T.P. Shelley first travelled this district in 1886. These articles describe his return trip around the area 46 years later. He was an articulate and observant man giving the reader a clear picture of life in this area in the early part of the last century.
T. P. Shelley was a larger-than-life character. "He was a big man. He was not Australian, he was an Irishman," said Les Harris of Kiah. "When he used to yell out down there (on his farm, 'Saltwater' at Kiah) you'd hear him up here. He had a beautiful voice. He didn't need a telephone. You could hear him for a long way. Clear as a bell. He was a tea agent, and he sold all sorts of things from separators to sewing machines. He was a big man, he couldn't sit a horse. He used to travel around in a horse and sulky. By gee, when he sat in the sulky, the old sulky would go down on one side. He used to go all over the place. He had that job all his life."
'Eden Magnet' May 28th, 1932
KIAH 1886 - 1932
by T. P. Shelley
Forty six years have elapsed since the year in which, coming down from Towamba, I first made the acquaintance of the settlers who with true pioneering instinct, had established themselves on the splendid alluvial land, known as the Kiah River flats, which only in recent years are being made properly accessible, and which, for productiveness, are among the best in Australia.
The first settler whom I saw was John Ryan, a most hospitable man. His farm was pretty well cleared, and his farm was devoted to the growing of maize and the rearing of pigs. Being at that time, as now, on business bent, I sold him a Singer sewing machine and an A.B.C. corn sheller, both indispensable and necessary to the progress and comfort of the homely pioneer. I then went on to the homestead of Edmund Mitchell, hearty and hospitable as all the riverside farmers were. His place was partly improved, and the cleared portions were bearing crops of maize and potatoes. He procured from me a Planet cultivator where-with to enhance his yield of golden grain. From his place the track was rough, and the river boggy enough to scare a new chum, and it was more by good luck than good management that I managed to find my way through the then almost inaccessible country that the developmental road which has been commenced is designed to serve. I made my way down by 'Ivy Farm', partly cleared and much of its best land put under crop by J. T. Mitchell, domestically disposed. He also ordered a Singer sewing machine as a present for his wife, in thoughtful anticipation of their mutual needs.
The track became more and more difficult, and the distance from 'Ivy Farm' to Mr. Harris's farm seemed an extraordinarily long way to me, a perfect stranger to these parts. However, I got there, to find a series of new selections, in which clearing had been made from the virgin bush with preliminary cultivation already in progress. Mr. Harris was scuffling maize with an old-fashioned iron scuffle, which was hard on man and beast, and he quickly gave me an order for a Planet Jr., also a Singer sewing machine. He showed me the track to Bernie Doyle's. This lay through new selections, mostly taken up by Mr. Harris's sons and including farms now owned by Messrs Ted and Sylvie Harris. The bush was full of bird life, and wonga pigeons were continually flying up almost in one's face. The country generally was very scrubby until the track led the weary traveller to Bernie Doyle's which by its look was a comparatively early settlement. Bernie was a born stockman and his big yards were full of cattle, which were not nearly so docile as the domesticated Jerseys are on the same farm nowadays.
I may say that this was practically my first experience with cattle, and I thought them extremely intractable, but a little later I came into contact with properly wild cattle at Yourie, Witbilliga, and Belowra way.
It was great fun seeing Bernie by himself throw the largest bullock in the yard and hold it down and secure it by means of a rope. He was undoubtedly a champion among stock, and would have been equal to showing the far-famed western cowboys a few points in the hunting and handling of cattle. Of course I had to stay the night with him, as his home, like that of his fellow farmers was open for the entertainment of travellers. You no sooner arrived at a place on the river than a youngster ran to feed your horse, and the tea was on the table in a jiffy. Your only trouble was to watch and see that your horse was not overfed with maize. Several other travellers stayed at Bernie Doyle's that night and the utmost hospitality was extended to all.
Next morning Bernie put me on the track, which was a narrow one most of the way through prickly bush and undergrowth. Talk of wild duck! They rose in hundreds from the many swamps abutting on the river, swamps that now are mostly dry, reclaimed by draining. I wended my way down by where Mr. James McMahon Snr., now lives, leaving it on my left, as I was frightened to attempt a crossing in the river quicksands there.
The next place I came to was that of Tom Stevens, a pioneer settler, and a very alert kind of man. Of course he and his wife had to have a Singer to help them sing the song of 'Home Sweet Home'. His patch of land seemed well improved and was covered with a good growing crop of maize.
From Mr. Stevens' I dodged over the river to where Bob Goward had a selection, but one could not see far for the prickly bush which covered the rich alluvial lands. I did no business with him then, as he was away getting married. Good news for the future! I went on to the home of John and Dan Kelly, good old Irish men and glad to see another. I soon found that John was more than ordinarily well educated as far as history was concerned, for he could teach me the history of Ireland, England, Scotland, America etc. He had been a sailor and of course had seen as well as heard something of the wide, wide world. The Kellys had a good piece of land, growing crops of maize and hops. This was the first time I had seen hops grown in Australia, and their growth was luxuriant.
Leaving Kellylands I found my way to Cochrane's Flat, the home of the Whelans. I had met Roger (or Roddie as he was more generally known) in Pambula on my way down the coast. Old Mrs. Whelan and some of the girls were there. She was one of the brightest of women, endowed with a remarkably ready wit, and with her quaint and refreshing humour soon had me in fits of laughter - she and the girls. I soon felt at home there, and of course another sewing machine helped to swell my modest volume of local biz. This part of it was worked by Ned Richards, who, not to be outshone by his neighbours, had to have a Singer for his home.
