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'Narandera to Hay' and 'Hay'
(articles by "The Raven") - Town & Country Journal  (1881)
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The two articles, 'Narandera to Hay' and 'Hay', were written by a correspondent using "The Raven" as his nom-de-plume and published in April 1881 in consecutive issues of the Town & Country Journal.

'Narandera to Hay' (published on 23 April 1881) - the correspondent travels by coach from Narrandera to Hay (including a two-day break in his journey at Darlington Point).  He describes "North Yanko", Gogeldrie" and "Cuba" stations, Darlington Point township and the nearby Warangesda Aboriginal Mission.

'Hay' (published on 30 April 1881) - a detailed portrait of Hay township, including descriptions of local businesses, buildings and public amenities.  The article includes a description of the annual race meeting and a short history of the township. 

[Town & Country Journal, 23 April 1881, page 792]

From Narandera to Hay.

No. III.

Narandera being on the high road from Sydney to the Mount Brown diggings via Hay, I took the precaution to give in my name for a seat in the coach two or three days beforehand, as every train to Narandera brings in numbers of eager travelers, whose first words on stepping on to the platform are, "Where is Cobb and Co.'s booking office?" and although the coach leaves for Hay three times a week, the proprietors have had occasion once or twice to put on an extra vehicle.1

At 1.30 p.m. we were being slowly dragged through the Narandera sand by four fine greys.  With the exception of myself, the passengers were diggers, off for Mount Brown, regardless of warning, most of them having come away from Temora in disgust, and having left tons weight of unwashed dirt behind, which, however, they did not leave without registering.  By-the-bye, going from Temora to Mount Brown, seems to me very like the proverbial jumping from the fryingpan into the fire, as reports from the latter are, up to the present, anything but cheerful, the water being exhausted, and not much prospect of any more just yet; but the Australian digger is, and always will be, a roving kind of investigator, who would rather do anything than sit still and wait.

On leaving Narandera the coach track takes a parallel course midway between the river and the railway, until we get to a place known as "The Murdering Sandhill," where the terrible tragedy of the Pohlmann Brothers' murder took place some 12 or 13 years back; it will be remembered that after the murder the bodies were burnt, and only a few ashes were recovered; the spot is marked by an enclosure.  Here the coach road diverges from the railway line.

A few miles further brings us to the head station (15 miles from Narandera) of J.H. Douglas, Esq., M.P. for the district.  This station (N. Yanko) has about 14 miles frontage to the river by an average of 25 miles in depth, and contains some 95,000 acres of purchased land.  At present it depastures about 105,000 sheep; the quality of the wool being well known in the market, needs no comment from me.  The homestead is one of the most perfect in this part of the district, the garden itself containing several acres closely stocked with every variety of fruit, vegetables, and flowers, is kept in perfect order and watered by means of a wind-power water lifter, which also amply supplies all the needs of homestead as well as the garden.  Mr. Douglas is, I believe, a general favourite all over the district, and from all accounts is just the man to represent it.

A further journey of eight miles and we arrive at the Gogelderie head station, the property of Messrs. Hebden Bros.  This, in common with most pastoral properties about here, was originally a cattle station, and Gogelderie was then looked upon as the ne plus ultra of fattening ground, but the present proprietors have changed the stock to sheep, which appears to succeed quite as well as the former denizens.  One of the brothers, Mr. Charles Hebden, has lately purchased an extensive property on the Paroo River, and as he believes in personal supervision, will shortly be leaving the district for that part.

A few days previous to this, the Rev. A.B. West, the clergyman at Narandera, than whom a more kindly fellow never lived, had driven me out to this station via Yanko, where I had partaken of the hospitality of the proprietors.

Gogelderie, which contains about 220 square miles, is at present stocked with 65,000 sheep or thereabouts, and a small but select herd of cattle, and could, I am told, carry many more.  The proprietors have gone to an enormous expense in selecting and improving, the number of tanks and dams being almost incredible.  About a mile from Gogelderie is placed the primitive letter box shown in our illustration.

After passing Gogelderie, the country opens out more into plains than previously, one being able to see even a dead level country for miles, the only high ground being the Merool ranges, which trend away in a north-westerly direction until fairly out of sight.

