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Mount Gipps Station, Cradle of Broken Hill

By E. S. Sorenson

WHEN THE BARRIER WAS BEGINNING TO BOOM.—The Broken Hill Proprietary Mine in the year 1 887, located on the site of Charles Rasp's phenomenally rich discovery on Mount Gipps Station (our

years previously.

Last week the City of Broken Hill celebrated its Jubilee—the completion of half a century of silver and lead production. ..

No place in the solemn Barrier Ranges has figured so much in local history and romance as Mount Gipps sheep station, a place of a thousand memories for thousands of men, except perhaps Euriowie, the city of ruins, which was once a part of the run, as other neighboring places were, ere silver lured crowds

into the grim solitude of its environs.

Mount Gipps was a squattage long before the first miner's shack was built at Broken Hill, which was also a part of the run. Almost the whole history of the Barrier Ranges is wrap ped up in that old homestead; and how many thousands of shearers, dro vers, miners, rouseabouts have tarried there would be hard even for the oldest hand to estimate.

The run of 1,400 square miles was taken up in 1866 by Cunningham and McCredie, who sold it to James Mc Culloch and Co., and five years after wards George McCulloch, a nephew of the principal, was installed as man ager. The station was then a lonely outpost, with an outstation at Ste phen's Creek, planted amid dry miles of saltbush and mulga and gibber hills, an almost waterless land of shimmering heat, where many a ven turesome prospector left his bones.

George McCulloch was a gritty, hard-driving Scot, the man of indomit able spirit that was wanted for that grim region which bordered what Sturt called the Stony Desert. In a

CLOSE-UPS OF A FOX-HUNT at Mr. Keith Carter's property at Mt. Wooloomai, N.S.W. The top picture shows a fox "flattening" to escape a young cattle dog; but the ruse was in vain, for—bottom

picture—the dog is in at the kill.

good season it was a beautiful land of waving grass and flowers; in a drought it was stern and forbidding.

Tanks and dams made the broad miles permanent for sheep; and the early tank-sinkers were some of the lucky one who became rich. George Lind, storekeeper and bookkeeper on Mt. Gipps, entered many a name in the station books that are linked with the romance of Broken Hill.

Notable Names

Among the notables who worked on the station or started out on their various careers there, were George Kidman, stockman, drover and miner; his brother Sid, now the knighted cattle king; Charlie Rasp, discoverer of the Silver Hill; Paddy Green, after wards storekeeper at Menindie; Thackaringa Billy, Wonnaminta Joe, Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens, son of Charles Dickens, the novelist; and Fred Trollope, son of Anthony Trol

lope.

George Kidman, with George Urqu hart, the overseer, took the first mob of sheep, 6000 head, from Mt. Gipps to Melbourne. They hit the Darling at Ivinchega, followed it down, and cross

ed the Murray at Taplo. The sheep were sold in Melbourne for 5s. 3d. a

head.

! Sid Kidman was bullock-driving and

j rouseabouting on Mount Gipps for j 10s. a week, and it was there also that,

he learned to ride buckjumpers, for

j in his young days Kidman was one of

the best rough riders in the country. From there he graduated to drover, mail contractor, coach driver, and cattle buyer.

Big Discoveries

Paddy Green was the first to dis cover silver lead ore on the Barrier. That was in 1876, in the vicinity of Thackaringa. He was storekeeping at Menindie then, and was driving to Terowie, when he picked up a floater on the track that sheep men and others innumerable had passed over.

Seven years later, Charlie Rasp, the boundary-rider on Mt. Gipps, struck the first color at Broken Hill, a 1-w hump on a part of the run called Willyama. He had the veteran pros pector's eye for likely places, and by

means of his inveterate habit of fosr sicking while on his lonely rounds among the rocky saltbush and Mulga covered ridges, the world's greatest silver mine was located.

But at that time Rasp didn't recog nise "the ore. Though Silverton was then booming, and silver was being got at other places, Rasp thought his find was tin.

Wonnaminta Joe

Wonnaminta Joe (Joe Walden), when I saw him last—in 1901—had retired from the sheep walks and sil ver hills, and was keeping the wayside

pub at Cobham Lake, known to the blacks as Gourntah Lake, on the road to Milparinka.

He got his name from Wonnaminta Creek, the scene of the biggest drov ing smash in N.S.W., when 600 out of 1300 bullocks travelling down from Cobham Lake were smothered in a boggy hole. That was in 1884, the year after the discovery of Broken

Hill.

His compatriot, Thackaringa Billy, was well-known all over the western country as a cute drover with a fam ous dog. I think it was the dog— which was a slut—that made Thacka ringa a noted character, like Jack Burgess and his horse, Tom Tit, an other remarkable pair of the same

region.

Thackaringa often had a spare horse following the travelling stock, and now and again, to give his four footed mate a spell, particulai'ly over hot stones and bindies, he lifted her on to the saddle, and she rode serenely along at the tail of the mob.

Son of Charles Dickens

Edward Dickens, while jackerooing, basked in the reflected glory of the great novelist, and no doubt, among many others he helped to make an "Old Curiosity Shop" of Mount Gipps in the way of personalities.

He settled at Wilcannia, and subse quently represented the corner in N.S.W. Parliament for five and a half years. He died in 1902, and was buried at Moree. '

I When Charlie Rasp discovered

Broken Hill, the syndicate that opened it was composed wholly of Mount Gipps men. In the sudden rush of silver wealth the sheep were tempor arily forgotten and tank-sinking and dam-making suspended.

Members of the first company that was formed included: George McCul loch, manager of Mt. Gipps; Phillip Charlie, a station hand; Sam Haw kins, the carpenter; Dave James and Jim Poole, tank sinkers; and, of course, Charlie Rasp, boundary rider.

William Jamieson, who was then a Government surveyor, was appointed manager for the company. He pitched his tent near the claim, arid built a stone fire-place for the convenience of the cook. That dumpy fire-place has been carefully preserved for 50 years, and is enclosed with a two

railed fence.

The Silver King

Charlie Rasp was soon a wealthy man, and became known as the Silver King. With that attractive title ~ and his riches he tripped down to Ade laide and married, a German girl, whom he took back with him to the Hill, partly by train, and partly by coach and bullock dray. She, too, basked a while at Mt. Gipps, though Charlie was now for ever done with sheep and station life. After he died his widow went to Germany, where she married a Bavarian Count named Von Zedwitz, who died during the war. . Subsequently the countess

turned to South Australia and settled at Medindie, near the old home where she had lived when the Silver King launched her on her romantic career.

The mines and the city, with Euri owie, Tarrowingee, Stephen's Creek, and other settlements, cut huge gaps out of Mti Gipps run, but still the sheep pastures stretched away into the hazy distance from the grim-look ing, brooding hills known" as the Bar

rier Range.

Digitisation generously supported by
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New South Wales Government
Digitisation generously supported by
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New South Wales Government
Digitisation generously supported by
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State Library of NSW Digital Excellence Program
Digitisation generously supported by
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