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Pastoral Pioneers

 

By R.V.B. and A.S.K.

NICHOLAS COLE  

AMONG the most renowned of the

merino clips of Australia is the NC brand, grown in the Camperdown district of Victoria. Year after year this brand has topped the Geelong market. In the war period NC wool sold by the Imperial Government made the record price of 109d. a lb. The brand perpetuates the name of Nicholas Cole, of West Cloven Hills, one of the leading pioneers of Port Phillip. As a young man Cole inherited an estate at Rame Head, near Plymouth, but keen to try his fortunes in the young colonies of Australia, he sold his estate, and came out to Sydney. That was in 1839. The journey occupied nine months. After landing in Sydney, Cole, in company with two friends, Peter McArthur and M. Duverney, a Frenchman, came south to Port Phillip in a small vessel. They hired a guide to take them from Geelong through the Stoney Rises, and travelling on they reached Mount Leura. Here these three pioneers were able to view an im mense tract of country, which since has proved to be unrivalled almost for produc tivity. The Manifolds had arrived at the spot a few weeks earlier, and had squatted on some of the richest lands, but there was plenty of room for Cole and his com panions.

They decided to settle on the eastern bank of the Emu Creek. Their first camp ing ground was upon what afterwards be came Wooriwyrite Station. This area they took up, but it was found that the water available was indifferent for stock, and they decided to sell out, if possible. The best offer they could get was from J. G. Ware, who secured the run in exchange for a team of bullocks and a gun. About 75 years later the site of the old camp was included in an area of 8,000 acres, which was acquired by the eldest son of Cole from Thomas Shaw for £6 an

acre.

With their stock and effects added to by Ware's bullocks and gun, the party squatted on the country which later com prised West Cloven Hills, Meningoort, and other properties. Duverney soon became tired of the routine and hardships of the squatter's life. He yearned for more com pany. So he gave up the land and opened an hotel at Cressy, on the old Geelong Darlington coach route. Duverney's Inn, or better known as the Frenchman's, be came a colonial landmark, and a veritable money-spinner. Duverney made a for tune from his inn, and subsequently he re turned to France. The squatting associa tion of Cole and McArthur continued till the fifties, when they divided their hold ing, Cole taking as his share most of the plains, and McArthur most of the wooded country.

At the time of the Black Thursday fire   much of the Western district was burnt out. The woolshed, outbuildings, and stock at West Cloven Hills were lost. Only the homestead was saved. Because of this misfortune Cole, a little later, was unable to find £ 1 an acre to make the best parts of his run freehold. Selectors came in, and before he could regain possession of his land he was obliged to pay as much as £8 an acre to some of the selectors. He persevered, nevertheless, despite excep tional handicaps, and in the end suc ceeded in piecing together one of the prin cipal grazing properties of Victoria, an estate possessed still by descendants of the pioneer.

It has been asserted that the family name Cole comes from Coel. the founder of Colchester, who was a descendant of Caractacus, and one of the rulers of Britain. The ancient Coel was the character portrayed by the nursery rhyme "Old King Cole." Nicholas Cole died in 1879. His wife, who was a Hodgson, from Yorkshire, lived till 1916. At West Cloven Hills there is a little private cemetery where these pioneers were placed to rest.

Before the high jumping contest at the Geelong show on October 3 Mr. J. Henry, the judge, called owners and riders together, and said that, in view of the comments made about cruelty to horses in jumping contests, he intended to see that every semblance of cruelty was eliminated. The use of sticks or whips to make the horses face the hurdles, any form of beating, or any semblance of punishment, would result in the disqualification of the horse and owner. The owners congratulated Mr. Henry, and said that they would willingly obey his directions. In the contest the winning horses jumped 6ft. 9in.

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