Bush Letter Box, near Gogelderie Station
"Bush Letter Box, near Gogelderie Station"
(image adapted from illustration in the Town
and Country Journal

A journey of ten miles brings us to Cuba head station, the property of Mr. McGaw.  This one of the largest runs on the north bank of the Murrumbidgee, including, as it does, several extensive stations amalgamated.  It contains about 4000 square miles, and is, like all these Murrumbidgee stations, under sheep.  The shed employs over 70 shearers.  The pontoon bridge shown in our illustration is used for crossing sheep. It is a portable arrangement, and is "laid" only when wanted for use.

The township of Darlington proper was formerly part of this run, and is situated about two miles to the westward of the homestead.  The soil from Yanko to this place appears to have changed its character altogether, as also the grasses, the former being of a richer nature, and more approaching the black volcanic soil, and the latter also proportionately richer.

Having made arrangements with Mr. Bradley, Cobb and Co's agent, to break my journey here for two days, as I wished to see the Aboriginal Mission School, I stepped out of the coach into the darkness, for it was now 8 p.m., leaving my mining fellow travellers arguing over a bottle of whiskey, about some technicalities in the digging line, of which I was altogether at sea.  I was soon, however, seated before a cheerful fire, for it was a terribly cold night, smoking the pipe (or rather cigarette) of peace, at the Coach and Horses Hotel.

The township on the north side of the river was formed and named by Mr. Geo. Rogers in 1864.  He, however, sold out the following year, having taken a dislike to the site, which, I may remark, is a complete network of crab-holes, and, after a shower, of a consistency only to be compared to bird-lime.  I am told that at such a time it is truly astonishing the rate at which a pedestrian can here rise in the world; he can increase his height about half an inch every step he takes, until, sad to say, he must suffer a downcome, and actually stoop to free his boots from layers of clay.  The site was chosen here, it is said, because there was no other ground available in the neighbourhood.  Half a mile from here is the Darlington punt, crossing by which I came to the southern township, which the Government have recently laid out and called by the native name "Wadai;" and in the immediate neighbourhood (some two miles) is the Aboriginal Mission at Warrangesda (Camp of Mercy), under the pilotage of the Rev. Mr. Gribble.  I walked out here in order to be able to write a full account of the establishment, and also to take sketches of the principal points of interest connected with it, but, unfortunately, had my walk for nothing, as Mr. Gribble, who had just returned from Sydney, had left a full account, as well as several views of the place, at the office of the TOWN AND COUNTRY JOURNAL.  The Government have granted a reserve of 600 acres of very good land for the benevolent purpose.

Of the ultimate success of this experiment, I, of course, cannot form any idea worth quoting, but the rescue of these waifs from their present humble state of degradation should certainly be worth a trial.  Darlington and Wadai collectively contain a population of about 120.  There are three pubs, three stores, and the usual concomitants of a bush town.

On resuming my coach journey at 8 p.m., on the appointed day, I found the inmates all on the same errand as my former fellow passengers; and, the night being bitterly cold, I was glad to find that there was room inside, as it is really no joke sitting perched up on the box all night, travelling over plains over which a cutting wind blows everlastingly in one's face.  We were not due in Hay until next morning at 10.30, the distance being exactly 80 miles.  Ten miles from Darlington is Benerembah station, the property of Thomas Beard, Esq., and, eight miles further on, Bringagee (out station of Grongal).  Four miles below this station is an extensive depot for the reception of railway material for the Hay line, which here approaches the river within about two miles.  Ten miles more bring us to Grongal, the property of Messrs. Learmonth Brothers.  This station is under the management of G. Mair, J.P.  Eight miles further and we arrive at Mr. J. Rudd's station, Howlong; 10 miles more, to Wardry, Messrs. Mills, Neilson, and Smith the owners; and after that to Illawarra [Illilawa], 10 miles from Hay, the property of Messrs. McCulloch, Sellers, and Co.

We arrived in Hay at 10.10 a.m., 20 minutes before the time, and almost frozen.

[The article contains detailed line-drawings of (1) Darlington Punt; (2) Pontoon Bridge, Darlington; (3) Bush Letter Box, near Gogelderie Station; (4) Township of Wadai; (5) North Yanko Head Station.]

