26 October, 2013

Branching out - Bungeeltap

In my previous post I mentioned two of the earliest squatters to settle near Geelong, overlooking the Moorabool River at Bell Post Hill - John Anthony Cowie and David Vere Stead. David Stead, born in 1797, was a Quaker from Falmouth in England. Cowie, also from England was born on 13th April, 1806. He was the youngest son of George Cowie, a bookseller from Hackney, London and Rachel Buxton. Cowie arrived in Tasmania in 1828 in a good financial position and took up land near Avoca. Soon he was expanding his holdings.

John Anthony Cowie, image on display at Osbourne House,
North Geelong
No doubt having heard of the potential wealth of "Australia Felix" as the unclaimed land across Bass Strait was known, both Cowie and Stead travelled to the Port Phillip district in November, 1835 from Tasmania with John Batman's party of settlers on the ship Norval, bringing stock for Dr Alexander Thomson. By March, 1836 the pair had taken up a run at Bell Post Hill overlooking Corio Bay and began to ship over their own stock.
According to the 1836 census of the Port Phillip district, Stead arrived there in February, 1836 which I am guessing may indicate that he returned to Tasmania after his initial landing to gather stock for the run he and Stead intended to select. In July, their colleague John von Steiglitz landed stock at Point Henry, presumably also for the Bell Post Hill run.
Their stay in the Geelong region however, was relatively brief. By 1838 Cowie, Stead and two of the von Steiglitz brothers were on the move again, taking their stock with them in search of greener pastures. These they found above the confluence of east and west branches of the Moorabool River. According to one story, after drawing straws it was decided that Stead should take up land on the east bank of the East Moorabool River, presumably leaving the west bank for Cowie. The von Steiglitz brothers moved on a little further still. Their properties will be the subject of a future post.
Together, the land held by Cowie and Stead covered some 30,000 acres. In 1850 the original run was officially divided. Stead's run to the east of the Moorabool East Branch was known as Bungeeltap East whilst Cowie's run was Bungeeltap West.

Looking towards Bungeeltap East from west of the river
Cowie settled into his new run by cementing family ties when on 14th September, 1842 he married Charlotte Christine von Steiglitz, the youngest daughter of the von Steiglitz family, sister to John, Robert and Charles von Steiglitz. The marriage took place at Ballanee, the squatting run of John von Steiglitz, located on the Werribee River.
Some years later, on 25th April, 1848 David Stead married Mary Jane Belcher, the daughter of Joseph William Belcher and Elizabeth Austin. The marriage took place on the run at Bungeeltap. The year following their marriage or soon thereafter, the Steads built a comfortable house known as Emly Park - no doubt named for his home in Falmouth, England on the eastern section of the run, overlooking the river. The original house still stands (with additions) today on the Egerton-Bungeeltap Road near the corner of the Ballan-Meredith Road. It is described as a colonial style house constructed from local sandstone and is open to the public as a guesthouse.
The front gates to Emly Park
David and his wife Mary Jane remained in Victoria for some years (although possibly not on the property), then, somewhere between 1858 and 1861, like many of the other Victorian pioneers, they returned to the United Kingdom. Their second son - named for his father - was born at Studley, Rostrevor, Ireland in 1861. Stead may none-the-less have maintained his licence at Bungeeltap for some time as he is listed as holding the property as late as 1861. This despite Thomas Montague Hammond described as being "of Emly Park" as early as 1854. David and Mary returned to Melbourne on at least one occasion from the UK, their names appearing in the shipping records in 1868.
Their fourth daughter Lillian Brooke Vere Stead (born 1863), further strengthened ties between the Stead, Cowie and von Steiglitz families, when she married John Charles von Steiglitz on 22nd September, 1886 at Bayswater, London. John was the nephew of John Cowie's wife Charlotte Christine von Steiglitz. The couple returned to Australia where they settled in Tasmania.
Sadly, less than two weeks after his daughter's wedding, Stead died in London on 5th October, 1886.
David Vere Stead, image held by the State Library of Victoria
The Cowies chose not to remain at Bungeeltap for quite so many years and in 1854 Cowie's portion of the run was taken over by another familiar name - Dugald McPherson - who with William Taylor held the original lease for Moranghurk from 1840 to 1846. McPherson (born c1820) was a Scottish immigrant who arrived in 1840 and built up large land holdings across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
During his tenure at Bungeeltap West, McPherson built a two storey, gothic style house which has been dated to about 1862. Over the years the house underwent significant renovation. In 1922, the top storey was removed and the house almost entirely rebuilt. It sits on the west bank of the river, less than a kilometre as the crow flies from Emly Park.

