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3 corrections, most recently by Hughesdarren - Show corrections



(By our Special Reporter.)

No. VII.

Nookawarra, as I have, I believe, previous- ly stated, occupies a central position among the stations on the Murchison. By this I mean that it is the point at which the roads from the various stations to the North, South and East came into the main road for Gerald- ton. The majority of the stations on the stations ou the Murchison, lie well within a hundred miles of Nookawarra, and indeed several of the upper Gascoyne stations are not so far away. Now that the carnival is over, we are about to visit some of these sta-

tions, and it is with pleasure that we look forward to visits to Milly-Milly, and Berin- garra and Milent. On the Saturday morn- ing, (Oot. 15) we did not make our usual day, break start, nor was it to be expected that we should, after what we had gone through. Banquetting is not good training for bush travelling, but bush travelling is not a bad antidote to the effects of baa» quetting. I do not wiih to insinuate that our nightly revele were not decorous in the ex- treme, büt Í desire it to be understood that there is a difference between a crowded menu card and damper and tea. When once again we were jogging along a bush track, the Nookawarra carnival lived in our memories as a glorious dream. The whole thing seemed more like a chapter out of the Arabian nights than a reality. For days we had travelled through a virgin country, but at Nookawarra we seemed to come upon en chanted ground presided over by some good genii. The magic wand provided for us entertainment by day and feasts by night, the latter closing with the music of the Murchison flute. Now, however, the wand was broken-the revels were over-the

enchantment Was gone, arid we proceeded on our way again further into this new land.

It had been arranged that this day we should visit Milly-Milly, the station of Mr. James Aitken whioh lies about twenty miles from Nookawarra. The Governor, as before, travelled with Mr. Everard Darlot in a four in-hand, and took a rather roundabout route in order to got a better view of the country. Our party, however, with Mr. Aitken as Jehu, took the shorter route through the hills. We started shortly before mid-day, passed through the Nookawarra gully, and followed a very roug'h bush track. It is hilly country here, and here and there we saw reefs, which may some day be found to contain precious metal, cropping out of the ground. On the high ground, there is not a great deal of feed, but below there are fine salt bush plains, and at places near 'the billabongs, splendid grass country. During this short journey, I became acquainted with that remarkable plant called the judyah flower. In places   many acres of this flower are seen, and pretty it looks lying like a pink carpet. The pecu- liar if of the judyah flower, is that all round tha stem from its foot are water bottles, vary- ing in length from half an-inch to two inches. On breaking one of these water bottles, we fonnd that it oontained a liquid of the ap- pearance of thin blood. Sheep, I was told, may be turned out for three or four months in country where this judyah flower grows, and never see water. Indeed, when they have been feeding for any length of time in such country, sheep will not, when brought to water, drink a drop. They are fond of this flower, which, besides giving a supply of water to stock, possesses fine fattening properties. If it only continued to flourish during the heat of the summer, it would prove of incalculable value to the squatter.

We arrived at the Milly-Milly station at about two o'clook in the afternoon, and were received by the manager, Mr. Archibald Campbell, who has been many years on the Murchison Country, and by a group of na- tive ladies. These were dressed in new scarlet Princess robes with flowered apron, and genteel and proud they looked. The Milly-Milly homestead looks very much like a bush village, so many bnildings are there about. The dwelling stands about thirty yards from a gully, whioh is sometimes full of water, and in which is a good well. It is a rather large thatched cottage, with deep verandah all round and flower garden in front. This verandah, and indeed all the verandahs on the Murchison, is shaded with the seven year bean, a plant which was in- troduced into the Nor' West by Mr. Charles Harper. The bean is an excellent vegetable, and the plant gives a good shade. A few yards away from the house and at the back is the kitchen and men's quarters, and fur- ther away to the left is the store, a large and substantial building. Then further away again is a blaoksmith's workshop, and near it, in course of erection, a cart shed, harness room and baohelor's quarters. All the bnildings are of stone, and are likely to serve a life-time. A skilled^ blacksmith is employed here, the busi-" ness being run in partnership by Mr. Aitken and the Messrs. Darlot. Across the gully is a large vegetable garden, which is watered night and morning by the natives. Under a tree near this garden, we noticed a low white railing forming an enclosure and were told that this was the grave of a man named Duffy, who had been employed on the stat'on for several years. This was the only grave we saw on the Murchison, and it ap- pears to be regarded as a sacred spot. Every- thing about Milly-Milly, has a neat look about it and the cottage itself is just the sort of house that One would like as a bush home, so snug and cool does it look. We had just finished onr inspection of the homestead when His Excellency the Governor and party arrived and were welcomed in person by " the popular proprietor." After having had lunch we took our seats under the verandah. While sitting there, one of the young native women, who had formed part of the tableaux under the tree on our arrival, presented herself before the Governor bearing a tray in her hand and offered His Excellency a cup of tea. Though she had a bundle of hair on her head, thick lips, liberal mouth black hands, and bare feet, she performed her delicate little office as daintily as a white handmaid would have done it. She seemed quite vain of having been selected to pay this attention to the ' big whitèfellow" as the natives called the Governor. Those of the party who had gone the long route to Milly-Milly spoke in glowing terms of the grassy plains, laden with feed, and of the extensive salt bush plains they had passed. The Milly-Milly station is indeed regarded as one of the best stations on the Murchison, there being npon it a variety of feed and of the best quality. The Governor left for Beringarra, the station of Messrs. Darlot, during the afternoon, but Mr. McKenzie Grant and myself remained at Milly-Milly with the intention of visiting the wool-shed, twenty miles away, on the morrow. This woolshed is regarded as the best in the country, and we were glad of the opportunity of paying it a visit.

