THE NORTH-WEST AND TROPICAL NORTH. AGRICULTURAL COMMISSIONER'S REPORT. INVESTIGATIONS BY MR. A. DES- PEISSIS. HISTORICAL REVIEW. Having discussed in a general way the cli- mate and soil characteristics and the water supply of the North-West and of the Kim- berleys," says the Commissioner for Tropical Agriculture (Mr. A. Despeissis) in his report, several extracts from which have previously been published, "it seems appropriate to give a few brief historical notes concerning the early settlement of that portion of the State. "In his 'Early Memories of the Great Nor'- West,' Mr. A. R. Richardson, himself a pioneer of that portion of Western Australia, refers to the journal of Mr. Frank T. Greg- ory, a well-known surveyor of the time, and a brother of the explorer, Augustus Gregory, as being one of the first authoritative re- ports printed. It relates his experience dur- ing that exploration trip undertaken in Mr. F. T. Gregory's report of the im- portant discoveries of pastoral lands met with when on his exploration trip was really the origin and foundation of the settlements afterwards established in the Nor'-West. "Landing at Nicol Bay at the mouth of the Maitland River, where Karratha Station is now, he followed it up to its rise in the ranges, then across the watershed in a southerly direction till striking the Fortescue River, a few miles below Millstream in the rough and precipitous ranges about that lo- cality—he mentions the fan palms growing around it and the long, deep reach of water there—then penetrated south through the Hamersley Range, and following the Hardy River to its junction with the Ash- burton he sighted Mt. Augustus and the Lyons, which he had visited on a previous journey up the Gascoyne. "Retracing his steps up the Ashburton he reported and remarked on the pastoral country of Baring Downs, returning through the Hamersley Range up the Fortescue in an eastward direction, crossing the heads of the Yule and Shaw Rivers till he struck the branch of the De Grey now known as the Nullagine. This watercourse he followed down to its junction with the Oakover, which he followed up to its source near Mt. Mc- Pherson, when he nearly perished in the waterless country, owing his life to the su- perior endurance of Mr Maitland Brown, who was one of his party. On his return journey towards the coast of Gregory fixed on his most valuable chart the fine areas of pastoral country on the De Grey and Lower Yule, the broad Sherlock Plains, and that fine stretch of volcanic country between the Sherlock and Roebourne on the Harding River, and also further west across the Nicol to the Maitland River. Then, after a trip of six months and as the weather was getting hot and the water scarce, towards the end of October he shipped his horses and camp equipment on to his vessel and returned to Fremantle. "He was followed by Mr. Alex. Edwin An- derson and Mr. A. R. Richardson, who had associated with them Mr. McKenzie Grant, afterwards owner of Newmarracarra, near Geraldton; Mr. John Elliot Richardson, of Pyramid Station and of Pippingarra, and Mr. John Edgar. Having chartered a barque, they landed in April, 1865, at Cos- sack Roads, then known as 'Tien Tsin,' and afterwards as Port Walcott. They had with them a flock of 1,600 maiden ewes from Vic- toria, also horses, plant, and equipment. These were shepherded. Shortly before this Messrs. Wm Padbury and A. Nairn had taken up the De Grey River country highly spoken of by Mr. F. T. Gregory in the journal of his travels; then came Mr. John Wellard and Mr. Shakespeare Hall, who had accompanied Mr. F. T. Gregory and Mr. Maitland Brown. Next on the list Mr. John Withnel, who settled at Mt. Welcome on the Harding, near Roebourne Pool. About the same time came some parties from the Swan River i.e., Mr. Lockyer and Mr. L. F. Mount who established Cooyapooya, his bro- ther, Frank Mount, Sam. Viveash, and his partner, Thomas Middleton. Then, about a month later, came Mr. Norman McLeod, father of Mr. Donald McLeod, of Minilya Station, who took up Chirriton, now owned by Mr. A. C. Gillam. "Other pioneer names of the same period are those of Mr. R. L. McKay, who founded Mundabulangana, Mr. H. W. Venn, who bought the Karratha run, on the Lower Maitland, now owned by Withnell Brothers, Messrs Simpson and Mackintosh, who took up Mardie Station, now belonging to Messrs. A. R. Richardson. R. Elliott, and H. O. Timms; the Frasers and Mr. James Stewart, who purchased Balmoral Station, on the Lower Fortescue; Mr. Donald M. Paterson, who settled Yanarie; Messrs. Alex. McRea, T. R. McKenzie, and Geo. A. Howlett, the original holders of the Millstream; Messrs. Kenneth McLean and Horace Hicks, who founded the Springs Station on the Upper Harding: Mr. Charles Harper, who sold out his interest in the De Grey Station to Messes. J. and Aleck Edgar, and joined Mr. George W. McRea in Globe Hill Station, on the Ashburton; Messrs. Edwin Robinson and John Seabrook, of Beverley, who later sold Langwill Station to Messrs. Duncan McRea and Charles Straker. Later on, Mr. Richard Burges, of Tipperary, near York, who with Mr. Lockier Clere Burges owned Andover Station, Mr. Sholl, of Camden Harbour. "Incidents are related of the breaking up of the then isolated De Grey Station by Mr. W. Padbury, as it was not yielding any re- turn and was a constant financial drain. Mr. Edward Roberts, of Yatheroo, was en- trusted with the responsible care of bringing the sheep back to the Swan, a feat which he successfully achieved. The De Grey then remained open country for three or four years, when it was taken up by Messrs A. G. Anderson and McKenzie Grant of Pyramid station, who carried on sheep farming and
