Managers Letter 1861.

Edward Christoper Merewether.

In 1861 Merewether accepted Hamilton's offer to become general superintendent of the Australian Agricultural Co. and moved to Newcastle where he built The Ridge on the Burwood estate. His good management restored the company's fortunes. He overcame labour troubles in coal-mining and with James Fletcher helped to arrange the 'vend' system. Merewether closely supervised the company's large stations. On Warrah he had a sheep-washing pool and pump installed at a cost of over £4000 and in 1868-75 the run was subdivided with wire fencing for £13,500. His superintendency was distinguished by meticulous attention to detail and full reports to the directors in London.

Samual Craik was the manager of Warrah Station.

CRAIK TO MEREWETHER, 11 OCTOBER 1861

I have been staying here with Mr. Chas Lloyd for the last week. There is an immense Establishment at Burburgate in the mean time. Shearing is going on, 36 shearers being employed.  The celebrated patent wool-washing machine is also in operation, but as yet they have not succeeded in turning out the wool so white or so clean as it ought to be, although I have no doubt after they thoroughly understand the working of the machine it will be found to answer as well as it does in England. At the same time I doubt very much if it does not pay better to wash by spouting on the sheeps back as there is a fearful expense connected with this machine of the Messrs Lloyds and the wool it turns out as yet, is by no means equal in any respect to Dr. Trails I of Collaroy.

Agreeably to your wish I have been making some enquiries about maiden ewes.  I think good 2 year old ewes will be somewhat difficult to obtain, and even hoggets after shearing will not be had I fear under 15/-.  I suppose Lloyd might let you have 10 or 15 thousand but I know his price will be very high.  Tooth's New Zealand speculation, together with the stocking of new country, must tend in the meantime to enhance the values of young ewes. When the time comes I fancy it will be necessary to write to some of the leading stock-holders on the Downs and elsewhere to know if they have any maiden ewes to dispose of.  New England is a very bad district to get sheep of any kind from, as I believe there are only 3 or 4 stations on the tableland which are entirely free of the disease termed fluke.

 

CRAIK TO MEREWETHER, 25 OCTOBER 1861

I received yours of the 12th inst. addressed to Burburgate, making me a formal offer of the Coy's appointment under you, which I am of course prepared to accept, and to enter into an agreement to that effect when I meet you at Gloucester say about the 31st inst.

 


CRAIK TO MEREWETHER, 21 NOVEMBER 1861

 My object in writing now is in reference to the fat bullocks.  Of course when I last wrote to you I had not seen them, but in returning from Jacks Creek last night I saw several mobs and I must say the cattle are considerably better than I expected.  If cattle are selling at all well they ought to fetch at least £4.10/- delivered here, as they will average 7%cwt (of 1121bs) .

I got to the top of Jack's Creek yesterday morning just in time to prevent the yards and hut being burnt down, as a bush fire was coming rolling down the range dead on to the hut, to use a sea term.  I have got men from Jacks Creek.  They have gone to look at it today.  It will be very hard work both at Jacks and Warrah Creeks as the ground is so rocky but but I shall do the best I can.

PS. Is it absolutely necessary that the fencing be completed by the 1st of January or will it do to be 3/4 done?  There is very little time for it   considering the nature of the ground.



WARRAH

I arrived at Warrah on the 1st of this month and found Mr Darby here collecting his horses.  He collected 50 and 60 head and has started them to Queensland.  Roberts the Welsh  Butcher has also collected his horses and taken them to Queensland.  I think they numbered about 50 head. When these horses started I sent 40 stragglers to pound so that this run is now comparatively clear both of stray horses and cattle.  On the 12th April Jas. Hanstein finished spaying 1st lot of Heifers which arrived at Warrah from Gloucester on the 27th January - the number which then arrived was 307, 216 of which were spayed together with 84 inferior Heifers taken off the Warrah run thus making 300 in all spayed on this occasion, 12 per cent at least of which have died, some from weakness and some from being too far gone in calf.  On the 18th April the 2nd lot of cattle arrived at Warrah from Gloster as under:-  109 Bulls, 162 Steers and 331 Heifers...

The Sheep are doing very well and the foot-rot appears for the present to have ceased.  There will not be a draft of fat wethers ready for some time yet.


 Bathurst Burr is very abundant at Harrisons station and some of it has got into the wool, but this is not of so much importance at this period as the greater part of it will rub off before shearing. Upon the whole, I am glad to say everything gets on satisfactorily here at present, the weather continues rather dry but I think we shall have abundance both of grass and water until the Spring.  I regret to say I see no improvement likely to take place in the cattle market as mob after mob of fat bullocks continue to pass along the great northern road daily.

 



CRAIK TO MEREWETHER, 23 DECEMBER 1861

I am happy to say the muster of the Warrah herd is now completed. I cannot give you particulars now, as I must first draft and arrange the cows and calves.  The latter have got to be branded this morning.  I am very glad to be able to state that not a single begst has died during the muster with the exception of one or two very young calves. Full particulars by next mail.

 

 

CRAIK TO MEREWETHER, 1 JANUARY 1862

The fencing at top of Warrah Creek was finished last night and the men.settled with.  There were 363 rods of fencing at 4/- p.rod which would thus make the expense  £2.12/-exclusive of tools, drawings etc.  I think this fence will give you satisfaction.  They will not finish at Jacks Creek for some weeks yet.

 

 

CRAIK TO MEREWETHER, 18 JANUARY 1862

The Herd at Gloucester also requires an infusion of fresh blood.  This we must do by degrees.  Some of the young Bulls by imported Stock, among those going to Warrah, will do for this herd, but they will require to go to Warrah first to improve in nose and constitution and next spring they will have to come down again.

 

 

CRAIK TO MEREWETHER, 11 FEBRUARY 1862.

I now beg to hand you my report with I think all the additions and alterations you wished for.  That certainly was a most important hint you gave me about the Bowman Herd being surrounded with wild cattle and you will see that I have acted upon it.  Your other suggestion as to the number of breeding cows, the area on which they run etc. can be acted on if necessary on another occasion.  ...When I came up here I had almost a Newcastle strike among the fellows, when I reduced their wages and took away the Impounding.

 

 

CRAIK TO MEREWETHER, 16 MAY 1862 GLOUCESTER

You requested me some time ago to report briefly on the A. A. Company's stock and stations previous to the despatch of every monthly mail.  I now proceed to do so.  I started from here to go to Gloucester on Saturday the 29th March and arrived there on Tuesday 1st April.  On 2nd April I went to Stroud to go over my quarterly accounts with Mr Ogden.  On the morning of the 4th April I returned to Gloucester, drafted cattle and on the 5th I started 333 Heifers, 163 Steers and 109 Bulls for Warrah.  I am glad to be able to state that these all arrived safely at Warrah with the exception of 3 which knocked up on the road. 

 


CRAIK TO MEREWETHER, 21 JULY 1862

Your hands seem quite full at present with these absconding wretches of miners.  I may mention that  two of them, Germans, were at old Sevills the other night expressing themselves very strongly against Mr Winship.  I believed they went to look for work at Black Creek.  I am glad my accounts  were found correct.  I can easily supply the slight ommision when you come up. Probably you will bring my pay list up with you!  Tebbitt is a store-keeper from Murrurundi from whom I only get what is absolutely necessary.



CRAIK TO MEREWETHER, 17 SEPTEMBER 1862

I write you to say that Mr. Sage formerly dam maker at Bando has just came up in  want of work. As he is here I think of letting him form that small dam in our home paddock and by the time he has finished it you will have an opportunity of writing me whether you will have any more dams made at present.

The proposed dams at Onus's Creek and Boorambil ridge would not cost much.

 

CRAIK TO MEREWETHER, 30 SEPTEMBER 1862

In compliance with your instructions I now proceed to Report on the Stock and Stations of the Australian Agricultural Company now under my charge for the 6 months from 1st April 1862 to this date.  The weather during the bygone winter has been intensely dry both at Warrah and Port Stephens, very little rain having fallen for the last six months. Up to the 5th of April however the weather was all that could be wished.  From the end of January to the 5th of April there was abundance of rain and the grass in consequence at the commencement of winter was very plentiful and luxuriant.  The past winter therefore,  although dry has I consider been a very favorable one for stock both at Warrah and Port Stephens, but if it does not rain soon the ensuing summer must prove a very disasterous one.  I shall in the first place confine my remarks to WARRAH.

By the Cattle Return of the 31st March there were on the 1st of April 3872 cattle upon the run, that number has been increased by the transfer of 109 bulls, 331 heifers and 162 steers from Gloucester and The Bowman  making 602 transferred during the last 6 months from Port Stephens to Warrah.  There were only 3 head of cattle dropped on the road out of the above lot, which in such a rough country I consider very good droving .  The number of cattle branded since 1st April is 94.  The number sold  342, there have been 14 killed for rations and 121 have died from spaying and other causes, thus leaving at this date as 4091 cattle upon the run.  There are about 200 calves now upon the run to brand but as I am daily in expectation of having to collect a draft of fat cattle. I have deferred rushing the cattle about until this collection takes place when all the cattle will be put together on their respective camps, and the fat bullocks, and calves for branding will both be got at the same time.  I will also take this opportunity to cull out all coarse  but coloured and inferior heifers and have them spayed, and there are a good many of these still upon the run.  When this is done I consider the Warrah herd will be in a very satisfactory state.

There have been 562 heifers spayed here since 1st April which with what were previously sent up by Mr Green will make us nearly as I can make out about 650 in all, and deducting 10 per cent deaths from the 562 spayed here there would thus be in round numbers 600 spayed heifers now upon the run.  From the Heifers being many of them in Calf and low in condition, having just come from Gloucester the percentage of deaths was much larger, than it could have been had they been fresh off the run.

SALES

There have been 342 cattle sold off Warrah since 1st April for the sum of  £1654.10/-

The principal of these sales consisted of 300 fat bullocks to Mr. B. Richards Carcase Butcher Sydney at £4.10/- head and 15 3/4   bred bulls to Messrs A. and S.B. Dight @ £15.0.0 per head.  Both these sales must be considered satisfactory, particulary that to Mr. Richards as it is the highest price which has been given for such a number of bullocks delivered on the station, for a considerable time.  There are about 200 cattle on Warrah ready for market now for which I expect to receive from  £4.10/- to £5 as this dry weather is causing fat cattle to advance in price.

 

The Cattle have done very well on Warrah during the last 6 months and are still doing pretty well, but if it does not rain soon both grass and water must become dry and scarce.  As to the water, there is still abundance in Warrah Creek, which is running in certain points.  There is also water towards the tops of Jack's, Onus's, McDonalds and Pump Station Creeks, but it has entirely failed where these Creeks open out into the plains, and I have in consequences got the gins ready for drawing water from the wells.  Some fresh gin horses will be required before long as those handed over to me by Mr. Darby are old and nearly done.

SHEEP

By the sheep returns of 31st March there were on Warrah 2 flocks of sheep consisting together of 4946. Of these 11 have died from ordinary casualties since 1st April and one has been slaughtered thus leaving at this date 4934 sheep upon the run. About 3000 of these are in very good condition, and I anticipate being able to sell about 1600 in a few days at from 15/- to 16/- per head.  In all I trust to be able to sell 3000 sheep before shearing at about the above prices, and the fleeces of the remainder I have sold to Dr. Traill, Collaroy at 3/6d. per fleece.  The sheep have been well shepherded, are of medium size, and I consider have done well for the period they have been upon the run.

 RENTING SHEEP STATIONS.

 With your concurrence the following sheep stations have been let for a limited period, the leases of the whole of them expiring on or before 31st December 1862.

 

No. 1 Onus's Creek for 6 months to

Jas Seville Junior                                              £120.0.0

To erect a new yard for say                               £10.0..0

                                                                       £130.0.0

 

No. 2 Parsons Ridge for 6 months to

Jas Parnell Esq                                                    £200

To erect an American yard and clean out a well.   £15

                                                                      £215.0.0

 

No. 3 Harrison's Station for 5 mths

Robert Pringle Esq                                              £480

To repair sheep and well yards                            £5.

                                                                         £485.0.0

 

No. 4 Brown Ridge for 5 months to

Robert Pringle Esq

valuing improvements at £ 100 for 5 mouths       £240.0.0

for 5 months.                                                    £1070.0.0

 

The Company will actually receive by the renting of these stations value as under.

From    Jas  Seville Junior.                                     £60

From    J   Parnell                                                £100

From      R. Pringle                                               £200

                                                                           £360

Value of improvements                                        £130

                                                                          £490

By leasing these stations you have therefore realised value to the Company of the extent of  £490 and received in cash  £360. The stocking of these stations will also have the effect of keeping the grass in due bounds and of keeping the cattle back from the neighbouring runs.

 

Boorambil Creek as you are aware is still let to Mr Loder until 31st March next @  £40 p. an. This run is worth more than £100 per annum and I have been offered this latter sum for it.

 

GLOUCESTER

 By the cattle return of 31st March there was on 1st April 6084 cattle upon the run.  Since then 643 calves have been branded 504 cattle have been transferred to Warrah 80 have been sold, 6 have been slaughtered and 1&4 have died, thus leaving at this date 5973 cattle upon the run.  The amount of the sales at Gloucester during the last six months was £300.3.0

About 1000 calves were weaned since 1st April and 133 heifers have been spayed 13 of which died mainly from the effects of frost.  The cattle upon this run did very well throughout the winter up to this date,when rain is much wanted.

 

HORSES

 As you are aware you agreed to take back the Horses from Mr Chas. Dee on the 30th August he being unable from want of funds to carry out his contracts.  On the above date he handed over to me at Stroud 17 head which I had put with the remain of the Herders in the paddock of the Avon Station.  These Herders consist of broken down Stock Horses, old mares and weedy unsaleable animals, in all numbering about 70 head.  I am at a loss what to recommend as to the Horses, in fact I do not believe they will ever be turned to much account.  They are so difficult to bring in and most of them so worthless when brought in, that I should advise them to be let alone for the present. 


"The Bowman"

 

By return of 31st March there were on 1st April 1308 cattle upon this run.  Since them 163 calves have been branded, 98 cattle have been transferred to Warrah, 16 have been sold to W. Bowman, 2 have been slaughtered and 45 have died thus leaving on 30 Sept. 1310 cattle now upon the run.  The sale to W. Bowman is the only one during the 6 months &  consisted of cows & heifers", at prices from £8 to £12 p. head.  The total amount realised was £160 stg.

I showed some thoroughbred cows (4 in number, one with Bull calf at foot) at the Agricultural Exhibition held in Maitland in April last, but I regret to say they were unsuccessful being fairly beaten by the stock of Mr Lee of Bathurst, a competitor I did not expect to meet with.  I intended to have shown more stock than the above 4 but on seeing Mr Lee's cattle previous to the show I saw I should not get a prize and therefore did not bring the others forward.  I may here mention that Me Lee was the purchaser from Mr Hodgson of the best Durham Bull the company ever imported, and he appears to have turned him to good account. 

The cattle have done fairly on this run throughout the winter but the dry weather now begins to tell upon them here as well as at Gloucester. Two imported and 4 or 5 fresh colonial Bulls are required for this Herd, and in order to obtain these I have a prospect of making an exchange with Messrs Lloyd Brothers of Burburgate.  They agree to take 10 of the Company's colonial bred bulls for one imported Bull and for colonial-bred Bulls they are to make an even-exchange.

 There are 130 pure-bred heifers belonging to this Herd which have never been out of paddock since weaning. Many of them are now ready to be served and fresh blood is required for them in particular.  There are 39 young Bulls from this herd in the paddocks at Gloucester, most of which are very good and will I think readily command purchasers.

In conclusion I would remark that on your referring to the pay lists, ration lists and salary abstracts, you will find that the expense of management of the Company's stations during the last 6 months has been considerably cut down.  The mens wages are less and the rations are also less, the Flour ration as you are aware having been reduced from 10 Ib. to 8 Ibs. p. man per week. The stockmen and shepherds wages have also been reduced, & yet I feel convinced that the men employed are not less efficient, nor I trust is the general management of the stock less satisfactorily.

While writing I have just heard from Gloucester that they have had an abundant supply of rain there but I am sorry I see no sign of any as yet at Warrah.

 

CRAIK TO MEREWETHER, 7 November 1862.

The bearer of this letter is Mr W M Eaton of The White Heart Inn, he is well known along the Great Northern Road as a most respectable and obliging man and I dare say you may have heard of him and probably stayed at his House in travelling up and down the country.  He has called upon me in reference to Frances Bennett, Mr Richard's Drover who you are aware has been proceeded against by the A. A. Company. Bennett is married to a sister of Mr Eaton's and as I told you when in Newcastle has hitherto borne a respectable character.  Mr Eaton wishes me to ask you if you will agree to punish Bennett in any way privately, either by fine or reprimand, rather than have him made a public example of, to the ruin of himself and the disgrace of his numerous friends and connections.



To

The Bench of Magistrates

MURRURUNDI

Gentlemen,

Having reason to believe that a warrant has been joined by your Bench at the instance of Mr Craik against one Francis Bennett for Cattle stealing, I now do myself the honour to inform you that I do not wish to press the charge and have authorised Mr Craik to withdraw it.

I am

Your Obedient Servant

Edward Charles Merewether.

