No corrections yet
Pastoral Industry's Achievement,
The West Australian pastoral industry has long and glorious traditions to its credit, lt is true that «thé State produces only a small proportion of the Australian clip - last season 22,000 bales out of 3,400,000 bales - but its achievement lies in the enormous area over which pastoralists have depastured their flocks, which has entailed costly development work tn remote areas. The growth of the industry in face of almost insuperable difficulties from the dawn of settlement in Western Australia is a saga which would add laurels to the history of any country.
Throughout Australia the pastoral industry has always been the pioneering industry, lt has been the pasroralist - in those early days he was called the squatter - who has gone forth into the hinterland, a strange, forbidding land virtually unknown, and established his flocks, fighting flood and fire, and facing everyconceivable problem that could confront the Australian pioneer. He has known the joy of success and the bitterness of defeat; he has seen his flocks increase apace under the benign influence,of good seasons and has seen them deci- mated under the ravages of unrelenting drought; he has experienced the contentment that good prices bring and known the mental anguish of threatened ruin.
These are not exaggerations. They have%een the everyday story of the Australian pas-
toral industry from the day that the first Australian wool arrived in England until today, when / .growers labour under the handicaps of tow prices, restricted competition and the increasing use of artificial fibres, not to speak of the effects of years of drought-and now, the uncertain conditions of another world war.
' In a great many parts of Australia, and Western Australia is no exception, agri- culture ha« followed in the wake of the pas toral ist flocks and herds. The pastor- alist has either adapted himself to the new conditions imposed by closer settle- ment or has responded to the cry that rings through pastoral history, "There's better country farther out."
Here, in this State, it has been imposs- ible for the farmer to follow the pastoral- ist to the length and breadth of the sheep-carrying country, the pastoralist bas been left in undisputed occupation of the country north, of economic agricul- tural settlement.and, south of that line, the .farmer and the small pastoralist, in- cluding the stud breeder, have shared the country. But, for the most part, the pas- toralist blazed the trail, whether it was in the Kimberleys or on the Gascoyne or in the undulating "blue" wool country of the Great Southern. The first West Austra- lian wool was sent to London in 1832, only four years after the foundation of Perth, when a small parcel, dirty and badly packed, realised 2/2 a lb.; since then the State's clip has amounted to 260,000 bales and the State's flocks to over 11,000,000 head (both since considerably reduced by drought). In between has been written a story of persistent endeavour-of explora- tion, the opening up of hew country and its-<levelopment, successful efforts to im- prove the quality of sheep and wool and the marketing system, not to mention such fundamental changes in the eco- nomic organisation of the industry as the foundation and growth of a sub-industry -fat lamb production.
There seems to be no doubt that when Western Australia was founded the Brit- ish Government intended the establish- ment of an agricultural community and, although sheep and cattle were brought out by the first settlers, they were not intro- duced with the purpose of building up a pastoral industry, but rather with the purpose of helping to supply the settlers with food. By 1832, however, it became evident that the country possessed definite pastoral possibilities, although the only flock of any size was that of Spencer Trimmer, who ran 500 sheep east of the Darling Bange. The following year sir Richard Spencer, Government Resident at Albany, imported some highly bred sheep, Including Merinos, from England. In 1835 Captain Irwin spoke' highly of the suitability of the York j district for graz- ing, writing:-"There are extensive tracts of undulating surface, covered with short sweet grass, admirably suited for Merino flocks." Two years later wool sent to Lon- , don from the Hay River/near Albany, was sold at 1/8 per lb. The lower Great South- ern began to attract attention and, in 1839, a flock was overhanded from Perth to the Albany district by Mr. J. Harris, who reported that the country on either side bf the track offered every inducement for pastoral and agricultural pursuits. The Government, seeking to extend the useful- ness of the Colony's lands, established a chain of military posts along the route, one of which was situated at Kojonup. By 1840 there were 1,600 sheep in the vicinity - ' of Kojonup. In the previous year John
Hassell had selected land at Kendenup,
and, soon afterwards, callie Sir George j
Grey's favourable account of the Victoria district.