pearling combined, with the assistance of a strong body of black divers and shepherds. another similar experience befel Mr. E. T. Hooley who made two attempts to drive a flock of sheep from Sharks Bay, the follow - ing season from the Bowes Station, near Northampton, to the Ashburton. After a couple of years, the operations proving un- profitable the run was abandoned, Mr. Mor- ton Craig meantime "'having had an anxious time with the hostile blacks there. Later on Messrs. Alex. and David Forrest (with Sir John Forrest and Mr. Sept. Burt as part- ners) successfully established the Mindaroo Station on that abandoned run. "In those days what were known as 'free stock runs' usually consisted of 10,000-acre blocks each; they were held subject to stock. ie:, - ng conditions. The squatters then did not .. have the rosy time some imagine. The blacks were in parts numerous and trouble some, water was scarce. except along the riv. -rvers, and when the frontages were eaten " back starvation followed, while at. times floods carried off what drought had left. r-" Then, again, under the old shepherding days the fleeces were very dirty and dusty, and + , the sheep were breeds of a poor class before the introduction of valuable rams was prac ';" . ticable; the fleeces were very light. In those d. ays, too the price of wool was very low, 4:44d. to 6d. a pound, and station flocks did F _.not yield much more than 2s. 6d. a fleece. "About 1878 the advent of the paddocking .'sstem, first initiated on the DeGroy Sta tion, marked an era of larger returns and =ý greater prosperity. Then. also, instead of the present comfortable and regular steam ý. `.era which call several times a month along the Nor'-West coast, small trading schooners of 25 to 60 tons irregularly visited thee ports, and stores often went up to famine prices. The Early Gascoyne Settlement. The name of Mr. Aubrey Brown is as sociated with the early settlement of the Lower Gascoyne, whither he drove some 4,000 sheep from the York district in 1876. He took up land along the river, from Kim berley Range to the coast, where Carnarvon now stands. There he established a sheep station, which was subsequently bought by Messrs. Forrest, Burt and Co., and became known as Brickhouse Station. Almost simul taneously with Mr. A. Brown. Mr. Charles S. Brockman explored that belt of country, striking the Gascoyne near Mt. Clere, which was first opened up by the Messrs. Lionel and Charley Davis, and is now part of Mr. R. E. Bush's pastoral property. Proceed ing further towards the North-West Cape he discovered two rivers, which he called the Minilya and the Lyndon. The year after Mr. Brockman drove 3,600 sheep from the Irwin, striking the Gascoyne at Rocky Pool, 50 miles from the mouth of the river, and established first Boolathana Station and sub sequently Minilya Station. About the same time Mr. George Gooch and his brother settled on the Minilya, on the country which is now Wandagee Station; others soon fol lowed, and for some time since the whole of the country along the Gascoyne has been held under pastoral leases, which are among the best in the State. Early Pastoral Settlement of West Kimberley. "In his 'Early Memories' Mr. Richardson, who once represented the North district in theW.A. Parliament, and had opportunities of gaining information on record in Govern- ment departments, relates how in 1864 a small party, partly subsidised by the Govern- ment, proceeded to Camden Harbour with a convict named Wildman as guide. It had been ascertained that their guide, while first mate of a vessel named 'Maria Augusta,' from Rotterdam to Java, had eight years previously when the vessel had put in near