LIST OF PRICES NOV 18TH 1862

Fine Flour                                          £15. 0. 0 per ton

Seconds Flour                                     £.13. 7. 0  "   "

Ration Sugar                                       £20. 0. 0  "   "

M.O. Sugar            yellow                    £36. 0. 0  "  "

Black Tea                                            £7 & £9 per chest

Green Tea                                          £7 &£12 per chest

Negrohead Tobacco                             6/6 per Ib

Colonial     "                                        37? "  "

Soap                  Boxes 2s each            28/ per cwt

Washing Soda                   .                 127     "

Hurdle Nails                                        54/     "

Pinis Pickles          assorted                9/6 per doz

^ Ib Bottles Mustard                             9/^      "

Saddle Straps                                ll/ per doz pairs

Pipes                                            2/3 per gross

Currants              Best                  /5d "  Ib

Raisins                                          ll  "  Ib

Carbonate of Soda                         30/per cwt

Tartaric Acid                                  3^/3 "  Ib

Epsom Salts                                   /6d  "  Ib

Manilla Rope                                  /7d  "  Ib

Millet Brooms                       14/ & 16/ per doz

Spades                                           48s      

Shovels                                          30/

Raddle                                      /frd per Ib

Tar                                           65/ per cask

Vinegar              per cask              2/4/ " gall

Lime juice                                    5s   "  gall

Pepper                                          /7d  "  Ib

Rice                                              2/| " cwt

Scotch T. Shirts                             337 per doz

Serge       "                                   6(// to 804/"

 

CRAIK TO MEREWETHER, 31 DECEMBER 1862.

 I now beg to hand you a Yearly Report on the Stock and Stations, the property of the Australian Agricultural Company now under my charge from the 31st December 1861 to 31st December 1862.

 During the first  6 months of the year the weather was very propitious and both grass and water abundant.  The succeeding 6 months however were extremely dry, and the last three intensily hot, the grass in consequence in many instances got burnt up and the water became scarce.

 The cattle in the Port Stephens District have suffered a good deal from the drought, many of the old cows and poorer cattle having died.

 On the Liverpool Plains portion of the property I consider stock of all kinds have done particularly well throughout the season, and I would now in the first place direct my remarks to,

 

EAST WARRAH

This run having been lightly stocked, the grass has continued moderately plentiful on a good part of it almost up to the present date. The sheep runs in particular to the West of Warrah Ridge have all along looked pretty well, they having been visited by slight but seasonable showers.

On the Cattle Run to the East of Warrah Ridge, including Warrah Creek  etc. , very little rain has fallen for the last 8 months, the grass here in consequence has got both dry and scarce.  The surface water  in the various creeks is now nearly dried up, except at their source near the main Range, Warrah Creek being the only one which has continued running for any distance.  This creek has stood well this season, there being, more or less water in portions of it for a distance of 14 miles, and it is even now running strong for 2 miles into the Plain in front of Warrah Cottage.  This creek has been invaluable on account of the cattle, as the greater part of them water here.  For the remainder some 800, I am drawing water from Jacks Creek well, which is an excellent spring and worked by horse power. The cattle which water here feed out on the Plain on a sheep run at present unoccupied, and they are evidently  improving very fast.  In fact, all the cattle may be said to have done well at Warrah up to the present time, which is proved by the number of fat stock we have been able to dispose of. Rain however is at last very much wanted.  I shall now give you a Return from 31st December 1861 to 31st December 1862 of the,

 

CATTLE

On hand 31st Dec 1861 after General Muster                    3331

Transfer from "Gloucester" and "The Bowman" 1862        1206

Increase by brandings                                                          261

                                                                                           4798

Decrease by Sales                                                                832

Decrease by Slaughter                                                           33

Decrease by Deaths                                                              200

                                                                                           1065

On hand at Warrah 31st Dec.                                             3733

 

The above 3733 cattle now on hand, consist chiefly of bullocks, the remainder being spayed cows and heifers, bulls for sale, and some breeding cows.  The latter I am having spayed as fast as possible, leaving only a few superior cows with the view of preventing the young bulls from rambling. The last Draft of Bulls sent to Warrah are not turning out very well, and I do not expect to get much sale for them.  If not, they will have to be cut and fattened off.  There have been 700 heifers and inferior cows spayed at Warrah during the last year, and these are improving rapidly but being most of them small in size, they will necessarily be light weights even when fit for the butchers.  The 832 cattle sold, consist of 727 fat bullocks, 93 fat cows, and 2 yr old heifers, and 16 Durham Bulls,  The prices obtained for bullocks have been from £4.10 to £5, for cows from  £3.10/- to £4 and for bulls  £15, with very little demand for the latter even at that price.  Upon the whole, I consider the prices we have obtained highly satisfactory for cattle delivered on the station, as many of the cattle removed were by no means prime fat, yet our prices average fully £1 p head over those obtained in any other station with which I am acquainted.  Prime fat cattle are now both scarce and dear, and there are few if any left answering that description on Warrah for the present.  If offered a tempting price however, it may be advisable to sell even young steers and cows in middling condition, as long as the purchaser is satisfied with them.


SHEEP

The grass on the different sheep runs has continued good throughout the year, but the surface water has now almost failed on all of them except one namely Pump Station Creek, and on that there has been no sheep station formed hitherto, although we are just about forming one.  The sheep are now all being watered from wells which are most of them good springs, and are chiefly watered by means of Gins turned by horse power.

 Underneath I give you a Return of Sheep from 1st January to 31st Dec, 1862,

 

Wethers

Received from Messrs Brodie&White         862                          

Decrease by sale  1st draft                         1569

Decrease by sale  2nd draft                         3346

Decrease by slaughter                                  5

Decrease by deaths                                      6

                                                               4996

                          

The wethers sold to Mr. B,. Richards of Richmond, were purchased in 2 drafts the 1st in October before shearing at 15/- p. head,     p. head, and the 2nd draft in December after shearing at 12/6 p. head.  These prices I considered ample for sheep delivered on the station, as our wethers were not of a large description.  Also the fact of Mr. Richards taking the whole of the remaining sheep at 12/6 is I think highly satisfactory.  The actual deaths since 1st January.    from ordinary casualties were only 51, there having been 25 struck down by lightning in the night, and the remaining were killed for rations.

 

In compliance with your instructions, I have just been to Goorillie, the fattening station of the Messrs Lloyd Brothers, and have approved of 10,000 wethers from 3 to 4 years old, which you had conditionally purchased from them at 9/- p. head delivered at Warrah, on or about 1st February.  1863.  They are good sexed sheep, and many of them in fine condition, and being off a splendid sound, salt bush country, they will not hangback like New England sheep, but will commence laying on fat at once on being put upon the run. We could not have very easily met with a more sound or suitable lot of sheep for fattening purposes.  The Messrs Lloyd were compelled to sell them for want of water.  Should we have a sufficient supply of rain we may then be able to put another 10,000 wethers upon the run.

The following sheep stations have been rented in East Warrah for various periods during 1862, namely, -

Boorambil Creek to Mr.   A. Loder 12 months @             £40.0.0

McDonalds to Mr A Loder.     3 mo (from 1st Jany)        @ 30.0.0

Onus's     Do to           J. Seville 4 mo-------------         @ 60.0.0

Parson's Ridge  to           J. Parnell 6 mo ------------      @100.0.0

Harrisons Station to      Rob.Pringle 5 mo ----------     @ 200.0.0

Brown Ridge       "  Do for making improvements     Q.Q.Q

                                                                           £430.0.0

The above is the net amount of cash received on account of rents, but besides this there was a log yard made at Onus Creek by James Seville 70 yards square. There was an American log yard made at Parsons Ridge by Jas Parnell same size, and there was an entirely new sheep station formed by Mr. Pringle at the Brown Ridge consisting of a hut, 20ft by 12, a well 10ft by 8, with 100ft iron-bark troughing attached thereto, and 2 American log yards 70 yds square each.  Altogether I value the improvements at least at £100 and I am happy to say they have been carried out in a very satisfactory and laudable manner, although, I am aware it is not usual nor perhaps as a rule advisable, to have improvements carried out in this way. The new sheep station at the Brown Ridge is I consider an excellent one, and I am surprised it was not formed long before this time.  All the above stations are now vacated except Boorambil Creek.

 In case the drought should continue, I am having the various wells looked to, and some of them have already been deepened and repaired.  Two men are still at work repairing and cleaning out wells, and it may of course be deemed advisable to put a Gin at the well on the plain at the point of Onus's Ridge, and another at the Brown Ridge well.

William Sage the Navvy has completed one small dam at Warrah Creek by way of experiment, another one he has also finished on Onus's Creek, and he has just gone with 6 other men to commence a pretty large dam at McDonalds Creek.

A new road has just been proclaimed through Warrah from the Mooki across the plain, and then running up the west bank of Onus's Creek over the range.  A great many fat cattle now go to Market this way and as the road has never been properly marked by Government, these cattle trespass considerably on the company's ground, so that the sooner this road is properly defined so much the better.

 

Farming.

Owing to the extreme dryness of the season, I regret to have to state that our Agricultural paddock has proved a failure.  We are not alone however in this respect this year, as the crops have entirely failed on some of the best farms even on the other side of the range.  Our wheat came up very nicely at first, and had the season been favourable I doubt not we should have had an excellent crop.  The paddock however at the top of Warrah Creek is the best adapted for Agricultural mirooses. and should you be inclined to try some farming there we should be sure of a crop in any ordinary season, tho not in one like the present.

 

Resuming Sheep breeding.

With respect to the project of stocking the greater part of Warrah with breeding and other sheep I have been giving the matter my fullest consideration, and as I have already reported pretty fully upon it I do not deem it necessary to say much more on the subject here.

As you are aware when you were last at Warrah (in the beginning of this month) you went fully into the matter of buildings and Dams and Mr Ogden the Company's Surveyor was here at the same time taking levels for the latter.  After due consideration you fixed on a site for the new head station.  This spot consists of a hard gravelly ridge.  It is very sound ground and therefore well suited for the erection of buildings and the camping of sheep in wet weather.  It is situated across the creek opposite the present head station and about a mile from it in the timber on the other side of the plain.

 Before you last visited Warrah and since, I had and have been making every enquiry in regard to sheep for breeding purposes, and as you are aware we have been offered maiden ewes by Dr Trail of Collaroy, Mr King of Goonoo goonoo, Mr Bettington of Brindley Park, Mr Bloomfield Mudgee, Mr Cox, Mudgee, Mr Baily Mudgee and sundry other eminent breeders, but owing to the dry weather and want of surface water, you have I think widely determined to defer purchasing breeding ewes for this year, and to stock up with wethers.  I have however with your concurrence ordered 100 ram lambs from Mr Nicholas Baily of Mudgee, than whom I do not believe there is a better judge or Breeder of Sheep in the Colony. The price of these Lambs is 2.10/- p. head.  While on this subject I would not mention that I believe myself situated as Warrah is.  It will be found to pay quite as well if not better as a fattening as a breeding station.  To breeding there is much expense and risk attached, as you cannot get clear of your Breeding sheep should a drought set in, and you are then liable to lose both your ewes and lambs in hundreds and thousands, as has been the case with many this season.  Now to fattening there is no such risk attached, as wethers are stronger to begin with, and you can always clear off the best of them to the Butcher and thus make room for the weaker and low conditioned ewes.  Fattening is therefore comparatively speaking a sure game, and is very much less expensive than breeding.  I am therefore inclined to recommend that in stocking Warrah (even in a good season) a large proportion of the sheep be fattening wethers.  I think we ought to breed also to a certain extent, but not so largely as you at first seemed to propose, and the longer I live at Warrah the more I am inclined to advocate the course I have just indicated.  As you are aware fat stock from off this station always rank first in the Sydney market, and are more eagerly sought after, and bought up by the Butchers and Dealers.  Taking therefore into consideration its superlative fattening qualities together with its proximity to market I unhesitatingly pronounce Warrah as most “The Butchers Station”, for both cattle and sheep.

CRAIK TO MEREWETHER, 14 APRIL 1863

 

I have now a very unpleasant and unfortunate matter to bring under your notice namely the breaking out of Scab in the Liverpool Plains District. I am sorry to say I have received notice of the destruction and burning of 17,000 sheep which have become infected with this disease in this neighbourhood in terms of the existing Scab Act.

But, although Scab, is in our immediate vicinity and although 2 of Collins scabby sheep were picked up by 2 of our flocks and also 3 belonging to W Seville top of Onus's Creek belonging to a flock known to be scabby, yet up to this date I am glad to say our flocks have escaped, and I have reason to hope they will escape as the diseased sheep were only in but for a very short time before I had them killed and burnt - and even since scab was first mooted, I have looked after and watched our sheep with the most minute and anxious attention.  James Seville Senior, a man of great experience in the disease, pronounced our sheep perfectly clear at present, & in his opinion, likely to remain.

 

Sheep.

All the wethers (minus the deaths) put upon the run in January 1862 were sold off fat in the course of the same year at from 15/- to 15/6 p. head, a good profit, their price at first being 9/-.

In the end of December. 1862 I went and inspected and approved of 10,000 wethers or thereby, the property of Messrs Lloyd Brothers and then running on their Goorillie Station.  They were delivered here on 10th Feb 1863 numbering 10,168 @ 9/- p. head and a finer lot of sheep for fattening purposes could not have been wished for.  I have also received from G. P. Morse Esq, 2985 wethers making the number delivered up to 31st March 13,153 out of which 92 have died from foot rot and other causes, 14 have been slaughtered and 10 have been lost through native dogs.

 

 

CRAIK TO MEREWETHER, 23 SEPTEMBER 1863

I am sorry I have now very bad news to give you. As you will see by copy of Dr Trail's letter herein enclosed, that scab has broken out at

Phillips's Creek road station.  I tremble to think of the consequences to Dr Trail as you may rely upon and hope it will not end up here.  For numerous reasons this

is also a most unfortunate affair for us, as I am afraid it will prevent us for a time from either stocking or letting West Warrah.  This also shows you that I was not wrong in strongly placing before you when you were last here the fearful risk we run in buying stock.

 

 

CRAIK TO MEREWETHER, 30 SEPTEMBER 1863.

Scab

I regret to have to inform you that this fearful disease is still very prevalent on our Northern, Southern and Western boundaries.  Mr R. Weaver's (Kickerbell) sheep are infected on the north boundary.  Mr Jas Sevilles Senior on the south boundary, (altho I believe he has destroyed all that he believes were infected) and I am sorry to say scab has just broken out among Dr Trail’s sheep at Phillips's Creek road station on West Warrah.  He has destroyed the flock but I am informed on good authority that there are sundry other suspected flocks both on Liverpool Plains and at Collaroy.  Dr Trail is now (like a good

many others) shearing and dressing his sheep.  Dressing proved a complete failure before shearing but it is to be hoped that after shearing it will have the desired effect.

 

From what I have stated you will at once see the serious risk we run in stocking Warrah to a large extent with sheep and I should decidedly recommend you stock lightly until we see how and when this disease and visitation is likely to end.

In case we should purchase any sheep from New England I have sent our sheep overseer Mr Hudson to see if he can find out a road to bring sheep without crossing the line of scab, although squatters are much against any travelling sheep passing through their runs except by the regular road.

Another free selector named Nowland has squatted down on the Warrah ridge near the northern boundary of the property.



S. CRAIK

Memorandum of Transactions at the Australian Agricultural Company's Stock Station's on Liverpool Plains and Port Stephens N.S.W., during the month from 16th Oct. to 16 Nov. 1863.

 

WARRAH, LIVERPOOL PLAINS 16th NOVEMBER 1863

CATTLE

The weather during the last month has been very dry and during the last two weeks it has been excessively hot, grass has in consequence sprung up most luxuriently, and at the present time the season is all that could be wished as respects both grass and water.

The cattle on Warrah are fattening rapidly and there are now about 200 bullocks and 100 spayed cows ready for market.  The deaths however from spaying and other causes have been above average during the last month.

The richness of the grass and the luxuriance of the trefoil caused the cattle to eat so greedily that in several instances they swelled until they burst. Since the dry weather has firmly set in the cattle now cease to be so affected.  Since the 16th of Oct, 236 inferior cows and heifers have been spayed at Warrah, 26 calves been branded and 49 fat spayed heifers weighing about 5cwt., have been sold to the Murrurundi butchers @ £3.10/- p. head.

The young bulls that came from Port Stephens are now getting in good condition but I regret to say there is at present little or no demand for them.

In Mr. Merewether’s absence at Melbourne, I have with his concurrence offered 200 bullocks and 100 spayed cows to W. Richards of Richmond, the former at £5 and the latter at  £3 10/- per head, to be picked up by him and taken delivery of on the station.  I hardly expect to get the above price for the Bullocks at present.

There have been 1200 3 and 4 year old bullocks purchased from the Richmond for Warrah at £2.5/- p. head The price is high, but, the cattle are superior, being of the well known “D” brand.

At Port Stephens the cattle have been doing particularly well both in the Gloucester and "Bowman" runs.   Since 16th Oct. 181 calves have been branded at Gloucester, 157 cows and heifers have been spayed, and one 3/4 ths bred bull-calf has been sold for £8.