The Milly-Milly station originally occupied about a million and a half acres but at the present time it consists of about a million, land having been sold from it to create other stations. This country was pioneered by Mr. T. O'Grady, the brother of the Messrs. O'Grady of Erivalla station. He started the station at a spot a few miles from the present homestead, where he built a rude hut and sheared his sheep in an anti- quated style of shed which was made of bushes. Mr. Robert O'Grady and two other men were with him at that time. The whole party were striken with fever-a rare occur- rence in this country-and as they were hun- dreds of miles from medical aid, a shepherd placed them in a cart and drove them down to Geraldton. That journey down is des- cribed as being a terrible ordeal to the suf- ferers, and one of them died on the way. After this, the brothers O'Grady established the present Milly-Milly homestead, building the cottage with their own hands. Part of the station afterwards came into the possession of Messrs Aitkin and Birrell, and since the death of Mr. Birrell, the whole of it has become the property of Mr. James Aitken. The present proprietor came ever here from Victoria eight years ago with capital, and as he is a hardworking enterprising squatter, he is gradually making Milly-Milly one'of the best stations on the Murchison. His land lies on both the Murchison and Wurrumal Rivers, and water is obtainable upon it almost any where by means of a few feet of sinking. In the million acres there is one grassy .plain of 25,009 acres in extent, and also one salt bush plain sixty miles long by twenty miles broad. The finest salt bush plains that we saw on

I our journey were on the Milly-Milly station.

On the morning after our arrival at Milly Milly, Mr. McKenzie Grant, the manager, Mr. Campbell and myself drove to the shear- ing shed. We passed through splendid salt bush country, and also well grassed land. We found the shearing shed situated upon a piece of open ground on the banks of a creek, in which there was a sheet of deep water, over a hundred yards long and thirty yards wide. This water is permanent. The shear- ing shed is a very large structure of iron and squared wood, as spacious looking in the in erior as a town hall. The shed has been built to endure and is capable of pro- viding accommodation for the shearing of 100,000 sheep. Confidence in the future is a characteristic of the Murchison squatter. The shed pens are in the centre and the shearers work against the wall, in wide pas- sages between the wall and pens, on both sides of the shed. Beside each shearer is a trap door, through which he passes each sheep as he is done with it, into a small pen outside. There are stations for sixteen shearers in all. The sweating pen is roomy, and, owing to the convenient arrangement of the gates, there is no difficulty in passing the sheep into whatever pen in the shed they are required. The draughting pens outside are arranged on the circular principle, and are built in a most substantial style, of strong, round props set in firmly close together. The whole of the arrangements are of the most perfect description, and Mr. McKenzie Grant, who has considerable knowledge of the sta- tions in the colony, expressed the opinion that this is decidedly the finest shearing shed in Western Australia. About two hundred yards from the shearing shed, and on the bank of the creek, is the wool scouring ma- chinery. Here, again, is apparatus equal, it ia said, to anything of the kind in Australia. The site for the scouring and washing tubs and other machinery has been cut into the banks, so as to be near to the water supply. Near the water's edge an artificial bank has been built, and behind this a large well, ten feet deep has been dug. This well fills with water, and during wool washing time, though th pump1 has been going all day, the water is not reduced by more than six feet, and the next morning it is again full. Above the cistern has been placed one of Flood's patent water lifts, whioh is driven by horse power and raises the water to a tank from whioh it runs into the washing tubs. The tubs, three in number, are of riveted iron. At the end of them stands the scouring tub, and close at hand the boiler, which is sup- plied with water by a pump from the cistern behind. All the Work at the scouring and washing tubs is done by seventeen natives, with the exception that a white man over- sees the scouring as the natives are unable to judge whether the water is of the proper temperatnre. The wool is scourcd, then passed from tub to tub against the stream, until reaching the top, where it is lifted out and taken away to the drying ground. One admirable feature of the wash- ing tubs is that four inches from the bottom is a grating through which the dirt falls, thus leaving the water in the tub clean. On the drying ground, the wool is placed on 12 ft. square sheets, so that in the case of a dust storm coming on, it can be reidily fold- ed np. After being scoured and washed and dried,' the wool is baled and dumped by means of a patent rack aid gear press and got ready for market. Near the drying ground, men's quarters have recently been erected, giving accommodation for twenty two, and Mr. Aitken is about to build a wool shed. Altogether, during shearing time Mr. Aitken employs about forty natives, and over twenty white men. Last season, he sheared about twenty thousand sheep, and the clip proved an excellent one.

After having inspected the Milly-Milly shearing buildings and plant, we returned to the homestead and then set out again in

buggy for Beringarra. The road to this station is through bush and is very cir- cuitous. At times it seemed that we were travelling in a maze. Darkness fell long be- fore we reached the homestead, and it was a wonderful t'iing to us how Mr. Campbell, who was driving, kept ns from coming to grief. Looking a-head we could not see any sign of a track, but on glancing down at the wheel from time to time, we could see that Mr. Campbell, though driving as freely al- most as in broad daylight, never got even an inch off the way. On reaching our destina- tion safely we were given a hearty welcome by the proprietors, the brothers Darlot, and as we had travelled over sixty miles that day, we were soon glad to retire to the arms of Morphens.