Bungeeltap homestead in the 1960s. Image:  J.T. Collins collection,
La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria
After giving up the Bungeeltap lease, Cowie meanwhile left Australia for the United Kingdom where he lived at  Rostrevor, County Down, Ireland. He died there on 7th January, 1875. His wife Charlotte survived her husband by four years, she died on 3rd April, 1879 at "The Willows" Rostrevor, Ireland. There were no children born to the marriage.
The squatting licence for Bungeeltap West, still held by Dugald McPherson was listed in the Victorian Government Gazette as up for renewal in April, 1880 however, I believe the lease was cancelled in 1880.
Moorabool East Branch, Egerton-Bungeeltap Road, boundary of Bungeeltap
East and West runs looking toward Bungeeltap West.

Both the Bungeeltap and Emly Park homesteads have changed hands numerous times over the ensuing century and a half and the squatters are long gone, however both houses remain as tangible links to Victoria's colonial past.

20 October, 2013

Branching out - from squatting to schooling

Today, Bell Post Hill is a suburb of Geelong and the home of Kardinia International College, a non-denominational private school which caters for students from Kindergarten to year 12, however things were once very different.
In March, 1836, it became the site of one of the very earliest squatting runs in the Port Phillip district when John Anthony Cowie and David Vere Stead moved into the district. The pair had arrived from Tasmania in November the previous year with John Batman's party of settlers. The only other settler in the district at that time was Dr Alexander Thomson who arrived some two months after Cowie and Stead and settled on the south bank of the Barwon at the future site of the suburb of Belmont, Geelong.
On 9th July, 1836 John von Steiglitz (recently married to Cowie's sister Emma) arrived at Point Henry with stock for the run which they continued to build on for the next few years. The land held by Stead, Cowie and Steiglitz as their grazing run extended from Bell Post Hill down to the Moorabool River near Batesford and north towards what is now Lara - known to the early settlers as Duck Ponds.
Looking across the Moorabool Valley towards the Batesford quarry from Bell
Post Hill over what would have been part of Cowie and Stead's holding running
down to the river
Popular legend has it that Bell Post Hill was named for a bell, erected on the high point of the hill (possibly an old ship's bell brought by Cowie and Stead) which was used to notify settlers of the arrival of ships approaching Point Henry and also of imminent attacks by hostile members of a no doubt displaced indigenous population.
The view towards Corio Bay today from Bell Post Hill
Cowie, Stead and the von Steiglitz brothers did not long remain in the district and by 1838 they had moved up the Moorabool River where they took up a number of runs which will be the subject of future posts.
Being close to the newly established town of Geelong, the original Bell Post Hill run was soon divided up for closer settlement - possibly a reason for the departure of Cowie & Co. By 1852 subdivision was occurring in the area of Cowies Creek and by the 1860s it boasted a population of about 500 people and two pubs. Land at Bell Post Hill on the Bates Ford Road was being auctioned in lots upwards of an acre by 1853.
During 1859-60, John Calvert Esq who then owned land at the top of the hill, had a grand house erected which he called "Morongo".
"Morongo" 1863, image held by the Victorian State Library
A roughly similar view today
In addition to this residence, Calvert had squatting interests in the Western District holding the Irrewarra and Watch Hill runs with Captain John Bell who was also his neighbour at Bell Post Hill, having built his own mansion - "Bell Park" - only a short distance from Calvert's residence some years earlier in 1853-1854. All that remains of "Bell Park" today is an extension to the house, added in 1860 which now serves as a chapel for the McKellar Centre owned by Barwon Health.
Bell Park 1863, home of Captain John Bell. "Morongo" can be seen at the top
of the hill in the background. Image held by the State Library of Victoria
"Morongo" however, still survives. Following the death of Calvert in 1869 the property was advertised for auction. In 1884 with Mr Everingham as its current occupant the property, including the house and 100 acres of land, was advertised for lease. It was again advertised for lease in 1895, this time with Mrs James Bell the occupant.
In 1921 Senator James Francis Guthrie purchased "Morongo". The senator was active in the wool trade in both Geelong and Melbourne and was largely responsible for establishing the Corriedale breed of sheep in Australia. Further biographical details for Senator Guthrie can be found in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.
After only five years in residence, Guthrie sold the property in October, 1926 to the Presbyterian Church. The church then established the Morongo Girls College which opened its doors in 1927. It is said that the old bell used by Cowie and Stead which had been discarded but later found and retrieved from the Moorabool River by a fisherman, became the school bell which was used for the next 26 years until it was stolen in 1953. An article appealing for information was published in the Argus.