Next morning I found my way to 'Freshwater', where Tom Whelan lived. He was just married and was putting up a big fight against the primitive conditions which had to be overcome by settlers who resolved to succeed. The place was only partially cleared, and the uncleared portion was heavily encumbered with the ubiquitous prickly bush. Here was the pigeon's paradise, which I , in my fondness for sport, rather ruthlessly disturbed. I got the loan of a gun and went shooting with Tom, and in less than an hour we had 25 wongas, which proved an acceptable addition to the larder of my hospitable hosts.
In the evening I went over to some place in the vicinity of Ah Dick's, and Jim and Will Whelan were there ploughing with the old type of plough that I was familiar with in Ireland, and there I ploughed my first few rounds in Australia. The boys were not surprised as they knew that most men from the old country could plough.
From there I proceeded to where Tom Power lived, on property now owned by Robert Bruce and Tom McMahon. When I got there by a very rough track, Power had just hauled a net-full of beautiful fish. Oh, what a feed of fish we had! This place was like all the rest, only partly cleared, but here as elsewhere, a home was established, and hope reigned supreme. Consequently another Singer was ordered to lighten the labours of the industrious and thrifty housewife.
Bidding farewell to the last-visited of my riverside friends, I made for Eden by a terribly rough road, and met Bill Stevens coming up Whelan's Swamp Hill with three good draught horses pulling for all they were worth with a load of about half a ton! Those were the days of bad roads.
I kept on, and my next place of call was Boydtown, where Major Woods lived in the Sea Horse Inn, which then was in beautiful order and intact. There was not then a crack in any of the walls. The bar was in old country style, and shelves behind were fitted up with casks of English oak with shining silver hoops, and the names of the various liquors, brandy, rum, whisky, port, sherry, etc., labelled on the casks. The hotel appointments were lavish. The Major showed me over every portion of the establishment, including the tap rooms, dining rooms, and the most magnificent billiard room I had ever seen. The walls and Gothic roof were lined with beautifully panelled cedar, and the Major and I played on the billiard table, a handsome piece of furniture, made, I believe by a member of the Davidson family. At a distance from the hostel were the old boiling-down works and wool stores, and there was also a line of empty cottages, about twenty of them, all now gone.
Even now, as one travels round the country one can see, even as far afield as the Monaro, mementos of the old hostel including slate tiles which formed portions of the piazza floor and steps of old Boydtown House. How times have changed! A lovely building now far gone in disrepair, and its lavish furnishings dispersed. Yet even now, what sort of a tourist place could it be made? What a chance for people of enterprise to come along and make of the old settlement one of the show places in Australia, accessible by good roads from every portion of the continent. Who knows but what as a tourist resort Boydtown may not have a more resplendent future than was ever planned for it as an industrial settlement by its enterprising founder, who met a tragic and untimely fate at the hands of uncivilised natives in the island of Guadalcanal. The idea of a revival of the glories of Boydtown suggests the possibilities of a wonderful development at Twofold Bay, a worthy objective for a younger and, let us hope, a more progressive, generation.
In my next article reference will be made to the progress that has been made in the Kiah River district which, as a stranger, I visited nearly half a century ago.
'Eden Magnet' June 18, 1932.
KIAH 1886 - 1932
A CONTRAST Cont.
by T. P. Shelley.
In my previous article I described the Kiah-Towamba River district in its pioneering stage, and now I will give a review showing the extent to which progress has been made there since my initial visit to it 46 years ago. A recent trip over the self-same country enabled me to do this with up-to-date accuracy.
Starting again at John Ryan's old place, I note that this is owned by Mr. Martin McMasters, an enterprising settler of the right type. The flats on the property are now all cleared and growing prime lucerne, maize oats, Japanese millet, etc, as feed for wealth-producing cows. There is a nice homestead, also a dairy and a milking yard. A nicely improved place.
A good road close by called the Lower Towamba road leads to where Mr. Roy Mitchell and his mother and his sister have their beautiful and hospitable home. Here there is the post and telephone office, and a good wireless set provides up-to-the-minute communication with all parts of the world. All the flats on this farm are under cultivation. The crops are, principally maize which yields prolifically, and lucerne also is growing well. Roy intends to devote part of his holding to dairying in the near future.
Close by on the same side of the river, live Mr. and Mrs. J. V. Robinson, who have a very nice home and are very comfortably circumstanced. Among other improvements, J. V. has cleared a very heavy scrub know as "Rat's Valley", which at one time people thought would never be cleared. Mr. and Mrs. Robinson have by their foresight and industry made a lot of money by market-gardening, for which the land is equal to the best to be found elsewhere in Australia.
Proceeding Kiah-wards, one wends one's way to Harry Mitchell's, crossing deep water twice before getting there. From this it will be seen that he needs the new road before he starts dairying. His place is known as 'Ivy Farm'. It contains some good flats, all under maize, potatoes and lucerne. This on land that once was covered with jungle, and if "Russian John" (a well known bush worker in this district in the early days) could reappear, he would be able to tell of the tremendous toil he put in, in clearing some of those plots. Harry has a nice home, and a garden in which are growing oranges and lemons. "They Say" (a local gossip column in the 'Eden Magnet' - author) (and I trust he will pardon my repeating this) that he will soon be taking a partner to his heart and home.