Since the "Bowman" herd was reduced, it has been managed much more satisfactorily. The thorough bred cattle are now being properly looked after, and I think in time this and the other herds will be found considerably improved, by the judicial use of the spaying knife, and the introduction of fresh Bulls.  The three imported Bulls will I consider be able to serve all the thorough-bred cows this season.  They are doing good service, and are apparently fine calf getters.  14 calves have been branded this month.

 

I propose making a general muster of the Gloucester and "Bowman" herds next month.  I expect to finish it in about 6 weeks if the weather is favourable, and the necessary arrangements for muster are now being made. At the close of the Port Stephens muster all coarse-bred heifers, and 2 year old steers, will be culled out and sent to Warrah.

 

SHEEP

There are now 5598 sheep on the run, 1500 of which are ready for market.  All the sheep are now being shorn by Mr Jas Seville Junr, who purchased their fleeces at 3/6 .                                   I have with Mr Merewether's concurrence offered 1,500 wethers, the pick of 3,000 to Mr, Richards at £-/ 12/6 p. head after shearing, but I have just heard from him that he will only give about  II/-. I expect however to get at least I2/- for them before 1st January 1864.

I am glad to be able to state that our sheep are still perfectly free from scab, although that disease still lingers in some of our boundaries, namely, at Kickerbill on the North, and at West Warrah and Black Creek on the West .  I am informed Dr. Trail has got 3 or 4 flocks (if not more) scabbed on West Warrah, Black Creek, Collieblue, and I hear he has got from 20 to 30 thousand sheep scabbed at Collaroy, including his flock of picked stud ewes. He is dressing his sheep both at Collaroy and Black Creek, the Destruction Clause of the present Scab Act having been repealed.   Sundry other squatters on the Namoi river, Liverpool Plains, and else-where, have dressed their sheep, but as I am informed only with partial success as respects a perfect cure even after repeated dressings.

As a precautionary measure I dressed all our rams after they were shorn, with a weak solution of sublimate and Tobacco water, but they had not the slightest sign or speck of scab upon them.

We have lately been offered for sale about 30,000 3 and 4 year old store wethers at from  8/- to 9/-. p. head, principally from New England and Goonoo Goonoo, but as there is not likely to be much speculation in store sheep next year on account of the scab, I think we shall be able to buy what wethers  we require at 8/- p. head.  I have also been in treaty      for some 2 yr old maiden ewes for which high prices are asked namely £-1 p. head.

I have ascertained a way to bring sheep from New England without crossing the line of scab.



Craik to Merewether, 13 January 1864.

The new buildings are getting on slowly.  The Stores are well-nigh finished, and the wool-shed has been taken from Mrssrs. Abbot & Caine and given to Sam G. Ward who is more likely to finish it.  He is to finish it on the same terms as 1st contract, you having given Caine an additional gratuity of £10 when the job has given up by him and his partner Abbot.

Windy Point dam is being enclosed with a strong Iron-bark fence.

The well at the New head station gets is going in slowly being very hard to sink - it is 35 feet down and still as hard and dry as ever.

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 14 March 1864.

 

The buildings as you have seen are in a very satisfactory state and are being put up in a very superior style. The dams I think are also a hit, thanks partly - perhaps entirely to the wonderful foresight and superlative sagacity of Mr Surveyor General Ogden - They are all bumpers !

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 19 May 1864.

 With regard to staying on with the Company, I may state that I think my present engagement is likely to terminate more satisfactorily and pleasantly than it commenced & I have therefore no wish to leave the Company's service so long as you are thoroughly thoroughly satisfied. We can arrange a fresh agreement when you come up if you see.

                                                                                                       

Craik to Merewether, 25 June 1864.

With respect to the crossing of the Merino with the cheviot I may mention that all my experience in this matter goes to prove that any cross with English sheep results in a non-descript, so far as the first cross is concerned, but continued and judicious crossing might no doubt in time produce a satisfactory result.  The Cheviot is a small sized sheep for England, - but with pretty good wool. - I have no experience in this cross with the Merino but you are no doubt aware that the cross both with the Leicester and South Down has been a failure.

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 30 June 1864.

Warrah

Although there was a good deal of rain here during the first

3 months of the year, yet I am glad to be able to state that this station has escaped from the disastrous and almost ruinous floods which have destroyed thousands of sheep on the Namoi, the Barwon and elsewhere. From the position of Warrah, namely its proximity to the "Great Liverpool Range", & being thus as it were near the source of the Western waters above alluded to, it is not likely to suffer seriously from floods.- and from the same cause it is often refreshed by seasonable showers, and at times too when Stations further into the interior are suffering from a parching drought. From the 1st of April up to the 10 of June the weather on the West side of Liverpool range was comparatively dry, and as Warrah was lightly stocked, grass was abundant and cattle and sheep (particularly the latter) improved rapidly.

Cattle

 The Warrah Herd was mustered at the end of last year to within 185 head of the Register number as p. Cattle Return of 31st Dec.1983, and seeing that so many strange cattle are annually put upon the run I do not consider this was an unsatisfactory muster. The undernoted trans-actions have taken place in this Herd since 1st to send out rams, recommend that Mr Thee be employed to select them, he having just returned to Germany. I will send you his address. At the same time I think it would be well to defer breeding for stud purposes for some time.

The 16,245 wethers which we have purchased since 1st January are fair sheep both as respects size and quality, and from 1st April up to the beginning of June I consider they came on very rapidly.  Owing to the wet which prevailed during the 1st 3 months of the year, a good many (say 800) got very lame from an apparently new and very severe species of foot rot attacking the sole in lower portions of the hoofs and causing them to come off. There are still about 600 wethers very lame which are in a flock by themselves and are being duly dressed and attended to.

The last sale of Sheep took place this month namely 3000 wethers to Mr B. Richards. Half of these (1500) were drafted by me some time ago from about 4000 & Mr Richards took them (the 1500) as they stood and removed them in the,end of this month, the other 1500 he is to pick himself and will remove them in the end of next month (July.-  He picks the latter for 2 flocks numbering together over 4000, one of these being the culls from which I formerly picked.

 I hope to be able to sell other 6000 wethers to Mr Richards on my return to Warrah from Gloucester in the end of next month as he is to meet me there at that time. I have made enquiries for some more store wethers to purchase, but cannot get the offer of any till after shearing.

On East Warrah both on the Sheep and cattle runs a great many Bathurst Burrs have been cut during the last 6 months & this with expense of Herding new Cattle, has added considerably to the Expenditure of Station.



Improvements.                                                                                                                 

The new Woolshed is now about 3 parts shingled in, floored and battened, and if the weather is favourable the Contractor says it will be finished in 6 weeks. The Sheep Yards round it are also being got ready. The store & superts house are also advancing towards completion, and the store-keeper's & other Huts have been contracted for. Stuff is also being got for Home-paddock & killing yard & a contract has been entered into for 800 Hurdles for Lambing.  The sinking of the new well is almost completed the well-sinker has gone down about 60 feet.

 


Craik to Merewether 28 July 1864.

With respect to Pleuro-Pneumonia, I heard of it yesterday morning in Murrurundi & at once went and made inquiry of the party, Mr George Munro of “Glenalvin” in whose paddock it first appeared.  He keeps accommodation paddocks & the disease showed itself in a team of working bullocks several of which died. Afterwards some of Mr Munro' own cattle became infected with the same disease and died also. From the symptoms described by Mr Munro I have no doubt the disease is Pleuro-Pneumonia.

In passing through Muswellbrook I was rather surprised to be called upon by a young man named Henry Cobb. He is Brother in Law to Mr Frank White at Bell-Trees under whom he acted as Cattle & Sheep Overseer for 5 or 6 years. He has recently made rather a low marriage & the Whites in consequence have thrown him over-board and he wants a situation. He is a particularly sober steady fellow & has experience, & I think he would do very well for Gloucester. He has also been accustomed to work & work hard & can spay, cut, brand &. he is willing to go to Gloucester a month before MK Mullen leaves & could go there on 1st September if you wish it. If you would prefer it I could make Cobb call upon you, but I do not suppose you are afraid of my recommending and minuting. Cobb left his Brother-in-Law's employ entirely of his own accord simply that he might marry the Cobbler's daughter, who is I believe rather a superior girl in her station. There is nothing whatever against him but this & I think you will be pleased with him. Please let me know if you are satisfied & if so when you would wish Cobb to go to Gloucester.

I was over at the Buildings this evening. The Woolshed is nearly all shingled in & will very soon be finished. I was glad to see matters so far advanced.

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 15 August 1864.

 

Things getting on very slowly, from so much rain. The wool-shed is nearly finished and will be ready for shearing, but I do not believe I shall be able to shift to the new Head Station till the beginning of the year. The yards and woolshed will also be ready by shearing.

The price for Bullocks £4 and for spayed cows £3. The Bullocks would average about 7 cwt and the cows 5 cwt. As markets have been throughout the winter these are top prices and notwithstanding the improvement which has lately taken place in the price of fat stock I think it was prudent to sell at the above prices seeing that pleuro pheumonia is said to be in our neighbourhood. One thing however, I am certain of from minute personal observation, that it is not in the Warrah herd as yet. As you are aware, we have been in communication with W. Bruce, late Cattle Inspector, on the subject of inoculation, but I am of opinion that this step would not be advisable until we saw that our cattle were dying in great numbers.

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 6 October 1864.

Improvements.

The new Woolshed is now finished. The Superts. House is also nearly closed and slabbed in. The materials are also got for the storekeepers & other Huts.  A new yard has been erected round Woolshed. A separate yard 50 yards square is also under erection on the same ridge as the Woolshed for a spare flock of sheep during shearing. Bark & Hurdles are both being got for Wash pool & spouts are ordered to wash the sheep with.

 

 

Craik to Merewether.  15 December 1864.

Pleuro-Pneumonia is evident now in this Herd, I having shot and taken the virus from two animals so affected. I should say from 20 to 30 cattle (principally at Jacks Creek) have already died of this disease and I am afraid we will lose many more as there are others evidently still labouring under it.

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 27 April 1866.

Haden & Hudson have had a slight misunderstanding with the Murrurundi cricket Club, & I am thinking of getting up a friendly Match at the Willow Tree when you come up in June, "Liverpool Plains against Murrurundi.- Do you mind being Captain, if I can arrange the affair - I propose that we should play for a dinner.

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 30 June 1866.

Most of the main improvements were finished by the end of Dec. 1865 (see my last yearly report) and those lately carried out have consisted principally of New Sheep Stations.  A good many more Sheep stations are still required as many of the shepherds are living in uncomfortable gunyahs.

With the view of preventing trespassing on the part of the Seville family, who are between us and the Main Range, I am having Sheep Stations put up near our Southern boundary on almost all the Creeks. An excellent Hut and 2 splendid log (not brush) yards 70 yds. square each, have been erected near our boundary towards the top of Onus's Creek, price £34. Another hut and two similar yards are contracted for, to be put up in a like position at the top of McDonalds Creek, price £40. And I am now erecting a log yard 60 yds square and gunyah at the top of Little Jacks Creek, price £7, so that the Warrah property will soon be pretty well occupied. These new stations will be of service in enabling us to save the plain stations previous to Lambing. And in Dry season these Creek stations will themselves answer for Lambing purposes.

Mr Jas. Seville Jr. has formed a new Sheep Station for us at Denbigh Point consisting of a shingled Hut on Sleepers, 18 f x 12, a well 6 f. x 6 f & 35 f deep with a splendid supply of Water and an Iron Bark - Split rail sheep yard (4 rails) 60 yds square - He did all this for use of Denbigh Pt. run for 6 months.

While on this subject 1 will remark that I consider a Free selection of 600 acres as part of Denbigh Ridge on Kickerbell Run would be worth £5,000 to the Coy, and it will be a loss to this extent if they allow another party to step in before then. There is at present no wet weather runon this first class piece of fattening country.

About 11th Instant I plane to attend sheep show & Ram fair to be held there on the 16th instant, with the view of procuring 6 Rams suitable for our Stud ewes. I propose starting for Mudgee. The character of the Mudgee Wool is quite different from the Collaroy. The Mudgee Wool (Bayleys) is long, fine white & silky weighing light; & it grows rather loosely on the sheep which is usually not a well shaped animal being slabsided and leggy, without much wool on legs, head & belly, & with very large unshapely horns. The Collaroy Wool is a fair length but stronger in the fibre than the Mudgee it has also a slightly yellowish tinge, & is sometimes a little harsh in feel, but it weighs heavy. The wool grows very densely on the sheep which feels like a board when its fleece is touched. The sheep himself is usually of good size possessing a fine round deep carcase on short legs, he is uniformly covered with very fair wool from the tip of the nose down to the hoofs his horns may be described as small fine & nicely rounded which adds much to a sheeps appearance.  In short I consider Dr Traill's a most profitable description of sheep in every way but as wool is sure to get coarser on these plains I consider so far as Rams for our stud ewes are concerned we ought to get them as fine in the wool as possible, so long as they possess the other requisites. Dr Traill has paid much attention to the make and shape of a sheeps carcase - Mr N. P. Bayly none at all.

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 17 October 1866.

Immediately on receiving Gipps' note about Free-selecting on Jacks Creek (which note I sent you by today's mail) I sent Martin to Murrurundi to see how matters stood. He informs me to night that a man named Tate from Merriwa or Cassilis has selected a Block at top of Jacks Creek which said block includes our paddock and Hut, which he (Tate) means to take or has taken. I have ordered Martin to send a flock of sheep up there tomorrow & I have also told him to send Bark and have Hut & fence of paddock put in thorough repair as well as the two Brush Sheep-yards.  I am prepared to do anything except to fight with my fists for the Coy, that I will not do, but until you advise me to the contrary, will try & take steps to keep Mr Tate out of our paddock. It cost us more than £40 but the question I believe is, what will valuators put upon it. I would really seriously take the liberty of advising you to purchase Jacks Creek paddock at once if you can, & you also ought not to let one moment slip in securing Warrah Creek paddock.  You are aware I gave you ample warning to secure both Warrah & Jacks Creeks if you wished & any private settler would have done so long ago.

Martin is to select 2 blocks on Big Oakey Creek, running into Jacks Creek tomorrow - He is vexed at losing Jack's Creek.

1873 surveyors tracing showing the free settler blocks. Photo from Alex Chad.
1873 surveyors tracing showing the free settler blocks. Photo from Alex Chad.
1873 surveyors tracing showing the free settler blocks. Photo from Alex Chad.

 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 18 October 1866.

A man named Gallagher has Free-selected, (I believe in company with a man named Tate), 5 or 6 40 acre blocks at top of Jacks Creek as marked in sketch, 4 or 5 where the coy's paddock on this side the creek and one on other side the paddock also on this side & he is said takes in the paddock. In fact Martin received this information from the C.P.S. Murrurundi.  He has also selected one 40 acre block right opposite to the Company's paddock on the other side of the Creek.

The above Free selection has not been occupied by the Selector or selector as yet, & our paddock was duly occupied by 3 of our men, 2 Bushmen and a shepherd (with a flock of sheep), this morning. The Hut & sheep-yards will be put in thorough repair. The paddock is secure. I have placed a strong able bodied man as Hut-Keeper at top of Jacks Creek & a shepherd who will not stand much nonsense. You will please note that there is still a large block of country between our boundary and Jacks Creek paddock, or rather between our boundary and Gallaghers single selection below our paddock. Martin wishes to make 2 or 3 selections in this block of country as marked on the plan & wishes to know if you have any objections. Of course we might then give up our land beyond the boundary altogether.

I said I would send you Hudson's & Martins Lambing statements. Martin has just brought his over & I find it wants some arrangement wh. I really have not time for at present & therefore cannot sent^it.  I send Hudsons a/c however & can state from what I know that our Lambing will be about 93% all round.

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 20 October 1866.

As the Shearers were all knocked up we knocked off earlier tonight being Saturday. I therefore took the opportunity of calling on my friend Gallagher at top of Jack's Creek. I found our men & stock had not got there in time as Gallagher came to slip rails with a loaded wagon & 4 men the day after our people got there. He was just taking down the rails when my Blacksmith (Richardson) quietly told him not to enter the Company’s paddock so he at once camped outside.

He Gallagher seems a decent man & I told him we had no wish to molest him, if he did not interfere with us, & suggested to him the propriety of putting up his improvements above the paddock and not below. He said he believed he was entitled to the paddock, but did not wish to go to cross purposes with the Company if at all possible. He said he would go to the Page on Monday & make further enquiry. I told him you took the entire management of the Company’s Land and that you would like to see him in a fortnight, but that we should certainly stick to our paddock and demand a road for our stock through his selections.

Martin tells me tonight that as there is so much delay in hearing from you about his pre selecting in Jacks Creek that he cannot wait longer than Wed next in case another slips in. I wish I could only select myself & check mate the man by taking 3, 40 acre blocks on each side of the creek. If you wish to save all this country you will have to Telegraph to me on receipt.

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 22 October 1866.

Now about this Free selecting business. It is very hard to be bothered by these cursed wretches at this important time. However I am glad you approve of what I have done. The Hut was re-barked only a few months ago and all our poor cull ewes from fattening flocks that are not fat & that never will get fat & sell them to Gallagher after shearing @ 7/- p. head.

