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THE MURCHISON

(By "Bucolic")  

This river, which empties itself into the sea about ninety miles to the northward of Champion Bay, was first discovered by Captain Grey, R.N., in 1839, whilst making a coasting voyage from Shark's   Bay in a whaleboat. The boat was wrecked at the Murchison estuary, and Grey and his companions started on foot for Swan River, the nearest settlement-a distance of nearly 400 miles, which, after enduring great hardships, they, with one exception, reached in a pitiable condition. Some years afterwards Mr. A. C. Gregory explored the Murchison for a distance of ninety miles from the sea and reported the country as very inferior, dense thickets bordering the river nearly the whole way once the sea coast sand plains were left behind. Mr. Austin, sent out by the Government in charge of an exploring party in 1854 was the next to explore the Murchison. The party consisting of ten men well equipped and having twenty seven horses, started from Newcastle and, after enduring great hardships from scarcity of water, and losing several horses from poison plant, they at length struck the Murchison near Mount Welcome-so named owing to the timely discovery of water. Only a few days previously one of the party, Thomas Farmer, died from the effects of a gunshot wound, and the spot where his bones were laid is still shown on many of the Government plans as Farmer's Grave. After recruiting for a few days at Mount Welcome, a start was made ia a north-westerly direction

with the intention of reaching Shark's Bay, where the Government had de- spatched a schooner, under the command of Mr. G. B. Phillips, now Assistant Colonial Secretary, to await the arrival of the land party. In the meantime Austin met with difficulties with which he was unable to cope, the chief amongst which were scarcity of water and impenetrable thickets obstructing his course. The party included several good bushmen, but

the leader, apparently, was not a man of

resource as, finding his direct course im- passible, it did not occur to him to try any other route, consequently he decided to return to Champion Bay, which he managed to reach without further loss, although most of the party had to tramp

the distance.

Austin's published report of his jour- ney was so discouraging that for some   years no further attempt at exploration was made in that direction, until, in 1858, Mr. F. T. Gregory was sent out to fur- ther explore the Murchison and its vicin- ity. Mr. Gregory was accompanied by Messrs. W. D. Moore, J. B. Roe, the late C. Nairn, and Dugale (aboriginal). Striking the Murchison at the Geraldine mine, the explorers followed its course for 250 miles. For the first fifty miles, with the exception of narrow flats, the country is very thickly covered with gidya and mulga scrub, after which it opens out into salt bush plains, lightly covered with gum and accacias, and in good seasons richly grassed. After pass- ing the country reported by Austin, still further improvement was noticeable, and being a good season, game was plentiful. Having named several conspicuous lulls along his route after the members of his party, Gregory left the Murchison at Mt. Hale, about where the homestead of the Messrs. Darlot now stands, and taking a northerly course and crossing some rough stony country, a tributary of the Gascoyne was struck and followed down to the main river, the course of which was traced to its debouchure in Sharks Bay, at the present town of Carnarvon. It was here that Mr. Phillips had spent many weary weeks awaiting the arrival of Austin's party some four years previously. Ninety miles from the sea, a large river was discovered coming in from the north and named the Lyons. This was follow- ed up for 150 miles to where it winds around the foot of an immense hill named by Gregory after his brother Augustus. The explorers than turned homeward, and reached Champion Bay without mishap. The following winter Mr. W. D. Moore and a friend made another trip up the Murchison to Mt. Hale, and were very pleased with the appearance of the coun try, but came to the conclusion that it was too far out for settlement. The Murchison then remained unvisited and unsettled, with the exception of the Ger

aldine lead mine and a cattle station form

ed near its mouth by the late Mr. C. von Bibra, until 1866, when the first lot of sheep were taken up the river by Mr. Hooley's party, en route for Nicol Bay. In 1867 other flocks of sheep were driven overland to the North West, and the first block of land on the Upper Murchison, taken up by Mr. S. E. Burges at Mt. Du- gale, a splendid piece of country now held by the Messrs. Darlot. Many travellers to

the North West now travelled over the Murchison country, which led to its be coming better known and its value ap preciated, and, eventually, several sheep stations were formed and brought to a successful issue. Amongst the pioneers may be mentioned Messrs. T. Burges, Wittenoom, Bros., Lacy Bros., Little, Messrs. Aitkin and Birrell, Darlot Bros., etc., etc., all of whom have had to face the hard battle of Australian pioneers, and right manfully has that battle been fought and won.