Leaving there you cross and re-cross the river a dozen times, passing nice paddocks of maize on both sides of you, until you reach the farm that of late has achieved state-wide fame, "The Pride of the River". Here Cr. A. L. Mitchell lives. Also are domiciled here a newly married pair, Mr. and Mrs. Jim Sawers, who work the dairy. Mr. Mitchell has a nice new home, good milking yards and dairy, and an Alfa-Laval separator which hums like music as it produces excellent cream, yielded by a beautiful herd of Jerseys. It is on this farm that A. L. grows his prize winning maize, some of which won for him this year the R. A. S. Trophy for the South Coast, also the first award in the district competition under the auspices of the Eden Exhibition Society. His yield was 127 bushels to the acre. He is a pig specialist and prides himself on the possession of some splendid Tamworths. He also has prize poultry from the Sydney Show. By the strides he is making he will soon have this splendid property converted into an up-to-date dairy farm.
Resuming the journey, one has to climb a terribly steep hill on the way to the farm of Mr. H. W. Harris, where also is a nice home, situated on well cleared land reclaimed by persistent and well-directed industry from its former jungle state. A good herd of Jerseys indicates the existence of a valuable primary industry, and on the rich flats are seen growing in profusion crops of lucerne, oats, and maize; also a good patch of mangolds, some of enormous size. These roots are excellent for milking cows. H. W. has the heart of a lion to start dairying before the new road has reached him, as his transport difficulties are immense. He has to travel the bed of the river for several miles before he reaches the hard road.
Further on you reach Mr. E. H. Harris's place, his house well up from the river and in a position that no flood will ever reach, but he needs the goodwill of his own good horses to pull the maize from the flats up to his hillside barn. This farm, once thickly covered with prickly bush scrub, is now well cleared, and contains some lovely grass paddocks, and good crops of green oats, etc., on well drained land that was once the mouth of a swamp. "Ted" has a nice herd of Jerseys, which yield first class cream per medium of an Alfa-Laval. He, too, has to take his cream down the bed of the river for some distance before striking the road.
Next, one comes to the comfortable home of Mr. H. S. Harris. On his farm there is some good lucerne also luxuriant rye grass. This is especially luxuriant on land that was once a swamp. He has a really fine herd of Jerseys, mainly from the late Mr. D. Binnie's breed. I am told that the cream yield of one of these cows is equal to, if not better than, that of any of the cows tested at the Pambula factory. Sylvie has a nice little dairy and yards, and new clearing on the hillside portends extension of the area devoted to dairying.
As dairying has come to stay, a lot of the hillside land along the river will be brought into use, but only by the utilisation of home labour can it be made to pay for the work involved.
One next arrives at Mr. M. D. Doyle's, whose holding is an old farm, with some good alluvial flats. Here there are two nice new houses, new milking yards, and a dairy which is about to send its contribution of cream to the factory. Lucerne and grasses are well established here to provide for the needs of cream producing "Strawberries". Rabbit-proof fences betoken essential up-to-dateness in farming. M. D. is 80 years of age, but is as sturdy and vigorous as ever, and I venture to say that not a horse on the river can throw him. He still rides as stately as of yore, and one can tell at a glance that he was every inch of him the crack bush rider that he is reputed to have been in the days when cattle hunting was to him an all-absorbing hobby. Little wonder that no beast could beat him in the bush or elsewhere.
Now you cross the river, over a very bad crossing , to where Mick's brother Bernie used to live and where as I previously mentioned, I first saw wild cattle. Here in a beautiful new home reside a happy pair of Kiah's latest newly-weds, Mr. and Mrs. James McMahon, junior. From the house one obtains commanding views both up and down the river, and the spot is ideal for the garden and orchard. There are some very fine flats, at present devoted to the cultivation of maize, but the owner intends to start a dairy there in the near future, and it should be the best on the river, as it has some well-cleared hillside grass land for use in conjunction with the fertile flats. From this farm one can easily get on to the Prince's Highway, and I may say that this is the starting point of good motor roads, being only a short distance from the Prince's Highway.
Almost opposite to the last mentioned farm is the old McMahon home where Mr. James McMahon senior lives. This farm has been well improved, and some very expensive drains have effected the reclamation of extensive rich swamp lands, which in their present improved state are the very thing for dairying. On this property on sees a very nice home, good yards, bails and dairy; also a good herd of Jerseys, whose chieftain is a Logan bred bull. Here also we see motor cars, engines, corn threshers, disc ploughs, lucerne renovator, mowers and altogether a pretty complete set of modern farm implements.
The Kiah to Lower Towamba developmental road, as so far constructed, reaches a little past here as it is quite near to the homestead there is no trouble in getting the products of farm and dairy away to market. For the farmers who have spent many years in unenviable isolation in their determination to make good on their holdings and ultimately to win out, the new road is a veritable godsend and afford them a much appreciated measure of compensation for the discomfort and disadvantages they have suffered through bygone years.