"Morongo" homestead today
The school itself operated until 1994 when its doors closed for the final time. The following year, Mr Yoshimaro Katsumata, a Japanese businessman purchased the school which opened at the beginning of 1996 as Kardinia International College. Today the school boasts some 1,700 students across all year levels.
The "Morongo" homestead survives as one of the school buildings and one side of the driveway would appear to be lined with the trees planted during Calvert's time and which appear as saplings in the sketch of the homestead.
Trees lining the driveway leading to the homestead

13 October, 2013

To the break and back and a broken back!

After a series of recent posts which have required a significant amount of research I thought I'd throw in something a little lighter so yesterday, with the sun out and in need of some practise for a forthcoming event, I dusted off the kayak for the first paddle of the season.
As the Masters Games are currently in town and doing their bit on the river, I figured it might be a little busy on that section so I hit the river below the breakwater and headed down to the lower break. This is one of my favourite sections for paddling as the scenery is predominantly rural and the river remains relatively wide with no serious obstructions - although perhaps it might be best avoided if the water ski club are holding an event as things can get a little busy at the end of Wilson's Road.
"Greenbanks" at Marshall
Not surprisingly, the water level was higher than I'd been used to over summer and with the wind blowing about 15knots from behind it was a relatively easy ride downstream however, it soon occurred to me that it was going to be hard work on the way back - I wasn't disappointed.

Mudlark chicks in a nest overhanging the river at Marshall
Well, spring has certainly sprung. Birds were everywhere - I counted twenty-nine different species and everyone it seems is breeding. In addition to the family of four Grey Butcherbird chicks I found hopping around in the branches near Highton a couple of days ago, I found these little guys sitting around on a rather exposed branch overhanging the river whilst one parent or other shouted instructions from the safety of a nearby tree - after which they all quite literally pulled their heads in and were not to be seen above the nest.
Meanwhile, on the bank, this little parade made its way under the nearest fence to what it considered a safe distance.
Australian Wood Duck family at Marshall
Despite the wind, the weather was quite warm and the skies were blue. Unfortunately for the smaller creatures around, Brown Falcons and Marsh Harriers were also circling overhead. At one point a pair of rather unimpressed falcons were being told in no uncertain terms where to go by a magpie.

The view from the lower breakwater
Well I reached the halfway mark fairly comfortably and without too many blisters. The water level here was quite definitely higher than during summer when the metal side of the breakwater made it necessary to disembark and cart the vessel round via land in order to continue downstream. This time by contrast, I was at imminent risk of going over the edge and heading for Lake Connewarre whether I liked it or not!
The lower breakwater
In retrospect, this would actually have been the easier option, although I would still have opted for portage, as rapids - even man-made ones - really aren't my thing whilst carrying a camera and phone. I did consider rearranging my pick up for Tait's Point instead of Breakwater which would have suited my back and the palms of my hands much better, however I also figured that the slog back upstream would do me good.
So I snapped a few shots and turned around. Almost immediately I was hit by a wall of wind and had to plough my way through the chop on the surface of the river to the next quiet patch before repeating the process at regular intervals the entire 8km back to Breakwater.

