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5 corrections, most recently by InstituteOfAustralianCulture - Show corrections

Old Time Reminiscences Of the Early Life of an Old Colonist, Mr. Charles Holder, over 80 Years, in Victoria. Mr. Chas. Holder, of Cooramook, whose death occurred at Warrnam- bool on July 21, 1922, was one of the earliest settlers in Victoria. Though he had reached the advanced age of 92 years, his memory was good until the last, and he could re- late many very interesting stories of the early history of the State. He sailed from Bristol, England, in 1841, in the sailing ship "Ward- shipton," the skipper being" Captain Bilton, and arrived in Port Phillip, Melbourne, after a passage of four months and three days. There were 300 passengers on board, and 24 deaths occurred on the trip. One man died before they were out of sight of England, and another imme- diately on sighting Victoria. The other 22 deaths were children, amongst them being three of his sis- ters, all under five years of ago. Mr. Holder's father mother, one brother and one sister arrived safely in Mel- bourne. His sister, Mrs. Cliff, is at present living in Warrnambool,   where she had resided for the greater part of her lifetime. On arrival at Hobson's, Bay they came up the Yarra in a small paddle steamer called the "Governor Ar- thur." Another small steamer named "Firefly" had been running passen- gers up the river previous to this. It was considered rather risky to tra- vel in these old boats, as it was free- ly stated that the engineer always carried a stock of clay on board to patch up any leaks which might take place.           There was not a yard of metal laid on Melbourne streets then. Where   St. Kilda and Brighton now stand   there was a cattle station owned by a man named McArthur, and Mr. Hol- der was engaged there as a lad herd- ing cows and helping to milk, for a man named McMillen, who occupied portion of the run as a dairy, and sold milk and butter round about Melbourne. Between Melbourne and where Collingwood now stands there was a dense forest. Governor Latrobe lived in a little wooden house not far from the river, and somewhere near the present site of Prince's Bridge. It was called in those days the Gov- ernment paddock. On each side of the river was a dense scrub to about opposite Batman's Hill, just across the river, between the present Prince's and Falls bridges, and this was a great camping place for the blacks. There were very big gum trees and tussocky grass as high as a man's waist. Another camping ground was in the red gum forest near the present gaol. At the latter corroborees used to take place. The corroboree ground was formed by two straight lines of boughs, set up on end about a dozen yards apart, with a line of fires burning down the centre. On one side would be the lubras beating drums made out of their oppossum rugs, and on the side of the fires the men, painted in all sorts of fantastic ways, and with bunches of green leaves tied round their legs below the knees, would dance and go through all sorts of manoeuvres. Two Van Dieman's Land blacks were hanged in Melbourne soon after the Holders arrived. The scaffold was about the corner of Elizabeth and Lonsdale streets. About the end of 1842 three white men, bush- rangers, were hanged somewhere near where the Melbourne gaol is now. There were no buildings there, the scaffold being put up under a big gum tree. These were the first white men hanged in Melbourne. At this time the gaol and police quarters were about where the West- ern market now stands. The men were taken on a horse cart from there to the hanging place, each sit- ting on his own coffin. Mr. Holder remembered seeing the hangman tie- ing their hands behind their backs. Tulip Wright was chief constable. The first people who died were buried on Flagstaff Hill, Batman be- ing amongst the number. Later the burying ground was at the upper end of Elizabeth street. The first auctioneer was named Bear, and afterwards it was Bear & Son. His saleyards were at the cor- ner of Bourke and Queen Streets. Then came Hurst and Kissock, and Loyal and Mickle, Bakewell and Dal- mahoy Campbell. These were the first cattle saleyards, between Flag staff Hill and Spencer Street. About 1844 or '45 Mr. Holder went to the Dandenong Creek, Western Port, as all the country to the eastward of Prahran was called, to the late Edward Wilson's station. Mr. Wilson was afterwards one of the proprietors of the "Argus." At that time what is known as Oakleigh was called the pound, there being only a pound yard and pound-keep- er's hut. This was in charge of a man named Atkinson. About two miles further on there was an old bark hut or shanty, called "No Good Damper," where some fiery spirits wore sold by a man named Magee.

