OUR FLOCKS AND HERDS.
Although it is one of the oldest and most prosperous stations in South Australia, there are few pastoral properties about which the general public knows less than
Poltalloch Estate, on Lakes Alexandrina and Albert. It depends upon nothing in the shape of booming for its existence, be- cause the stock raised speaks for itself, and therefore Poltalloch in a sense has remain- ed the Tibet of the Lakes—at least un- penetrated by the pressman. In other words, the people's palate has told them more about it than the press. However, the present series of pastoral articles in The Observer would not be complete if this fine station were passed over, and the owner, Mr. Keith D. Bowman, gladly offer- ed facilities for its inclusion. Over 50 years ago we find the following reference in The Register to Poltalloch in connection with Capt. Cadell's trip on the Murray in the first steamer that navigated the stream:—"On the peninsula between Lake Victoria and Lake Albert, and nearly opposite Point Pomond, is a neat white house built by the late Mr. Gollin upon Poltalloch Station, the property of Mr. John Malcolm, a wealthy Scottish gentleman, who possesses a special survey of 4,000 acres, comprising about 12 miles of water frontage. It was in the early forties that Mr. (afterwards Sir John) Malcolm, of Poltalloch, Argyllshire, Scotland, acquired the land in question, with the object of establishing some of his own peasantry in closer settlement. When the time for emigration came, however, the people in Scotland declined to leave their native land, and Mr. Malcolm was com- pelled to form a cattle station on the lake land that he had secured. Importations of high-class blood were made from the best Shorthorn studs at home, until the M7 herd, famous all over Australia, was es- tablished. Poltalloch was maintained as a cattle station for many years until the herd was sold to the late Sir Thomas Elder for £30,000. Three thousand cattle fetched £10 a head, which was a wonderful sale for those days. A few of the celebrated M7 Shorthorns were kept for breeding pur- poses, and the blood has been retained ever since. In 1873-4 Messrs. John and T. R. Bowman purchased Poltalloch and Camp bell House Estates, and almost exclusively devoted their attention to raising sheep. In 1900 Mr. John Bowman died, and his son Keith entered into possession of Poltalloch, and succeeded his brother Albert in active management, the latter having served in that capacity for about 12 years. There are few, if any, younger station owners and managers in Australia than Mr. Keith Bowman, but enterprise is inherent in him, and from what follows it will be seen that he has already demonstrated his ability to successfully control the magnifi- cent inheritance that his father left him. Leaving Adelaide by train for Strath- albyn, transhipping for Milang, steaming across Lake Alexandrina to Narrung Jetty, boating across the channel to Point Mal- colm, and driving four miles to Poltalloch head station, are stages of a journey the end of which is apt to create a sense of isolation. For instance, a test match is four days old before any news respecting it can reach this quarter of South Austra- lia in the ordinary course. Yet the sur- rounding and appointments of the head station are in keeping with the highest de- velopment of metropolitan civilization. At the time of the writer's visit an elec- tric lighting plant was in course of in- stallation, while preparations that were going on for the erection of a private tele- phone wire to Wellington and the presence on the station of a motor launch and a motor cycle suggested the annihilation of distance and seclusion. The house is a two-storied one, consisting of 15 large rooms, and, although erected on an emi- nence, it is completely hidden from view on the outside by a fine clump of Tasma- nian blue-gums and ornamental trees that surround it. The forestry affords com- plete escape from the brisk winds that blow almost without ceasing in the lakes country. Murray River freestone has been largely used in the building, and appears harder now than on the day it was put in 20 years ago. Around the head station vines, fruit trees, and vegetables are grown with great success; and, regarding the general comfort of the present residence, it is in- teresting to imagine the contrast between it and the frame house brought from Tas- mania and the pine and thatched roof house which the late Mr. John Bowman lived in during his pioneer days in South Australia. Starting from Point Malcolm on which there is a lighthouse which, by the way, Mr. Bowman leases from the Government, one passes many ostriches on the way to the head station. There were originally four of these stately birds on the station, and they have multiplied to about 200. They are in an entirely wild state, and Mr. Bowman does not attempt to pluck the feathers. Several exciting encounters have occurred between the birds and the men, for at breeding time the ostriches take pos- session of their nesting localities with all the tyranny of bushrangers. Any abnormal in- crese is checked by destruction of the eggs. Emus and kangaroos are also preserved in their wild state, and nearer home may be seen deer, the gift of Mr. Melrose, of Mount Pleasant, and monkey bears. There is, in fact, quite a menagerie on Poltalloch, but happily the rabbit finds no place in it. The wombats have also been exterminated because of their habit of disturbing the evennesss of the surface, but foxes have made their appearanee. As the latter prey largely on the game and young ostriches and emus they are not the nuisance that they might be elsewhere. The rabbit has no chance at all, for every paddock on Pol- talloch is wirenetted. There is a solid wool- shed having accommodation for 22 shearers, and all the other buildings and yards are of the same substantial appearance. The estate comprises about 30,000 acres of free- hold land, including 4,80o acres which Mr. Bowman acquired from the Lake Albert Sta- tion iast year. The rich sandy loam grows bar- ley grass, wild oats, and other good fodder grasses in great luxuriance, and the estate is well endowed in timber, the sheaoak, ;itree, and native pine predominaiting. The last-named has proved a grand asset for fencing purposes. Like other lake pro- perties Poltalloch is liable to sand drifts, but a rigorous policy of reclamation is keeping these in check. Mr. Bowman and his predecessor have met with marked suc- rose; in t!'