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10 corrections, most recently by graham.pearce - Show corrections

A PIONEER SQUATTER.

Mr. T. R. Bowman, of Campbell Park, on Lake Albert, is in his seventy-fifth year, and is a well-known member of the 'Bow- mans of the Lakes.' The Bowman bro-

thers purchased the Poltalloch Estate, in 1876 from the late Mr. John Malcolm, of Poltalloch, in Scotland. These pastoral- ists belong to the pioneer stock which founded the industry in South Australia. Their careers were built on hardships and toil in opening up new country. About a   year ago Mr. Bowman himself contributed some interesting reminiscences of the early life of his family, and himself. "The his- tory of our family as pastoralists dates back to the very early days," he wrote, "for it was in the year 1829 that my father, the late Mr. John Bowman, came out to Tasmania, then called Van Diemen's Land. In those days the ships that came out to Australia were few and of small tonnage, and it was therefore difficult to obtain a passage out for a family, especially when, as in the case of Mr. Bowman, it was a moderate-sized one of six, namely, two sons and four daughters. It was therefore necessary to adopt some means to secure a passage, and my father and a few others put their goods together, and thus enough was collected for it to be worth while for the agents to charter a small ship and start her on her voyage to Western Australia, their intended destination. Mr. Bowman

left his farm in the hands of an agent to be managed for him, probably thinking he might not be able to live in Australia when he got there. Much to his and the other would-be passengers' chagrin, when they all arrived at Liverpool they found the ship had been taken off the charter. My father, having let his farm, was in a fix. How- ever, the passengers all went to the agents and placed before them the awkward fix they had placed them in taking the ship off the charter. The agents then agreed to put another ship on. This ship, some old craft, was knocking about the ocean for six months, and at last struck Tas- mania instead of Western Australia. The passengers were glad enough to land at Hobart, and not one of them went on. Hobart at that time was a very small place, and practically all the work of building and making roads was done by the convicts. My father, on settling in Tasmania, first rented a small farm with a fairly good house on it, between Bridgewater and Ris- don Ferry, near Hobart. Up to this time   a grant of land had been given to each child of any family that landed in the colony from the old country, but while my father was up country looking for suitable land the grant was can- celled, so, unfortunately, we could not acquire any land in that way. Being unable to obtain suitable land else- where, father took a farm on the bank of the Big Lagoon, then called Stokle's La- goon, which, though only a reedy swamp of about 1,200 acres in extent, was called Lake Tiberias, and it was here that I was born on St. Patrick's Day, 1835. Sheepfarming and agriculture were tried, and in small drained swamp some good crops of turnips were grown, on which the cattle were fed. After living here for some years, father took another farm called Woodlands, close to the Coal River, so called on ac- count of the presence of coal in the neighbourhood. Father, seeing that he had a family of sons growing up, and there not being much available land in Tasmania, once more turned his attention to Austra- lia. My eldest brother, the late Edmund Bowman, then about 20 years of age, came-   over to South Australia in one of the sail- ing boats to spy out the land. As this was in the year 1838, and the colony had only been proclaimed in 1836, Adelaide was re- presented only by a few scattered houses and a number of small, primitive erections. My brother Edmund's voyage had an un- pleasant termination, as the craft, the Par- sea, was wrecked on the Troubridge Shoals, and he lost everything he had. After his arrival in Adelaide my brother went with a survey party to the neighbourhood of En- counter Bay, remaining there almost two months, making flying surveys and fixing trigs. He then returned to Tasmania, and in 1839 came back to Adelaide with a few sheep and horses. One of the latter was sold to the Government for a hundred pounds— a good price in those days. Ed- mund fixed his camp at Islington, where the Government Workshops now stand. A good many gum trees grew there then which have since been cleared away. On his return to Tasmania, our family decided that it would be better to sell off every thing in Tasmania and remove to South Australia. Edmund therefore returned to South Australia immediately, taking some stock with him, and the rest of the family followed him, leaving two daughters at school in Hobart. A frame house of four rooms was put together, and this was brought over and put up at Isling- ton. Shortly after this Edmund bought a   section at Enfield. Before the rest of the family came over my two brothers— John and William— were sent over with a cargo of sheep from Tasmania in a small craft called the Lady Emma, 136 tons or so.   