The origin of the name of the shan- ty was that some blacks, who had been in the habit of begging flour, were given slake lime instead, and when they tried to make the damper with the lime it wouldn't work, so they came back singing, "No Good Damper." Mr. Holder lived at this station till Mr. Wilson sold it to the late T. H. Power, and for a little time after, and then went to live with the Rev. James Clow, at another, station, on the Dandenong Creek, adjoining what was then the the Black Police Camp. He stayed with him till he   sold the station to Mr. Bubby who came from Mt. Gambier. Mr.     Clow's station was the farthest out in that direction. He had a horse station right under the Dandenong mountains, fenced on one side by the mountains and on the other by the creeks. An old man-o'-war man, known as Old Buck, used to carry the mails to a few of the squatters. He was on the "Bellerophon" in the English Channel, when Napoleon gave himself up to Captain Maitland aboard that vessel. "Old Buck" used to tell some strange yarns round the camp fire in the evenings. After leaving Mr. Power, and before going to Mr. Clow, he was at Gard- iner's Creek. He used to cut wood and Mr. Holder used to cart it into Melbourne with bullock teams. Mr. Holder then went westwards to Muston's Creek, near Caramut, to the late Henry Gotreaux. His sta- tion was the "Gums," later owned by the Hon. Wm. Ross, and still owned by the Ross family. He stayed there till the diggings broke out. When on his way to "The Gums," Penshurst was a reserve for the blacks. Dr. Watten was the re- sident protector. Previous to this Mr. Coy had the station, and Mr. Holder could remember seeing an aboriginal hanged in Melbourne for the murder of the overseer, Mr. Codd. Codd and another station hand named Paddy Rooney and a black- fellow were cutting ti-tree for build- ing a hut when the aboriginal killed Codd with a tomahawk, then work- ing towards Rooney, knocked him down, breaking his jaw, smashing his cheek bone and nose, leaving them for dead, When the men did   not return at the usual time to the camp, some of the other hands went in search for them. They found Codd dead and Rooney nearly so. However, he recovered, and was the principal witness against the black fellow when Captain Fyans captured him in the Grampians about two years later. Rooney was well known in the Koroit district for many years, working for old Mr. Mc- Vicar periodically. Towards the end of 1851, Mr. Holder started for Bendigo with the first rush there, and worked for several years in dif- ferent places. The first spot settled on was Spring Gully. A month or so afterwards he was in the big rush to Eaglehawk. He had varying but indifferent luck, and came back to Opossum Gully and worked there for several years. He then decided to go westwards again to Green Hills station, to Mr. Buckland. Leaving Green Hills, he went to Mr. W Hut- ton's Gazette station, and was after wards manager of T5 station, Grass- mere, belonging to the late Wm. Car- michael. He was there for over ten years. Kangaroos were very numerous at this time. He built a yard of about   four acres in extent, the fencing be- ing spars about fourteen feet high to keep them straight. Gipsy George and Henry Williams helped to build this immense yard, into which the kangaroos were driven. When   ready for a drive, as many as a hun- dred horsemen would assemble for the sport. He had seen as many as 2000 kangaroos taken out of that yard as the result of one day's drive. Within two years 11,000 kangaroos were killed. At that time there was not a fence between Warrnambool and the Salt- water River, and drovers with cat- tle from the various stations could travel where they liked. Mr. Hol-   der used to start from "The Gums" and be guided by the mountains. All the rivers had to be crossed by swim- ming. Later in life Mr. Holder selected land at Cooramook in the early six- ties, Mr. Grant being Minister of Lands about that time. Here he re- sided with his family until his death.