'Eden Magnet' July 19, 1932.
by T. P. Shelley
Now, leaving the homestead of Mr. James McMahon senr., there are two ways of reaching the Goward property. One is the old track down the river, which was nearly always boggy, and if you happened to get a few feet off the beaten track down you would go in the quicksand. Many a ducking have I got along the Kiah River, particularly when riding a young horse not used to the eccentricities of such a track. But the track I am now taking is the new road, which was made by contractor Delatore. It is the first section of the Kiah to Lower Towamba developmental road, and, in compliment to the originating engineer, is now called the Donaldson Highway. This road, I understand, was laid out by Mr. Hinley, Imlay Shire engineer, and is on an excellent grade. All the pipes in the made road were manufactured at the Kiah bridge, and cannot be surpassed for quality.
Some 200 yards or so from this road is the old Goward home, situated on the top of a nice rise many feet above the level of the river and well beyond the reach of flood. This was a well-appointed farm homestead prior to the unforgettable bush fires of 1926, which destroyed barn, stables, bacon house, etc., leaving only the home and this was but just saved by the strenuous efforts of the owner, Mrs. Goward, senior, and Mr. Ally Harris. This is a nice little farm, which has been again put in order and is being at present worked by Mr. R. J. Goward, his mother having for some time been too ill to continue farming on her own account. The writer is indeed sorry that such a fine woman who has been such a help to others, should ever herself get sick. From her younger days, if she heard of anyone on the River being ill, she would jump on her horse and soon be at their side to see what she could do to assist them. And she could do wonders in those days to help and comfort the sick. Many a time the writer has met her swimming her horse across the river after attending a patient. In those days there was no doctor nearer than Bega. May she live long to enjoy the companionship and appreciation of the riverside folk.
Now you cross through the river to what is known as "Paddy's Point", an area of land that was taken up or bought by the late Mr. Patrick Whelan. This is an excellent piece of land, and was part of the old Goward Estate. It was purchased by Mr. R. J. Goward, who has built a good residence, new dairy, milking yards, and numerous barns and sheds. The latter are now full of oaten and lucerne hay. Mr. Goward has a very nice herd of Jerseys, the head of which was bred by Mr. J. A. Martin, of Pambula, and shows plenty of quality. Mrs. Goward has magnificent flower and vegetable gardens, and possesses many certificates of success at district shows. The farm is now well equipped for dairying, there being plenty of rye grass and lucerne. An Australian made Sunshine mowing machine cuts the lucerne, which is then fed to the cows. From here there is a good motor road to the Prince's Highway.
You come next to Mr. W. Allan's, formerly the old Steven's property, now alongside the princely highway. Since his purchase of the property, Mr. Allan has built a splendid new home much higher up from the river than the old Stevens house, which the flood of 1919 surrounded and at the same time took away a couple of 1000 gallon tanks full of water, one of them being carried down to Shelley's Freshwater Farm and smashing up against a large tree. Mr. Allan did not want any such floods around his house, and wisely ensured its being out of the way of future floods. New milking yards also have been erected, in anticipation of dairying. Although this farm was well improved when he bought it, Mr. Allan has spent a lot of money in effecting further improvements of a permanent nature. By means of a concrete pipe drain a quarter of a mile long he has reclaimed a valuable swamp, and in order to provide an outlet for the mouth of the drain had to cut through a depth of 25 feet of alluvial land to reach the river. This year he had on a part of this swamp a magnificent crop of maize, which I venture to say would fill two large 100 ton silos, so there can be no doubt that this swamp land will well repay the expense incurred in its reclamation. This farm has already a good patch of lucerne and should easily and profitably run a good little dairy.
'Eden Magnet' July 25, 1932
by T. P. Shelley
You come back over the Kiah River bridge to a farm which was once the home of Mr. William Stevens, but which now belongs to Mr. J. N. Harris, who now devotes it to the growing of maize. Continuing down the same side of the river, you come to the place where the Kellys lived in 1886 and which now belongs to Mr. J. N. Harris. Here you find a good house, new dairy, milking yards, etc., and an excellent herd of Jersey cows, some from the famous herd of Mr. G. Salway, of Cobargo, and more good ones from Mrs. C. Rixon, of Rocky Hall. His bull is from Cole's, of Pambula. It is J. N.'s intention to have a herd that will be second to none. For their feed he is making every preparation. He has laid down several small paddocks with the best of grasses, and has a great patch of lucerne. So he is well set for dairying.
As I am only traversing the river farms I will not leave the river but will cross over to where, almost immediately opposite, is Shelley's farm "Freshwater", once famed for its lagoons and the sport that was afforded by the wild duck that frequented them. The swamps and lagoons have now mostly been drained and put under cultivation for maize, which has been grown with great success, as testified by the prizes invariably gained at Bega and other district shows. It was said 40 years ago that these swamps were undrainable, but they have been well drained and cultivated. They were under crop when the 1919 flood came and in one night took it away - the best crop ever grown on "Freshwater" - and left hundreds of large trees and six feet of silt all over the place instead of the maize that should have turned in a lot of money. As on other flood-swept farms the work of restoration and repair had to be undertaken. The rubbish had to be cleared away; new fences had to be built, and goodness only knows what had to be done before the place could be got to resume its former appearance. But it has been done. On this farm is a good house, one of the best barns in the district, milking yards and dairy, etc., Milking cows include some good Jerseys from the herds of Wrens, Taraganda, Bega, more of the old Farragh breed, Candelo, and the top of the herd is a bull bred by Mr. Adolphus Fourter, Nethercote. This farm has some lucerne well established, and all other kinds of crops suitable for dairying, and should make one of the best dairies on the river.