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[Town & Country Journal, 30 April 1881, page 848]



As stated in my last, the coach from Narandera arrived in Hay a little after 10 a.m., having traveled all through the night.  I must, however, here observe that I decidedly prefer the day for coach travelling.  After delivering the mail at the post office, we drove up to Cobb's, in front of whose premises a great number of people were waiting for the coach in order to start for Wilcannia, and a quarter of an hour after all my fellow-passengers of the previous night, along with a dozen or so more, were seated (?) in (or on, as the case might be) the coach, being driven through the main street of Hay, en route to that supposed El Dorado, Mount Poole.  I sincerely hope they will be able to return in the same fashion, but doubt it.  Did I say all my fellow passengers were occupants of that coach?  If so I was in error.  I missed the face of the most enthusiastic of the lot, a stout, middle-aged, jovial kind of fellow, who had got in at one of the stations on the road, and whom I remember hearing make the remark, referring to the diggings, that when he had made up his mind to do a thing, the devil himself could not stop him.  I saw this individual two or three days after rolling in the gutter.  This solved the mystery.  It seems it had taken a less august personage than his satanic majesty to stop him.  The inference is obvious.  Requiescat in pace - not in the gutter though.

One of the main advantages which Hay possesses over almost any other inland town of New South Wales is the fact of there being an abundant water supply, the water being pumped up from the river into a tank at a fair elevation, and from thence distributed through the town by means of pipes.  The works were erected by the municipality at a considerable cost in 1876.  It was not long before I benefited by this institution, as, upon going from the coach into the hotel, I was asked if a hot bath would be acceptable, a luxury I never expected to find out here.  I gladly accepted, and by this means managed to get rid of a pound or two of Narandera sand and Darlington patent bird-lime composition. Hay Water Works
Hay Water Works (image adapted from illustration
in the Town and Country Journal article).

It would be useless naming the many advantages, sanitary and otherwise, accruing from this water supply; only those who have lived for any length of time without it can appreciate the boon to the full.  The lowering rates of fire insurance is not the least of these advantages, and speaks for itself.  Take, for instance, the fire in Smith's store that took place here a week or two back, and of which I was a witness.  Without this supply the whole of that block must have inevitably gone; in fact, it would be hard to say where it might have ended.  The hospital is a fine building, well-conducted, and liberally supported by the surrounding stations.  When I visited the institution, it was unusually full; some few of the inmates, however, I should be inclined to think, were subjects for a benevolent asylum rather than for an hospital.

The post-office is far too small for the requirements of so large a postal centre.  Mr. Burnett, the postmaster, has represented this to the Government, and the consequence is, that a contract for a new building, to cost £4000, is already let.  I visited the public school the other day during hours, and was struck by the order and discipline of the young Murrumbidgeeites.  The school is conducted by Mr. Murray, assisted by Miss Dickson, and has an average attendance of 180 [possibly "130"], 214 being on the roll.

Hay has four places of worship, viz., Church of England, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and Wesleyan, but as far as I can make out, two of them would amply supply all the spiritual wants of the town, as far as sitting room is concerned.

The gaol is a really fine building and deserves mention; it faces one in a most ominous manner on coming into the town from Narandera.  As yet they have not got the hanging apparatus up.  In addition to these public buildings there are the Athenæum, built at a cost of £800, in which there is a library and news room, Masonic Hall, and courthouse, J.E. Pearce, Esq., being the P.M.

Amongst many large stores, that of Messrs. Meakes and Fay stands out prominently, the last named member of the firm being the well-known Professor Fay, who was so well-known in connection with the Davenport Brothers.  Hay is happy in the possession of two newspapers, the RIVERINE GRAZIER and the HAY STANDARD.  There is a libel action pending between the former and Mr. Allen Lakeman, the mayor, arising out of the last election.  I should not omit the fact of there being the inevitable Chinese camp in Hay; this "den of thieves" is a social scourge, and should be wiped out, as, unfortunately, it is not visited by celestials alone, but is the resort of the lowest characters, who ply their vocation openly.  Lachlan-street, the main street of Hay, is an unusually fine thoroughfare for an inland town, and at first sight has quite a metropolitan appearance.  Its beauty is enhanced by the planting of trees, at short intervals, which (thanks to the water supply) seem to thrive luxuriantly, contributing to a great extent both to the health and comfort of the town.  In this street, which, by-the-way, is about half-a-mile in length, are to be found most of the chief places of business - the banks - three in number, and a great proportion of the hotels.  The two buildings which I consider remarkable in a town like this are the A.J.S. Bank and "Tattersall's Hotel;" the former, which cost, I think, £7000, is of a size and convenience, which, in my opinion, will not be required here for years to come, the latter both externally and internally being, without doubt, unsurpassed for appearance, style, and comfort in Sydney itself.  Mrs. Esplin, the widow of the late proprietor, deserves great credit for the way in which she has managed this business for the last three or four years, no easy occupation I should think, s eeing she gives the whole concern - from the beds to the stables, of which there are not a few - her personal supervision; and this along with the fact that she employs over 20 servants.  The population of Hay is variously estimated at from 1500 to 2000, and, like a great many small communities is divided into some dozen or more class distinctions, and I can assure you that no pious and orthodox Hindoo ever preserved his caste more rigidly than do some of the inhabitants of this township.  Their "exclusiveness," if I may use the word, although I for my part - of course, I am only an unsophisticated Englishman, and a new chum to boot, therefore my opinion is not of much consequence - I say I, for my part, fail to see, especially in a country like Australia, the boundless gulf which is supposed to exist between even the "highest" and the lowest circles of society in any inland township.