I believe all the top of Jacks Creek will be selected in a very short time & our paddock will be of no use to us if 3 or 4 blocks are taken up below it on both sides of Creek.- We can only protect ourselves by Free-selecting or getting reserves made. The latter can & may be, done still, & you might have to take steps at once. For the good of all concerned (Free selectors & ourselves) there ought to be reserves made at top of both Jacks & Warrah Creeks. Gallagher with his free selections & preemptive right still blocks us now above.the paddock & a few similar selectors on both sides of Creek below and the paddock was repaired & cattle put in it only a few weeks ago.

There were two things I forgot to ask you on Saturday night.

1st Gallagher (who is the Free selector at present not Tate) asked me if I would allow him a road down the creek to Black Creek Road,

I said I had no authority to give permission on that referring to you. What do you say?

2nd He asked if we would sell him a flock of cast off ewes. What do you say?

As to the 1st I think you ought to do one or other of two things. The one is to make all Free selectors at top of Creeks ask permission to pass through Warrah, in writing -  The other is to refuse permission altogether & try the point at Law.

As to the 2nd point, it would be a sure opportunity for me to pick out the paddock which would most effectually block us there also. 

I have told Martin that he will not have any countenance & the Company's patronage if he Free selects on Jacks Creek without your written permission & he is not likely to do so for some time at least. Some one else however very soon will I believe.

If you are to apply for reserves at top of Jacks Creek the matter is very simple. You are entitled to a mile in 5 so let the reserve commence on each side creek one and a half mile above Company's Boundary.

At Warrah Creek let the reserve on this side of the Creek commence close to Shanahan's Free Selection but above it, or say one and a half mile from Companys boundary on the other side of creek let reserve commence half a mile above the Coy's boundary or close to it if you see fit. I don't think you can better those reserves, & you can see there is no time to write any more about the matter.

I did not send you Tate's letter because it declined my offer & because I thought some remarks in it might annoy you & I saw no good in my doing this unnecessarily. You can see the letter when you come up & my reply, in the latter I advised him [Tate] to offer you £6.10/- for 120 Bullocks and £-/13/- for 15,000 wethers at least I said I thought these prices would be taken. I would not mind taking one pound less for the cattle per head, but shall be much disgusted if we sell 1st pick of our wethers for less than 13/-.  We never had such a fine equal lot of wethers on Warrah as regards condition. Kings have done very well and are almost all as sound as apples. I mean beautifully fat. I observed sheep & cattle were down last week.

We had an awful Thunder storm here last night & the house the whole of yesterday felt like the interior of a Baker's oven. It rained Slightly last night & today it pours down in torrents.  I took the precaution to cram the shed with Sheep early yesterday so I am shearing today but will now be at a standstill for the next 2 or 3 days. Having knocked off some shearers I could take 4 or 5 more so have sent another Notice to the Mercury to that effect. 

But for this Free selecting business, (which gives me more vexation than I can express) everything else gets on splendidly.

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 23 October 1866.

You are quite wrong in blaming Wallace for the shearers strike. Wallace I know to be a very straight forward useful man on a station, and whatever may be said about doing without such men, that they cannot be done without on a place such as this is, 2 or 3 at least, all the year through is simply a fact. I blame a fellow, Ashford on the other side of the Range for the Shearers strike.

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 15 December 1866.

As Gallagher behaved so well I removed one flock of sheep from Jacks Creek to Little Jacks Creek when it came in to be shorn.

The application for Licence to House at Black Creek comes in again on 7 January 67 when I shall not be here. I suppose Martin must attend.

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 31 December 1866.

A good deal of land is continually being taken up all round the Warrah Estate by Free selectors. On Warrah Creek three men have settled down named Shanahan, Mullens, and Daly. The two latter are two of the Company's discharged Stockmen and have only gone there recently.

On Jacks Creek a man named Gallagher has free selected our Hut yards and paddock and a lot of other ground besides.  I of course did not allow him to take possession of our Hut yards and paddock as I had the Company's men and Stock on the ground before he could do so. He had therefore to turn aside and build just above our paddock.

On Oakey Creek, a tributary on the east side of Big Jacks Creek, Martin, our present overseer has made sundry selections embracing both sides of the creek and I hear of sundry others who are about to select, so I fear our squattages will soon be spoiled.

Thomas Laman Jr, storekeeper east Warrah, left the service of the company on 30th September, and Joseph Nurison took his place, who will I think be honest.

Alexr. Martin, Overseer East Warrah leaves the Company's employ on 28 Feb 67, and Mr M. L. R. Gipps takes his place.  Mr Gipps has had 4 years experience on this station among both cattle and sheep, also as Storekeeper, so that I think he will give satisfaction.

A very respectable young man named Callander takes Mr Gipps place as Store-Keeper at Windy Point. He has been 2 years in the Company's employ as Ration carrier etc and as he writes a good hand, is steady, and quick at figures, I on Mr Hudson's recommendation gave him this situation @ £50 p.a. the 1st year. Mr Hudson is responsible to me for the Stores.

Cattle.
 The Cattle now look particularly well and there are 200 bullocks now ready for Market. They are young and consequently rather light weight but of prime quality. Mr James Seville Junior removed 124 head of bullocks on 27 Sept. being the last lot under his contract for 1,000, afterwards reduced to 800 head @ £8.5/- p. head, On 28 Sept I made out and rendered you Mr Seville's A/c to which I beg to refer you.

It showed a balance due by him on the above contract of

                                                                         £25.18.0

Promissory Note Stamp                                        1. 0.0

Due by Seville 31st Dec. 66                             £26.18.0

 

The particulars of the above A/c are in my letter Book here, & I can send you them at once if necessary. 

Since Sevilles contract expired Cattle have been very low in price and I have only been able to effect sales of 10 and 12 head at a time to the Murrurundi Butchers and much than it was some time ago. On the 26 Sept. I had 146 cull-cows and Heifers drafted from the Warrah Herd and spayed. Most of the un-spayed cows now on Warrah are well-bred good looking animals, all black bridled and unshapely ones having been put under the spaying knife.

Several deaths occurred from spaying and a good many cattle died in the Spring from Hove on the green clover.

We have also no doubt lost some cattle through straying. But it is impossible to form any idea of the numbers we have lost by Pleuro and Cattle Stealers.

Since the New Land Act passed Cattle Stealing has been notoriously on the increase, and it is not to be wondered at, seeing it is difficult to get a committal even when the case is clear, & it is almost impossible to get a conviction.

In our Quarterly Cattle returns I am certain we did not allow a sufficient percentage for deaths from Pleuro, and I now enclose 2 letters one from our Neighbour Mr John Blaxland, and the other from Mr Thos. Hall, one of the Largest Cattle Holders in the Colony, both of which letters bear me out in this statement. Mr Hall as you will observe estimates his loss during the last 3 years at about one third of his herd, and as for our neighbour Mr Blaxland he has lost nearly his whole herd (100) during the past 15 months.  Dr. Traill I Know is similarly situated, but I have written to him & will send you his reply.  I have already sent you letters from Mrssrs Loder and Pearse and from the perusal of all these you will at once see that we are not worse off than others similarly situated as to the nature and quality of their runs, but not so much exposed to the inroads of cattle stealers.

 



CRAIK TO MEREWETHER, 31 DECEMBER 1867. 

In accordance with my usual custom I now beg to hand you my yearly Report on the Australian Agricultural Company's Stock and Stations under my charge, from 31st December 1866 to date.

 

WARRAH

From the beginning of January 1867 to end of April the weather On Liverpool Plains was intensely dry, and the grass in consequence got much burnt up.  From April to the beginning of November the weather was all that could be wished.  There was a great deal of rain, the Creeks all ran, the Water holes got filled, and the whole Run presented a most luxurious and beautiful appearance, being covered with wild carrots and clover from side to side. 

From the beginning of November to the end of the year the weather was very hot and dry, and a great part of the run got burnt by Bush fires.  Some sheep yards and well framing also got burnt.

 

CATTLE

I am sorry I cannot report satisfactorily respecting the cattle during the by gone twelve months.  From Pleuro and other causes the mortality has been very great, as you will see on referring to the Cattle Returns.  Such of the Cattle however as have survived have done well, and there are now 200 fit for the Butcher. 

Our Durham Bulls do not turn out quite so well as they ought to do, and they are not so much in demand as they used to be. I mustered the Warrah herd on 27th November, and the result of that muster is in your hands.  It could not be called a clear muster, as it would not have been prudent to yard the cattle too long to enable us to thoroughly scour the country.  I consider however that it was a fair muster.  At end of muster I cut 25 inferior Bulls, and kept other 25 for the Gloucester and Bowman herds, to which herds they will be sent in due course. 

By the December Cattle Return you will note that there are at this date 1605 cattle upon the run, the greater part of which I think I could yard in a week. I am glad to say at present time all the cattle are doing as well as could be wished.

SHEEP

The sheep have done well during the past twelve months.  During the months of November and December the intensely hot dry weather was rather against them, especially against Ewes with lambs at foot.  Lameness in some of the flocks caused a good many deaths, and we lost about 100 sheep out of Flock No.18 by a Sort of Staggers.  At this date there are still over 600 lame sheep at West Warrah, which are in a Hospital Flock by themselves, and are duly dressed.  These consist almost entirely of Warrah bred sheep.  Upon the whole however, our sheep have done well since December last.

By the December Sheep Return of 1867 you will see that there are upon the run 62,200 sheep and 12,726 lambs In all 74,926.

 

These consist of Old Stock and two new purchases namely 2069 wethers, 3 and 4 years old purchased from Mr, Bellfield, New England, and delivered 5th July and 11,826 wethers from 3 to 6 purchased from Mr. Cooper who bought them from Queensland, and delivered them at Warrah on 6th July.  The New England wethers are rather small, but those from Queensland are fine large sheep, and in fine condition.

 

I also purchased 103 one year old Combing Rams from Mr. C. C. Cox of Mudgee at the great Mudgee Sheep Show, and Ram Fair, which I attended . on 13th August. We shall require another 100 fresh rams next year.

 

Weaning of Spring (1866) Lambs commenced at Warrah on 4th March 1867. 10,864 Ewes gave 10,261 weaners, very few lambs having died after cutting. The Autumn Ewes numbering 2802 cut 1770 lambs or over 63 per cent and weaned 1753. Rams were put to 13,100 ewes for spring lambing which commenced on 25th August. At the Cutting of Spring Lambs in November 12,951 Ewes gave 12,726 lambs or over 98%.

The Stud Flock is included in the above, and in November numbered 222 Ewes which produced 190 Lambs, 80 of these (Ramb Lambs) I have sold to Messrs. Seville & Britton at £1 per head to be delivered about August next.

The following Sheep (Old Stock) have been disposed of during 1867 namely

 

To James Seville Jnr:  Flock No. 18 Wethers                            2314

“   “    “                                   No. 17  Do                                   1879

“   “    “                                   Nos.12 & 13. Ewes                      3170

                                                                                                  7363

 

To C. Yorke, Wethers (old stock) delivered

in Sydney                                                                                 1833

“    “   “                                                                                      1461

Boiled down at Singleton                                                         1214    

                                                                                                 4508

                                                                                                11871

                                                             

Of the latter lot of 10,300 wethers, 3560 have already been removed. Fat sheep are now very low in price, & hard to sell.

 

Besides the above there are other ten or twelve thins and wethers ready for market, including 4,044 of Warrah bred three year olds. These latter are splendid Sheep heavy weight, say 70 Ibs. each.

 

Mr. Bramma, Dr. Trail's Wool Sorter culled our Warrah bred Weaners, our Stud Ewes and also our Rams finishing on 20 July, and he reported on all our sheep. His reports for 1866/67 are in your hands as also my lists of Sheep drafted and culled by him. Next year I should recommend that Mr. Bramma go carefully through and cull severely all our Breeding Sheep.

 

4340 Ewes were set apart this year for Autumn Lambing, to which the Rams were put on 8th October, so that they begin to lamb on the 3rd. of March. Yards are being got ready.

I had all the Sheep branded with fins C on off side of Nose as they left the Wool Shed after Shearing.

 

I commenced Shearing on 10th September with 32 Shearers, and finished on 14th November.  It lasted 8 working weeks and 2 days, and we had about 8 days wet Weather.  71607 Sheep were shorn producing as under namely,

 

626 Bales wool

17    Locks

1      Locks and clippings.

2      Clippings.

1      Black wool.

 

In all 647 Bales weighing 169 Tonne 18 Cwt and 16 Ibs:  Our wool was classed

as formerly by Mr. Skad.

 

I regret to say many of the fleeces this Season were very much injured by clover Bur.  All the wool was sent to be scoured in Sydney except 6 Bales which were sent as a trial to the new Scouring Establishment of Mr Philip Wright, Muswellbrook.

 

Shearers were rather scarce this year, and also slow, discontented, and troublesome,seeing that Sundry Settlers gave from 3d. to 9d. per score more than the Company.

Messrs. Ogden & Smith both visited the Station lately for the purpose of laying out new wire paddocks, and Sheep Washing place. On 13th November I went with you to inspect Dr. Trail's new Washpool at Collaroy, where he was using an artificial Soak, and where he had made numerous new arrangements.

 

 Improvements

A Water hole has been dug at our Northern Boundary near Warrah Ridge, 65 yards long 20 yards wide and 3 1/2 feet deep at I/- per cubic yard.  This water hole has been of immense Service this year, as it stood well and has watered a great many Sheep.  It is inclosed with a substantial two rail Iron-Bark fence.

A large and substantial log yard for sheep has been erected at top of Warrah Creek, and some other fencing is now being put up there for Small Cultivation Paddock.

Another log Sheep yard has been erected at our Northern Boundary adjoining Water hole by Warrah Ridge, and a similar yard at top of McDonald's Creek.

 

A Dam has been thrown across the lower part of Warrah Creek on Plain at a cost of £66:17:6d.  This dam is put down with the view of Washing Sheep.

410 feet Iron Bark Troughing have been put down at Harrison's Sheep Station at 1/3 per foot, & is being now enclosed. 450 feet of the new Zinc troughing have been put down at Parson's Hill. This troughing has a fine appearance when laid and sheep take well to it.

500 feet of Iron Bark Troughing have been got for Pine Ridge and Campion's Island Sheep Stations.

 

The fencing round Horse Paddock at Old Warrah (1165% rods) has been taken down and put up afresh. Warrah Creek now runs through the lower side of it, and the paddock is well watered and secure, a good deal of new fencing having been used.

An addition of 400 rods is being put to Windy Point Paddock.

 

A new Cart Shed, Meat Store, Hide house and Sheep Skin House have been erected at Windy at a cost of £50. Two new Pine Paling yards (85% rods) have been erected at Campion's Island @ 51- p. rod. A new Gin has been put up at Brown Ridge at a cost of about £50. Several new Huts and yards are required all over the run as many of those now upon it are very old and much out of repair being only covered with old Bark.

 

The Cattle I regret to say have not done at all well on this run during the 12 months by gone.  A great many of them have died of Pleuro, and from poverty through the contrariance of the dry weather, consequently almost all the cattle now look very thin and miserable.

 

We proposed at one time to shift part of the Herd to Bundalbah, but

as that run is now much burnt this cannot be done. The Gloucester run is also burnt in a great many places so that rain is very much wanted. Should it rain, another lot of Store Cattle will be collected for Warrah early next year; and the Drover who takes them up, will take back the Bulls which I have here for the Gloucester and Bowman Herds.

 

Bowman.

The same remarks apply to this run as to Gloucester.  It has been a

good deal burnt, and the Cattle look very poor indeed.  A good deal of fencing at Bowman and Avon Creek has been burnt by Bush fires, but is being repaired.

 

I am sorry I cannot report more favourably of the Stock department, this being the most unfavourable Report I have yet sent in.  However it is only for one to state the truth and do the best I can, hoping for better times. At the proper time I shall send you my Monthly Statements for January and February 1968, by way of Supplement to this Report. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 2 January 1868. 

Hudson has just come in & gives me very bad intelligence. Yesterday afternoon it appears fires broke out near the road Station on both sides of Phillips's Creek. On the west side a flock of 2,200 ewes & lambs was depasturing about 2 miles from the Creek.  A strong southerly wind was blowing all yesterday & the fire came rolling down, before the above flock could get out of its way & 1000 sheep are burnt to death and 200 more are not likely to recover.  In fact from what Hudson says you may Put the loss at 1,200.  This is a very unfortunate affair! I am just starting out tonight with Hudson to see how matters stand & hope to get back tomorrow night. A great part of the plains is now burnt & fires are still raging in every direction. Part of Windy Pt. paddock is burnt. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 3 January 1868.  (Electric Telegram from Murrurundi).

 

Hudson here reports. twelve hundred Ewes and lambs burnt dead on useless Black Creek plain.  Writing to Newcastle going to Windy tonight.

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 16 January 1868.

 

 Warrah

Since my last Statement the weather has been intensely hot,

more so than I have ever felt it before, the grass is in consequence now very dry, & there has been much destruction by Bush fires, several of which originated on the other side of the Range coming across to Warrah with an almost overwhelming sweep of several miles in extent without a break. When I left Warrah on the 6th inst. Bush-fires were raging in every direction & have been for 2 or 3 weeks previously.