You just go back across the river and what was once a water reserve and all jungle is now cleared by Mr. P. T. Geraghty and is under maize, with a patch of good lucerne for his cows and horses. He has a nice home here. Formerly he was on the shire road maintenance staff, but was taken over as leading hand by the Main Roads Board when it assumed control of the Prince's Highway.
Next you come on to the Whelan's property, I believe the oldest on the river. It extends to near the side of the old Lower Kiah road. One finds good new milking yards, new dairy, and everything up to date for dairying. There are some good looking Jerseys, also headed by a Cole bull of excellent quality. This place has some very fine flats, and if fully utilised for dairying it would be hard to say how many cows could be milked there.
Just across the river from the Whelan's dairy reside Mrs. Maxwell and her son Percy in a neat little cottage owned by Mr. Bede Bruce. Mr. Bruce grows mostly maize, and fattens pigs for the Melbourne market.
You then have to cross over - or rather through - the river twice before reaching the home of Mr. Robert Bruce, who has a good house (built by the late Jacob Veigel), a fine orchard, and good barns. Mr. Bruce grows mainly maize, and runs cattle on bush leases and his paddock at Narrabarba, these at times turning him in a lot of money. For the present he is satisfied with his usual farming practice and does not intend to go in for dairying yet.
Further reference to other Lower Kiah farms and to Boydtown will be made in a future issue.
'Eden Magnet' September 3, 1932
by T. P. Shelley
In my last article I forgot to mention that the kitchen at Mr. Robert Bruce's residence is part of the old Kiah school where Mr. Thomas Beare started his first school in this country. He was a find stamp of the well-educated Irishman and naturally was a great influence for good in the locality. From Kiah he graduated to Wyndham and there made many notable scholars, amongst whom was Mr. Charles Turbet, who reached the top in police and detective matters, and was subsequently sent of America to study the problems of motor traffic. He later became superintendent of traffic, and a brilliant career seemed assured, then the Great Disposer of Events intervened, and decreed his passing from this life to the Great Beyond. Mr. Percy Beare, of timber fame, now living at Bermagui, is a son of Mr. T. Beare, and no doubt there are many at Kiah and round Wyndham who owe their education to Kiah's first schoolmaster.
Making one's way down towards the mouth of the Kiah River one arrives at Tom McMahon's place, and when on the hill approaching the homestead one would think there was a small township underneath, so numerous are the buildings, including a beautiful new house which, phoenix-like, arose to take the place of the home destroyed by fire some time ago. Last but not least, one sees good milking yards, which give promise of another cream supplier to the factory at Pambula. One feels however, that a district factory should have been near Eden, with its beautiful port from which the butter should be going direct to England instead of being dragged to Sydney, packed and re-packed before being sent overseas. Land on both sides of the river is now owned by Mr. McMahon and is immensely improved from its condition of 46 years ago.
As you proceed further towards the river entrance you pass through land once formerly held by the Hegarty family, and now belonging to Mr. McMahon. Beyond them, on the southern side of the river, you come to a lovely little cottage with a magnificent garden and orchard, and below on the riverside is a fine area of flat land and a market garden all belonging to Mr. W. Franks. Mr. Franks is an expert gardener as one can see by the beautiful show of almost every variety of garden flower supplemented by a fine display of cauliflowers.
Proceeding along the beach, through tidal waters, one comes to the Davidson's ancestral home, where I have spent with the members of this fine old family many happy hours by day and night. Theirs was indeed a home for everyone, and the beautiful girls and cheery boys will always live in my remembrance. I believe our genial hostess of those days still lives near Eden Though youthful in mind and active in body, she must be near the hundred mark. She was and is a very wonderful woman, and may she live long to tell to coming generations entertaining tales from her marvelous memory of those happy, and eventful, days of old.
A few hundred yards further south and one comes to the State pine plantation. Here is a good house, built by the Forestry Department for their local manager and now occupied by the forest overseer, Edgar May reputed one of the best worker on laborious service in the field. Mrs. May is a great fowl fancier, and a yard-full of very fine Leghorns justifies to her judgement in that regard.
Within a short distance is the old Kiah whaling station now in a state of disuse, snugly situated within the Kiah River entrance. Above it is Mr. George Davidson's nice and prettily situated residence from which are obtained beautiful views of the bay and ocean, and of Eden in the distance. Here are fine gardens of flowers and vegetables, in the growing of which the home folks are experts. Little of the winter is experienced here, as early potatoes are always to be had in the pre spring season. Though George has retired from whaling pursuits he is as busy as ever, his principal occupation being connected with the improvement of his beautifully situated property.
Eastward from Mr. Davidson's property is Kiah Village Reserve, which for many years has been devoted to the growing of pines and is part of an extensive plantation. The growth made by the pines is amazing, the height and girth of some of them on what appears to be nothing but sea sand indicating that the trees will soon be ready for the timber pulping mill.
Still proceeding eastward across the village reserve and the Fishery Flat, the property of Mr. W. T. Seaward, and his sister, Miss Seaward, one comes within reach of Mr. J. R. Logan's beautiful home, probably the finest to be found in the Far South Coast.
'Eden Magnet' September 3, 1932
HITHER & THITHER
From Kiah to Cann
by T. P. Shelley
Farmers at Kiah are busy clearing away last season's corn stalks and getting land ready for the plow. Some intend giving beans a trial here, where they should give results equal to the best in the Commonwealth.