Camden Harbour, inspected the country along a river, presumably the Glenelg, and picked up some nuggets of gold, which he afterwards sold in Liverpool for £416. The names of Inspector Panter. and Mr. Stokes, who were of this party, are associated with the geography of this part of the' coast of Kimberley. The convict guide turned sulky on arrival and refused to show the locality, and the party returned and reported the presence there of fine country with abund- ance of grass and water, but difficult of ac- cess. On the way back they explored the country around Roebuck Bay, in the vicinity of Broome, and also reported favourably for pastoral purposes. The outcome of this re- port was the formation of the Roebuck, Bay Pastoral and Agricultural Association, Lim- ited, with a capital of £160,000. Vessels were chartered and sheep, cattle, and horses bought; when one of the first tragedies which mark the history of settlement in the Kimberleys checked the company's operations. Three members of the advance party, Messrs. Harding, Panter, and Goldwyer started off from Roebuck Bay towards La Grange Bay to explore the coun- try there. As they did not return to time, Mr. Lock Burges went out in search, and tracked them to a mangrove creek, where all traces of them disappeared. Early in 1865, Mr, Maitland Brown volunteered to go in search of them with a well equipped party, and landing at Roebuck Bay proceeded in the direction where Goldwyer's well is now. They captured a couple of natives and com- pelled them to take them to the site of the murder, some twenty miles further, at Lake Engedina. There they found and collected the remains of the explorers and returned, not without trouble, followed by hostile nat- ives, who attacked them, but got consider- ably the worst of it. "The company was not successful with sheep grazing, the proximity of the sea on the wet marshy marshy flats covered with sour grass being then better suited for cat- tle. Messrs. Streeter and G. Roe, who now have fine cattle stations there, have since tried sheep again, and find that they do well on the tender grass when the country has been burned, provided they are kept on well drained land. After some years the Roebuck Bay station was abandoned, and the sheep, stock, and party brought away in the schooner 'Perseverance,' which struck on the rocks, since named after her, close to Cossack Creek. "Prior to 1879 little was known of the hin- terland of Kimberley. An expedition under the leadership of Mr. Alex Forrest, who had been engaged on some surveys in the North- West, was then organised. The station owners of De Grey, Pyramid, Karratha, and others, supplied most of the horses required; and the Government, in order to gain some information regarding the geography and the geology of that province, subsidised the expedition. The party made their final start from the De Grey Station, travelling along the 90-Mile Beach and made for the Fitzroy River, which they followed for nearly 200 miles. They then made for the Leopold Ranges, which they found impossible to pene- trate. Retracing their steps, they went up the Fitzroy, exploring the country up that river. They then struck across for the Port Darwin telegraph line, following the line to Port Darwin. In the journal of his exploration Mr, Alex. Forrest describes the good stretches of country along the 90-Mile Beach and more especially on the Fitzroy, Lennard,. Margaret, and Ord Rivers. This information was promptly seized by several venturesome pastoral pioneers. Mr. Julius Brockman, and with him Mr. Arthur Hicks, placed a small flock of sheep on board a coasting vessel and landed at Beagle Bay. There they were met by some of the mem- bers of a.small company of Pinjarra settlers who had fitted up a small vessel at Freman- tle and. placed on board sheep and live stock. The company consisted of Messrs. A R. Richardson, Wm. and Geo. Paterson (leader), S.. L. R. Elliott, and Hamlet Cor- nish. Having joined forces with Mr. Julius Brockman, they camped for some time at Lake Louisa, making excursions to the plains of the Fitzroy, the May, and the Meda rivers; and in April, 1881, seventeen years after the first settlers landed at Cossack or Nicol Bay, the first lot of sheep was driven across the Fitzroy River. "About the same time other parties, en- ticed thither by Mr. Alex. Forrest's published accounts, became interested in pastoral en- terprises in West Kimberley, amongst others Messrs. Edw., John, and Wm. McLarty, W. E. Marmion, S. G. Pearse, Robert Shell, M. C. Davies, Alex. Forrest, and I. and S. Emanuel, who went from Sydney direct to Kimberley with a strong flock of sheep. Amongst other early pastoral pioneers were also Messrs. Win. Lukin, F. Monger, Th. R. Lowe, Cowcher, Gregory, Geo. Rose and his brothers. "The year after Mr. Wm. Paterson, on behalf of the Pinjarra Company, shipped a flock of ewes and some draught mares from Cossack to Roebuck Bay, drove them across to the Fitzroy, sinking some shallow wells as he went across. His experience on the Lower Fitzroy, where the grass is rank and tall, .led them to form the- opinion".that that 'country was better suited for cattle ,than for sheep, and they accepted an offer for the whole concern front -,. A. Game, a London financier, who. 1Mided the well-known Yeeda cattle stati' -'ii 1883 the station was handed over,,'Mr. A. Forrest, the buyer's repre sentatie, and placed under the active man agement of Mr. Geeo. -Rose. "Two years after the landing of the first mob of sheep in Kimberley the then Com missioner of Lands, Mr. John Forrest, and his brother, Alex. Forrest, headed another 'expedition and started off with . orses, equipment, and some passengers, on the old steamer Rob Roy. This was in 1883, and with them was Mr. Hardman, whose geolo gical map of Kimberley is to this day found remarkably correct. Mr. Hardman indicat ed the probable presence of gold in that province, and as a matter of fact he got colours then. The publication of Mr. Hard man's charts and reports led to the Kimber ley gold rush. "During that trip an excursion was pushed from the Fitzroy on tdwards Port Osborne at the foot of the Kimbolton Range near the mouth of King Sound. The anticipaiton that better shipping facilities would be found there as compared to those at Derby were not then realiSed. The country be tween the Meds and the lower branches of the Rohimson River. where the Obagoorma