 

 I am sorry I must now report a very unforseen, & unfortunate accident.-

On the afternoon of 1st January 1868 some evil disposed person or persons (unknown) set fire to the grass on both sides of Phillips's Creek near to the road Station.- The grass was long & dry & there was a strong southerly wind blowing at the time.  The fire in consequence came rolling down both sides of the creek at the same time. On the West side of creek the line of fire must have been 2 or 3 miles in extent, and as the flock of ewes & Lambs No. 10 (Warrah bred) was some 2 miles out in the plain on this West side of Phillips's Creek, the fire came down upon and surrounded them before they could be removed, destroying, I regret to say about 1,200 sheep in The Flock numbered 22.

The shepherd states that the intense heat of the weather together with the

smoke rendered the sheep stupid & stubborn, so that he could not move them-

It is well known to stock owners that it is a very difficult (almost impossible)

matter to drive or even move a flock of sheep in the heat of the day, & as

in this case the fire ran along at such a pace, fanned by the gale, the shepherd

cannot have had much time to save them.  Mr Hudson does not attribute blame to the  shepherd. 

On hearing of the accident I at once proceeded to the spot along with Mr Hudson, & after the fullest enquiry & consideration, I am not prepared to attribute blame to any one. The run had sometime previous to the above occurrence, been burnt in different places so that it might not blaze all off together but it of course would not do to burn all our grass at one time when we had no prospect of rain.

There was no fire to be seen at road station at 1 o'clock P.M. and by 3 o'clock P.M. the sheep were burnt. To show how quickly the fire ran I may mention that a Bushman in the Pine Ridge had his tent, clothes and money burnt before he could save them. 

On the East side of Phillips's Creek the fire ran down & through Windy Horse paddock burning a small portion of the fence.  With bushes the men managed to keep the fire in check here, that is they kept it away from the fence, as the grass was not so very long & did not burn so rapidly. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 10 February 1868.

 

I got home yesterday after a very wet uncomfortable Journey.

I regret to say matters have not been getting on here of late so well as I could wish.  A great many sheep have been lost both on East & West Warrah, & there we are still 150 missing from the fattening flock (Kings) at Parsons Hill. They have been missing several days & no trace of them can be found. I have sent men after sundry travelling flocks, in case they may have been picked up & taken on. 

I went out to Parsons Hill today. There is a fine spring of grass, but there has not been nearly so much rain here as on other side of Range. More rain is required to secure a full bite in burnt ground, & I think we shall soon have some more, as it is now very close & cloudy. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 12 February 1868.

 

Yours of 10th Inst, I received this forenoon, and having now gone through all the Sheep Returns for 1867 I beg to reply: 

Respecting the lost Sheep; Douglas removed York's first flock about 2nd January, and as the Sheep were not supposed to be lost till the 7th I do not see that he could have picked them up. Benjamin Phelan, alias "John the German" took delivery of York's second flock on or about 7th January, and the lost sheep were part of the Culls from this last flock, which Culls were sent to Parson's Hill.  John the German however, I believe went by Yarraman and Oakey Creek so I am at a loss to understand how he could have picked them up, Parsons Hill being in the opposite direction. 

It is quite possible Yorke may have had another drover passing down by Miller's Creek, and I have today written to him, to ascertain the particulars respecting the Sheep referred to by him, in your presence, as having been picked up by his drover. If any of York's drovers have picked up 150 Wethers, early in January, I am inclined to think they are ours from the fact that the number and description of sheep correspond with our loss.

York's brother at Jerry's Plains was made aware of our loss by Hakewill, whom I sent after travelling sheep as far as the Bulga.  I have also written to Mr. Richards, asking if he would kindly have an eye to all travelling sheep arriving in Richmond, for the next two or three weeks, with a view to discovering ours. And I have also had the Country here, searched in every direction, and can do no more, but sincerely trust that the 150 sheep referred to by York are those we have lost.

As regards Gallagher, I am informed he is now putting up a hut and yards close to our Southern boundary on Jack's Creek, he having, it is said, selected there on both sides of the Creek.  I will get particulars from the C. P. S. in Murrurundi, as soon as possible and let you know how the matter stands.  I fear it will now simply be a case of "Abandon Run", or "War to the Knife".  It is hard to be annoyed by such as Gallagher, as I have really quite enough on my hands at present without this.

 

On looking at your half yearly Sheep Return of 30th June, I observe you make the number of sheep sold 7,365, you have therefore thus correctly included the 2 sold to Wallace, one of which appears in March Return, and the other in April Return, 2,314 appearing in that Return as sold to Seville and 1 to Wallace in all 2,315. Wallace's sheep were paid for by work done, and did not appear in my Cash receipts.  The 3 sheep sold to Hall are actually included in the 60 shewn as Killed for rations in October Return, flock No. 21. If you must show them as a Sale in December Return, you can do so in flock No. 27, which contains some of the sheep from No. 21. The money received for these 3 sheep appeared, as you are aware, in my December Cash receipts.

 

Having a great deal to do in my return here from Sydney, and being anxious to forward with despatch my yearly Report, and Sheep Returns for December and January, I really had not time to go through all the monthly Sheep Returns for 1867 as minutely as I could have wished, and therefore in case of mistake, I abstained from referring to the following small Sales viz: to Wallace 2 Sheep in March and April, sold by Martin on road 5 in July, sold by Callaby on road 2 in October.

The printed Cattle Return forms are all used up at Stroud, and a fresh batch requires to be printed.  I enclose a blank form with slight alterations for your approval.  I am much in want of some blank receipts, and shall be glad if you will send me 6 books.

 

I have read carefully what you say about Kay, and also excerpt from Mr. Ogden's letter.  I thought from the first, and still think that the affair will turn out in a great measure a "false alarm".  I remember when Kay joined the Company's service, he told me he had 3 or 4 Cattle, I think he said 2 workers and 1 or 2 Cows, all of which he promised to sell as soon as he could.  The Calf Story I hope he can explain, and I know he has not got a very large number of horses in Gloucester Paddocks.  The horse "Coffee" was between 20 & 30 years old perfectly done and quite incapable of running in-Stock.  That he died from the cause stated I do not believe.  In short after carefully considering what has been told to Mr. Ogden I fancy I can see a great deal of bad blood and malicious feeling.

 

I tell you honestly I have never heard a word about this matter, either for or against except from yourself, never having mooted the subject to any one, yet from Sundry wicked remarks made to Mr. Ogden, together with what I have already seen of Kay, I am inclined to look upon the whole statement with suspicion.  I think therefore it would be somewhat premature and unkind to set the Police in motion before Kay has had an opportunity of defending himself, and I should recommend you to Summon him down to Newcastle for that purpose, and Britten along with him.  You could take down his replies in writing, and if you thought it necessary submit them to me for farther explanation.  I know of no one at present that I can recommend in Kay's place.

 

I am going out to Windy tomorrow to arrange about Autumn lambing & etc. there.  I should like to know if upon the whole my yearly Report was Satisfactory. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 20 February 1868.

 

I am keeping a close watch upon Gallagher, & have now to inform you that he has surrounded us with two flocks of sheep, one at Paddock & another at Boundary & our Shepherd sent me word last night that he has now no run & cannot shepherd without boxing.  I have abstained purposely from going to Gallagher myself until I could take some decided step & it will now be necessary to take one. Martin & Gallagher now literally occupy the whole of the Jack's Creek Squattage, & I wish to know if I am to box with Gallagher & then take his sheep to pound when drafted?  I myself think there are only two courses open to us namely to select or purchase all round Gallagher & Martin, or abandon the run.  I should be inclined to the latter for it is not of Much value.

 

Of course as his Selection on this side of Creek has been cancelled we can put up our Fence now. In fact his hut not being on his selection but on our run is I believe ours? I will do whatever you advise, but it will not do for me to take up much time with this man to the neglect of far more important matters.

 



Craik to Merewether, 14 May 1868.

 

The 1st sign of improvement in the Times which I have been able to note for the last 2 years took place this morning. Jamie Seville called as I was sitting down to breakfast & asked the price of 10,000 wethers the pick of all the wethers on Warrah over 3 yrs old say 17,900 more or less as p. last Sheep Return. He also asked the price of all our Cull ewes say 5,000 more or less. 

Please consider the matter & let me know what offer I shall make him, delivery of wethers to be taken by end of August.

 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 18 May 1868.

 

On Tuesday last I inspected the hide, head and beef of a beast seized by the Murrurundi Police, & on Saturday last I went again with Young our Stockman & made a farther inspection.  One G brand with number underneath were cut out of off thigh, but by sprinkling water on the part of the Hide which around the ribs you can distinctly see the G brand there.  Our two Stockmen can more over swear to the beast apart from the brands - The Beast was killed by a man named Cooper who bolted as soon as he heard I had

inspected the Hide etc., before a Warrant could be put in force against him. I believe there is little doubt but he will be caught before long, as he is said to have been little from home and is therefore not much acquainted with the country.  A Warrant is issued for him and the Police are on his track. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 20 May 1868.

 

You will also I am sure be much pleased to hear that Cooper, the Cattle Stealer, is now in the Page Lock up having been apprehended yesterday.  I think we have at last a perfectly clear case.  It comes off on Tuesday next 26th inst. & I have retained Abbott to watch the case for us.  I have also hinted to Mr Smith P.M. Scone, that I should like if he can make it convenient to attend.  If committed, Cooper must be tried in Maitland, as a Murrurundi jury would never do.  You cannot believe how anxious I was to get such a case as I believe Cooper's to be, as I think he must be convicted.

 

Mr. Ogden went into action today at the Dam.  He will see the water stopped, & the Dam will be finished to night or early tomorrow.  I have measured the greater part of the work - the addition will consist of nearly 1,000 cubic yards.

 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 23 May 1868.

 

The cricket match is on in Murrurundi today & I can fancy the Pearl of reason & Fleu of soul is at this moment (10 o'clock P.M.) brilliant & electrifying in the highest degree.  I am almost ashamed at not being present but I had 3 reasons for absenting myself. 1st I must go to Murrurundi on Tuesday again. 2nd all my staff are there today. & last but not least I cannot stand headaches so well as I could when a younger man! ! 

I forgot to congratulate you on the birth of Miss Merewether No. 2. I trust Mrs Merewether and the child are well! 

 



Craik to Merewether, 27 May 1868.

 returned from Murrurundi late last night.  It was a very clear case against Mr. Cooper. The police pressed that Cooper admitted killing the beast in question.  I pressed that the Company's Registered brand was on the Hide.  The two Stockmen Thos. & Danl. Young pressed the latter also & Moreover Swore to the beast individually.  The prisoner called no Witnesses, so he was committed to take his Trial at the next Murrurundi Quarter Sessions to be held on 27th June.  Abbott acted for the Company and Smith (Tamworth) for Cooper.- Abbot conducted the case fairly but there were some matters which he did not exactly satisfy me in - One was his declining to ask the Magistrates to commit the Prisoner to Maitland.  He said there was no use in his making this application as it would not be acceded to.  On talking afterwards however to Mr. Smith P. M. I gathered from him that the Magistrates would have committed if not to Maitland at all events to Scone or Muswell-brook, and in sending the case before the Attorney General he (Mr. Smith) by my advice has added a recommendation that the trial (on account of Local influences) he held elsewhere than in Murrurundi.  Smith also recommends you to at once write to the Attorney General recommending strongly that the case he tried in Maitland or at all events in Muswellbrook on account of the sympathy, which Murrurundi juries have shown in more than one occasion, to characters of the worst description, & that so even when the case was clear.  

 

Everything is getting on well here, & it is very likely I may drive in to Murrurundi for you on Saturday Eve.  When I asked you to bring your gun I ought to have considered the trouble of this, & have mentioned that there are 4 or 5 capital Double guns here, (a Westly Richards among the number) any of which you can have,  so you need not trouble with your gun unless you much prefer shooting with it.  You will get a few Quail on the plain here & I have got two very good pointers.

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 9 July 1868.

 

In the Cattle Stealing case, The Queen v Cooper, the prisoner was discharged although our two Stockmen positively swore to the beast individually apart from the Brand.  The Jury gave as their reasons for acquittal that they could not see the brand.  In fact it is simply impossible to get a conviction for cattle Stealing in Murrurundi as Pengally's case & this distinctly shows.  In Coopers case most of the Jury knew the prisoner & I doubt not sympathised with him.  Hence the acquittal.





Craik to Merewether, 8 August, 1868.

 

Mr A. K. Smith arrived here on the 4th for the purpose of erecting new wash pool & he has Sage now at Work.  Mr. Smith himself will of course keep you duly advised of what progress he makes.

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 10 August 1868.

I just write a line to say that I will have J. Dodds ready to start with 1st flock of Sheep on Thursday morning 13th. and I have engaged "John the German" the best Drover in the District, to take down the other flock.  When shall I start it?  Shall I Write Loder and ascertain?  I have engaged Martin to bring Bellfields Sheep.





 Craik to Merewether, 15 August 1868. 

I found yours of 12th waiting me on my arrival here from Windy last night with Messrs. Shaw, Cuming (from Victoria) H. White & Trebeck.   They came to Windy yesterday morning while I was in the middle of my Drafting of Boilers, so I had to finish the Flock I was at & go in here.  I am sorry to say Mr Shaw met with a severe accident at Bando having been kicked by a Horse in a very delicate part, in fact he narrowly escaped being killed.  In consequence of this accident he was not able to look minutely at our Sheep, but I managed to show both him & Mr. Cuming one or two flocks as they came along.-  They have all gone this morning except Mr Trebeck, so you see I have had very little time to shew them.

 

I need not say I am sadly disappointed that matters have turned out so untowardly.  Mr  Shaw is in a great hurry to get home to get his sheep ready for the Skipton Show.  He said he doubted whether he would be able to call for you at NewCastle.  He goes to Sydney by Tuesday's Steamer.  Mr Shaw spoke very favourably of our Sheep  more so than I expected, but I am fairly vexed that he was not able to give me a day to inspect our Stud Sheep etc.  I should have learned much as Mr Shaw is evidently a very sensible and superior man. 

Respecting Clark I know him to be a man of very bad disposition & temper (and so did W. Winship) & therefore was sorry he was sent.  But what was more important I really felt that he was hardly up to the Situation, & this is also Mr Smith's opinion, on the event of anything going wrong with the Engine.  Mr Smith states further that he would leave satisfied if the man Coombes was Engine Driver.  That is the man who I knocked off from the fencing, who it appears was bred to Engine Driving fitting & etc.  Coombes would take £1 or £1.5/- per week - I do not wish to do anything harsh however, & unless you direct otherwise I shall keep on Clark for the Woolwashing, having Coombes most likely,to assist him in case he misbehaves & if so to take his place.  Coombes can get woods etc. for the present.  Clark gets 30/- per week and tin rations, one for himself & the other his wife.  The latter not being here I presume he will not require or be entitled to more than one ration? 

As you will likely see Hakewell next week I may mention that he need not come back here unless he chooses to take the same billet as he held at shearing last year.  I trust you will compel the low fellow to give something to the unfortunate creature whom he has ruined as he will soon have all his money spent. 

My new woman has misbehaved already though I took every precaution.  She goes next week.

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 11 November 1868.

 

Now as to what I have said about our New Sheep wash.  I certainly have never said it was a success, but I can assure you I have not expressed myself as strongly as I usually do, in talking of it, & if you have heard so you have been misinformed. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 7 December 1868.

 

I finished Washing on Tuesday last.1st inst. & paid off Sheep Washers same day.

I finished Shearing on Friday last 4th inst. at noon, & paid off Shearers and supernumeraries the same evening, so that Warrah is now in some measure calm & quiet again.  I can assure you I have had a good deal of trouble & anxiety in many ways during the bygone Sheep-washing & shearing & I am very glad matters have come to a conclusion so smoothly & pleasantly. 

I now enclose Abstract by which you will see that 66,876 sheep have been shorn producing in all 645 Bales of Wool Locks and clippings as p. Abstract which shows the Quantity of wool both in washed & greasy as well as the number of Sheep washed & the number shorn in the grease.  There was rather more wool washed than appears in Abstract, consisting of 2nd quality washed pieces some of which when a greasy flock came in had to be mixed with the greasy Locks.  This was done by Mr. Stead's adviser. You have no idea of the trouble & difficulty in bringing in washed & greasy Sheep alternately & I trust we shall be able to avoid this next season.

 

I will now notice a few things in your letter of 30 ultm. more fully than I did in my last.-

Respecting Seville I would advice that every precaution be taken with him, (So as not to give him offence) as regards punctuality of payment - I am not at all convinced that he is now a good mark.  He bought Doughboy Hollow run the other day, and I am informed had the transaction drawn out in his Wife's name.  I consider Seville might take delivery of a large number of Stock, give a cheque without having funds to meet it, Sell the Stock, get payment & fail before we could help ourselves.  Of course I put the matter now in the worst possible way, but it might happen, & therefore I consider it my duty to advise you so that you may take the necessary Steps to protect yourself.  Of course this information is for yourself alone & you will not mention it to any one, except in consulting your Lawyer, or let my name appear in the matter.

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 22 December 1868.

 

I write now to inform you that Darby has now laid out Selections at Warrah and Jacks Creeks.  At the former, he cuts off nearly all our paddock on this side giving it to Shanahan.  His line comes underneath junction of Cedar Brush & Warrah Creeks thus cutting off that valuable Water Hole at the said junction & which I believe has never been known to be dry.  The line crosses Creek close to top of my garden just giving me my Garden and that is all.  Of course we have as yet all the other side of Paddock as there has been no Free Selection there yet.

