking very well and were it not that pleuro has been manifest among them, they might be considered a very fine lot. The disease appears to have ceased from spreading and I'm in great hope that it might disappear altogether after a while?

Sheep. I am informed that these two flocks were attacked severely by aphidi which has given them the appearance of having been scalded on the back and has caused the wool to loosen and drop off in many places. The same cause may also account for their want of high condition. The lambs appear to be in very good condition and are well grown, but some show in their ragged coats the ravages made recently by an attack of aphidi. These aphidi are minute insects which would appear to make their appearance when the trefoil is at its height. All animals, wheather horses or cattle or sheep, with tender skins show symptoms through their loss of hair or wool. Some horses in particular have been rendered quite unfit for service through these pests. 

The rams are in fine trim and subject to your wish, will go to some of the ewes at the end of the month or early next month. The younger sheep are in good growing conditions and any depasturing on the forest land have an abundance of grass and water. There are now on the Warrah run 120,312 sheep in all, and they look quite as well as could be desired and reflect credit on the run itself and on all who have had to do with them. 

Hudson to Gregson. 3rd January 1876.

The changes of Mr Fairbairn and Mr Hamilton to releive each other have been made, and I hope to work other changes gradually. Bob Kay arrived here last night and today I'm having the bulls put together to be ready for getting them in tomorrow. 

Will you kindly write me before you leave Newcastle what you think about inoculating the cattle, as in the event of you wishing it be done, I should keep Bob Kay to assist. 

I wish you would let me out of my visits to Gloucester and allow me to devote my whole time to warrah. There is a great deal to be done here and 120,000 sheep require constant attention. I don't see why Wiseman could not do all there is to do there, and I never could see what Mr Craik did besides shoot quailes.

Hudson to Gregson. 9th January 1876.

Mr Fairbairn reported yesterday the total loss by fire of the new hut at the Black Creek gate, and with it the loss of the boundary riders little child. There is no information from the distracted state of the mother how the fire originated but it's supposed that the explosion of a tin of kerosene had something to do with it. I am going out that way today and no doubt will be able to glean something more on the subject.

This boundary riders hut at Blackville is where the first house burnt down. I'm guessing this was re built after the 9th January 1876 fire?

Hudson to Gregson. 18th January 1876.

I had 25 of the steers brought down from Warrah Creek on the 14th and we inoculated them on the 15th by way of an experiment. They are now running in the horse paddock at Old Warrah and are seen daily in order that the effect of the operation may be watched. If successful, and when the weather becomes somewhat cooler, I think I should be inclined to begin with the youngest of the cattle and inoculate right through the herd. 

Sheep. The spring lambs were weaned on the third instant, giving a total of 9,275, being 78.24% on the numbers of ewes. The winter lambs weaned at 89.65% and numbered 13,281. 

Native dogs continue to be troublesome on some of the sheep runs, but their raids are not so frequent as formerly.

Hudson to Gregson. 14th February 1876.

Since my last report, the weather has been uniformly hot and dry on the Liverpool Plains. Generally matters are beginning to assume a serious aspect. However I am glad to be able to report that the condition of Warrah will compare most favouribly with that of any of the runs in the district. Indeed I am told that it surpasses all of them in the quantity and quality of it's grasses and judging from the appearance of those on it's outskirts I think the Company has good cause for congratulations at the present crisis.

Bathurst burrs are very numerous in the Washpool and Yellow Plain paddocks. Men are now employed in cutting them. 

Pleuro still continues to decimate the cattle and since the muster which was made on the 21st December, some 38 deaths are reported as brought on by this plague. 

Harris and Clay have been contracted for the carriage of 40 tons of wire which is now lying at the Murrurundi Railway station, from there to West Warrah, at the rate of 2/6 per CWT. Delivery to be made within the ensuing eight weeks. 

Hudson to Gregson. 13th March 1876.

The cattle in the fattening paddocks still look well, and I am pleased to be able to report that pleuro is easing off among them. Not so many sick animals now to be noticed and the percentage of deaths is not so great as for the month previous.

Graham and Wilson are on the eve of finishing the stud paddock no. 2 and this will complete the present contract. Britton has been employed constructing sheep gates and has completed sixty in a satisfactory manner. He has now agreed for the erection at Pine Ridge, West Warrah of three buildings, namely one engine shed, a hut for the engine driver, and a mens hut in connection with the saw bench. As soon as Brock has cut up what timber is still required for here, the engine will be removed to West Warrah. 

Gourley and Co will complete the dam at postmans track paddock in the course of next week, and already it is fairly free of any danger from floods. 

Hudson to Gregson. 10th April 1876.