Hay is recovering from a week's excitement, the annual races just being over.  There is a good deal of disappointment expressed at the smallness of the attendance, which was not nearly up to the average.  The races (two days), however, passed off well, and everything went along satisfactorily.  A certain "big" book-maker came up purposely to attend, but, upon hearing that he would have to pay £3 admittance to the saddling paddock, returned by the following coach.  The course is nearly three miles from the town, and is all that could be desired, being as flat as a billiard table, and possessing a very convenient grand stand and all the necessary adjuncts of a racecourse.  I willingly accepted an invitation to join a picnic party to the racecourse the first day.  Mr. McGowan, of Cobb and Co.'s, who, amongst others, organized the affair, drove us out in good style, using a new coach with four splendid greys, the only thing wanting to remind me of "going to the derby" being the "toot-toot-toot" of the horn.  I need not add that, there being a goodly sprinkling of the fair sex, the day was a most enjoyable one.  During the race week two circus companies, each one possessing a band, helped to enliven the town.

The Government have reserved 90 acres of land, centrally located, for the purpose of a public park; the boon that a well kept park must be to inhabitants of a town like Hay and neighbourhood, situated as they are, in a district so subject to long droughts, is simply invaluable; to anyone, after traveling 50 or 60 miles over the scorching plains, without the least particle of verdure to relieve the eyes, this park, with its green sward and shady trees, cannot fail, whilst imparting a soothing effect to the aching eyeballs, to bring to one's mind the veritable elysian fields.  The reserve for the railway terminus is about three-quarters of a mile from the town, which however, is gradually spreading out in that direction, many buildings having sprung up of late.  From the terminus there is to be a line of rails to the river, where a Government wharf is in contemplation, a reserve for that purpose having been selected.  An agitation is at present on foot to get the railway station built on the east instead of the west end of the town, as in the latter case, it would necessitate an extra crossing, and would be a great inconvenience to carriers and the general public.  The municipal council have taken the matter in hand, and intend to petition the Government to do this.

Hay is not without its industries, there being two breweries, one of which (Lindsay's Red Lion) took the first order of merit at the Melbourne International Exhibition for bottled beer and porter.  Cobb and Co. have also a large carriage factory here, superintended by Mr. McGowan and employing 27 hands.  Besides these, there is a steam soapery, which has been recently started, having all the latest improvements.  This establishment supplies the principal towns of southern Riverina with soap.  The proprietor, Mr. T.S. Williams, intends shortly adding the manufacturing of stearine candles 2 and ice to his present line.  A wool-scouring establishment is also one of the industries of Hay.  Mr. J.L. Corrigan, the owner, got through over 2000 bales of wool last season.

Messrs. Permewan, Wright and Co., the large Melbourne carrying firm, have a warehouse here, under the management of Mr. Henry Bossence.  This firm has lately opened an office in King-street [Sydney] and in many of the chief towns on the line, in anticipation of the probable diversion of the Riverina trade; although the general opinion here seems to be that it will require exceptionally low rates to induce the sending of wool to Sydney instead of Melbourne; the only drawback by this latter route being the high rate of insurance.  This firm alone forwarded over 20,000 bales of wool last season from here to Melbourne by river via Echuca, besides receiving from Victoria by the same route 3000 tons of produce and general merchandise.  The Murrumbidgee is navigable for eight months in the year, viz., from April to December.