The writer notes that bean growers are extending their operations to the Bega district, and are paying as high as £5/10 /- an acre as rent for land at Jellat Jellat. Evidently beans are beans these times. Jack Eurell is the man who advised Victorians to come this way, and he is helping them by transporting their machinery. Nothing like fresh blood coming into a district.
Every morning now at daylight one hears the barking of dogs and the cracking of whips, denoting the rounding up of the strawberries, and the hum of separators singing of the richness of their cream. The dairying employs many hands but few really like it.
Nothing has been heard of any additional grants to extend the developmental road up the river. It is understood that on their visit of inspection last week our shire councillors were duly impressed with the necessity of the road being completed.
Your correspondent had recently a trip through Towamba, Pericoe, Wog Wog, the head of Nungatta run, and on to the King's Highway at Rockton. Considering the heavy rain, the roads were in fair order. Rockton is a much improved place since the good road was made through the settlement, and all the farmers there appear to be prosperous, mostly with sheep, others with cattle.
Anyone who saw the old Bondi run forty years ago would not recognise it now, as on looking round one sees new houses and good netted fences everywhere. There are some good places for dairying, with facility for conveyance of cream to the Cann River factory, which is a thoroughly well equipped concern.
All down the sides of the Cann River are nice farms, and some wonderful flats at the main settlement at the Cann. After so much rain, water was lying in many places, but one could see the rye grass springing everywhere, and it must be a glorious sight in summer time.
Some of the families on the Cann have been there for generations, and are of the good old sort who extend a welcome to visitors and quickly have available a homely cup of tea.
The King's Highway is a well constructed road and wonderfully well kept. In fact one might imagine that its caretakers are vying with the maintenance men of the Prince's Highway. What most astonished me was the number of public telephones on the roadside, one about every ten miles. Handy, indeed. There are also some nice tea rooms along the way. One is a beautiful place situated on the side of a hill, and the landlady, a Mrs. Ritchie, told me they did a very big trade a few years ago. Further down is a very fine school of arts; also a large store, where the genial Mrs. McCoy keeps an up-to-date boarding house.
A few miles up the river is the Cann River Co-operative Butter Factory, managed by a Mr. Riley, who keeps things in first class order. This stands in the middle of some fine dairying country where I should say 100 acres could easily carry 70 dairy cows all the year round. But I can see that as yet dairying is only in its infancy here. Some people run large numbers of sheep, and I would say that good Jersey cows would pay much better. The country is too flat and wet for sheep.
Now I am getting nearer to the Prince's Highway, where Mr. P. Connolly keeps one of the finest hotels in the State. The staircases and some other of the fittings are part of the ill-fated "Riverina". These give an air of distinction to the establishment.
On the homeward run we came towards the Drummer Mountain in darkness and rain. I was indeed glad to get to Wingan River, where there are tea rooms kept by a Mrs. Miller and her son, Robin. Mrs. Miller is a most interesting lady and can with ease converse on any subject, displaying a wide knowledge gained of the world under conditions far different from those obtaining in this quiet but potentially prosperous settlement. Here one is made quite at home, the fare and accommodation being excellent.
A run of about 15 miles the next morning brought me to Genoa. This fine settlement does not look itself at all, Molly, dear, since its large tourist hotel was burned down. But Ben Buckland has a host of men rebuilding, and hopes to have the house restored by Christmas. Ben is enterprising and energetic, so good luck to him and his good wife in their new business. May success attend the future of the new "Genoa Hotel".
One can but be impressed by the enterprise, industry and neighbourliness of the residents of the Victorian borderland, and one can but regret the continued existence of the purely artificial border line that in one way and another still acts as an impediment to interstate free trade. May the day soon come when all such separating lines shall disappear, making us all citizens of an undivided and free Australia.
'Eden Magnet' February 18, 1933
AROUND THE COUNTRYSIDE 1886-1933
THEN AND NOW
At the moment I am at the head of 'Nangutta' run where one road leads to Pericoe and the other to Rockton and Bombala. The road to Rockton would not need expenditure of much money to make it a good thoroughfare, the country being fairly level with small creeks. The road to Pericoe is in fair order and could similarly be well conditioned at little cost. Following up the Nangutta Creek one comes to my old selection 'Native Dog Flat' so named by someone who saw a large pack of dingos killing a yearling calf. I selected this land in 1886 there was then no road from Pericoe only a track for pack horses and bullock teams. I therefore immediately set to work to get a road from Pericoe to the head of the run. Messers Clark and Galvin (or Garvin) were then our members so I got up a petition asking for £1000 to make the road to Bondi - now Rockton- via the head of the run. And with the help of the late Messers John Alexander and William Ryan of Pericoe and some letters in the Bega "Enterprise" run by the late Larry O'Toole I succeeded. Mr. J.D.Prossel of Bega was then road engineer and his assistant Mr.Simpson laid out the first work between Pericoe and the Head of the Run. The contractor was Mr. Tom Taylor of Bega. Mr. E.I.Pell auctioneer of Bega was assistant engineer later than Mr.Simpson who also laid out a lot of work on the same road. And I well remember Mr. John Alexander telling me that this was the best and proper route for a main road from Bombala to Eden.There were no rabbits in those days and the country provided a good run for cattle all the way up to Wog Wog. I spent a lot of money on that selection on