A bushman with his dog

A bushman with his dog and horse outside a humpy. This picture is thought to have been taken in the Hughenden district, QLD, around 1910-1920. By the looks of it it's made from canvas and branches and you can see cooking utensils near the entrance. A humpy (or gunyah) was traditionally used by Aboriginals as [...]

Acacia Downs Woolshed & Central West QLD

Central West Queensland is a vast area. Bordered by the Northern Territory and South Australia to the west the region covers about 400,000 square kilometres but is sparsely populated. Towns such as Longreach, Winton, Birdsville, Blackall, Barcaldine, Boulia and Muttaburra help to tether this strong agricultural district, dogged by drought over the centuries. Partly criss-crossed [...]

The boy who held up a town – Ben Hall

In the early years of the 1860s a young wife abandoned her husband and with her son in tow went to live with a stockman named James Taylor. This woman’s leap towards a new life would probably have never been of interest were her husband not Ben Hall, who at the age of nineteen would [...]

Floods, murder and the art of not getting white-anted

Floods, murder and the art of not getting white-anted features in the early years of Milly Milly Station, located 200km west of Meekatharra. A sketchy timeline suggests that a simple hut built by the O’Gradys in the later part of the 1870s became the heart of Milly Milly, a 1.5-million-acre property that runs beside the [...]

By | May 7th, 2018|Australian pastoral history|5 Comments

Talking history & writing at Gleebooks

Recently I was invited to chat briefly about my work at Gleebooks in Sydney. The idea behind this video series is to showcase the Sydney Mechanics School of the Arts (SMSA). It's Australia's oldest lending library having started way back in 1833 when reading was high on the list when it came to entertainment, for [...]

Memories of past lives.

Letters to loved ones were written and received here. Telegrams studied, cheques written, gummy envelopes licked, livestock tallied and stores listed. I’ve seen a similar desk in a mail order catalogue circa 1900. Except this one sits solidly in my office, a box of old nibs in one of the drawers. They are the kind [...]

Australian heritage: campfires, quart pots and billy-cans.

There’s an art in making billy-tea and when properly made the average bushman will tell you that it’s ‘the drink’, far surpassing the kitchen-made variety. The billy or billycan is only at its best when it’s stained and blackened from usage. The sundowners – those restless souls of the past who would arrive at a sheep station at [...]

Ill-fated explorers & visionary pioneers.

The 143-year-old Kinchega Woolshed built from corrugated iron and River Red Gum, is one of Australia’s most historic woolsheds. Here visionary pioneers and ill-fated explorers form part of history on ancient land. The Kinchega property is situated just over 1100 km north-west of Sydney, south-east of Broken Hill. The antiquity of the surrounding land goes [...]

Three Rivers Station

In the mid north rangelands of Western Australia, at the headwater of the Gascoyne River is a station that dates back to 1884. Australian pastoralist Frederick Wittenoom was among the first Europeans to explore the pastoral opportunities in and around the Gascoyne River area, acquiring Three Rivers with B.J Carlyon. He stocked the holding with [...]

By | March 5th, 2018|Australian pastoral history, Blog|3 Comments

The National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame

The National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame is dedicated to preserving the place of women in history. It’s fitting that it’s located in Alice Springs in Central Australia, an area that was home to very few women over one hundred years ago. Those that did forge a home out of the bush on isolated properties [...]

By | February 21st, 2018|Australian History, Australian pastoral history|0 Comments
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