By 1842 there were over 60,000 sheep! in the Colony and wool exports had j amounted to £6,400. About this time, how- ever, the Colony passed through a period of depression and, early In 1843, the bottom seemed to drop out of the stock market. The settlers were experiencing the first of a,series of hard times that have re ! curred at intervals up to the present day. I Late in the forties, brighter times com- menced to dawn and explorations north- wards towards Champion Bay led to the discovery of large areas of well-grassed country and iii 1849, Mr. Burges leased a tract of country on the Bowes River, while Mr. Drummond secured a- similar area'stretching from the mouth of the Buller River. They stocked their hold- ings with sheep and cattle early in 1850 and, by the following year, there were 6,000 sheep and 1,200 «attie in the district, Land was soon taken up at Greenough, and on the Irwin River and stations such as Tibradden and Glengarry came into exist- ence. The introduction of the convict system in 1850, which provided a supply of labour and brought about an increased demand for foodstuffs, together with the ; introduction in the same year of new land ; regulations, which were really the first to make any provision for pastoral leases, gave a big impetus to pastoral settlement and pastoralists, instead of boiling down sheep were more than ready to invest capital in- the purchase of additional stock. In addition to much progress in the Champion Bay district, settlement spread eastward from the Avon Valley and fur- ther land in "the Great Southern and South-west was brought into use. During the decade which ended in I860, the State's flocks increased from 128,000 to 260,000.
The Imperial Government had frowned ! on the Champion Bay settlement, but the discovery of minerals and the rapid pas- toral occupation of the~«ountry induced I the local government to accept respons sibility for further exploration and, in 1854, Surveyor Austin was sent out to examine the country north and east of the settled districts. He traversed the coun- try round Mt. Magnet and Lake Austin and returned to the coast at a point a few miles north of Northampton. Two years later A. C. Gregory made his well-known journey from the Northern Territory into the far North-west during which he dis <50vered-the Denison Plains and, in the following year, he completed Austin's sur- vey of the Murchison.
- After this attention was again con- centrated on the eastern agricultural areas and, in 1860, Messrs. E. and A. Dempster and A. W. Chitty journeyed into the interior from Northam for a distance of 148 miles. Other journeys re- sulted in "further favourable reports of
the country being given, and settlement, was pushed out further afield, Messrs. C. and W. Smith for instance, selecting a location 100 miles from York, while Mr. E. R. Parker settled at Dangin.
The North-Wesr Pioneers.
This activity, however, did »ot serve to detract attention from the possibilities of the great North-west which had been brought home by the results of P. T. Gre
This season'* fini constrm*aeat of export Iambs bein« examined at Robb's jj
Jetty In July« j
gore's trip from Nickol Bay lo 1861. His pafty, which íücluded James -Turner, & Brockman, Maitland Brown, J. McCourt, J. Harding and P. Walcott, named the Fortescue Rivert the Hamersley Range
and the Ashburton River and continued .south until it struck the tracks Gregory had made on his previous journey. Re- turning to Nickol Bay, he again set out and this time discovered several more rivers, including the De Grey, before re- tracing his footsteps westward after reaching Mt. Macpherson. During the two trips, the party covered 2,000 miles and Gregory estimated that 3,000,000 acres of it were fit for grazing. Up to this time, 'Western Australia had been looked upon as a country possessing only small parcels of land useful -for either agri- culture or sheep, but Gregory's report seemed to open up new possibilities and people in the Eastern States, particu- larly Victoria, were quick to recognise the value of the newly-discovered country;
Chief among the West Australian in- quirers was Mr. Walter Padbury, who became the pioneer settler of the North- west. In 1863 a party led by Padbury landed from two vessels that had set out from Fremantle at a spot west of the mouth of the De Grey and unloaded their
stock-£40 sheep, ll horses and 6 bul- locks. Unfortunately, 40 sheep and one bullock were lost while being driven through to the shallows towards the beach. No permanent location was chosen at the time, and, after examining the land-galong the Harding River, Padbury returned to Fremantle, leaving a party in charge of the stock. Shortly afterwards one of Padbury's vessels returned to Nickol Bay with 517 sheep and 17 cattle, when it was found that the party that had been left behind had established a settlement on the De Grey.
The land from Nickol Bay southward now received attention and in .1863 Mr.
C. Von Bibra took: up land near the Gas- ' coyne River, while in the following year, a^Victorian squatter applied for a lease
of Dirk Hartog Island and Mr/Maitland Brown landed 165 sheep at Shark Bay and established a Mation near > Freycinet Harbour, From how onwards the efforts
Mr. A. L. B. Lefroy, president of the
of the pioneer North-West pastoralists commenced to show some return and in August, 1864, the first shipment of wool from the North-west-seven bales-ar- rived at Fremantle.