A deceptively peaceful Barwon River at Breakwater
As I rounded the bend and headed up The Long Reach I was reminded exactly why it got its name. Of course, "Cuthy's" boys from the Grammar had the advantage of at least three of their schoolmates pulling with them and the possibility of a stop for refreshments at The Willows. A bit of teenage enthusiasm would have been handy yesterday!
However, I managed it eventually with only a few blisters and without actually being blown back downstream at any point. My arms and back certainly got that workout I was looking for. Now I just hope the effects wear off before next weekend's paddle...

11 October, 2013

Branching out - Woodbourne No. 2: you learn something every day

In many parts of Victoria, the 1860s and 70s saw a significant change in the way land was distributed and used. On the heels of the departing squatters came the small selectors. Not everyone had struck it rich during the gold rush, most of the "easy" to find alluvial gold had been found and people were now looking for other ways to support themselves. Many had come from farming stock in their native countries, so it was natural that they would look to the land in their new country. What they saw however, was a large amount of land in the hands of a very few wealthy squatters, so pressure was brought to bear on the government for changes to the laws which would allow for smaller settlers to own their little piece of land, plant their crops, breed their livestock and raise their families.
And this was a plan that suited the government who were keen to establish a class of what they saw as "yeomen farmers" such as they had in the Old Country. Of course, smaller farms meant more intensive cultivation which meant higher productivity which meant a growing economy and more money for the government. The only people who didn't see things quite the same way were the squatters whose runs were being carved up by selectors.
Farm land on the Woodbourne Creek at Bamganie
The end result was the passing of laws in the early 1860s which allowed prospective farmers to purchase a few hundred acres of land from the crown, either outright or on easy terms which could be paid off over time. And if I read the parish maps correctly, this is exactly what happened on the Woodbourne No. 2 run.
This then was the backdrop to the land acquisitions which occurred in the latter half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century as smaller landholders moved in, fences were erected, crops were planted and families put down roots. Naturally enough, with the increase in population, the demand for education arose and eventually two schools were established on the old Woodbourne run.
The Woodburn Creek Primary School No. 1748 which first opened its doors on 3rd August, 1876 after three years of wrangling with the education department, was situated on land just west of the creek and north of the Meredith-Mt Mercer Road. Not surprisingly its roll read like a list of the local selectors.
The original Woodburn Creek school site. A post from the school grounds can
just be seen in the middle of the photograph
The school operated on this site until its closure in 1906. That building was eventually removed to Sheoaks where it was later destroyed by fire. The school reopened a second time in 1935, about a mile to the west at the intersection of the Meredith-Mt Mercer and Bamganie Roads in a building provided by Mr AG McNaughton on whose land it was built. This time it operated until 1946 when falling numbers again saw it close. In 1953 it reopened for the final time, taking in students (myself included) from properties in the surrounding district.