fencing, ring barking and clearing and I built a good house, stables, milking yards and dairy etc. It is here I had the famous blood stallion 'Alandale' by 'The Drummer' imported which left such a lot of good horses around the district. Well, rabbits came in from all sides and could not be coped with so I almost had to walk away and leave the property. Now Mr. Val Umback lives there and he has improved the place by burning off and clearing and erecting rabbit proof fences. He keeps the post and telephone box which is most convenient to a person who is travelling through. He runs sheep and cattle with some success. Now following a steep grade up the ridge from Mr. Umback's to Wog Wog, you strike Richard Woods' old selection now owned by Mr. A.F.Umback. He has greatly improved this place and runs a very nice lot of sheep. We then come to the fine large property of Mr. Jack McCole as manager for Mr. George Cameron of Cann River who lately acquired it. This is a property once owned by the Moorhead family and the late Mr.John Ramsey. On the Moorhead part, I had seen 120 beautiful short horn cows being milked. Their calfs were a picture and there were a fine lot of pigs. On the Ramsey station I saw over 100 cows milked by the Martin family. A Mr.Nat Martin now of Nethercote was stockman of the whole station. Then down at the Letts Mountain part of Wog Wog two sisters, the Misses Sawers dairied 40 cows the finest short horn type I have ever seen. I once saw a telegram from Mr. John Ramsey to his stockman to bring 50 springing heifers and 200 bullocks to Candelo. The heifers and bullocks up to six years old to be delivered in Candelo in a week. There were three selectors up the Wog Wog River, namely messers F. Ramsey, Jack McDonald and Jim McDonald. All had cattle and horses and all fat. Besides the cattle there must have been 100 partly wild horses and it took such men as Nat Martin to yard them. Many a good chase has been witnessed by the writer when Nat got his hat in his hand. Then there was something doing. You could hear the horses galloping and Nat shouting a mile away. Oh ho, those were the good old days before the coming of the cursed bunny. Mr. G. Cameron now runs sheep and cattle on Wog Wog and all look well with plenty of grass within wire netted boundaries. Wog Wog is good country if the bunny could be exterminated or kept in strict control. Mr. James Laing now owns Letts Mountain and runs sheep while on Fulligan's Flat Messers Tasker and Love run a dairy. On a place adjoining Mr. W. Watson once ran a dairy of up to 30 cows and Mr.Steve Hunt on a neighbouring place used to milk 60 cows which the writer has seen fat. Those two places had to be abandoned when the rabbits came, the country being too rocky to wire-net. Mr. Hunt went to Cobargo and has done well while Mr. Watson went to Bald Hills, Pambula where he now has a fine property. He also has a house in Pambula where he resides. His son Roy works the Bald Hills farm. Thus the both messers Watson and Hunt's misfortune led to good fortune and was a blessing in disguise.
'Eden Magnet' March 11, 1933
AROUND THE COUNTRYSIDE
by T. P. Shelley
Further down the Wog Wog were selections taken up and there lived Andy Brown and family, Chas Voss and Bob Davis, while more to the Burragate side were the Baddeleys paddocks well improved and full of cattle. Also at Deep Creek was Jim Pike's selection and John Darragh's. All those were well improved and with dwellings on them. That was before the rabbit invasion. Now the holdings are abandoned and covered with black ti tree, a curse equal to the rabbit. Now I will come back to Pericoe Station, the home of the Alexanders, and a home for all travellers. No one passes without a feed and a bed if they stayed. On my first visit, I was asked to stay the night, an offer that I very gladly accepted. When supper time came on I noticed that the table was much larger than dinning tables in some of the hotels in the district, and fourteen of their own family and half a dozen strangers formed a goodly company, and this was a usual thing for years. The year 1886 was a good season equal to this. The country around Pericoe and Towamba were swept by bush fires the year before. The grass was up to the stirrup irons, all cattle and horses were fat. At that time, John Alexander made cheese at the homestead and had a large and up-to-date cheese plant. Over one hundred cows were milked and the family did all the work. On this station were some good horses, and how they could buck! But the Alexanders were good riders and were seldom thrown. The cattle were all of the large shorthorn type and looked beautiful. I have at times seen up to one hundred horses yarded. Those used to run in the bush and looked lovely. Then at the 'Two Mile' part of the station up to one hundred cows were milked. Here they made butter in the good old style and packed it into kegs of from £80 to £150 for transit to Sydney. In those pre separator days it was no easy task skimming all the milk dishes and making the butter in a large barrel churned by hand. All this work was done by John Richards and family and by the look of them they were doing prosperously well. But when cream separators came into being, John Alexander very quickly got a large one. He built an up-to-date butter factory and equipped it with boiler, engine, butter worker, tester, scales, etc., complete. Mr. Alexander had purchased a large tract of good nearby country extending to the Towamba River from the Manning and Stiles Estate. Consequently his executors established five large dairy herds on the Pericoe Estate. On each dairy farm they built good houses, milking yards, etc., the cost of which must have run into many thousands of pounds. All the milk was sent into the butter factory at Pericoe then managed by the late Robert Alexander and the butter always commanded top market price. Later when the Towamba Co-operative Butter Company started the Alexander Estate took up a lot of shares in the concern and was the largest supplier.
In recent years, through an unscrupulous Dairy Act the Towamba factory was closed down though its output of butter was first class. Several Towamba and Pericoe dairies were then dispensed with, and people went in for sheep, a proceeding that proved to be a leap from the frying pan into the fire, sheep having been unprofitable for the last five years.