Abou this time the ill-fated Camden Harbour Pastoral Association was formed in Melbourne with a capital of £20,000, the objects being to settle the "very sup- erior, well-watered pastoral and agricul- tural country around Camden Harbour,
Pastoral and Stud Review
by placing one head of cattle on every thousand acres, but although the associa- tion failed lamentably it resulted, in- directly, in an additional 300,000 acres being taken up in the Nickol Bay dis- trict. Nothing daunted, the Denison Plains Association was also formed in Melbourne and a patty of settlers was sent to Western Australia. At Fremantle, however, it was decided, after hearing the fate of the other association, to abandon the project of taking up country in the Hall's Creek district. Some . of the set- tlers took up land in the Nickol Bay while the others returned to their native State.
In spite of the want of success of these large undertakings, individual settlers were proving that it was possible to secure good results. Among these was a party consisting of Messrs. J. E. and A. R. Richardson, Edwin Anderson, John Edgar and Mackenzie Grant, from the Western District of Victoria, who took up Pyra- mid station (200,000 acres) with 1,600 sheep in April, 1865. In the same district were several other young men, such as Messrs. C. Harper, R. F. and H. W. Sholl, E. T. Hooley, D. N. McLeod and H. W. Venn, who afterwards became prominent in West Australian affairs. Messrs. Grant and Anderson, in conjunc- tion with Mr. Harper, established the De Grey station in 1871. Towards the middle of 1866 the town'of Roebourne was sur- veyed, and, by the end of that year, the area held under pastoral leases was 4,720,000 acres. By that time there were
a number of large holdings along the Ash- burton River and Mr. E. T. Hooley had marked a stock route from Northampton to the Fortescue River.
Settlement Spreads ifield.
Despite all this progress in the North- west-progress that was not without its setbacks-the land lying to the east and south of the settled southern districts was not neglected. For instance, in 1861; a party consisting of Messrs. C. and E. Dempster, C. Harper and B. Clarkson travelled eastwards from Northam as far as the Georgina Range, traversing portion of the Yilgarn Goldfield, while, in the following year, mainly at the instance of the York Agricultural Society, another party under Mr. H. M. Lefroy reached the neighbourhood of the present town of Coolgardie. Mr. Lefroy reported the existence of good land, but an absence of surface water supplies. The year 1863 saw land taken up at Esperance by the Dempsters.
Pastoral settlement in the south-West was rendered . a little more difficult through the troublesome nature of the natives, who adopted a threatening atti- tude towards the settlers, but, by 1861, Messrs. R. Scott, J. J., T. and G.- Giblett, J. B. Roe, G. D. Lefroy and E. Brock- man wejje occupying runs principally on the Warren and Donnelly Rivers, and were joined in the same year by Mr. (afterwards Sir) James Lee Steere, who selected 100,000 acres on the Blackwood.
Settlers from South Australia-the Mar- chant Bros.-took up 40,000 acres on the Darling Bange and an additional 40,000 acres on the Collie and Harvey Rivers. About the same time another South Aus- tralian-Mr. Rumboldt-selected 40,000 acres on the Harvey.
In the early seventies the attention j
of pastoralists was attracted to the Upper Murchison. About 1873 Mr. T. Burges, of the Bowes station, near Ger- aldton, obtained a lease of portion of what later became Yuin station. Mr. T. Davis selected portion of Tallerang, Messrs. W. Howard and C, Shenton took up Mungana, later re-named Gabyon, and Messrs. Burges, E. Wittenoom and D. Judge pioneered Murgoo. In 1874 Messrs. P. and E. Wittenoom took 15,000 sheep'from Bowes and permanently es- tablished Yuin and two years later Messrs. W. Howard and C. Shenton took up Boolardy. Mr. W. J. Butcher, of Victoria, settled on Moorarie in 1876 and later selected Berringarra. In the same year (1876) Messrs. E. Wittenoom and Perks took up Boolardy. Two years later Messrs. P. Wittenoom and Perks established . Mileura and Nookawarra. Further settlement followed and in 1880 Mr. F. Wittenoom founded Belelle, which is now owned by Mr. E. Lee Steere. De- velopment also commenced in the Gas- coyne area during the seventies. Messrs. Aubrey Brown and J. H. Monger ob- tained leases and shortly afterwards Mr.