Woodburn Creek Primary School No. 1748. The second building on the new
site at the cross-roads c1978
In 1971, the old school building was replaced by a portable classroom (pictured above) which remained until the school's final closure which occurred in 1983 when enrolments fell to three students.
Geelong Advertiser article at the time of Woodburn
Creek's closure
As on previous occasions when the school closed, the local community were keen to make use of the building, however the Department of Education would not agree to such a scheme and the main building was moved to Tate Street Primary School in East Geelong. The small annex which had been built from funds raised by parents was moved to the Meredith Primary School and later demolished.
The second site of the Woodburn Creek Primary School today with memorial plaque
There were several reasons why the Woodburn school almost didn't eventuate, with disputes over where to locate the school, questions raised about student numbers and over funding, however one of the main reasons the education department questioned the need for a school on the Woodbourne Creek site was the recent opening in September, 1872 of Cargerie State School No. 1151, on land previously belonging to the Larundel Estate (originally Narmbool). It was argued that students could walk across country to Cargerie instead.
Map showing the sites (in green) of the Woodburn Creek Primary School. The
earlier site near the creek is on the right and the later site at the crossroads to the left
Then, in August, 1875 whilst negotiations over the Woodburn school were still in progress, a second school was opened, which would make Woodburn Creek Primary the second school on the old Woodbourne Creek run. This was Bamganie State School No. 1590.
The school was initially located on what became known as School Point, in the V of land formed by the confluence of the Woodbourne and Wilson Creeks. Like Woodburn Creek Primary, the school at Bamganie was moved from its original site and was plagued over the years by fluctuating student numbers.
Map showing the two sites (marked green) occupied by the Bamganie
State School. The lower site between the creeks was the original site
The original location overlooking the creeks, suited no-one as all students had to cross a creek to get to the school, making access difficult. The solution came in 1883 when it was decided to relocated to a new site on the west side of Bamganie Road about 2km from the southern end of Bamganie Road. Fulltime teaching commenced in that year and continued until 1890 when - with falling numbers at both schools - Bamganie operated together with Woodburn Creek, some 9km distant by road, on a half and half basis until the closure of Woodburn Creek in 1906. From this time, Bamganie and Cargerie (about 14km away by road) were operated together.
In 1923, to commemorate those students from the school who fought in the First World War, a pine tree was planted around the perimeter of the school for each of the servicemen and was accompanied by a plaque. Each of the fourteen current students planted a tree with the fifteenth planted by two students who were to start at the school the following year.

Some of the commemorative pines can be seen behind the more recent eucalypts
Like the Woodburn school, the Bamganie Primary School was the focus of many district activities being used for divine service by both the Presbyterians and the Methodists as well as for community events. The final closure for Bamganie State School No. 1590 came in 1933. The building remained on the site until being offered for auction as a hall in 1943.
In 1967 fire swept through the area, damaging some of the trees and, it was reported, burning four houses. I can attest that this was nearly five houses as the fire closely approached the property recently purchased by my parents, some 5.5km up the road. Through the efforts of my grandfather, it was stopped at the plantation which surrounds the house.

Bamganie World War 1 soldiers' memorial at the Bamganie State School site
Today, the school no longer stands however some of the pine trees which survived the fire do. The location is marked by the above sign which was erected in 2011 and was accompanied by a book about the servicemen and the school by local author Margaret Cooper. Her 2007 publication commemorates the Woodburn Creek Primary School.

07 October, 2013

Branching out - Woodbourne No. 2 - no rush!

In 1851, the history of Victoria changed forever when gold was discovered near Ballarat. It created a frenzy of activity which resulted in any likely quartz deposits being "prospected" in the hopes of finding gold. In 1855 the Stieglitz goldfields were discovered and the area found itself in the grip of a rush.
Like the creeks and gullies around Stieglitz, Woodbourne Creek harboured a number of gold deposits, however unlike Stieglitz which was "rushed", resulting in a huge population influx and extensive prospecting in the area, the history of gold discovery along Woodbourne Creek was more of a dawdle than a rush.
It was known that there were likely gold-bearing deposits along the creek and from the late 1850s periodic attempts were made to mine them.
In 1864, a field was opened at Woodbourne when alluvial gold was found by a German prospector in "Munroe's Gully" - a tributary of the Woodbourne. Gold was soon found along the creek itself which in various places still shows signs of mining activity.
This section of the state forest is scattered with old mounds. Often, as in this
case, trees have grown in them
A surveyor's map from 1867 at one point notes: "Gold has been found in many places along Reids [Woodbourne] creek and in some spots payable". The map also notes the presence of four gullies immediately east of Woodbourne Creek, the second being a "Quartz Reef Gully" (from position probably Wilson Creek) and the fourth is labelled "Digger's Gully" - towards the boundary of the Woodbourne and Golf Hill estates.
In 1888 a geologist's report published in the Argus described a quartz reef which runs along west bank of Woodbourne Creek near the Meredith-Mount Mercer Road. It described the reef as running south along the creek bank, in places some 80 feet (over 24m) above the creek's course at that time. To the north it also followed the creek, crossing underneath the streambed before being covered by geologically more recent basalt flows somewhere near the homestead.
Looking towards Woodbourne homestead. Woodbourne Creek lies to the right
The southern end of this reef was on the land of "Lingford and McCrae" both of whom made some attempts to mine the gold in the gullies which cut across the reef, however were not satisfied with the results achieved.
By contrast, in 1879 one article claimed that a "quartz reef of tolerable richness" had been found. It was described as being "on the crown lands adjoining Mr McAdam's property". Survey maps show that Robert McAdam held about 300 acres of land east and at the southern end of the current state forest and near the head of Wilson Creek from this same year. A newspaper report a couple of months later indicated a yield from the Bamganie Gold Mining Company (the same group of miners perhaps?) which was so promising they intended to erect a 5 head battery to process the quartz on site, rather than sending it to Ballarat for processing. Shares in the company were still being sold in 1891.
A five-head battery from Trunkey Creek, probably similar to that used on
Woodbourne Creek