John was 13 years old and William not quite 11. The man sent with them in charm of the sheep turned careless, and the boys had to take full charge of them, or they would have perished on the voyage over. The boys had to crawl through among them and feed them with hay and water them out of bottles. Wild dogs rushed and killed several sheep when the sheep were put on shore at a little north of where Largs Bay is. —Early Troubles.—     'Wild dogs were very numerous at this time and troublesome to our sheep, which were kept in the plains from Islington north for some time. After living at Isling- ton for a while a piese and brick house was built at Enfield, and all were removed up there. Two of my sisters married about this time and went south to live, at Willunga. As the sheep increased-the land being taken up about Dry Creek— we removed the greater portion of our flock to Willunga, where they remained for two or three years. Thence we camped for a   time along the hills at Dry Creek and ran   the sheep on the hills and plains, watering one day at the River Torrens, near where Beefacres is now, the next day on the plains at the foot of Dry Creek. I think about the year 1846 Mr. Kelsh and family came over from Tasmania, and later on rented part of a special survey at the head of the Light River, and started sheepfarm- ing there. Squatting was a term not then used. Scab was very bad in the colony at this     time and wool brought poor prices. Mr. Kelsh sold his wool one year for 5d. per lb., and another year for 5½d. Wild dogs were also very troublesome then, and Mr. Kelsh got so disgusted with sheepfarming that he sold all his sheep to us, and went back to Adelaide to live. His sheep were coarser in wool than ours, but turned out very hardy and strong, and the wethers were fine sheep. After this time Mr. Emery lived at Beefacres, father of Mr. John Emery, now at Paradise. He was a fine old English gentleman. Mr. Emery ran a lot of cattle on Gilles Plains, as that part was generally called in those days. I remember seeing Capt. Sturt's exploring party start on his expedition to the north. I was shepherding my father's sheep on Dry Creek plains at that time. We shep- herded our sheep by day and at night slept in a 'watch-box,' a small wooden box with a roof over to keep out the rain. The box   had legs to stand on about 18 in high, and handles at each end to move it about from place to place. We grew fair crops of wheat at Pine Forest, and a good quan- tity of maize, pie melons, and water melons, these being grown on the fallow land. We rented some land on the banks of Dry Creek from the late Capt. Bagot. On this we grew some fine wheat, and I think were among the very first to use Ridley's reaping machine, steered by a pole. Some one had to stand behind and take all the dust that came out of the machine. What a change to see the splendid machines now in use. Mr. Ridley tried to make a ma- chine to reap, clean, and bag the wheat. I saw it, but it was never brought to per- fection. He also started to build a very large wind machine for irrigation, &c., but that was not a success.     —A Plea for Native Names.— I think about the year 1844-5 our people took up country round where the Burra Burra Mine was afterwards found, but, as there was little or no timber on it, they gave it up and took up some at the head of the Wakefield. Our country ranged from near the head of the Wakefield to Tottel's Belt, thence by the Black Springs and the Flagstaff. My brother, afterwards bought the country known as Martindale from Drs. W. and J. Browne. The Lower Wake- field run extended from what is now known as Balaklava to the back of the South Hummocks, thence down the west   side of the gulf, taking in the land owned by the late Mr. William Fowler, known as 'Yararoo.' It is a pity the native names have not been retained in all cases. We have taken the country from the blacks, but why cheat them of their names? Had the whites never appeared in Australia the blacks would still have been here, a happy race in their way. Witwater should he 'Witarter.' Nantywere should be spelt 'Nurnto Werrah, meaning black kangaroo country; 'Nurnto' meant black kangaroo. 'Tunder' red or plain kangaroo. We had a station at the Gilbert for a time, and I put up a hut there. The wild dogs were very bad at that place. I have known them drive our dogs up to our hut door, and we had to throw, firesticks at them to keep  