 

At Jacks Creek you know the 1st line run by Darby.  The 2nd underneath it cuts a corner off our lower sheep yard, Darby has thus given the selectors the springs in both cases, evidently on purpose to annoy us.  Shanahan says he does not wish any part of our paddock, but of course it will not do for us, to be in this position.  I consider you ought to secure Warrah Creek Spring at any price even if you have to buy it from Shanahan.  I do not wish to use strong language & shall only say that I consider Darby has acted in a most one sided sneaking & shameful manner.  I send rough sketch of new lines. I may mention that the best Water Hole lies in Warrah Creek not in Cedar Brush Creek, but it is very important that we should secure the junction of these two Creeks as water stands well and long in both.


###########################################################################################################################################################################################################################

 

 

 

 

Sketch of the creeks.
Warrah shearing shed.
Warrah shearing shed.

Craik to Merewether, 28 December 1868.

 

Mr Bettington was washing his wool very well, better than Dr. Traill, but his arrangements were by no means so perfect, & the superiority of his washing was clearly owing to his excellent water. 

Warm water washing in this Colony is evidently a puzzling thing to almost every one as yet, as no one that I have seen has been able to turn out the same number of sheep per day as they could by the old plan and I have seen no one altogether satisfied with it in all respects.  No doubt next year we shall be able to succeed better, but we must have number as well as quality. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 31 December 1868.

 

I now beg to hand you my usual yearly Report on the A. A. Company's Stock and Stations under my charge from 1st January to 31st December 1968. On the 20th of January the drought broke up to a certain extent on Liverpool plains.  All the creeks ran slightly, Warrah Creek coming down last of all on the 16th February.  There has not been sufficient rain however during the by gone twelve months to fill the Dams and Water holes in the Side gullies, only one of them, that alongside Boorambil Ridge, below my House having got filled.  Boorambil Creek has also run several times within the last few months from thunder storms which have been very prevalent in the immediate neighbourhood of this Creek.

On the other Creeks I beg to report as follows. 

Warrah Creek.  Running slightly from Old Warrah to new Dam, but evidently drying up fast - Quite dry from Old Warrah up to Lingford's Water hole for 6 miles.  From Lingfords  to Boundary there are a few water holes all the way up.  In paddock at top of Creek water stands well. 

Jack's Creek.  Nearly dry throughout and Gin Well at work. 

Little Jack's Creek.  Failing fast, but there is still sufficient water for a small number of Sheep near our boundary. 

Onus Creek.  This Creek has stood well throughout, there being sufficient water at boundary, and at the middle Station for Sheep.  The water however has failed opposite the Green Hill Station where the New Gin is at work and waters Green Hill and McDonald's Creek sheep. 

Spring at back of Onus Ridge,  nearly dry. 

McDonald's Creek.  The water is all but gone in this Creek, as regards the watering of sheep.  The Sheep from top Station have to go to Pump Station to water, and the Sheep from lower station water at Green Hill Gin Well. 

Pump Station Creek.  This Creek has stood well.  There is still sufficient water for Sheep opposite Martin's Island, and the Spring at the top Station is very strong. 

Yaramanbah Creek.  Abundance of water at Line Station but failing fast farther down. 

Mount Parry Spring.  Still sufficient water for hut.

& Phillip's Creek. Only one good water hole in this Creek opposite Windy Station, which Water hole is now being fenced in.  Road Station hand well at work.

 

Black Creek.  Dry

Onus Creek Dam.  Dry

McDonald's Creek Dam.  Dry

Windy Point Dam.  Dry

Denbigh Point Dam.  Dry

Northern Boundary Waterhole.  Dry.

 

I will now enumerate the different Wells which are at work watering stock - namely

 

Harrison's Gin Well.

Parson's Hill Gin Well.

Brown Ridge Gin Well

Green Hills Gin Well

Jack's Creek Gin Well

New Warrah Hand well (Horses & Cattle)

Pine Ridge Handwell   (Sheep)

Denbigh Point  Handwell.

Road Station  Handwell.

Windy Point  Handwell (horses & Cattle)

Champion's Island Handwell.  (sheep)

Say 11 wells in all, which with some trouble in cleaning out and deepening have as yet stood well.

 

Although, there has not been sufficient rain to make many of the Creeks run, there has been enough to raise a very fair supply of grass all over the run, except in the East Warrah paddocks, which have been very bare for a long time.  In fact East Warrah as a whole is much, worse off for grass than West, there having been less rain here. So bare were our East Warrah paddocks last Winter that we had to purchase 5 tons of Oaten hay for working horses at $5 per ton delivered.

 

Upon the whole the past season has been a very dry one, and the heat during the months of October November and December was intense, the Thermometer often varying from 100  to 108  in the shade.  At the same time we have frequently had refreshing Thunder Showers which have kept up a slight spring in the grass and prevented it from being entirely burnt up. Further into the interior I believe the Country is in a most disasterous  state from the devastating drought day after day and month after month. I believe sheep and Cattle are now dying in thousands.

 

 

Cattle

The Cattle have done and are doing particularly well up to the present date.  I have little or no disease now to report in the Herd. Pleuro having almost disappeared.  In fact I never saw the Cattle looking better.  We lost as we generally do a good few Cattle through Hove in the Spring, but I have seen very few dead lately except some weak cattle and calves which may have got hurt during the muster. 

The 460 head of the Store Cattle which arrived from Port Stephens on 21st November 1867 were turned out on the run on 18th February 1868 having been carefully herded between the two dates - Among there were 44 inferior cows which I had spayed before turning out and 16 wellbred cows I kept as breeders by way of showing off the Herd.

We have only got one lot of Store Cattle from Port Stephens this year.  This lot consisted of 380 Steers, 43 inferior Heifers and 55 Yearling Durham Bulls - 478 head in all.  These arrived on the station on 3rd April, and were herded till 2nd June when I had 39 of the inferior Heifers spayed and turned out upon the run along with the Bulls and Steers.  This would make 83 Heifers spayed this season by our head Stockman Thomas Young.

Sheep returns, Weaning, Culling and Lambing Lists of 1868 all of which are now in your hands.

 

 

Improvements and General Information.

 

Mr A. K. Smith Contractor for New Washpool arrived here from Melbourne on 5th August, and on the 18th September you took over our new Sheep Washing place from him.  I  consider Mr Smith rushed on the work somewhat hurriedly (he being pressed for time) but upon the whole it is pretty faithfully done.  As you are aware Mr Smith did not supply the sort of pump he agreed to find namely one of Appold's.  I do not profess to know much about these things but I would have preferred to see the water carried higher so that it could run down into the Cistern instead of being forced up into it as it is now.  I also think Mr Smith's Spouts do not act properly being from some cause or other too weak.  I fancy however our two main faults lay in the soak, and in our Engineer.  At all events there is no

doubt we did not wash our Sheep properly this year except in the case of few exceptional Flocks, as in most instances the dirt seemed set in a harsh gluey and dingy form at the roots of the wool, from which it could not be removed.  When the fleece was taken off the sheep, in touching its tack the fingers would almost stick to it, and the roots of the wool all over the Sheep's body were of a dirty grey colour.  I find however that all who have tried warm water washing have had their difficulties, particularly as to the numbers of sheep they could do in a day as compared with the old plan.

 

On visiting the Washpools of Walhallow, Harben Vale, Brindley Park and Collaroy I find that at all these places there were many difficulties to overcome, so that we are not alone in this respect. 

Dr Traill seemed to me to get on with the warm water better than anyone I have seen as he could do from 1300 to 1500 per day with 5 Spouts in a very creditable manner.  His appliances are much the same as ours, and his water appears to me to be nearly as hard - I cannot help thinking however that the difficulty lies as much in the wool as in the water, as we could wash New England Sheep, and even sheep fed on our own Forest land very fairly with our water, but not sheep fed entirely on the plains.  Mr King of Goonoo Goonoo tried warm water but had to abandon it for the old plan.

 

As you are aware we commenced to wash on 23rd September and we washed in all 36,853 sheep.  We could only do from 500 to 1100 per day with from 4 to 6 spouts, and when we did 1100 it was New England Sheep. 

Mr Thomas Shaw Jnr. an eminent Port Philip Sheep manager strongly recommends the use of Caustic Soda in Warm Water sheep washing.  I trust by the help of this, and other chemicals together with the services of a competent Engineer that we shall next Season be able to wash our Sheep both expeditiously and well, as the get up of wool has no doubt in these bad times much to do with the Satisfactory Sale of it.

 

Shearing began this year on 29th September with 30 Shearers and was finished on 4th December with 23.  They shore of

 

Washed sheep                                   36,853

Greasy  sheep                                   30,023

                                                        66,876

 

The washed sheep produced,           Tons.   Cwt.    Qrs.    Lbs.

312 bales wool weighing,                    46.      4          0         0


The greasy sheep produced
333 bales wool weighing                     82.      12        0         4              

 

The washed sheep were very hard to shear owing to the gluey deposit at roots of wool. 

The greasy wool was sent to the Scouring Establishment of Mr P. Wright of Muswellbrook to be scoured there.  From the first samples of scoured wool Mr Wright sent me I thought he was doing it well, but in visiting his washing place lately and inspecting our wool, I was far from pleased with his work.  Our Queensland wool in particular is shamefully done.  I am not altogether surprised at this from what I saw of the wool when washed here on the Sheeps back, as there appears to be a sort of Sand or grit in this wool which- it is most difficult to remove.

 

I think however the Queensland and Warrah Wool are both, indifferently scoured and I sent you samples of each on Wednesday last recommending you to have the 60 odd Bales still unwashed at Mr Wright's, done in Sydney, that is if you can get them scoured in a reasonable time.  Pending your reply I have asked Mr Wright to stop scouring.

Whether the Water at Muswellbrook is getting scarce and hard, or whether Mr Wright is trying to do too much wool, and is washing against time I cannot say, but this I can say that I did not see a Single parcel of wool in his premises scoured to my satisfaction, it being all more or less harsh and dingy.  I can scour wool infinitely better here with baskets, and I fear Mr Wright will have to adopt some such plan by another year.

 

The new dam at Washpool has been topped up and added to lately. -Since the Sheep washing was over the water has fallen in it 20 inches.  The embankment has been enclosed with a two rail fence. There has been a new shingled shed put over Steam Engine.  The frame work of the shed is strong and good but I hardly think the roof is up to the mark and therefore wish you to see it before passing it.

 

Having minutely inspected the two miles of wire fence already put up at Northern boundary I am inclined to pronounce it very fair wire, as the fence has a very fine appearance, and appears strong and substantial, at the same time, the wire being in my opinion very well strained.

 

A new Gin has been erected at Green Hill at a cost of about £45. The large well there has been deepened 12 and 1/2 feet at 25/- per foot, and there is how a splendid supply of water there.  This well was slabbed afresh.

 

The well at Middle Onus Creek has also been re-slabbed as the old slabbing got burnt to the water's edge. 

The hand well at Phillips's Creek, Road Station, is being deepened.

Two hundred additional feet of Iron Bark Troughing are being laid at Jack's Creek, and 100 additional feet have been laid at Green Hills, at 1.3d. p. ft.  At each place there are now over 400 feet of Troughing.  400 ft. cattle troughing will soon be put at Gin Hut. Sundry other wells gins and troughs have been repaired or added to.

 

I am informed that another two Free Selectors have gone to the top of Warrah Creek, and that one has gone, to the top of Captain's Creek.  Two of these men were formerly shepherding, namely John Porter & Dan McGrath. Gallagher has also been giving some trouble, and will not allow our sheep to feed up Jack's Creek.  Our Jack's Creek Squattage is now nearly useless, and I should recommend you to sell it to Sevil.

 

Two small parts of our Jack's Creek paddock have been measured off for Gallagher at both ends of Said paddock. A part of our Warrah Creek paddock between Cedar Brush and Warrah Creek's has been measured off to Shanahan.  I believe Mr Andrew Loder is inclined to rent Boorambil Creek for other twelve months if you will let it to him.

Mr Joseph Murrison presently Overseer at East Warrah leaves next Quarter and Mr Thomas Callender, Storekeeper, and Assistant Sheep Overseer at West Warrah takes his place.  I have engaged a young man named Roberts in Callender 's place.  Murrison is a very honest trustworthy man, but hardly sharp enough for an Overseer on a large establishment.

 

I have just purchased from Messrs. Cohen & Levy, Tamworth, 30 Tons best new silk dressed Flour at £14 p. Ton delivered. I would recommend you to order 650 or 700 Wool packs from England branded A A as before, but they ought to be sent of better quality than the last, which were far inferior to those supplied in previous years.

 



Craik to Merewether, 15 February 1869.

 

Respecting Hudson I duly appreciate the nice way in which you put this matter to me.  In my opinion it would have been far better for the Company, & it certainly would have been infinitely more agreeable to me had Hudson remained single.  In fact I shall feel it as an intolerable bore and nuisance to be bothered with a fine female out there.  At the same time since the matter has now gone so far I have no wish or intention to throw any obstacles in the way, the more especially as you seem to favour it.  I beg however you will try & put off the matter as long as possible he ought to wait a year at least.  As to making Windy House fit to receive a Lady, I say if a working Overseer must have the expensive luxury of a Lady wife let him pay for that Luxury as he and he alone has the advantage, certainly not the Company.  The Hut however I consider at present barely done up sufficiently even for a Bachelor.  I therefore recommend you to allow Hudson £20 to calico & paper the place, & if you allow him to lay it out himself he will make it go much further than the Company could.  I may be wrong but I certainly think Hudson ought to have applied to you through me about making improvements at Windy, with the view of receiving his wife & I think you ought to tell him so. Am I to understand that Hudson is to get £200 p.a. from 1st January? 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 10 July 1869.

 

The Huts at Old Warrah have been rebarked & repaired, one having been taken down & re-erected.  A well 5 ft square & 21 feet deep has been sunk along side the Steam Engine. I have contracted for the sinking of another well at a spot near Boorambil Ridge which was pointed out by you when you were last at Warrah.  Price 13/6d per foot & all drawing both of slabs, & water for men while the work is being done, to be performed by Contractors. 

 

 

John G. Gamack to Merewether, 20 November 1869.

 

By Mr Craik's desire I send you Mr Martin's Report as to Sheep washing for 18th 19th & 20th Inst. 

There have been 36,328 sheep shorn to date as under,,,                                                                                     

Washed Sheep   34,120 producing 297 bales wool weighing 45 tons.

Greasy Sheep    2,208   producing 24 bales wool weighing 6 tons.


321 tons total.

27 Bales washed wool are on drays at Shed door, and will be despatched on Monday.  4 Bales are in Shed.

 

Mr Craik bids me ask you to send up 4 boring bits 3/16th Inch and not less than 7 inches long.  They are for fixing the teeth of new toothed . wheel at Washpool - the Carpenter has a bit the proper size but too short.

 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 31 January 1870.

 

I would take the liberty of particularly referring you to Mr Bramma's report on our Breeding Sheep, I consider it much to the point, and I endorse all he says and advises with the exception of two of his recommendations. The one is to have a 2nd Combing flock of Ewes, and the other is to introduce Imported Rams.  You will observe that with 169 old Stock of Rams and 96 purchased lately we have only in all 265 Selected Rams to put to our Ewes this Season, but I prefer putting to them a Small number of good Rams, to putting a large number, some being inferior.  Having already got large carcase, I now wish to grow a good "combing" wool.

Sheep Washing commenced at Warrah on 13th September 1869, and was finished on llth January 1870.

We commenced Shearing on 17th September 1869 and finished on 14th January 1870.  The number of washed Sheep Shorn was 62,064

of greasy                                                   15,202

Shorn in all                                                77,266

 

The washed Sheep produced 59.1 Bales of Wool, locks & etc. weighing 87 Tons 3 cwt: 2 qrs 10 Ibs: or 3.04 Ibs: per sheep, allowing 11 Ibs for each Woolpack.

The greasy sheep produced 195 Bales of Wool locks and clippings weighing 50 Tons 12 Cwt. 3 qrs 17 Ibs:  or 7.32 Ibs per sheep. 

 

The Warrah bred Stud Ewes numbering 284 produced 3 Bales of well washed Wool & pieces, Nos. 349, 350, 351, clippings not included, and these weighed exclusive of packs 10 Cwt: 3 qrs: 8 Ibs:  giving an average of over 4 1/4 Ibs of wool per sheep. These facts I think speak for themselves as regards the weight of our fleeces. The Stud Ewe Wool ought to be particularly mentioned when sent to England.