Two years earlier another enterprise with the pragmatic name of Leidwill's New Find Gold-Mining Company was established to work a lead in a "small tributary running parallel to the creek" (Woodbourne Creek?).
In 1880 and 1883 further reefs were located and worked at Bamganie, then in 1891 it was reported further that "rich patches of alluvial and quartz have been found [on Woodbourne Creek], a deep alluvial lead has been discovered but has not yet been fully tested". Mining notes in the Argus of November, 1895 record the lowering of water levels in the South Day Dawn mine on Woodbourne Creek.
Attempts to find gold on what was originally the Woodbourne run continued over the years and another speculative venture was undertaken at Bamganie in 1901 when the Duke of Wellington Mine was opened.
Signs of the past close to the Woodbourne Creek bed
A 1901 map of the "goldfields" in the area shows mines with names such as the Duchess of Hamilton, Golden Fleece, Star of Bamganie, The King, Home Rule (presumably an Irish outfit), Day Dawn and Leap Year located along the reef running down from the homestead along the creek, on both crown and private property.
At one time, up to 50 leases were issued for the area. Of those along the creek,  several were held by Thomas Nichols, Arch. Campbell and Angus Grant. In 1902 Nichols was involved in a legal stoush over the incorrect staking of a claim for his Duchess of Cornwall Gold Mining Company whilst the 1932 Victoria Government Gazette lists Grant amongst others under "Applications for mining leases abandoned".
There is one other twist to the story of goldmining on Woodbourne Creek and that is Lewis Hubert (Harold Bell) Lasseter of "Lasseter's Lost Reef" fame. He was born Lewis Hubert Lasseter to parents William John Lasseter and Agnes Cruickshank at Bamganie in 1880. Lasseter only lived in the district until he was seven and I can see no sign of Lasseters on the survey maps however, in the year of his birth a John Cruickshank selected land on Woodbourne Creek just above the confluence with Wilson Creek. Presumably he and his family lived nearby.
Lewis Hubert (Harold Bell) Lasseter
Lasseter lived a colourful often controversial life and claimed to have found (but lost) a fabulous quartz reef in the interior of the country. It has never been found nor have I found any suggestion that he ever returned to his birth place. Perhaps he would have had more success had he tried his hand prospecting at Bamganie...

05 October, 2013

Branching out - Woodbourne No 2: where is it now?

Well this turned out to be a whole lot more complicated than I expected, so what was going to be one post will now be three of them. I initially set out to discover the history of Woodbourne No. 2 - one of the original squatting runs lying in part on the Leigh River, but covering the entire length of Woodbourne Creek, a tributary of the Leigh.
The Woodbourne Creek at the Meredith-Mt Mercer road crossing

