Passages to the North West Plains by Michael O'Rourke.
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PASSAGES TO THE NORTH-WEST PLAINS P.11
Occupation of the Upper Hunter cont.
The colonists formed routes and tracks to service their farms and stations: it is too early to speak of roads.
Glennie's estate 'Dulwich', north-east of Singleton, served as a supply depot for surveyors and others on government rations. Other travellers would camp and rest nearby at the Fal Brook ford [Glennies Creek: just before ‘Ravensworth’]. There was a bridle track that ran west and south from Glennie's, but no dray track directly connected Patricks Plains with 'Pickering' in the west.
To get their supplies to the upper districts, the colonists followed a dray route north-west, passing through 'Ravensworth' via the western side of our Lake Liddell Power Station, where the New England Highway now goes, to Muscle Creek [Muswellbrook]. Having reached Muscle Creek, the whitefellows would turn back down the Hunter (south-west) to get to the Denman district. For instance, in February 1826, William Ogilvie brought his family to ‘Merton’ where hitherto he’d lived as a bachelor. The Ogilvies followed first the track made by Captain Pike's drays, then the track north-west made by the 'Segenhoe' party, until they arrived at Muscle Creek. Next they went 'across' [= turned west] to 'Edinglassie' and down the river [south-west] to 'Merton'. As the Ogilvies' friend and neighbour Peter Cunningham explained:
You enter ['Twickenham Meadows', as the British called the district] first upon Edinglassie, the property of Mr George Forbes, brother of our amiable Chief Justice, who possesses many thousands of acres here which he is stocking with fine-woolled sheep. To the right [i.e., on the western bank of the upper river] is Captain Dickson's [Dixon's] farm and on the left in succession [i.e., down the river] the farms of Messrs Carter, Mills and Ogilvie.
Henry Dangar, who was first to see it, described the country around Muswellbrook thus:
Some parts are without timber, and others have no more than enhances, rather than detracts from, their value, with an inexhausible soil, and a natural herbiage, but little inferior to the most improved English meadows. Such is the character of the meadows on this part of the river.
Armed Conflict in the Hunter Valley 1825-26
[for details, see in the text]
|1825, ca June: |
Establishment of ‘Pickering’ farm (Pike’s) and Greig’s (both near Denman), and ‘Edinglassie’(Muswellbrook) and ‘Invermein’ (Scone).
Several incidents of Aboriginal 'plunder' etc, evidently in the greater Singleton area (Patricks Plains - 'Ravensworth') as noted in McIntyre's letter of 3.9.1825.
Establishment of ‘Segenhoe’ and “Blairmore” (near Aberdeen).
Aborigines took seed or unripe ‘corn’ [wheat and other grains] from one or more of the new establishments on the Upper Hunter. The Australian later mentioned 'rambling parties' and widespread 'pilfering'.
Establishment of ‘Merton’ (near Denman).
1825, 28-c.30 October
Blackfellows raided Grieg's and Pike's huts in the modern Denman area; two whites were killed and two wounded. This band, or another, then killed one colonist and wounded another near Putty.
1825, October-early November:
Soldiers from Richmond and from Newcastle pursued the band who had attacked at Putty. It is not clear whether the troops killed or wounded any Aborigines.
Total for 1825, about five clashes.
According to the 1826 report by the magistrates Scott and Macleod.
1826, May or June:
Aborigines took ‘corn’ [grain] being grown at 'Invermein' [Scone] and 'Segenhoe' [Aberdeen]. It appears there were also some cases of cattle-spearing.
Local blackfellows wounded a shepherd at 'Edinglassie' and killed a hut-keeper at 'Ravensworth'. This prompted the first tour of the upper districts by Lowe's mounted police. A man called 'Billy' was captured at 'Edinglassie' by the local settlers and handed over to Lowe.
Aborigines attempted to 'plunder' Chilcott's Fal Brook farm [near Singleton], and wounded two whitefellows at 'Ravensworth'. They or another band also killed some cattle at about this time. Lowe's mounted police were called out, arriving at 'Ravensworth' a day later.
1826, July - 16 August:
The mounted police captured a number of Aborigines at or near Scone ('Invermein'), Muswellbrook ('Edinglassie'), Denman ('Merton'), 'Ravensworth' and Singleton (Glennie's), several of whom they 'executed'.
Soldiers and constables 'wantonly maltreated' the blackfellows 'around 'Merton'. This included the brief arrest of 'chief Jerry'. Tolou and Mirroul were removed to Newcastle by the mounted police.
1826, 28-29 August:
'200' Aborigines visited 'Merton' in response. A band of '11' or '15' men then proceeded via 'Ravensworth' to the Fal Brook area, where they killed two and wounded two colonists. They or other Aborigines also burnt 'all the grass' [pasture] at 'several' farms.
Total for 1826, more than 10 major and minor collisions.
According to the magistrates.
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87. Roads were still lacking even near Newcastle and Windsor. A 'bridle-road' ran from Newcastle inland to Wallis Plains (Maitland). A 'rugged bridle-path' linked Windsor with Patricks Plains (Cunningham 1966: 75). It was not until 1829-30 that these routes were made into proper roads (Foster 1985: 132).
88. Peter Cunningham 1827, i: 155 (1966: 81); Wood 1972: 108.
89. Dangar 1828: 43.
90. In the early 1800s ‘corn’ meant cereal crops, especially wheat and barley. What we call corn today was ‘maize’.