them from the sheep. At this time our family did nearly all their own work, and generally their own cooking. It was an old country or Cumberland custom to stand in the water and hold and wash the wool on the sheeps' backs. My brothers did this for years. After this we put the flock through the water twice the same day. This was also a wet job for us all. Our other work included shearing our own sheep. One year my three brothers shore 7,000 of their own sheep. That was in the digging times when few shearers could be got, and most of them bad shearers at that. We drove our own bullocks, built our own huts, cut the battens and boards for our woolsheds, sank our own wells, and did a lot of boring for water on the Werockety (now Werocata) and Crystal Brook Runs. We also made miles of basket yards out of the small mallee scrub for lambing purposes. The smaller sticks were woven in between stakes, say 2½ ft. apart, basket fashion. This makes a good close fence, and if made high enough will keep native dogs out. Prior to this time we had been troubled with scab. We got clear of it about the year 1847, but caught it again from some stray sheep belonging to a neighbour in 1853. However, we set to work with clay and bricks to make a dip hole, which we did by making a stiff pug of clay all over the bottom and sides, then covering all over with bricks. The draining pens were done in the same way. In those days we always washed our sheep in the river before shear- ing them, putting each flock through twice in the one day. The year we went to the Brook we washed, shore, and dipped 35,000 sheep in six weeks. Messrs. H. T. Morris, J. Watson. and Allan McFarlane were in- spectors of sheep in those days, and no doubt the Scab Act of that date had a good deal to do with clearing the sheep of scab in South Australia. —Time of Drought— In 1854 we brothers did a lot of boring for water on Werockety Run. Mr. Wil- liams, as the Patent Copper Company's   agent at Port Wakefield, went to the Go- vernment and got all the run south of the gulf roads resumed from us for the use of the company's bullocks to run. Some time after the land was resumed the Govern-   ment, seeing that the company's bullocks would not stop on the land, gave it back to us. My experience has been that cattle would sooner feed where sheep have been fed than on new country- Crystal Brook was purchased from Messrs. Younghusband and Co. It comprised 560 square miles of country, and was stocked with 25,000 sheep, 3,400 head of cattle, and about 200 head of horses. My brothers, John Bowman, W. C. Bowman, and I spent about 20 years of our lives on the Crystal Brook run. For many years the work was hard, as up to that time very little had been done in the way of improvements. Wells had to be sunk, and several dams put in the Brough- ton to spread the water over the Lower Broughton Plains. These dams proved a great success, as the Lower Broughton land, before the dams were put in, was fearfully rotten and treacherous ground, and many were the good busters we and our men got riding after the cattle, some of which were wild and took to the scrub kindly. The years 1859, 1866-1869, and 1874 were terrible years. Fifteen thousand sheep died one year and 10,000 another. Those that survived were kept alive by the porcupine grass (spinifex). In the hills the kangaroos died in great numbers; a few were kept alive by eating the bush known as the Sturt thorn. Dingoes were very numerous. We caught a great many by setting two steel traps down together and hanging an enticing bait overhead. When a dog got a foot in each trap he was tolerably safe. We also had some fine dogs - I think the breed was first got by us from the late James Brown, of the south-east. These dogs, directly they heard the howl of the dingo in the trap, would start off, even in the middle of the night, and kill it, and if put on the scent of a dingo's trail would follow it up and kill the dingo. We lost the breed when the distemper first came among the dogs. With respect to the horses, some were trained for racing, but most of the stock were sent to India. The horse South Aus- tralian was bought with the run, and few horses did more to improve the breed of South Australian horses than the old horse South Australian. He put his brand on all the foals, however coarse the mother might be. A great many of the cattle were sent to Wallaroo in the early days of the Wallaroo Mines. My late brother William and Mr. P. McAnany, now of Strathalbyn, cut the first road through the scrub from Mundura Bay to Wallaroo, and over this back track all our cattle travelled to Wallaroo. Much more could be said of the incidents of the early days. My brothers, after carting bullock-dray loads   of goods to our station at the head of the Wakefield, used to load up with copper ore at the Burra and deliver it at Port Ade- laide. Once my brother had to walk from the Gilbert River to Werockety to find the bullocks, a distance of over 30 miles each way, the bullocks having gone straight off to their old haunts when let loose at night to feed. I have often been obliged to chain the team up to a tree at night to keep them. These lines are only written to show how much old colonists have to thank their parents for, who suffered the discomforts of the early days and ran the risks of the long voyages in small crafts to the far-distant land of Australia, then so little known."

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