The Woodbourne Creek at the Meredith-Mt Mercer road crossing
Woodbourne No. 2 is perhaps one of the lesser known squatting runs in the region of the three rivers. It is of particular interest to me however, as I grew up on a farm which formed part of the original run. I also attended the local Woodburn Creek Primary School - yes, the spelling is different.
The run itself covered the area bounded on the south east by Native Creek No. 1 run (then in the hands of the Learmonth brothers of the Derwent Company), to the south west by Golf Hill and the Upper Leigh runs of the Clyde Company, to the north and west by the Cargerie run of George FH Read Jnr and on its short north eastern boundary just above Meredith, by the Borhoneyghurk run of John Norman McLeod. In total, an area of about 14,000 acres.
Prior to European occupation, the land was of course home to the indigenous tribes of the Wathaurong and according to the Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales (1877-1884) there were obvious signs of Wathaurong habitation along the Woodbourne Creek in the form of oven mounds and trees stripped of their bark which had a variety of uses.
The Woodbourne No. 2 run was first occupied in 1844 by Alexander, Charles and John Wilson who formed a partnership known as Wilson Brothers. It was the smallest of three squatting runs held by the Wilsons, the other two being Kewell (117,760 acres) and Walmer (40,000 acres), both located in the Wimmera district.
Whilst it is reasonable to assume that the brothers spread themselves between their three runs, we know they spent enough time at Woodbourne to build a house.

Woodbourne homestead. Copyright Department of the Environment
The structure was a six room, timber homestead which records indicate had a central hallway and was constructed from pit-sawn stringybark or yellow box planks. The roof was covered by stringy bark shingles.
Original section of Woodbourne homestead showing timber walls and roof
battens. From the Bob Reid Collection, Copyright, Department of the Environment
The site of the house whose remains still stand, is close to the head of the Woodbourne Creek. The creek rises from a natural spring around 5.5km north west of the present day town of Meredith and would have provided a permanent water source for the settlers.
In November, 1847 the brothers placed an advert in the Geelong Advertiser seeking information on a bay mare branded with a W (presumably for Woodbourne) which had strayed from the property two months earlier.
About a month later the brothers applied to have the licences for their various properties renewed. They are listed as the landholder of Woodbourne No 2 in the Squatters' Directory of the Occupants of Crown Lands of Port Phillip 1849 indicating that their application was successful.
However, the partnership did not long survive this point and was dissolved at the behest of brother Alex when the following announcement appeared in The Argus of 1849:
The partnership hitherto existing between John Wilson, Charles Wilson and Alexander Wilson, under the designation of Wilson Brothers, is this day dissolved as far as the said Alexander Wilson is concerned, he having withdrawn from the firm.
                          CHARLES WILSON.
Witnesses   ANDREW LOVE Jun.
                         CHARLES MACKINNON
Woodbourne February 26th, 1849

The homestead and its surrounds today
Further testament to the Wilson's time in the area is a little creek (just over 10km in length) which bears their name and which is joined by Woodbourne Creek about 1.8km above their confluence with the Leigh River at Bamganie.
Whether the longer Woodbourne Creek (about 15km in length) takes its present name from the name given to the run by the Wilsons or the run was named for the creek, I do not know, however I have seen at least one survey map from the 1860s which gives the name of the creek as Reid's Creek.
This name reflects that of the person who took over the run after the departure of the Wilsons, in 1853 - William James Reid, an Irishman from Letterkenney in the north of Ireland.
William James Reid, squatter
Reid took possession on 2nd January, 1853 and a few months later in May of that year brought his new bride Elizabeth Elliott Armstrong to live on the property. Together, they raised a family of nine children and as the need arose they extended the original timber house with a bluestone extension consisting of three extra rooms and a passageway. The new section was situated in front of the original house and was roofed with slate and surrounded by a verandah of corrugated iron. At some point the shingle roof of the original building was also covered with iron. The ceilings were of pressed metal and - in the front rooms - lathen plaster whilst the floors were hardwood.
The homestead showing the old (rear) section and the newer (front) section.
From the Bob Reid Collection, Copyright, Department of the Environment
At the time of purchase from the Wilsons, the run carried 5,000 sheep. A geographical and topical map produced for the surveyor's office in 1867, indicates a brush fence separating the Woodbourne run from that of George Russell's to the south as well as a set of "brush yards" which if I calculate correctly would have been about 1km west and 3.5km south of Bamganie and the Meredith-Mt Mercer roads respectively.