0. Brockman pioneered Boolathanna and Minilya stations.
By 1880 land in process of alienation or held on leases and licences through- out Western Australia totalled 45,000,000 acres, of which 37,000,000 acres (1879) were held under pastoral licences. Flocks totalled 1,230,000 head and herds 64,000 head, while wool exports amounted to 4,340,0001b., valued at £271.500.
Another Great Province.
The next major step was the settle- ment of the Kimberleys. In 1879, Alex- ander Forrest, starting from the De Grey station, made a comprehensive explora- tion of the country' along the Fitz-
roy River. After an unsuccessful at- tempt to penetrate the Leopold Ranges he travelled up the valley of the Mar- garet River, discovered the well-watered Nicholson Plains, examined the Ord River in East Kimberley, and proceeded to Daly Waters. He reported that about 125,000,000. acres of the country he had
Mr. J. L. Prévost, wool manager for
Dalgety and Co.
examined was suitable for pastoral pur- poses or tropical agriculture. Settle- ment followed, Mr. J. G. Brockman (sailing, it is thought, from Cossack) landed at Beagle Bay with 300 to 400 sheep and formed a depot, intending to take his sheep to the Fitzroy River when he had a larger flock. In the mean- time Mr. George Paterson, of Creaton,
Pinjarra, took charge of a party on be- 1 half of a West Australian company-the ' Murray River Squatting Co.-and sailed from Fremantle for Beagle Bay where he
met Brockman. After a few months 1 both parties drove their stock across to the Fitzroy. This was in 1881. Other
selections of pastoral lands under con- ¡ ditions specially applicable to the Kim- ' berleys and issued in 1879 were quickly
made and in the first two years 5,500,000 ' acres were taken up in the Kimberleys. 1 It is interesting to note that one of the 1 early West Kimberley companies-the
Meda River Pastoral Co.-consisted prin- 1 cipally of residents from the Williams
district with Mr. A. Cowcher in charge. ]
Mr. B. L. Tucker, wool manager for
Goldsbrougb, Mort and Co.
The Durack Family.
Forrest's report attracted attention in Eastern Australia and settlement In the East Kimberleys was the outcome. About 1880 two members of the Durack family visited Perth from Queensland and after meeting Forrest took up large tracts in both the East and West Kimberleys. To examine the country further an expedi- tion was organised and financed by Messrs. Patrick Durack, of Queensland, and Emmanuel, sen., of New South Wales. The expedition, which was placed under the leadership of Mr. Michael Durack, left Sydney in the Vol- mer for Port Darwin, where a small craft, the Levuka, was obtained, and after a wearisome voyage the party landed on the west side of Cambridge Gulf, opposite where Wyndham now stands. They named the Pentecost, Durack, Dunham and Bow Rivers, and reached the Ord River about 140 miles from its mouth
They Intercepted Forrest's tracks and passed over what was later the Hall's Creek goldfield and proceeding westward reached Beagle Bay. after an arduous journey of five months. No time was lost in stocking the country. Karly in 1883 Mr» Patrick Durack started 4,000 cattle from Queensland in two mobs, one under Mr. John Durack, who was later murdered by blacks, and the other under Mr. Moore, of New South Wales. Close behind fol- lowed 2,000 head owned by Messrs. Durack, Kilfoyle and Hayes (the original owners of Rosewood station) and under the charge of Messrs. Kilfoyle and Hayes, and another mob of the same size, owned by Messrs. Hill and Michael Durack, and under the charge of Mr. Durack.
The drovers encountered continual difficulties, and after a seemingly inter- minable journey reached the Ord River
in 1885 with their herds reduced by about " half. The cost of landing the cattle which survived was approximately £20 per head. Following on the Initiative of these pio- neers other settlers followed with herds.
The nineties witnessed the opening up of the pastoral areas of the Eastern gold- fields as cattle country. Since the war a large (.mount of Eastern States capital has been invested in this country, which is now almost entirely devoted to sheep, and remarkable headway has been made. In one year, 1926, 50,000 breeding ewes were imported by rail from the Eastern States by Eastern Goldfields pastoralists.
At the commencement of the present century the State possessed 2,430,000 sheep and 338,000 cattle and its wool ex- ports amounted to 9,000,0001b., valued at £270,000. Fat stock supplies, however, were insufiicient for the State's requirements and in 1903 £225,000 was sent to the East- ern States for beef, mutton and pork. Land in process of alienation or held on leases and licences totalled 90,500,000 acres, of which 86,400,000 acres were held under pastoral lease.