 

Our Shearing was prolonged to an undue extent this Season in consequence as I have said before, of our being unable with our present Washing plant to wash a sufficient number of sheep per day to keep 25 or 30 Shearers at Work.  Having substituted more powerful spouts than those supplied by Mr. A. K. Smith the Contractor for Washpool, we found the pump supplied by him would only throw sufficient water for 4 spouts instead of for 7 as originally intended.  We this Season Soaked the Sheep in Water at 110° in which were dissolved 1 Ib Caustic Soda and 11lb Yellow Soap to the 100 gallons.  When the Sheep had been 3 minutes in Soak they were passed under the Spouts, and with our 4 spouts we could wash on an average from 600 to 700 Sheep per day.  Say an average of 160 sheep per Spout.  I am glad to be able to report most favourably on our Washing this Season.  There is no comparison between the washing of 1868 & 1869, the improvement is so great, and this improvement I believe is mainly to be traced to the use of Caustic Soda, which we used this Season instead of Common Soda.  Most of our Sheep were washed beautifully clean, and every one who visited our Washpool, considered that the work was well if not expeditiously done.  I therefore look forward to our next wool Sales with some Confidence. While on this subject I ought to mention that I asked my female servant here on one occasion to wash two towels with a little bit of Caustic Soda, and she remarked that it Softened the water exquisitely, but the towels on being dried had a yellowish colour.  I mention this because I fancied occasionally that some.of our fleeces had more of a yellowish tinge than they ought to have, and I consider it is well to observe everything connected with the important operation of Sheep Washing.  In washing our Sheep we used much less Caustic Soda than which will I fear in some degree injure the latter part of our clip. Still on account of the Washing I consider some delay in Shearing was not only excusable but advisable, seeing that water was so plentiful, and that we were washing so well. 

As you could see when you were here our Sheep were very well shorn. Improvements & General Information. I shall now give you the improvements in the order in which they were executed during 1869.

 

First there were 203 additional feet of Iron Bark Troughing put to Jack's Creek Gin Well.

Some additional Troughing was put to Windy Road Station, and Pine Ridge Wells, and the last two were deepened.

Repairs were made to various Gins and Sheep Troughs.

195 feet of additional Ironbark Troughing were put to Greenhills Gin Well, and the well itself was deepened 12 feet, when a fine supply of water was obtained.  This is a very important and valuable well, and waters a large number of sheep.

The fence at New Warrah horse paddock was shifted, enlarging the paddock to some extent, and making the fence in line with the new Wire Cattle Paddock.

A new shingled Mens Hut with Skillion was erected at Windy head Station.

Sundry pieces of fencing were erected at Campion's Island, Road Station, Greenhills, Brown Ridge, Parsonshill, Harrison's and Jack's Creek Wells, inclosing Troughs and Horse Courses.

The dam at Washpool and race to Pump were cleaned out, and the former deepened and topped up to some extent, although the rain came before it could be deepened properly.  This dam was dry in March last but there is now plenty of water in it, it being only about 2 inches lower than when Washing commenced in September last.

371 feet of large Cattle Troughing were laid at Gin Hut near Old Warrah to water Cattle in case of need, and during Shearing to water sheep coming into shed.  The Gin here was also put in repair, and a great many sheep were watered by it during Shearing. We could not have watered washed sheep but for this well.

Two substantial log yards and Gunyah were erected at the junction of Dry and Warrah Creeks.  This will now be a permanent Sheep Station. '

The new wire Cattle Paddock was finished on 28 April.

Some Slight repairs were made to Huts & etc. at Old Warrah.

The well at Jack's Creek was reslabbed and the Hut and Gin there were taken down and reerected.

A well to supply Engine & etc. with water was sunk at Washpool 5 feet square and 21 feet deep.

A well 6 feet square was sunk 40 feet at head of Yellow Plain, but water was not got.  It has again been commenced to about 18 foot, but the sinking is hard and flashing has to be resorted to.  When water is found here, it will enable us to occupy a large tract of beautiful country on which there is not now a hoof.

The wire Sheep paddock No. 1 was finished some time since and 250 ft. additional Ironbark Troughing have been laid in it.

4 1/2 acres additional have been stumped, enclosed and laid down in Maize at Top of Warrah Creek, adjoining the Warrah Creek, adjoining the Warrah free hold.  These 4 1/2 acres you applied to purchase as part of 60 acres but through an informality in the measurement your application cannot be granted till the ground is measured again.  On this ground a rough Hay shed is also erected.

400 Lamb proof Hurdles have been made.

A battened yard 70 feet by 70 feet was erected on piles at Washpool, for Washed Sheep to dry on.  This is a very fine piece of work, and answers well in every way.  Two stoned yards were made alongside this.  In addition to these I have contracted for another substantial battened Sheep drying yard at Washpool to be 100 feet by 70.  Price £120 the Contractor finding everything except haulage.  He is allowed use of Engine for sawing, he paying the Engine driver.  A new Hut with Skillion and barked has also been erected at Washpool.  I should now recommend that a new woolshed be put up at Washpool so that sheep could go from Pool to Shed on battens, as it is impossible to keep washed sheep thoroughly clean if let out at all in dry weather. 

An excellent new Gin has been erected at Campion's Island. There are seven good Gin's now at Warrah all in thorough repair, and to protect them from the weather I have just had them all painted with two coats of white lead.

A rough Hay Shed and Stable have been erected at Windy in which is stored 2 or 3 Tons of good bush hay.

The Sheep Wire paddock No. 2 was contracted for by F. Lorentson at £24 p Mile, Lorentson finding everything except gates and wire.  The Stuff for this paddock is all in the ground, and it will be finished in March next.  257 feet of additional Ironbark Troughing have also been laid in this paddock.

A Strong paddock is very much wanted on Warrah to put young Bulls into that come up from Gloucester and Bowman for Sale, so that they might be kept apart from the other Cattle.

Little the Company's Engineer from Newcastle was here from 6th to 30th June, overhauling Steam Engine and fixing 6 new Spouts in Tank at washpool.

Mr Ogden the Company's Surveyor was also here early last year, laying out new Sheep Paddocks.

The Well at New Warrah has been cleaned out and deepened 4 feet and there are now 21 feet of water in it.

About 8 Tons Oaten hay have been reaped in cultivation paddock at Top of Warrah Creek and 2 Tons Lucerne Hay in paddock at Old Warrah. My neighbour Mr Andrew Loder obliged me by cutting the latter with his reaping machine.

About 5 acres are laid down in Maize in new cultivation paddock at Top of Warrah Creek.

A considerable quantity of Tallow has been sent from Warrah lately, and I strongly recommend that a commodious shed and loft be erected at New Warrah for Storage of Tallow, Maize, Hay, and for the protection of drays, carts and Station tools.  I should also recommend that one or two Small Coppers be got to boil down the fattest parts of the Sheep that are killed for Rations.

 

I have purchased 30 Tons fine flour from Mr. A Brodie, Murrurundi at £12.15/- bags included delivered at Warrah in equal parts quarterly during 1870.

Mr A. Loder agrees to rent Boorambil Creek for other 12 months on same terms as before vizi: £150 p annum.

I attended the Stock Wool and Agricultural Shows held in Sydney and Singleton last year.  The one in Sydney came off on 4 May and that in Singleton on 29th August.  At both I met many men of great pastoral and Agricultural experience, and Saw and heard much that was both interesting and useful.  It was not convenient or deemed advisable to send any exhibits on account of the Company to either exhibition but I trust to do so creditably before very long.

 

Mr Charles Stead classed our Wool this year as before.I could not go to the Wool Show held in Sydney on 13th inst. but 1 consider such exhibitions of great use to the Colony.

The Governor of New South Wales The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Belmore visited Warrah on 24 September and I received him with due respect, and showed him our Sheep Washing and Shearing in full operation.  I also shewed him some fine Durham Cows bred by the Company, with which he appeared much pleased.

 

 

Warrah.

 I allowed nothing at all for Horses either for Draught or Saddle. During the 8 years I have been here the money I have spent on account of the Company for Horseflesh has been very small, as I have managed with the old Horses, and the few fresh ones I could get from the wild ones. The old horses are now getting done one after the other, many of them being over 20 years old, and as the Supply from the wild horses can be no longer relied on I think it well to advise you in time that some fresh horses will by and bye be required for Station purposes.

 

I have now only to remark in conclusion that it is most gratifying to me (as it no doubt also is to you) that I am able to report so satisfactorily on the A. A. Company's Stations, and on the Stock departments generally.  There are few Stations in the Colony in such a flourishing state at the present time as those of the A. A. Company, and I think I can look back upon the last 8 years (during which time I have been in this employ) with some degree of pleasure and satisfaction, not only on account of the revenue realized but more particularly on account of the improvement which has taken place in the various kinds of Stock under my charge. We must not stand still however as our Motto must ever be "Forward Forward". Trusting the foregoing Report will answer your purpose and give you satisfaction. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 19 February 1870.

 

You will I am sure be sorry to hear that Brown has been playing up sadly.  He took a Tomahawk and threatened to murder his wife on Thursday night & afterwards rushed at Bob and others with a naked sword & drove them all out of the house, locking himself in.  His poor wife & little ones have had to come up here & I had to send to Stroud for a Constable yesterday. He arrived late last night & has gone down to Browns.  This is sad work & has hurt me much already as I feel awfully for poor Mrs Brown in the state which she now is.

I believe Brown is comparatively quiet to-day but he is quite gone in the head & I could see he was so as soon as I came here.  I don't consider the fits they talk about in Brown's case are anything more or less than Delerium-tremens, brought on by hard drinking - He still keeps drinking & always will so long as he is in the Public House.

 

I will finish & cut out the Bowman Herd today & will leave here on Monday or Tuesday.  Everything get on here well. I am just commencing to Write Monthly Statements.

Findlay the Constable has just returned & says Brown is again "clothed & in his right mind".  Mrs Brown will therefore go back to him once more & I shall read him a lecture before I leave. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 19 March 1870.

 

Warrah

I returned here from Port Stephens on 28th February,

and found things in a very dry State - The Surface water was fast disappearing, and the grass had got much parched up, since I left on the 4th of February.  Before leaving I took the precaution to have all the Wells in order, and on my return most of them were in use.  The above state of things continued only up to the evening of the 2nd March, as it began to rain that night, and came down in torrents all next day bringing down Warrah Creek.  Since that time to this date we have not had one dry day, and we have had three successive floods, one on the 10th, one on the ' 12th, and one on the 17th.  The flood on the 10th was by far the highest I have seen during the 8 and 1/2 years I have been at Warrah.  The water in this instance came down Warrah Creek like a great wave, and if it had risen 2 inches higher it must have done considerable damage at Washpool, as the Dam there must have gone.  Luckily it did not rise, and the two succeeding floods being 6 inches lower than the first, did little or no harm.  The Creek was last night running a banker, and quite uncrossable, but the weather is dry this morning, but threatening, and the Creek fordable.  I will now enumerate the damage done so far as I know, but the plains being so flooded and boggy, and the weather so wet, I have not been able to go over much of the run. 

At the Top of Warrah Creek the fence of paddock there in bed of Creek is washed away.  Two or three tons of oaten hay that could not be got into shed there, will I fear be spoiled.  The maize will also I think be injured. 

Coming down to Old Warrah, the water rose in gully alongside well and kept running into it, so that the well is injured and a good deal, and threatens to fall in.  I have put on 3 men to repair it for £5.  The Overseer's old Cottage is also in a deplorable state, the plaster is falling in many places, and the chimney is all but down.  Part of the fencing in Lucerne Paddock at Old Warrah got washed away, and of course all the fencing in bed of creek in Old Warrah Horse Paddock went with the current, as did the wire fence in bed of creek in Cattle Paddock.  The water was running very strong in plain in front of my house and levelled most of the split fence at each side of large gate leading to Old Warrah.  At new Warrah there is no damage done at all.  The Woolshed stands high and dry and not a drop of rain has come into any part of it.  It is certainly a splendid building as regards strength and substantiality. 

At the Washpool there has been less damage done, than might have been expected, the wings only of dam there having been carried away.  At one time matters looked very serious at Washpool as the water ran round Steam Engine and into race immediately below it, undermining the ground on which the Engine Stood,  Luckily however the flood began to fall before any injury was done to Engine, and steps were at once taken to replace and slab up the ground washed away.

I have heard from Mr Wright that our Wool is all washed but that some of it is not yet dry, and cannot be dried owing to the weather. He says he did not wash the wool sooner in consequence of repeated thunder showers during December and January, which dirtied the water, and he wished to do our wool well.  I have reason to believe that this is strictly true.  It might be advisable to send someone to Muswellbrook to see after our wool.  I will run down next week, if I can manage it. 

I have this moment got a letter from Mr Hudson stating that all goes well at Windy, and that he can manage to get along by borrowing rations till such time as the weather takes up.

Taking everything into consideration the Sheep here at the present time are in as Satisfactory a State as could be expected, but as a matter of course they look very miserable after so much rain.

 

I have had a good_many Bathurst Burrs cut, but in such weather as this, they grow as fast as I can cut them so I have knocked off most of the Burrcutters till the weather changes.

Before 1 left Port Stephens I made all the necessary arrangements about the Imported Bulls, and they looked well and were doing well, "Lord Beaumont" was very much better of his lameness the morning I left, and I think he will soon be perfectly sound.  The two red Bulls had served several cows, and were taking well to the place.  I think of putting a fresh Stockman at the Bowman soon.  I send you herewith a corrected account of Bowman Muster, and I think said Muster was a very good one.

 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 23 April 1870.

 

Sunday, 24 April.  Last night we had the highest flood ever known here.  Plain in front of my House an unbroken Sea of Water.

Considerable damage done.  Up mail Stuck at Willow Tree.  Down Mail at Colly Creek Main Station. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 22 June 1870.

 

Shanahan's cattle were I believe impounded from about Lingfords Camp.  Had I been at home I might have arranged the matter differently with Shanahan, but the Young fellows could not, well act differently seeing they have positive instructions to bring all stray stock wherever found on the property to the yard & in my absence to take them to pound.  If I told our Overseers not to see too much, you may rely upon it they would carry out the instruction to the letter, & Warrah Creek outside the paddock would very soon be fully stocked with our neighbours Cattle & Horses.  You need not fear that I shall quarrel with Shanahan, but I shall still keep as strict with him as hitherto. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 29 July 1870.

 

As regards Sheep Washing I agree with the Directors in thinking that we have not yet succeeded in properly removing the old yolk, and the harshness in the handle of our Wool is no doubt mainly to be attributed to this cause. I think however that the chemical composition of this yolk and of the dirt contained in the Wool of Liverpool Plains Sheep, has as much to do with our imperfect washing as the hard water.  In proof of which I may mention that with Warrah Water I find I can wash Sheep just brought from New England in a far superior Style to what I can Plains Sheep. 

I now come to the Washpool matter.  I may be wrong but I cannot help thinking that this matter has much to do with what I have just been complaining of.  We have certainly all along had our little tiffs but for several years they were only such as all men must expect to have in passing through this world.  They are now however becoming far more numerous & disagreeable & I believe that the fact that you believe that I do not throw my whole heart into the Sheep-washing business has much to do with this.  Whether such has been the case hitherto, & whether your contemptuous treatment of me in this matter might not tend to produce this feeling is not now the question, it is what will be my feeling for the future, & what will be the result.  There is no use in wasting words so I shall come to the point at once & make the following proposal namely.  That suppose there is sufficient water and the wash-pool is properly fitted up you shall knock one hundred per annum off my salary if I do not get up the wool in a satisfactory manner & if I do you shall add one hundred per annum to it. 

I shall of course do my best under any circumstances, but if you agree to the above arrangement I will have the satisfaction of feeling that you believe that I mean what I say.

 

Now as to the work done at Washpool.  The spouting cistern is finished & in its place, two of the spouts are fixed & the others are being fixed.  The spouting tank underneath is finished & the landing & draining stages are in progress.  The soak & swim are finished (except the valve) & in their places & the ground is being slabbed up round them.  The swim is not rivetted up quite so straight as it ought to have been, as some of the plates got slightly bent in coming up.  I told the rivetters yesterday they must correct this.   

Britten says he will finish the sluicing on Thursday when I will take over the work.  He will then commence to clear into & get stuff ready for race into pump.  After this he will do showering yards & he will conclude by stopping up dam by a small temporary embankment, say 8 ft wide & 4 ft high.  So far as I can see everything will be ready for fixing of pump by this day week & I have told the men that we wish to commence washing on 5th Sept. & I hope to be able to do so by the 12 of that Month at farthest. 

The large & deep hole which was washed out in foundation of Dam is filled up to within 16 in of surface of water.- I measured it yesterday.

 

 


Craik to Merewether, 1 September 1870.

 

You will see that from 23,822 Ewes of all ages 4,986 have been culled for Sale or fattening, 1135 have been marked as Short-woolled or clothing Sheep, 17,158 have been set apart as Breeders, and 543 have been set apart as a Special or Stud flock from which to breed Rams. The culls are principally hard Short or inferior woolled Sheep, and are in my opinion only fit to be fattened for the Butcher.  The Clothing flock consists of Soft but Short woolled sheep, which ought to have been culled if we could have afforded it without reducing our numbers too much.  I hope to do away with the clothing flock another year, and in the meantime it can be turned to account by having the largest woolled Rams marked for it, which has been done.  The 17,158 Ewes set apart as general Breeders are in general well grown symmetrical Sheep, they are mostly free from frill of wrinkle. 

The work at Washpool has made good progress since my last report, although the weather has been most unfavourable.  The new Soak,Swim, Spout Cistern and spouts are all rivetted up, fixed in their places, and battened and slabbed round about and underneath , and finished off in a very strong substantial manner.  The filling up and Catching pens are finished and the additional showering and receiving yards are very nearly so.  The race leading from Spouts to drying yard is finished and the drying yards themselves were as you know finished months ago.  The throwing in Stage with Slope thereto are finished and the zinc is fixed underneath battens of draining Stage.  There has been a great deal of work at well for new Appold's Pump, but it is now finished, and the framing for pump is being put in today. 

