The Paroo River Region

26 12 2006

“My work fairly commenced with the survey of Qulberry Creek; thence extending my measurements to the Paroo, I traversed it to its head. The wave of pastoural enterprise having set in upon Western Queensland, there was a large inflow of capital, principally from Victoria, for the taking up and stocking of new country, which I was now surveying. The Upper Paroo had, however, been taken up by Mr Bullmore, so that being yet unoccupied, I had the experience of being the first to measure a long stretch of the wilderness that had not been trodden by man or beast. (Needless to say Watson was not the first man to walk this area)

wr_qld_paroo_air2_350.jpg

Paroo River from the air, Qld
Celebrate Rivers

After reaching the head of the Paroo I turned southward and passed through land that had been settled but abandoned and forfeited, which probably had been the means of saving many lives, from the fact that the stations had been formed upon the river with deep billabongs behind them, in places imagined to be above flood level. The flood of January 1874, which I had witnessed on the Langlos, had also proved a great eye-opener on the Paroo, where the water rose 6ft over the roofs of the abandoned stations; so that there would have been no escape for the inmates hemmed in by the billabongs. Upon the most elevated spots between the river and the billabongs I could not reach the flood mark with a riding whip standing up in my stirrups.

Continuing my surveyes southward I reached the Humeburn station a the junction of the Paroo River and the Beechel Creek. The station had recently passed in to the hands of a Victorian investor who happened to reach the station just before the flood. Despite being built on high land the water made an unceremonious entrance into the homestead, compelling the proprietor, manager, stockman and cook to take refuge on the roof for three days.

I reached Humeburn in June 1874 after a protracted survey of unoccupied country and appreciated the domesticity of pastoral occupation. The surrounding country, after its inundation was clothed with a luxuriant verdure and as the flood did no damage to the imporvements the well ordered arrangements had not been disturbed.

Beechel Creek being unsurveyed, I forthwith traversed it to its head and adjusted all the runs thereon. About twenty miles above Humeburn I came upon the station of Beechel, in the possession of Messrs Lyons and Playfair. Mr Lyons who accompanied me upon the survey of his country was from the colony of Victoria, a well educated young man about 30 years of age with a well informed and well behaved mind. He had had some startling adventures with the blacks; on one occasion he was beset by a hostile and numerous tribe, but being well mounted he rode across the Warrego and reached Coongoola (Williams’s).

Passing out of the Turungllnnunbah Creek and plains I was gratified and surprised at the luxuriant pasturage and splendid country and the great future when water conservation should be availed of to nulify the occasional visitations of drought. Some few miles above the Beechel, a new station was being formed by Mr. Ridley Williams, one of the Coongoola family who was striking out for himself.

Completing the survey to the head of Beechel I returned to Beechel Station and after drawing plans of the work I resumed the survey of the Paroo River downward and I proceeded to mark out the back country.

I might observe here that I found there was a vast stretch of country, vacant Crown Land between the Paroo and the Bulloo. The ball was at my feet as there was nothing in the Pastoral Leases Act of 1863 to prohibit my acquiring a stretch of this country at the Crown rental and disposing of the same at a high premium, which was already being done by a class of speculators who were flourishing thereby. Upon full consideration I would have nothing to do with it, as no man can serve two masters, and I had always had an antipathy to the land monopolist and had no ambition to join their ranks.”

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3 responses

26 12 2006
imogen88

Very interesting reading, indeed. Last para especially…you really understand where he comes from by this statement.

26 12 2006
Duuran

a landscape and survet ripe with philisophical import. This will be some book!

27 12 2006
lorigloyd

As usual, you are increasing my knowledge base. Fascinating!

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