The weather has continued exceptionally dry and no rain has fallen anywhere on the property to induce a spring in the feed. The grass in consequence has gone off considerably and on the plains especially it is looking very parched. In some places it has disappeared entirely leaving nothing but the bare ground. On the forest land the feed is much better, but the want of rain is beginning to be felt in these parts also. The water in the creeks is holding out well however, and better than was anticipated, and it still sufficient for the stock running on that part of the estate. The wells do not appear to lower in the very least and offer a plentiful supply of water for the demands now made on them. 

Without exception, this is the driest season the Company has experienced since the stocking of Warrahas a sheep establishment was commenced, and indeed the driest on Liverpool Plains generally, still I do not doubt our ability to stick to the number it now carries, namely some 119,000 for some months longer. 

A staff of men numbering 20 have been cutting bathurst burrs in the cattle paddocks, where they are still very numerous. 

Hudson to Gregson. 7th May 1876.

Cummings, the contractor for several small dams at West Warrah has completed the one at the spring under Mount Parry, and is now engaged in excavating a large hole below the spring on the south side of the Mount Parry Range. It is hoped by means of the later piece of work to increase the present carrying capacity of that part of the run. Advantage has been taken of the dry weather to begin deepening the dams at Harrison's Ridge and at Denby Point, and men will commence on each of these early next week. The ploughing and sowing of the cultivation paddock at Old Warrah has been given to an efficient ploughman at a lump sum. 

Hudson to Gregson. 22nd August 1876.


We commenced shearing yesterday under most favourable circumstances. I had got our full compliment of men together, but when called upon to sign agreement, they one and all demanded an additional 3/ per score on the price. This I refused and they all but 13 cleared out. It appears there is some sort of union but they can never combine sufficiently to insist on their own terms. We made a start with just 13 yesterday and got through some 400 of the ewes. 

Hudson to Gregson. 20th November 1876.

Washing was finished on the 10th instant and shearing on the morning of the 15th on each of which days the various hands in connection with the work were paid off. 96,622 sheep on the whole have been shorn, giving a net weight of 142 ton 13 CWT being an average of 3.30 lbs to each sheep. Of this number, 10,027 full bellied ewes were shorn in the grease which gives 4.90 lbs wool each, and which will reduce the average of the 86,595 washed sheep to 3.12 lbs, being .08 per sheep less than last years. 

Hudson to Gregson. 9th April 1877. 

Two men are at work on the kangaroos. Several parties have had a go at them. They are increasing especially on the boundaries and it wants joint action on the part of all the squatters in the district to do any good. Such an association as is formed for the destruction of native dogs, would be the best means of getting rid of them in my opinion, but we can keep on killing them to all eternity and not decrease their numbers a bit. Where the grass is there, so are the kangaroos.

Hudson to Gregson. 4th June 1877.

The new wool shed on Warrah is now complete, and Britton is engaged for the present, on the additions to the shearers huts. The differnet contracts for wire fencing are fast drawing towards completion. The wire having reached Murrurundi. 

The wells have again been brought into use in the paddocks where no surface water exists. This fact alone is evidence of the very dry weather and I may add that in my rememberance that such a thing as watering sheep in July has never occured here previously. Rain appears as far off as ever, though I am told that in comparison with a great many on the Liverpool Plains we are tolerably well off, indeed deaths by starvation have already been recorded in some parts, and the outlook is said to be gloomy enough. Worse is yet to come. 

It has been neccessary to feed all the working horses on hay in consequence of the scarcity of grass. In the midst of such a drought as we are now experiencing it would hardly be possible for this class of stock to do any good, and the cattle on Warrah I am sorry to say are no exception. 

Kangaroos at both Warrah and West Warrah are now coming on to us in numbers from our neighbours runs. A yard with a long approach to it has been set up at the pine ridge at west Warrah and a drive was tried on the 19th ultimo. The kangaroos were very numerous and at one time Im sure we had two thousand between the wings, we succeeded in yarding some 200 only. Another attempt will be made when the kangaroos are settled again. 

Hudson to Gregson. 27th August 1877. 

In handing you my usual report I regret having again to record a continuation of drought. No rain has visited us since I last reported to you and a change for the worse is now very evident on all parts of the run. 

The railway is now open to Warrah Station where we are now loading the wool on the trucks, but in consequence of the scarcity of feed, freight to there is very high and I have been compelled to pay 7/ per CWT for greasy wool up to 20 tons and after that 6/ per ton. Also 9/ per CWT for all washed wool. The new woolshed works well and the increased advantages it offers, in comparison with the old one, are manifest enough. 

Hudson to Gregson. 1st October 1877.