I must not omit to mention where old James Love lived up the Pericoe Creek. In 1886 he used to dairy thirty cows, and he packed all the summer butter away in large casks with brine over it, and he told me that for a lot of it he got over 3/6 per pound. I tasted the butter, and it was good but was in my opinion a bit too plentiful. However, it suited the public taste of the times, and ensured a handsome return in the shape of Pounds, Shillings and Pence.
'Eden Magnet' May 6, 1933
by T. P. Shelley
Leaving Kiah recently with pre motor means of conveyance, namely a dependable pony and sulky, I made Towamba the first stage of my trip on this occasion and on arrival was pleased to see the many familiar faces and places smiling happily as of yore. The district generally looks well though rain in moderation would be highly beneficial at this time. I notice that many of the dairy farmers are getting well provided with winter feed for their stock, there being some lovely crops of lucerne, while hay stacks and silos contain necessary reserves of nutritious provender. Wal Green and Charlie Roberts are excavating in the ground great holes to serve the purpose of pit silos which will be filled with green maize and sorghum. By the look of the stacks of lucerne and oaten hay which Wal has already stored up he must be getting ready for a two years drought. Most of the maize crops at Towamba appear to be exceptionally good. At Pericoe, a few miles further on, the country looks fairly well but could do with more rain. Past Pericoe and through the head of 'Nangutta' there is plenty of grass, also at Wog Wog, but when passing along the sheep station swamp I failed for the first time in forty years to see a beast of any description, the only animal life in view being an occasional kangaroo. At Rockton formerly 'Bondi', the country is dry and the season unfortunately on the late side for rain, though the summer season has been good particularly for those in the wattle bark producing trade. This is great wattle country and hundreds of tons from these parts brought in Sydney £9/5/- and £9/10/- per ton, ex rail. Bark is now being carted from Rockton to the railway station at Bombala for 10 shillings per ton. Due to wool and bark, the condition of the people here is one of comparative prosperity. Cann River, reached in about forty miles by the King's Highway is also dry and badly needs rain particularly for the benefit of the dairying industry. Not far away bush fires are raging. Cann Valley is a fine piece of country and will grow anything from good quality grapes to maize and potatoes, it appears to be a home away from home for the Canadian Wonder Bean, the excellent crops of which should yield some thousands of bags this season. The people here are of the good old type, fine big men and women who all work hard. Only one of the local farmers is going in for silos yet but there are numerous stacks of hay made wisely when the sun shone. I came back by way of Bombala which is very dry as also is the country for miles around, so much so that with the approach of winter the prospect is by no means good. Cathcart is somewhat better but dry weather has retarded operations for the production for winter crops for feed. At Mr. Griffiths' place, I saw a novel silo of a circular hole sunk in solid rock and capable of holding a hundred and fifty tons. The sinking of this must have involved a big expenditure of time and money and the material to fill the silo is chaffed and when required for use will be hoisted by pulleys and delivered to the cows in the nearby covered sheds. The silo, yards and sheds are well worth inspection. There are a few more settlers in at Mt. Darragh, the settlement through which runs the £250,000 road constructed to provide a first grade road to connect the tableland with the coast. There are some very rich patches of volcanic land, rich but hard to clear of timber, in fact it would nearly break one's neck to look from underneath to the top of some of the trees. Two fine sawmills cater for the requirements of the coast and tablelands and also of Canberra, Australia's capital. Messers Raynor and Carey are the prospective mill proprietors. The timber of the best kind is to be of excellent quality. Nestling at the foot of Mt. Darragh peak is the home of Mr. and Mrs. Chisholm which by virtue of the fact that the post office and public telephone are installed here appears to be the official centre of the neighbourhood. Market gardening, an apparently profitable hobby of Mr. Chisholm who grows abundant crops of potatoes and other vegetables and various kinds of fruit, and sells them readily enough to appreciative purchasers in nearby towns. The residence and gardens give a touch of distinctiveness to the new road and is the only place I saw with good green grass growing. There is still some good land to be taken up and when farming becomes more profitable, as assuredly it some day will, Mt. Darragh settlement will be one of the most thriving and prosperous in south eastern New South Wales.
'Magnet' June 25, 1932
Mr. T. P. Shelley,
General Commission Agent,
Kiah via Eden.
A wide range of agencies, including: - Singer Sewing Machine
Royal Ins. Co., (Fire)
Griffiths Bros., (Teas)
H. V. McKay Machinery and all classes of Farmers' requisites.
'Magnet' January 13, 1934
* T. P. Shelley is not well and is staying with his son Mick on his farm at Kembla Grange and Unanderra near Dapto.
'Magnet' March 31, 1934
* T.P. Shelley agent for Loftus Moran Pty. Ltd. Melbourne. Best and oldest tea house in Australia.
'Magnet' March 16, 1935
The many friends of Mr. T. P. Shelley, on of Kiah's oldest residents and most genial identities, will learn with regret that his health has not been satisfactory for some time. A change is contemplated and will, it is hoped, restore T. P. to his former radiant health.
'Magnet' September 21, 1935
Friends of Mr. T.P. Shelley of Kiah will be pleased to learn that he has definitely improved in health after a long and distressing illness and that though still weak he feels that he is quite himself again.
Thomas Patrick Shelley died January 7, 1940 and is buried in Bega Cemetery.