- ulintinp of mnrnmi eras* on the sandhills where the drifts start. With the temporary protection afforded bv tbe marram, the nrescnt owner has an idea of rventuiiily replaoinj; it withcouch grass, that bciug :m excellent fodder, whsreas the stock will scarcely touch the matup^d mar ram. Tin* wind prevente-ton establishment I of lhL. coui.'li praa- in the sandhills right laway. It is also interesting to note that there is a 12-!\cre patch cf lucerne abutting 'Hi Lake Albert which was croppecl five times last yeiir without irrigation. Poltal loch has a* frontage of 14 miles to Lake Alexandrina, and about nine miles to Lake Albert and tb,? channel. Tt is almost needless to say, therefore, that the Murray waters question is one of vital in* |1rre.4*to Mr. liowman. Even thongh he cnioys tiie second best position on the lakes in regard to watering, he had a big fight with the salt water during the whole of last summer. 1'or the Grot time in the history of the estate soakage wells hasl to be sank and windmills erected to ensure a supply for the cattle, and even som.? of the w&s became brackish. The salt killed reeds, gums, ami willows .on the fringe of the lakes, and one can observe with half an eye its mischievous results. Mr. Bow man is stronsly in favour of the barraso scheme, and is prepared to txiy a reas:n able rate for any work that will ensure the perpetual freshness of the water. Mr. itoiyman has a great partiality for the !?iiorihora cattle, and his herd con .sisis of 33 cows. It has been kept pure right, through tlie long histoiy of Poltal louh. the descendants of the famous M7 cattle having been exclusively mated to pure-bred Angas bulls. Mr. Bownnn is at present using l-ord Waterloo 32nd and IJeau Bhuiche 20th, both by imported j-lircs, and belonging to prolilic 'prize taking families, llrceding bulls of a splen did type are raiseu on Poltallodi, and tise Shortlwnis a;e noted beef-waducers, in proof of which it may be stated that the first prize fst bullock at the Melbourne and Adelaide shows in 1900, which scaled 1.070 1b. dead weight, was bred at Poltai .jncli. as was also tlie first prize fat bullrck in Melbourne and Adelaide in 1R02. which went 1J)I12 Ib. Mr. Bowman, inada a new departure last year by adding - the pick ot' the Li!;o Albert Estr.Je Tierefnnl stud entile to hk stfek. When the Lake Albert 1 Station was rcwnily cut un. the1 manager j (Mr. I*'. E. Hyde) prepared th-? ft.'l)»wrag ! short history of the Hereford stud:— ? |'!i:iving a event leaning towards the Here fouls. 1 took the opportunity .in 18S8 of se ci:rma at. trie salp c; st-:d-- i)f the kite Mr. Charles Price, of Hindnwirsh Islaud, Soutli I ;\.-:'raiia. 17 of the pick of the cows aiid j iicifci-f!. tegsther with th? .stud hull, ? E-irl Trcdcser. his sire Dale Tredcger (ire-, jiortcd), Us 'dam Last Day L.^by Sir Jamrs. :v.r! Tiodcgcr was bred by Mr. F. Ucynolds, I nf To :?«!, N'uv iSoiilh Wale-, f.nd cost me 1 110 jarintMH. 'the cows and heifers averag I ed 15 ftnineas each, and were very cheap at ? the montv, there being littlu. competition. , the ITcrefords at the lime being a trifle out : of fashion. The cows were siren by Mon j arch and Bcnefaetor. rain the heifers by Ilindm.-ir$handHirlTredegcr,and theirdams were all sludbook stock, and at various
time; since 1 have purchased athighfignrfs, bred, and listed bulls of none but the purest strains of blood. Stoekowners and breeders from all parts of tbe Australian colonies competent to pass an opinion that have ijpen the herd give me credit of having one of tJio finest herds of Ilerefords that could be found in all the states, and it is ?with feelings of thn keenest soitow and regret that throujrh the disposal and cutting up ot the estate 1 see this magnificent herd dis persed.' Mr. Bowman secured 40 breed ing cows to which (he above remarks refer, Mid also the bull Gladstone,, by Figaro out of Dewdtnp, sn immense animal which took third prize nt the Melbourne Royal Show. The owner is qoiW satisfied with the re snlte of hi? venture so far. This year he sold 10 young. Hereford bulls in Victoria at a satisfactory figure, and the oroirfic quali ties cf the white faces were shown Ii? the. fact that 'rora 40 cows, 37 calves were got. They looked a. perfect picture in the pas ttiris at-',h* time of the writer's visit. The carrying capacity of Poltalloch is well illus trated by the fact that this year 27,000 sheep were shorn, while 2,500 market lambs were disposed of before shearing. Mr. Eow m.au fee* in for breeding comebacks, and produces large-framed sheep of good quality wool and always commanding excellent prices. Competent. authorities have said thai .(Jiere Ls not a finer lot of crossbred ewt'c in South Australia than those which June nelped to gain Poltalloch distinction a:: a mutton producer. This year a lambinsr of 98 Her cent, ivas- experienced.