Young Martin writes that there is no country towards the Macleay where cattle might travel, and the New England is bound to be over run with travelling stock this summer. I road over to "Callaghan's Swamp" and rad a good look at the run myself and gathered all the information I could in regard to its capabilities. All whom I spoke to agreed that cattle do well on it and for that matter do well in dry seasons. The general opinion is that it would carry from 4,000 to 5,000 head of cattle, but that, except in dry seasons, sheep are better kept off it. The run is very extensive, comprising some 100,000 acres, but a good part one thinks at least is taken up with swamps and brush. It lies on the tableland of New England, and is some 4,000 feet above sea level, and is about midway between here and Gloucester. 

Hudson to Gregson. 15th October 1877.

By your direction I left Warrah on the 25th ultimo, and reached "Inglebah" on the morning of the 27th. I spent that day and the next inspecting the part of Inglebah known as Upper Inglebah which was then under offer of lease to the AACo for grazing purposes and which has since been accepted by them for the term of one year from the 15th instant as a monthly rental of one hundred and fifty pounds, to be paid in advance, with the privilage of terminating the agreement at any time on giving one months notice. It comprises an area of some 35,000 acres of open forest country. It is some 3000 feet above sea level, and lies in the Tableland of New England on the western inclination. It is bounded on the east by the McDonald River, one of the tributaries of the Namoi, and on the west by Gill's Moonbi run, on the north by the run known as Aberbaldie which has very recently changed hands, and on the south by Callaghan's Swamp. Inglebah has till lately been occupied by sheep which, through some mismanagement on the part of its owned have been allowed to decrease. Water is plentiful and is contained in the McDonald River which has never been known to be dry. The grass is mostly of the kangaroo kind and on the parts where the run is open it grows very thick and forms quite a sward, But there is also a growth more especially on the stony ridges of a shrub called native hop, on which I'm told stock thrive. 

Hudson to Gregson. 21st October 1877.

I started 12,000 sheep for Inglebah on the 13th instant, in charge of Mr J A Fairbairn. We are now preparing another 15,000, which I hope to get away in charge of Mr A Martin at the end of the week, destination Inglebah. The remaining 8,000 will leave as soon after shearing is finished as possible. 

David Cohen and Co. West Maitland. To Hudson. 23rd November 1877.

We have ready to arrive in about a week, a parcel of Melbourne superfine flour of really first class quality from which we will be happy to send you at 16/- rail paid and delivered at Warrah, bags included. There is not much of it so if you think you can do with a ton or two we shal be happy to have your valued order. 

Hudson to Gregson. 19th November 1877

The run is very bare of grass, and it is only by distributing the stock in small lots through the various paddocks and helping them with oak and apple tree that we can expect to keep them alive. Large numbers of sheep have been moved off during the month which has increased the chance of existance of those left behind. 

Since I last reported, 39,500 mixed sheep consisting chiefly of wethers, cull ewes and wether weaners have been moved to Inglebah and Glen Morrison, the majority of which have already reached those stations, where Mr Jas Fairbairn, who is in charge, reports they are doing well so far. In consequence of the want of feed here, it has been found neccessary to stock the leased country on New England heavier than what was first intended, and by your authority I shall make the numbers there up to 45,000. It is far better the sheep in New England should be pinched than losses should occur here. The best of the sheep will remain here and with the end in view, I have sent away those of the sheep we can best afford to lose. I dont say it is possible we may be lucky enoughto save all the sheep on Warrah at a time like this when feed is so very scarce and stock are ying in the thousands in the district. 

The weaning of the winter lambs has been completed and a return sent to you. The total number weaned being 16,162 as against 17,725  the number cut. The lambs are all very much smaller than usual. The spring lambs have all been killed, with much benefit to the ewes, thus leaving 16,162 as the increase by lambing for 1877. 

Sheep washing was finished on the 22nd Oct and shearing on the 26th Oct. In all 92,508 were clipped of which number 20,313 were shorn in the grease giving an average of 5.87 lb of wool per sheep. The number of washed sheep shorn was 72,195 producing 3.17 lb of wool each. The total number of bales pressed is 1,037 and the weight of wool 155 tons 12 cwt 2 qu 4 lbs. 



James Fairbairn to Gregson. 12th December 1877.

The condition of the sheep generally at present is good. The weathers have continued to improve since they came up and the young sheep are doing fairly well. On the "Glen Morrison" part of the run, which is the soundest and most healthy of the two, I have 11,000 sheep consisting pricipally of lamb hoggets. On the "Inglebah" side there are at present 25,000 mainly weathers. These sheep require a constant supply of salt. Although the sheep are at present doing as well as can be expected, I fear we will be troubled with foot-rot. I have however made new yards and camps for the lot avoiding as much as possible the use of the old yards.