One of the finest stations in the colony is Beringarra, the property of Darlot Bros., situate on the northern branch of the Murchison, about 306 miles from Champion Bay. Beringarra runs com- prise 400,000 acres which were originally selected by Mr. John Forrest and by Messrs. Butcher. The latter, who first put sheep on the country, sold out to Messrs. Campbell & Smith, who in turn disposed of the property to the present proprietors three and a half years ago with 8,700 sheep. So well have these increased that although 1,600 have been sold and 1,000 lost in a flood there are 16,000 now on the station besides the present dropping. The clip,

scoured on the station, sold in Melbourne

in 1884 at 17 1/2d. per lb, and in 1885 at 15 3/4d. which result speaks highly for the wool growing properties of the country. The wool is carted by station teams to Mullawa 65 miles from Champion Bay, and is thence taken in by contract. The Messrs. Darlot are going largely into fencing and have already thirty miles of 5 and 6 wire fenciug erected, Mulga posts being used and found very durable. For building purposes the river gum is sawn out and found very suitable. There is abundance of this timber for station re-

quirements along the river, but no large timber grows on the back country. A convenient shearing shed for twenty shearers has been erected and much of the shearing is done by natives. Berin garra consists of open plains lightly tim bered with stunted gum and accacia, with Mulga ridges behind. The runs are watered by the Murchison through their whole length, and by several clay pools and 30 wells from which abundance of water is obtained at an average depth of ten feet. All shepherding is done by natives who also raise water from the wells. The sheep have now a strong dash of the Fisher blood, but latterly 100 stud ewes have been imported from the station of Mr, George Salting, Cunningham Plains, N.S.W., also 150 rams from same stud

and 5 from Caromboon. All of the above studs are of the Merino type now becom ing so popular. In large stock there are 60 horses on Beringarra, 25 of which are draughts. With the light herd is a

thoroughbred sire by the wonderful steeplechaser Sussex and another by Oli ver Tuist, so that there is little fear or the horse stock deteriorating in quality. A small herd of 30 cattle are kept for station use and they thrive well on this country. It speaks volumes for the management when we find that the na tives who were only three years ago so troublesome are now made useful and are generally found reliable.

To the westward of Beringarra is Milly Milly the station of Messrs. Aitken & Birrell, who on this and on another station hold 700,000 acres. The Milly Milly country is somewhat similar to Berin- garra, the homestead being prettily situated

on the eastern bank of the Murchison where there is a well of splendid fresh water. There are 12000 sheep on Milly Milly and 8000 were sold last year. The station is managed by Mr. A. Campbell under the superintendence of Mr. Birrell who with

his wife resides on the station.

To the south lies Nookawarra, owned by Mr. F. Wittenoom, who holds some 500,000 acres and has at present on the run 10,000 sheep under the management of Mr. J. Judge, also 250 cattle and 170 horses of light class. The imported sire Randwick performs stud duties, and being descended from Yattendon, sou of that greatest of all Australian sires, Sir Her- cules, he should leave his mark on the young stock. At Nookawarra shepherd   ing, stockhunting and fenciug is done by natives. The country consists of open plains lightly timbered with gum, accacia, mulga, &e., and is watered by clay holes

and shallow wells.

AdjoiningNookawarra is Pindeerie, late   ly purchased by Walsh Brothers from the Messrs Wittenoom. This station contains 500,000 acres of somewhat simi lar country to Nookawarra; the stock at present consists of 6000 sheep and 500

head of cattle.

Adjoining Pindeerie, situated on the southern branch of the Murchison

is Moorarie owned by Messrs. Hope

and Moore of Fremantle. This was one of the first stations settled in the neighbourhood and is a very fine property containing 1,100,000 acres watered by the Murchison, several clay holes and numer ous wells all of shallow depths; on this   station there are 14000 sheep 250 cattle

and 40 horses. Natives are here also

utilised for shepherding, shearing, and stock hunting purposes.

North of Milly Milly on the upper branches of the Gascoyne is the Irrabilla station, the property of O'Grady Brothers, who hold 250,000 acres upon which they have at present 5000 sheep and 30 horses. This station is but recently settled and the natives are giving much trouble.

The next station, Mt. Clere, is the pro perty of Mr. J. S. Davis, whose three sons reside upon and manage it. The runs com prise 600,000 acres upon which there are at persent 13,500 sheep, the wool of which is carted to Carnarvon, 260 miles distant. The Messrs Davis have had much trouble with the natives who are continually stealing their sheep and threatening the men, and, being so far out, the settlers are beyond all police protection.

Murgoo owned by Wittenoom Bros,

lies southward of Nookawarra and to the eastward of the Murchison and is 200 miles from Geraldton; this and the Yuin   stations were the first runs occupied in the back country. Yuin, the property of Mr. T. Burges, has of late years been severely affected by drought aud around the homestead the country is very bare. Here there is a fine shearing shed, store

&c. To the Eastward of Yuin are two

nice stations owned by Messrs. Smith & Co and Lacy Bros, and on the Murchison in the neighbourhood of Twin Peaks and

Mount Murchison are some smaller sta

tions held by Messrs. Ryan, Steele and Johnson. The Murchison settlers may fairly claim to have consideration from the powers that be as they contribute largely to the public revenue and up to the present time have had very little re turn in the way of public expenditure.

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