cattle station was afterwards formed, was found full of running streams and swamps, and covered with rank grass. The pastures are, however, rank and non-fattening, al though cattle breed and increase well there. For horses and sheep they cannot be com pared with the rolling downs of the hinter land. This stretch of country presents, however, promising features for agricultural purposes. "When the land is cultivated, drained, and fertilised, it will be found to be very fer tile; irrigation from surface water and from the immense artesian reserve which can be tapped at a depth of 80 to 200 feet, added to the fact that the country is easily reached by sea, all combine to indicate that this portion of Kimberley will some day carry an important agricultural settlement. Early Pastoral Settlement of East Kimberley. "Prior to the time of Mr. Alex. Forrest's expedition through West and East timber ley, that northern portion of Western Aus tralia was to all intents and purposes a f "terra incognita." The publication of the reports of that expedition in the Eastern papers aroused a certain amount of inter est there, and brought over to Perth, in 1881, two members of the Durack family who, after consultation with Mr. Alex. For rest, took up large tracts of country in East Kimberley. An expedition,°financed by Mr. Patrick Durack, sen., and Mr. Emanuel, I father of the members of the firm Emanuel Brothers, left Sydney for Port Darwin, thence in a small sailing craft to the west side of Cambridge Gulf, opposite the present township of Wyndham, where they had great difficulty in landing with their horses in the soft alluvial mud along the shore. That expedition, under the leadership of Mr. Michael Durack, comprised Messrs. S. Emanuel, Th. Kilfoyle, Pentecost, Jose, and Davidson. The first few weeks was through very rough country, and rivers showing on the map as Durack, Pentecost, Denham. and Bow, all well watered streams running into Cambridge Gulf, were named by this expedition. "After some weeks' travelling in a south erly direction they reached the Ord River at a point about 140 miles from its mouth, following up to its junction with the Negri, and then on towards what is now the Hall's Creek goldfields- After six months' arduous and trying travelling the party eventually I reached Beagle Bay, having lost most of their horses on the journey. On the return of the expedition the Duracks at once took steps to stock their newly acquired terri tory, and several mobs of breeders were driven from Western Queensland to Kim berley early in 1883. Mr. Patrick Durack, father of the present Duracks -of the firm I of Connor, Doherty, and Durack, Ltd., sent two lots. one of 2,500 head under the charge of Mr. John Durack, who was murdered by the natives, and another of 1,500 head fol lowing closely. "About the same time another lot of 2,000 breeders followed; it was under the charge of Messrs. Kilfoyle and Hays, with whom was associated Mr. Durack, who, some years afterwards, was shot in his bed by one of the native boys. This firm established the Rosewood station on Mhe borders of Kimber ley and the Northern Territory. Still another mob of 2,000 breeders, owned by Messrs. Lumley-Hill and Durack, were overlanded from Queensland; they were in charge of - Mr. Michael G. Durack, now of Hill and Durack, Lissadell Station, on the Ord. Fo! lowing the Duracks, other herds entered the border, amongst them those belonging to I Osmond and Panton, which subsequently t passed into the hands of Messrs. Copley and Patterson. ?'hese several mobs of cattle, which left Western Queensland in 1883, reached their
destination on the Ord, in Kimberley, in 1885, greatly reduced in numbers. Floods. droughts, a trek through unopened country without wells and water supply, depreda tions of the wild blacks played havoc with the cattle, while malarial fever, contracted when crossing the Northern Territory, told severely on the men. An adv:nce guard had to scout thS country for hundreds of miles ahead of the trekking cattle, in order to locate water and feed, and blaze the way to the pastures in Kimberley. The cost of the sur viving cattle on arrival had .thus been in creased four or five times over. It is hoped that these venturesome pioneers will at last fnd the reward for their'enterprise and the risks they faced with .the opening of fresh outlets for the tens of .thousands of market able cattle they now can muster on their stations."