There were those like Cowie, Stead, the von Steiglitz brothers and the Learmouths who came, established their runs over the course of the 1840s and then returned to the United Kingdom. Then there were those like Russell, Thomson, the Austins and many more who came, built permanent houses on their runs and often took on prominent roles in the communities which grew up around them.
So for this post, rather than focus on a single part of a river or a single property, I thought this time I would look at a particular person who was amongst the second group: Dugald McPherson.
|Dugald McPherson. Image held by Museum Victoria|
They remained at Moranghurk until 1846 when, together, they made the move to the Wimmera district where they took up land. In 1848 the run was divided between the two. McPherson named his 53,000 acre run Ashens for his hometown in Scotland, whilst Taylor's run was known as Longerenong.
On the 1st June, 1852 at Melbourne, McPherson married Mary (May) O'Cock, the daughter of a St Kilda solicitor. With his new wife, Dugald returned to the Wimmera where May became the first white woman in the district, where she was considered quite a curiosity by the local indigenous population.
Only two years later however, McPherson was once again on the Moorabool River when 1854 he purchased the leasehold of John Cowie's Bungeeltap West run, presumably along with the pre-emptive right to 640 acres of land along the river which Cowie had purchased that same year.
|Looking northwest across the Moorabool East Branch to Bungeeltap land|
from the driveway of Emly Park
Whilst not the first Europeans to settle the Bungeeltap West land, the McPhersons were the first family to call it home. In about 1863 they built a two-storey stone house in the gothic revival style, overlooking the east branch of the Moorabool River. It was at Bungeeltap homestead that their eight sons and five daughters were born. Two of the children who died in early childhood - Norman aged 3 (died 1861) and Cluny aged 4 (died in 1871) - are buried on the property. A shepherd named Tim who died from a snakebite during John Cowie's tenure in 1840 is also buried on Bungeeltap land, beside the river.
|Looking north west across Bungeeltap land from the Egerton-Bungeeltap Rd|
Then in November, 1875, a notice appeared in The Argus stating that estate agents had "...closed the sale of Emly Park Estate containing 6,700 acres...to Dugald Macpherson(sic)..." thus it seems that for a while at least, Bungeeltap East and Bungeeltap West were again held by a common owner. I cannot be sure how long Emly Park remained in McPherson's hands, however I was able to discover that in 1900, Vincent Valentine Mogg of nearby Yallock Vale purchased the property which he owned until his death in 1843.
As well as a grazier, McPherson was an innovator and was keen to improve his property and his flocks and herds. He was the first in Victoria to use an "earth scoop" also known as a "leveller" - a horse-drawn machine, guided by hand which was used to level ground for irrigation. He had his machine made at a local foundry from a drawing he had seen in a book.
Over the years, the property became known for its fine merino wool and beef cattle. Horses and horse breeding were also of interest to Dugald who it is reported, would drive a carriage and four-in-hand when visiting either Ballarat or Melbourne. At Ballarat's first national agricultural show in 1868, his horses, cattle and ewes all appeared in the prize lists and his name regularly appeared in the stock pages of the newspapers throughout the 1870s, 80s and 90s.
|Bungeeltap stables. Image taken 1965 by John T Collins. Image held by|
The State Library of Victoria
|Ballan Uniting Church|
|Northern end of Ballan Uniting Church showing the window|
presented by May McPherson
In addition to their support for the church, the McPhersons appear to have taken an active role in the sporting life of the district. On 26th January, 1889 the younger members of the family were host to a cricket team made up of Ballan residents who travelled to Bungeeltap by coach to compete against a side composed of seven of the McPhersons and a few of their friends. The match was preceded by a luncheon, following which, hostilities commenced on "the well grassed flat on the banks of the Moorabool, between the Emly Park home station and Bungeeltap house" - I imagine on the Bungeeltap side. Whilst, the ladies of Bungeeltap were said to have been avid spectators at the game, Dugald does not appear to have been a participant in the match which was won comfortably by the Ballan men.
In addition to his pastoral interests at Bungeeltap, McPherson also held licences for Nhill Station in Northern Victoria and Paddington Station at Cobar in New South Wales, whilst his father-in-law Richard also moved to live near the family at Ballan. This house - known as Westcott - also passed to the McPhersons upon O'Cock's death in 1883, with one source indicating that the family used it as their town house. Between 1914 and 1930, the house was used as a private hospital and the fourth McPherson daughter died "at her residence, Westcott, Ballan" on 4th May, 1924.
|The remaining portion of Westcott, Ballan|
|McDugald family grave, Ballan New Cemetery|