Reid and his family remained at Woodbourne until 1872 at which point one source indicates that he forfeited the lease on the run. I suspect that the timing of his exit may have been no chance thing. In the early to mid-1860s, the Victorian government introduced new laws to encourage closer settlement, allowing small "selectors" to take up blocks of crown land on easy terms, including areas held under current squatters licences. The squatters complained vehemently to the government that the new laws discriminated against them, the very people who had opened up the countryside and brought about such improvement.
After all their effort, they were - they claimed - at risk of having their land snatched from beneath them by moneyed "land sharks". On the other hand, many squatters themselves attempted to rort this new system by having "mediums" purchase the rights to the land on their runs which in turn would immediately be leased back to the squatter - in return for a fee of course!
Wilson Creek below its confluence with Woodbourne Creek looking across land
which was selected from the original Woodbourne run in 1872 by P O'Donnell
His obituary claims that William Reid argued long and hard against the land sharks and his refusal to pay "tribute" to them cost him dearly. Newspaper reports of the day indicate that Reid did in fact fight against the resumption of "his" land and looking at the surveyor's maps of the era, there were several blocks of Woodbourne land selected during the 1860s and possibly further blocks sold outright to selectors. Much of it seems to have been to the east of the railway line with some to the north of the homestead site. This may well account for statements indicating that the size of the run had been reduced to 10,000 acres by 1865.
By 1869 and during the 1870s however, the uptake of land seems to have gathered considerable pace. Much of the land to the west of the homestead and down to about 1.5km south of the Meredith-Mt Mercer Road was taken up. A number of blocks towards the most southerly part of the run along Wilson's Creek were also selected.
Henderson's Road which crosses Wilson Creek at "Tayolor's Bridge" was named
for a later selector from the 1880s who took up land to the west of this site on the
Leigh River - probably on Golf Hill land. This road may have formed part of the
boundary between the two properties. Edwin Taylor selected the land which can
be seen immediately the bridge in 1880.
behind the bridge
At this point, Reid probably saw the writing on the wall for his run and in 1872 chose to forfeit his lease and sold the remaining 3,000 acres and homestead to John Matheson of Moranghurk.
 This enabled him to pursue his squatting ambitions on the Darling River. From there, he went on to purchase a number of stations in New South Wales and one as far north as Cloncurry in Queensland as detailed in his 1914 obituary. In later life, he retired to Geelong and is buried at the Eastern Cemetery with his wife and several other family members.

Views fit for a squatter. The Reid family grave at the Eastern Cemetery
From 1872 onwards, the homestead was used as staff housing by the Mathesons, remaining in good condition until the 1950s. The land along with the neighbouring Native Creek No. 1 run - also acquired by Matheson - was absorbed into the Moranghurk Estate, remaining intact until soldier settlement arrived in 1953.
At that time, the block containing the homestead passed to Mr George Morris Lloyd and his wife Olive. The Lloyds and their children farmed the block until 1973, despite having suffered heavy losses in a fire in 1967. In that year, they sold the farm to Alan and Margaret Parkinson, who are still the owners of the farm they called Woodbourne.
The remains of the homestead today. The walls of the bluestone section
remain standing however the roof appears to have completely collapsed. The
stables (right) built in the 1870s appear to be mostly intact.

The rest of the Woodbourne No. 2 run - mostly the southern section - seems to have reverted to crown land which was taken up by selectors during the 1880s, 1890s and into the early 20th century. The only part to remain in government hands today is the land along the lower section of Woodbourne Creek which now forms the Bamganie State Forest.
Inside the state forest, looking across Woodbourne Creek
The creek at this point is steep and quite heavily wooded and would not have been appropriate for either grazing or cultivation which may in part explain its continued reservation as crown land.

One of the many gullies running down to Woodbourne Creek near the state forest
There is however another possibility which will be the subject of my next post - GOLD!