With reference to the swampy nature of the run, it is more than probable you will expect me to keep the sheep on the ridge and avoid the unhealthy swamps. But with such a large number of sheep I find it impossible to do so. However in the event of a fall of rain, I am prepared to move most of the sheep at a days notice which will considerable lessen the danger of foot-rot.

Hudson to Gregson. 17th December 1877.

On the 18th instant, a very nice fall of rain occured, marking as much as .9 of an inch. This is by far the heaviest fall of rain in 24 months. By your authority, I made the attempt to secure the adjoining station, namely "Callaghans Swamp", which would be of great service to us as a relief to Inglebah and a relief for the cattle here. After long waiting, I'm glad to say that the offer at £100 per month reached me and it was at once accepted.

James Fairbairn to Gregson. 8th January 1878.

The sheep on "Inglebah" and "Glen Morrison" are still in fair condition considering the state of both runs. The leasing of "Callaghans Swamp" will enable us to hang on a little longer than we would otherwise have done. The grass is now very short and dry on both runs and it is only be trespassing that we can manage to find sufficient grass for the stock.

The sheep are at present comparatively free from foot-rot, otherwise sound and will I hope continue until they return to Warrah. I will continue to advise you of the state of the runs. If we are not fortunate in getting rain, I trust something will be done without delay.

Hudson to Gregson. 15th January 1878.

The kangaroo nuisance is being reduced and there are now five parties on men at work who are working for wages. The total number of kangaroos killed during the past year is 3528, which is exclusive of any that were not killed for trade. Mr Fairbairn reports that feed is getting scarce at Inglebah but since we have been able to get in at Callaghans Swamp I have instructed him to ease Inglebah by 12,000 sheep. I propose visiting the station this week and I will be better able to report on the stock there after a personal inspection.

Hudson to Gregson. 26th January 1878.

I am pleased to say that the sheep are doing remarkably well at Inglebah. The feed is not quite as good as at the time of my last visit, but with Callaghans Swamp there is enough for the sheep. What I fear most are bushfires.

Hudson to Gregson. 11th February 1878.

I now hand you my monthly report. My last was dated the 15th ultimo and since then I am glad to be able to report a partial break in the excessively dry weather that has prevailed for the last few years. Up to the 5th instant, the season continued as usual, hot and dry, but on that morning a thunderstorm broke over Warrah followed by heavy rain the next day and again by a good fall on the 10th instant. Altogether the rainfall, as recorded here since the 5th is 2.88 inches. Not enough to causae a fresh in the creeks or to put any quantity of water in the dams, but sufficient to remove any current anxiety on account of the stock. A good shoot of grass is perceptible in the paddocks and with a little milder weather we expect to see an improvement in the stock. 

At West Warrah the rain was much heavier. A fall of some 6 inches is reported. Most of the creeks ran a little and some water was put in the dams, notibly the dams at McDonalds Creek and Mount Parry have been filled.

The weather is fine again but not settled, and as the rain has been very general, I think we may believe that the drought of 75, 76 and 77 has run it's course. 

The kangaroo nuisance is being dealt with, and fair work is being made by the several parties of hunters we have under contract killing the pests at one shilling per head, and on averag I should say that not less than 500 are destroyed each week. 


By your authority, I removed 481 of the strongest heifers to Callaghans Swamp with a loss of seven head. The 620 steers that I reported in my last as having gone to Callaghans Swamp reached their destination less some 30 head that were left behind on the way, many of which have since been found dead of exhaustion. There is an abundance of feed on Callaghans Swamp, but like our mountain country at Warrah, it does not seem to have the properies conductive to a growth of animal flesh, and the animals from the plains are able to do little more than keep themselves alive. 


The improvement in the sheep I referred to in my last, did not continue, and of late some of the sheep began to show signs of recurring weakness and a dislike to track any distance to either feed or water. 

James Fairbairn to Gregson. 10th March 1878.

I am in receipt of your letter of the 18th February informing me that you had remitted to the Walcha bank £160, the amount paid by me for a conditional purchase of 640 acres of land. I sincerely regret having taken such a false step but at the time of my selecting the land there were many people hovering about in search of country and I knew that if the land in question was taken up by the grazing of the companies stock would have been considerably interfered with and acting for the good of the companies stock I did not think you would be averse to my taking up the land. I now see that I have committed an error in judgement. 

I herewith enclose the land agents receipt as a voucher for the money. I am pleased to hear that Warrah has so far recovered from the effects of the drought as to be able to take the greater part of the Inglebah sheep back. I am afraid Mr Hudson will have cause to regret leaving the rest on Callaghans Swamp run.

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12.06 | 20:33

What a wonderful story, enjoyed it very much.

06.06 | 22:53

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

10.05 | 15:31

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

06.01 | 15:43

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

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