Mr Winship our Colliery Manager arrived here yesterday morning and at once went down to Washpool, where he is now superintending the erection of Pump. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 5 October 1870.

 

So far as I am concerned I took every precaution to have the cattle looked after, & the fences repaired as they were mostly down but the Cattle paddock is still open in bed of Creek below Wash-pool & must remain so for some time until the water dries up.-  I am sorry to say it is very hard to find an honest man in these parts, & as you know we are surrounded on every side by settlers and others bearing the vilest of characters - I am glad to say the' Cattle are upon the whole thriving very well, a few have died from Hoye. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 14 October 1870.

 

This cattle business has given me very great uneasiness, but I cannot reproach myself with any neglect or carelessness in the matter.  Young also seems to be very much vexed & has expressed his wish to give up charge of the Cattle at any time.  What with Cattle & Sheep Stealers, continued wet weather & want of Shearers my life is rather an unpleasant one at present, but surely this worry & vexation will have an end.  It gives me enough to do to manage a large body of Stock in such a season as this without being racked and heart broken by dishonest sneaking villains, the scum & slime of the world.  By such however we are known to be surrounded, & we have suffered, & I believe always will suffer from their depredations. 

The new engine is now safely fixed on sleepers at Wash-pool, or rather the case containing it is & it will be barked over forthwith.  I should have liked better to have seen the price of it in the Company's Coffers, but I suppose this is no business of mine. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 28 December 1870.

 

We finished shearing the Warrah Sheep this afternoon.  The number shorn in all, 78,533.  689 bales of nicely washed wool are pressed, & of these 421 Bales have been despatched, leaving now 268 Bales in Shed as per Mr Thomson’s statement herein  enclosed & there are about 6 Bales still to press.  I enclose a sample of wool off the last flock of Warrah Ewes which flock was Shorn today being No. 52,or "Clothing" Ewes.  The wool was out in all the recent rain for exactly one week so that it does not look so bad taking this into consideration.  The fleeces of these sheep are by no means good as the sheep properly speaking ought to have been culls.  If the weather keeps fine I hope to finish shearing the purchased sheep on Thursday next as I have kept on our staff of washers & shearers.  As requested by you I now enclose a list of our wool brands. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether.  31 January 1871.

 

I now beg to hand you my Annual Report on the A. A. Company's Stock and Stations, under my charge from 1st January 1870 to date, commencing as usual with Warrah

In the Liverpool Plains district the weather in the early part of 1870 was comparatively dry and warm.  There had been sufficient showers to raise grass, but the creeks, Springs, and waterholes were much dried up, and wells had to be resorted to for the Stock.  This State of things continued up to 3rd March 1870 when it commenced to rain.  And it has continued rainy, more or less, almost every week ever since.  We have also been visited by numerous high floods, which repeatedly carried away fencing, and did other damage.  In particular the flood of Saturday evening 23rd April last was by far the highest I have ever witnessed on Liverpool Plains.  The plain in front of my house was on that occasion one Sea of Water from side to side, and Warrah Creek coming down so high caused some damage to the Dam at Washpool, and to the ground on which Steam Engine is placed.

So much continued rain has of course rendered the plains very wet and boggy, and in some parts they are quite impassable even for horsemen.  As a matter of course all the Creeks and gullies are now running Strong, and the Dams, and Waterholes are bumper full.

 

Grass, herbs, and rank weeds are luxuriant to a fault all over the run, so much so that it is troublesome, in some instances, from their length and density to ride through them.  I cut some grass off the plains lately, and measured it, and found it to be 9 feet 5 inches long. There are also thousands of acres bearing grass this length.  Bathurst Burr and other noxious weeds are I regret to say very plentiful.  I have had the run burnt in patches, where it could be done, but the grass is too green to do much in this way.  Bathurst Burr is being cut. 

Notwithstanding the very wet season the Stock have done well, both Cattle and Sheep, although the latter are continually getting lost. I have little or no disease however to report among the Stock which is so far satisfactory.

 

The above 8363 purchased sheep consisted of 8253 wethers bought from Messrs McRae, Bell, Wyndham, and Gallagher, and 110 yearling rams from Messrs George & Charles Cox of Mudgee.  The wethers were fair sized sound sheep from 2 to 5 years old, and have done well since they were put on the run.  The rams may be described as medium sized well shaped sheep, well covered with fleeces of considerable length, softness, character and quality, and possessing a middling amount of density and evenness throughout.  I consider they are well suited to cross our Ewes with. 

The 14,503 lambs consist of 11,675 weaned in March from Spring Ewes, and 2828 weaned in September from Autumn Ewes.

 

Mr Bramma, Dr Traill's Wool sorter commenced to cull and class our breeding sheep on 19th July and finished on 2nd August.  The list of his culling and classing is already in your hands as well as his report on our bleeding sheep, to which documents I would beg to refer you.  You will see that from 23,822 Ewes of all ages 4986 have been culled for sale or fattening, 1135 have been marked as short woolled or Clothing sheep, 17,158 have been set apart as Breeders, and 543 have been set apart as a Special or Stud flock from which to breed Rams.  The culls are principally hard short or inferior woolled sheep, and are in my opinion only fit to be fattened for the Butcher.  The Clothing flock consists of Soft but short woolled sheep, which ought to have been culled if we could have afforded it without reducing our numbers too much.  I hope to do away with the Clothing flock another year, and in the meantime it can be turned to account by having the largest woolled Rams marked for it, which has been done.The 17,158 Ewes set apart as general breeders are mostly well grown symetrical sheep, they are as a rule from frill or wrinkle, and very well covered with wool of medium quality and length.

The 543 Ewes selected for the Stud flock are almost all very handsomely framed sheep with long soft combing fleeces of medium density. The Rams reserved for our own use' have almost^off soft and moderately long wool of very fair quality.  Of the 357 culls I marked 195 which might be sold, and 60 have been sold, 162 old and inferior Rams I have marked to be boiled down after shearing.  In fact all the cull Rams ought to be boiled down when in moderate condition if not sold.

 

I mustered culled and counted out the Bowman herd on 21st February last, when there were 723 Cattle on the run, being the Register number at that date.  I culled 200 from the above, and transferred them to Gloucester, and with deaths and transfer of Steers and Bulls to Warrah the number of Cattle in the Bowman herd by December Return amounted to 528.  Of these about 250 are Cows and young Heifers fit for the Bull, and the remaining 278 consist of weaned Heifers in Gloucester paddocks, young bulls, Steers and calves. The Bowman herd is now all in paddocks, the Cows and 3 year old Heifers being marked, and divided among the three imported Bulls. 

 

I have much pleasure in being able to report most favourably of all the three imported Bulls.  They have now quite recovered the voyage out, and are in what may be termed fine strong store condition.  They are doing excellent service in the herd, which, I have no doubt, from their shape and pedigree, they will improve greatly. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 4 October 1871.

 

 Warrah

I reported last on 3rd Sept.  Since that date up to the present the weather has been most seasonable & very suitable for washing & shearing. We have had rains two days, sufficient to lay the dust & raised a most luxuriant spring of grass, so that the run now looks particularly well from side to side.  We have had two Bush fires adjoining Old Warrah near the track of the washed sheep which we could have dispensed with, but the rain above referred to has mended matters very much causing a fine spring in the grass on the burnt parts.

 

Sheep.

The Sheep are all doing particularly well & I have never before had so few deaths & losses during washing & shearing.  Up to last night 51,326 Sheep were washed according to Martin.  You have Washing report up to Friday night last.  On Saturday 1135 were washed.  On Monday 1,305 & yesterday 1342, but these are of course included in the 51,326. 

 



Craik to Merewether, 2 January 1872.

 

The next question I wish to ask is in respect to ringbarking.  A man has just agreed with me for 6d p. one.  You told me I might ringbark at back of Borambil Ridge in Cattle paddocks Nos. 2 & 3 marked in plan Nos. 13 & 15.

I propose commencing to ringbark at North Boundary on Borambil Ck & ringing up said Creek between said Creek & Crest of Boorambil Ridge 150 yards of Forest being left along Bank of Creek unrung.  Do you approve? 

 

 

Craik to Merewether, 22 January 1872.

 

As regards my marriage I would never dream of any extra charge on the Company on that account but I dare say you will remember that you once said to me that when the Company’s net revenue from stock reached £15,000 per annum you would then be prepared to make my salary £800 a year.  Seeing however that the Directors appear to think that my present salary is a "very liberal one" I suppose I need to look for any advance.  The additions being made to my House as you are aware are only such as are absolutely necessary & they ought to have been erected when the House was first built.  I have proposed some slight alterations in the matter of servants, but as you do not seem to approve I am agreeable that matters remain in this respect as before.

 

I quite agree with Mr Busby that Warrah is now only in its infancy as its carrying capabilities have never yet been thoroughly taken advantage of.  During the 10 years I have had charge of the Company's Stock I consider the property would have carried un-enclosed 90,000 (sheep)and 2,000 cattle at least, and when it is all enclosed and additional wells, Dams and water holes made I consider it will carry 150,000 sheep & 2,000 cattle.  It is a property however that ought to be stocked according to the season and at the right time and it is one that can be so stocked in that the slightest risk as regards scarcity of grass as fat sheep or semi fat sheep can always be either sold or boiled down.

 

As regards the Port-Stephens property it is certainly a 3rd rate one even as a Nursery ground for Cattle at present.  The Cattle on The "Gloucester" & "Bowman" runs are I believe all more or less Fluked & I told Mr Busby so.  At least every one I have seen killed for some time past has had live Flukes or flat shaped living creatures in the substance of its liver.  And almost all the cattle bred on Port Stephens are deficient both in size and stamina I believe mainly from this cause.  No doubt the property would be much improved by ring-barking & enclosing but I do not know that it would be wise to enclose so very large tract of Country until we first prove that the pastures are sufficiently sweetened & improved by ring-barking to warrant the great expense,of enclosing.  Moreover the fact of the Cattle being so well broke in to the runs renders enclosing less necessary.-  I therefore recommend extensive ring-barking & and enclosing of say 2000 or 3000 acres of the best of the ring-barked land.

 

As to the removing of the Gloucester Herd to Warrah I would not advise this - 1st because the greater part of Warrah is of too fattening a nature for Cattle to breed well - 2nd because the Gloucester Herd could take up too much valuable fattening country say 80,000 acres.- and 3rd because with the assistance of Warrah to finish them off, I think the Gloucester Cattle show a very good return now.  The Fluke disappears in the Salt-Knob pastures of Liverpool Plains and the cattle there become entirely different animals in shape size, stamina and condition. 

 

 

Craik to Merewether. 5th February 1872.

 

 Improvements and General Information. 

Mr Ogden has finished the surveying and laying.out of the Paddocks on East Warrah, and as requested by you I have had a tabular Statement prepared. (and appended to this report) shewing what Fencing has been erected on Warrah Since Cattle Paddocks No. 1 & 2 (on Plan (10.11.12) & 13) and Sheep Paddocks Nos. 1 & 2 were erected.  Since the completion of the above towards the end of 1870 the following Cattle Paddocks have been finished and partly stocked namely Nos. 14 & 15. and the Sheep Paddocks finished and Stocked are Nos.3, 4,5,6,7 and 16.  Nos. 17,18,19 and Bowden's paddock on East Side of Great Northern Road are, as you will see per list, well in hand but not completed.  With the exception of Bowden's paddock I think the others ought all to be completed by about the end of April.  All our Fencing as you know has been erected in the most strong and substantial manner and (with the exception of damage done by floods) it has stood particularly well since it was erected.  Owing to the late dry weather many of the posts, especially on the Plains, have got more or less loose, but I am continually having the worst of them remmed up and secured. As you will see by the Statement above referred to 70 3/8 miles of Fencing have been completed and there are 17 1/8 miles erected but not wired.

 

Mr Alexander Busby one of our Directors arrived here on 26th April, and left on 4th May.  As you are aware you came up the same day as Mr Busby, and I also arrived here that day from my usual quarterly visit to Port Stephens.  While he was here we showed Mr Busby our principal improvements, Woolshed, Dams, Fences & etc. both on East and West Warrah, and also a good many of our Sheep and Cattle, and we explained to him our arrangements generally, with which upon the whole he seemed well satisfied. Since Mr Busby returned to England, I have also perused with much interest his Report on Warrah dated 7 May 1871.

 

In that Report Mr Busby expresses himself as much pleased with this rich and superb tract of Country known as the A. A. Co's Warrah Estate, and he also expressed himself as highly pleased upon the whole with the appearance of our Stock and with our arrangements generally.  He particularises 5 matters however to which I beg briefly to refer.

 

1st.  He says "our flocks with one exception were looking as well as possible".  That exception was a flock of Ewe Weaners at Jack's Creek, which were weaned 6 weeks earlier than usual, that the Ewes might be put to the Ram for a Winter Lambing.  This with the wet Season, and the burry run on which they were placed caused this flock to look at the time very indifferently.  After a time with change of pasture this flock became quite as good as any of the others.

2nd.  As regards our Stud flock.  Mr Busby saw it to the very greatest disadvantage on a damp day, when the wool was half grown, (when it is all but impossible to judge of a Sheep's fleece) and before the Ewe Hoggetts and aged Ewes were culled from it preparatory to putting the Ewes to the Ram.  If Mr Busby had seen this flock before Shearing Say in October after 200 Ewes had been culled from it, I feel certain he would have formed a very different opinion of it.  Still I am far from thinking that it is by any means perfect in point of equality as a Stud flock, as that is a matter of time, and can only be arrived at after many years watchfulness and careful breeding.

 

3rd.  Mr Busby refers to our Victorian bred Stud Rams.  The same remarks apply to them as to the Ewes.  He saw them at an unfortunate time, when their wool was only half grown.  These Rams have deteriorated very much on these Plains, and I admit I am in some measure disappointed with them, and more particularly with many of the lambs got by them.  They evidently do not suit these parts so well as Mudgee bred Rams, which has induced us to put them in the general breeding flocks this year, and procure Mudgee Rams for our Stud flock.

 

4th.  I am not surprised that Mr Busby was disgusted with the quantity of Bathurst Burrs growing on Warrah, but this a grievance of very long standing which existed long before I came here, and it will not now be easily put down in wet and dropping seasons, as the ground is full of Burr Seed.

 

5th.  I cannot help agreeing with Mr Busby that fattening Sheep would pay better than breeding, on the greater part of Warrah, but a reasonable number of breeding Sheep can I think at the same time be kept with advantage here.

Upon the whole there can be no doubt that Mr Busby is right in pronouncing this the finest property in New South Wales, as in a moderately wet season it would carry an almost incalculable number of Stock.  With a few additional wells, dams and Waterholes, and taking the average of seasons (during the past 10 years) I think when all enclosed Warrah would carry from 130,000 to 150,000 Sheep and 2000 Cattle. 

 

Out of our 8 Gin Wells for watering Stock we have only used 2 during the 12 months  bygone, and until very recently only one.  Surface Water has been so abundant, but it now begins to dry up.

 

Gloucester.

Up to May the weather at Port Stephens was most favourable for Stock, and for the growth of grass. This run therefore in the end of April looked well as did the Cattle upon it.  That is as well as they can be expected to look on a third rate country such as Port Stephens undoubtedly is.  The disease known as Fluke in the liver is still prevalent in this herd.  It does not usually kill the Cattle outright, but it tends to keep them low in condition, and to retard their growth, while they remain in the Flukey Country.  I am of opinion that ringbarking the Trees is the best means of Sweetening and improving the Port Stephens pastures and in a great measure preventing Fluke, that is in moderately dry Seasons.  In such a wet Season as 1870 Fluke is sure to prevail in such a Country as Port Stephens abounding as it does with Swamps and boggy ground on every side.  Still as a general rule the mortality among the Port Stephens Cattle is not very great, although they are often poor, but with the assistance of Warrah, they soon improve in condition and size.  In conjunction with Warrah therefore I think the Port Stephens property pays very fairly.

Warrah shearing shed. 1871.
Warrah's Washpool.

Craik to Merewether, 26 March, 1872.

 

I write to say that a man named Donahoe has applied to me to rent the piece of land at North boundary between Namoi & Gt Northern roads.  He wishes to build an Inn & would rent the land or part of it for 7 years and would take part of it on Building Lease.  That is in the latter case he would put up an Inn which would be the Company's in 7 years.  I simply told the man to write to you & said I thought you should prefer to rent the land.  The man is a very respectable person & he wishes the place for his mother who now keeps the Burning Mountain Inn called Highland Home.  She is also a very respectable person I refer of course to the piece of land not rented by Borden & Wallace

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helper | Reply 05.06.2020 15:41

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27.12 | 18:19

Just a quick point re Mary Gallagher (Pearson). While Mary did die in Armidale the date was 26 September 1886 (NSW BDM 12817/1886)

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27.12 | 18:13

Just a quick point re Mary Gallagher (Pearson). While Mary did die in Armidale the date was 26 September 1886 (NSW BDM 12817/1886)

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18.12 | 17:53

Thank you so much Geoff, love the photos our 4 sons will have a great time going through all of them. Wonderful memories.

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18.12 | 15:00

That was quick Heather. Well done. I've tagged you in a few things. Hope you enjoy it.

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