Hay is the centre of the largest sheep district in Australia, which district carries the enormous number of four millions.  It is also the main route for traveling stock, being the shortest from the Lachlan, Darling, and, in fact, from the Gulf of Carpentaria, to Melbourne.  Its position is unsurpassed, as there is easy communication with Adelaide by water, with Melbourne by water or rail from Deniliquin, and with Sydney by rail.  With facilities of this kind, I don't see what is to hinder Hay from becoming one of the most important and prosperous towns of Australia.

In conclusion, for I have already exceeded my space, I will give a slight sketch of Hay, from its earliest infancy to its present state of maturity.  The information has been kindly given me by one of the oldest residents of the town and district, therefore I can vouch for its reliability.

The first sale of land in Hay, which was then known as Lang's Crossing, was in 1859.  At that time a township was surveyed out on the plain, about half a mile from the present site.  This was, in reality, the first formation of the township; but at the present time it remains almost unbuilt upon, the suburban portion, nearer the crossing place, in spite of the liability to floods, being preferred.  This is where the town of Hay now stands.  Started then in 1859, it gradually increased in size until 1867, when the stocking of the back blocks of the Lachlan gave the place a great impetus, but it was not of long duration, as the drought of 1868-9 caused a severe depression.  The glorious season of 1870, however, gave Hay a lift, and in 1872 it was proclaimed a municipality.  About this time the swing bridge, a magnificent iron structure, was commenced and opened by Sir Henry Parkes in 1874; several private streets, most of them dedicated to the council, run through the suburban blocks between the surveyed township and the bridge.  In 1873 a large sale of land fronting the main street - Lachlan-street - was sub-divided and sold, the blocks realizing from £5 to £6 per foot; next year, land in the same street brought £6 10s per foot, and shortly after this £12 10s; these prices continued to advance until £20 to £25 for allotments in Lachlan-street were obtained, and in one instance even £32 10s.  Several sales of large suburban blocks were arranged, realizing good prices, as sites for local industries and villas; this was in 1875, the time of Hay's greatest affluence.  The export of wool for that year from Hay reached nearly 25,000 bales, while the cargoes from the upper river, passing through the town, were about 20,000 more; the goods rushed in during this year amounted to fully 10,000 tons, and a fearful amount of over-trading was the result.  On Christmas Day in that year no less than 30 steamers and barges were loading and dis charging cargoes within 10 miles of the town.  This rush was caused by the anticipated stoppage of navigation.  The big drought of 1876-7 followed, shaking both squatters and traders; the loss in this district alone amounting to 1,000,000 sheep.  Stock could not travel to market, squatters reducing their establishments to a minimum, and everything sunk in value.  But Hay has been steadily and surely emerging from depression, with past experience to guide her.

[The article contains detailed line-drawings of (1) Hay Bridge; (2) Hay Post & Telegraph Office; (3) Hay Public School; (4) Hay Soap Works; (5) View of Lachlan Street; (6) Hay Water Works; (6) Hay Gaol; (7) Hay Hospital.]


1.  In October 1880 gold was discovered by John Thompson and another man at Depot Glen near Mount Poole, in the extreme north-west corner of New South Wales.   About five months later James Evans found about 14 ounces of alluvial gold at nearby Mount Browne to the south-west .  News of this find caused a rush to the remote location.  There was no surface water at Mount Browne so campsites were initially established along Evelyn Creek (where the township Milparinka became established).  As more diggers arrived gold was found at other localities in the area.  Conditions on the goldfields were harsh.  There was a drastic shortage of food and water, with exorbitant prices charged for basic commodities such as flour.  The situation worsened as the population grew, and diseases such as cholera and typhoid became rife.  The area became known as the Albert goldfield, with Milparinka as the main settlement.  Other townships were later proclaimed at Mount Browne, Albert and Tibooburra.  Milparinka was the administrative centre of the area, with a peak population of about 500.  The town had a police office and a school, four stores, a chemist shop, photographer, two butchers, four hotels and three boarding houses.  A courthouse was built there in 1886 and a hospital in 1889.  Local sandstone was used to build the more substantial buildings of the town.  The local newspaper The Sturt Recorder, Tibooburra and Mount Browne Advertiser, was published by Thomas Wakefield Chambers.  The diggings were largely abandoned by 1893.  Today Milparinka is a ghost town, apart from the Albert Hotel (first licensed in 1882) which still operates.   [return to article]

2.  If natural fats (from plants or animals) are mixed with strong alkalis they will separate into liquid and solid components.  After further distillation, this process will produce a harder white fat called stearine.  Candles made of stearine burned brightly, with little smoke or smell.   [return to article]

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