June 18, 2021

Old Places

Where we study the past to define our future

Wallan Wallan in 1879

Wallan Wallan in 1879

The following is a collection of extracts from Trove which appeared in Melbourne’s Weekly Times in 1879/80 by an unknown author.

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Weekly Times, Melbourne, Victoria, Saturday 13 December 1879, page 10

The Wallan Wallan District

(BY OUR TRAVELLING REPORTER)

Proceeding along the North-eastern line to the small roadside station of Wallan Wallan, about thirty miles from Melbourne, and from thence continuing in a westerly direction for slightly over a mile, the township of Wallan is reached. 

A quiet, dull place it is, picturesquely situated on a small plain or flat hardly over fifty acres in extent, and surrounded by well-grassed sloping rises, dotted here and there with neat cottages and thriving gardens. 

The principal buildings are the Presbyterian and Wesleyan churches, both of bluestone; the Anglican church, also a substantial structure. The free library and Rechabite-hall, and the other buildings which comprise the town ship include three general stores, the same number of hotels, a couple of butchers, a bakery, and blacksmith’s, wheelwright’s, and carpenter’s establishments. Close to the town is a very pretty hill, known as Wallan Park, which the residents had great trouble in getting reserved as a recreation-ground, and which they are justly proud of. The old Sydney road skirts its base, and continues on through Wallan to Kilmore. 

Long before the North-eastern Railway was ever thought of, this constituted the main thoroughfare between Melbourne and Sydney, and the amount of traffic on it in those days was something enormous. It was then that small settlements like Wallan flourished, and gave evidence of becoming in the course of time important and extensive towns. 

The construction of the railway line, however, at a distance varying from one to three miles from such townships as Bendigo, Wallan, Kilmore, and many others, and this in defiance of the petitions and protestations of the residents of the various districts has been the means of causing a dulness and almost complete stagnation in trade, and a depreciation in the value of town property to a ruinous extent. Had the line have been taken through the abovenamed townships, it would have given them a permanent standing, and would have saved the expense of constructing a separate line to suit Kilmore, which, in all probability, will yet have to be done, in order to meet the requirements of such an important district. 

Ruined by railways Wallan Wallan – Artist, Sutherland, Alexander, State Library of Victoria, reference H2009.26/28

The country around Wallan is richly grassed, both native and artificial herbage being for the time of year exceptionally luxuriant, and crops present such a healthy appearance that there is every probability

of the coming harvest turning out far above the average yield of other seasons. Farming is carried on only to a limited extent, and the holdings are generally either belonging to the farmer himself or rented from some large landowner, who finds it pays him best to let a portion of his property at a moderate rent, thus in a manner keeping the population and the capital in the district, and at the same time serving as a sort of counter attraction to free selection. 

One of the most extensive properties around Wallan is the Strangways estate, the homestead of which is pleasantly situation at one end of the main street of the town. The proprietor, Mr. W. H. Budd, is of a truth that exceedingly rare individual, the oldest inhabitant, his recollections dating back as far as 1833, at which period he arrived in the colony, though it was some thirteen years later before he finally settled down in Wallan. 

Mr. Budd’s recollections of the early times and the ups-and-downs of colonial life are most interesting, and having been in those days connected with the printing interest, he possesses various old news pipers and public documents, both of this colony and Tasmania, which for clearness of letter- press and literary excellence are not one whit behind the journals of the present day.

In glancing over some of these old records, and noticing where in one place is an advertisement of the sale of allotments of ground, now occupied by handsome public and private buildings in Bourke and Collins streets (then almost a wilderness); in another the report of the speeches of some of the early pioneers, who have since risen to eminence and passed away from earth; and in a third, articles written upon what was then burning questions of the day, one cannot but feel astonished at the rapid progress made in commerce and colonial industries, and the transformation caused by “gold-fever” and “earth-hunger” in the aspect of the colony, all within the third of a century. 

After purchasing the Strangways station, Mr. Budd settled down to a pastoral and agricultural life, and for several years succeeded tolerably well, when, on the 6th February 1851 — the never-to-be-forgotten Black Thursday — everything he possessed in the shape of cattle, horses, crops, etc., was swept away by the terrible bush fire, and his dwelling house saved only after the most strenuous exertions. It was almost a crushing stroke, and many years elapsed before Mr. Budd managed to regain what he had lost, and once more established himself as a farmer and grazier. 

His present holding consists of nearly 1000 acres, a portion, however, of which is let, and the remainder he farms on his own account. The greater part is richly grassed, well-watered, and subdivided, and in many places suitable for agricultural purposes. Not much cultivation has been done for years, Mr. Budd devoting his attention to grazing and cattle-breeding. The latter are of the shorthorn strain, and are being gradually improved, a young pure-bred bull, named Lord Lyon, one of the progeny of Mr. Stevenson’s Cedric, and bred by Mr. James M’Bean, having been for some time running with the herd. 

