Reminiscences of John Sandland - Manager of Mildura Station 1868 - 1874
This run was the best lambing area, with two lambings per year, the first in February/March and another in June/July. There was no overstocking, no rabbits and always plenty of feed, saltbush, hop bush and ti-tree. The river rose regularly in Spring, flooding the flats and producing splendid pastures.
The aborigines caleed the area "Millyura", meaning red ground or red place. This is a marked peculiarity of the so-called rock at the riverbank where the old homestead stands.
Every nook or bend had a name, derived from some animal, a Black's camp or local peculiarity. Irymple was a natural watering place 10 miles out. A further 10 miles was Benetook outstation where Sandland lived in Winter. 5 miles west was a shepherd's hut and yards called Victnambush. Three miles to the south east of Benetook was Binjahbin where Sandland erected a hut and yards in 1869. Going eastwards from Benetook you came to Curralong (Koorlong) in 8 miles and Ginquam 6 miles further on. These were the main shepherd's huts in those days.
Between Ginquam and Irymple there was a camping place called Icewark or Nyeewark (Nyah or Gnyah in aboriginal means me) Between Irymple and Cowarp, a track ran past Yatpool. Cowark was a station of ours (Mildura) once occupied by the brothers McGrath. The word "Cow" means a bend in the river, thus the names Cowanna and Cowra, which as well as Cowarp, are notable bends.
Borlock was the name of the big swamp or lake beyond Caradoc, which was another one of our outstations. (now Bullock Swamp). The sandhill at Cowarp was an aboriginal burial ground. The proper site of Cowarp was the island formed in the river curve, when the water filled Borlock Swamp.
The present Caradoc site was at the time known to the Blacks at Altima. Just beyond the site of the Billabong pump was a hut with a shingle roof, the first built outback by Jamieson brothers and the only one of its kind, all the others being of bark. Early settlers will remember that the district was called Shingle Hut.
A large plain between the Billabong and town site was known as Sandalong.
There was a hut between Benetook and Cowra, this was Wargan.
Jamiesons were the first to erect fences, in 1871. A mob of 300 sheep strayed and was found a fortnight later by Sandland's Black boy. They had travelled up river, the creek filled and they were impounded. With this in mind they started to erect fences, brush, or stakes and brush, from Shingle hut, Red Cliffs and other points, about 6 miles apart, back for 10miles with a fence at the back, right up to the Kulkyne boundary.
We cut a road and put a fence between Yatpool and Irymple, and started to make a ring fence right around the property. McEdward purchased the property before the fence was finished. The sale price was ... 27,000 sheep at 22/6, 50 cattle and 50 or 60 horses, with all improvements thrown in.
There was a hotel at Mallee Cliffs Station (McFarlane's) Tapalin was owned by Mr McKenzie.
Stock for market were travelled to Adelaide or Melbourne. One mob of fat sheep was taken right through the Mallee behind Kulkyne, past Donald and to Melbourne.
Rainfall was low, no records that Sandland can remember, but there was always plenty of feed. Tabacco plant was unknown. There were a few Bathurst burrs, but these were grubbed whenever they appeared. Here Sandland gives a warning ... "The star thistle is making an appearance here. Get rid of it at whatever cost, or your people will have endless trouble with it."
There weren't a great many Blacks around. The Jamiesons provided huts for them and they were not interferred with. Yelta Mission had closed, but Missionaries came around at odd times.
There was a police station at Cowana where the bend enclosed a large area almost completely. This was used for a police horse paddock. There was however, little use for the police then, as there was no crime or lawlessness to speak of.
"I am astonished and pleased by your irrigation enterprise. and I shall recommend it to people with moderate capital, for a safe and profitable investment."
(Thanks to Frank Tucker for compiling this information)