Adjoining Strangways is Lovely Banks, the farm of Mr. W. H. Budd, jun., whose homestead occupies a healthy position on the slope of a hill and surrounded by a nice, well-kept flower an d vegetable garden. About five-and-twenty acres have been put under cultivation this year, half of which is oats, and the remainder peas and potatoes. The former are looking very well at present, the recent rains having proved beneficial to them, but should much more fall before Christmas, there is a probability of the caterpillars playing havoc amongst both crops and grass, these pests being apparently more numerous and destructive after heavy rains in  summer than at any other time of year. 

The stock on Lovely Banks comprises some good Clydesdale horses and half-bred Durham cattle, used for dairy purposes. Taking it of an average all the year round, they produce about 5lb. of butter each per week, and some go as high as 9lb. per week. The butter is sold to Melbourne dealers, who travel the district at regular intervals, and the price obtained varies from 6d . to 1s. per lb, according to the time of year and the state of the Melbourne market.

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Weekly Times, Melbourne, Victoria, Saturday 20 December 1879, page 11

The Wallan Wallan District.

(By OUR TRAVELLING REPORTER)

No.11.

A short distance from Mr. Budd’s farm, referred to in the last article, is that of Mr. T. Hogan, who rents some 400 acres of the Strangways estate, and, in addition to this, possesses about 1,000 acres in Buln Buln, Gippsland. Mr. Hogan is well known as an experienced and successful breeder of long-woolled sheep, having commenced some sixteen years ago, when he had a farm on the Werribee, near the site of the present railway station, and followed it up ever since, gaining many first prizes at the National Agricultural Society’s shows in Melbourne, and also at several other places, the last fourteen years, in various parts of the colony seven alone having been taken this year. 

His farm is admirably adapted for sheep-breeding, being partly hilly and partly flat, and the herbage composed of a mixture of native and artificial grasses, is exceptionally rich and luxuriant. The flat ground is mostly cleared and grubbed and was under cultivation for several years. being first ploughed in 1836, but the hills are still thickly timbered, the trees having been left for the purpose of sheltering cattle in winter, A great deal of the stones for metalling the Sydney road was taken from a hill in Mr. Hogan’s paddock, and, judging from the appearance of the quarries at the present time, there is still plenty more in reserve. 

Although sheep breading is the most important industry on the farm, there being altogether over 1,000 head, still considerable attention has been paid to horse and pig breeding. The former are principally Clydesdales, of the Hon. Neil Black’s breed, and a stud horse — Clansman— is kept on the place, while the pigs show unmistakable signs of the Berkshire strain, and on many occasions have taken first prizes. 

The homestead is situated on what is known as “Pretty Sally’s Hill,” so named from the original owner of the property — a Mrs. Smith — who received the rather complimentary cognomen (at least, so tradition sayeth) from the doctor of the ship in which she came, when a young woman, to Sydney. After her marriage, she and her husband travelled to Victoria overland, and settled down in Wallan until 1846, when Mr. Budd purchased the properly from them, and it has since remained in his possession. 

If there was one place more than another that used to be regarded with terror by carriers, in the early days, going to up-country towns (now reached by rail), it was this “Pretty Sally’s Hill,” the boggy nature of the ground and the difficulties of ascent rendering it extremely dangerous and laborious. As far back as I can recollect, and long before I ever thought I should see it, have I heard carriers speak of the hill in terms of — well, certainly not “the highest praise,” and it was only the other day that I met a large landowner from far up the country who had seen the article regarding Wallan in last week’s Weekly Times, and who, after facetiously asking me if “Pretty Sally’s Hill” was in the same place, detailed the somewhat bitter experience he endured when, as a struggling carrier, plying his bullock-whip for a living, he crossed and re-crossed that hill over and over again more than twenty years ago. 

Adjoining Mr. Hogan’s, to the west, are several other farms, amongst which may be mentioned that belonging to Mr. Robertson, who, besides carrying on dairying, cultivates oats and potatoes to a fair extent. In an opposite direction is a nice farm occupied by Mr. Johnston; and following from here for five or six miles along a rough hilly road, with thickly-timbered country on either side of it, past the farm of Mr. Wilson, who has a large area of ground stocked principally with sheep, the small settlement of Darraweit Guim comes into view. 

A very deep, and in flood time extremely dangerous, creek has to be crossed before getting into the township. Two or three people, I am told, have already lost their lives here, while several more have narrowly escaped drowning; and yet, in spite of all this, not even the semblance of a bridge is attempted to be built. Whether this is the fault of the Government or local shire council I know not, but it displays gross negligence on the part of either one or the other, or perhaps on the residents of the district, for not agitating enough for what they are justly entitled to. 

The most prominent buildings in Darraweit are the churches (Wesleyan, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic) and the State school — a nice little bluestone structure, prettily situated on the hanks of the Deep Creek. 

Besides the usual business places, stores, hotels, etc., a noticeable establishment is the workshop of Mr. Howden, who has lately made a name for himself amongst agriculturists as the inventor of a particular description of iron harrows, with which he has gained several first prizes at the principal shows throughout the colony, and notably at the National Agricultural Society’s last show, where he competed against all the leading Melbourne exhibitors, and carried off first honours. 

The country bordering on Darraweit is composed of well-grassed undulating hills and narrow gullies. It is essentially a farming district, although rather confined by large estates, and I did not notice much cultivation done, though what I saw looked very promising. 

A short distance out of the township are several good-sized farms, amongst others Mr. W. J. Lobb’s, which I shall probably report upon at some future date, as also the locality on the farther side of Darraweit Guim where, I am informed, farming in all its branches is extensively carried on.

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Weekly Times, Melbourne, Victoria, Saturday 3 January 1880, page 11

The Wallan Wallan District.

(BY OUR TRAVELLING REPORTER)

No 3.

A short distance from the township, in the direction of the railway line is the farm of Mr. E. Manning, who combines slaughtering’ with grazing and agriculture. His homestead is prettily situated on the slope of a small eminence, and surrounded by a large and well-kept garden, abundantly supplied with water, and the out-offices and farm implements are of a substantial and useful description. Mr. Manning does not cultivate very much, but what little he had this season averaged very fairly – the hay running something over two tons per acre. 

On Mr. H. M. Guthrie’s farm which is barely half a mile away, the crops also gave evidence of being unusually heavy—oats standing over 5ft. high, and wheat looking strong and well filled. Although Mr. Guthrie possesses about 2,000 acres, he cultivates but a very small proportion, say thirty acres, the remainder being devoted to grazing and wool growing, for which the farm seems better suited than for agriculture, sheep of the Leicester breed thriving remarkably well on it. 

Some distance from Mr. Guthrie’s, and nearer the township, Mr. G. Wallder’s farm is reached. On this there are over fifty acres of cultivation, principally oats, peas, and potatoes, all of which look remarkably well, a good system of rotation of cropping being evidently observed. After the ground has been broken up potatoes are planted, then follows a crop of peas, and lastly oats, when the land is either sown down with English grasses, or the same system of cropping carried on over again. Altogether there are 350 acres, and in addition to a herd of mixed cattle and sheep kept for breeding and slaughtering purposes, Mr. Wallder possesses some brood mares and a finely shaped draught stallion named Admiral, got bv Lord Galloway out of Jess (imp.), by Scotch Jock. He is a black horse, standing nearly sixteen hands high, and has carried off the first prize at the Kilmore show during the two past seasons. 

On the south side of Wallan, in the direction of Beveridge, are several good-sized farms, foremost amongst which may be mentioned Messrs. Joseph Lobb’s, Wm. Macleod’s, and J. Laffan’s. Owing to the absence of the proprietor, I was unable to take a report of the former, which is nicely situated on the Wallan Park, and, to all appearance, is a profitably-conducted farm. 

The adjoining holding to Mr. Lobb’s belongs to Mr. Wm. Macleoq, and consists of 600 acres, about two-thirds of which is flat, and all well improved by buildings and subdivions. The dividing fences are mostly of post-and-rail and deadwood, with here and there a stiff stone wall, which at the present time costs about 30s. per chain to erect, the stone being, of course, found on the premises, As an instance of the value of land in the district, I may state that Mr. Macleod purchased a portion pf his farm within the last eighteen months at £5 10s. per acre, and another portion at £6 10s. per acre, and neither of these pieces can be called first-class. Mr. Macleod’s farm is admirably adapted for sheep-breeding, and he intends, in the course of a year or two, to dispose of his cattle, of which he has over 100 head, and go in exclusively for wool-growing. He has been carrying on grazing and dairying for a number of years, and at present has forty cows milking. The butter is sold to a Melbourne dealer, who has been coming regularly once it week for the last ten years, and taking it away at a price which is ruled by the existing state of the Melbourne market. 

In several paddocks belonging to Mr. Macleod, as indeed throughout the entire Wallan district, I noticed the existence in large quantities of a yellow weed known generally as wild dandelion. Cattle in some instances appeared to like it, while in others whole paddocks in which it flourished  were left almost untouched. Speaking on the subject to Mr. Macleod, he gave it as his opinion, from what he had seen of the weed, that in the course of time it would entirely disappear — in fact, “run itself out,” like the common species of Scotch thistle. Mr. Macleod’s homestead is built of stone, and the dairy of the same material, with floor of cement and plastered walls, is large, airy, and fitted with every appliance necessary for the making of butter cleanly and expeditiously. 

On the opposite side of the road to Mr. Macleod’s is the hotel and farm of Mr. T. Laffan. Horse-breeding is the speciality here, there being a draught stallion — Young Robin, by Rantin’ Robin — and a thoroughbred, named Confusion (one of the Panic breed) on the place. The former has taken several prizes at Heidelberg, Kilmore, Melbourne, and, Murchison, and the latter at Bendigo, West Bourke, and Kilmore. Mr. Laffan has a few brood mares and dairy cattle, and cultivates only to a small extent, considering the size of his farm, there being only twenty acres of crop out of an area of 600 acres.


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