Mount Battery was so named by the discoverer, Sir Thomas Mitchell, though this extraordinary land-mark is better known as Table-top. The aboriginal name is Yambla . Mr Mitchell has the largest extant; of purchased property in the district, comprising, upwards of 20,000 acres of unrivalled pastoral country. The area of the station is 30,000 acres. The afternoon following my arrival I took a seat in Mr Mitchell’s buggy, and we first visited the celebrated quarry on the run. A drive of three miles still in a northerly direction through well grassed open forest country, brought us to the quarry. As I have before-stated it is a remarkable and extraordinary stone of a beautiful purple colour, and in some parts having most beautiful wavy tints. I am informed that is easily worked and as I have seen is capable of a fine polish, and hardens considerably on being exposed to the atmosphere. Immense blocks of it were being taken out of the quarry when I visited it.
From the ground there is a glorious view of Table-top rising grandly a few miles off. On our return we took a different route through the open forest and several paddocks The kangaroo grass here was most luxuriant, resembling fields of waving grain. For miles and miles it was over the buggy wheels, and the stock as a consequence were rolling fat There was one paddock, for instance, of 4000 acres which kept all the year round 4,000 sheep. Leaving these sheep, we came to another paddock where were grazing some fat, well-bred, quiet cows and heffers; and then some good horses claimed attention. An old grey, having Arab blood, and numbering twenty-six years, was perhaps the most remarkable. We next visited the woolshed (the station carries about 20,000 sheep) which is a model one; |in fact, it is before many private residences in exterior appearance, for it has glass windows and pine doors, and the sides are weatherboarded. The sheep pens are well arranged, and laid down with tiles, and swept several times a day during the season so as to secure a snowy whiteness for the wool.
The wool-press, I must ask pardon for enlarging on, as I have seen many elsewhere which are here and further down Riverina regarded as 'relics of the dark ages.' The old lever and pulley is laughed at, and something on this excellent plan is substituted:
The annexed wood cut of the one in use at Mr James Mitchell's represents the ‘Patent Travelling Box Wool Press' manufactured by the well-known firm of Wilding and Co., Melbourne. It seemed to me to have many important advantages; the most prominent characteristic is the travailing upper, or top box, as it can be filled when the screw is down upon the bale, which is being secured, the packer of the wool having a clear headway. A platform round the top of the press is unnecessary, as the work of raising and lowering the screw is effected by means of wheel gearing, rope, and pulley-the rope reaching to the ground. A handle is also attached to the large rope wheel; the man working this has to stand on a high trestle or stool. The screw is usually made to ascend through a hole in the roof of the woolshed; the roof, therefore, does not need to be higher than the press itself. In building a new woolshed a considerable saving in expense may thus be made. In resuming a description of the wool-press it may be stated that the top travelling box has a false bottom, which is made to slide in and out The screw is ‘slotted' or grooved down each aide, and in fixing the gearing the large level crown wheel is slipped over the top of the screw; it then slides down and rests on the top of the press (see engraving). This wheel has two feather keys dovetailed into 'the boss' or centre opposite each other, which are also made to fit into, and correspond with the 'slots' in the screw. The brass nut or receiving screw, is fixed between the two cross pieces and underneath tho crown wheel. A small spindle or shaft, with bevel pinion keyed on is fixed underneath and made to gear into the larger whee1. On the other end of the short shalt the large rope wheel, is fixed. Another advantage is the ease and facility with which the, bale is released from the bottom box or real wool press; this is effected by having one aide made to open by screws when the bale is securely sown up. The bales turned-out by presses of this kind have been specially noted and commended by Sir Daniel Cooper, in a recent letter of his to the wool growers of these colonies. One man can easily work this wool press, and turn out more bales of wool than four at the killing work of the old lever system.'
The residence of Mr Mitchell is a short distance below the woolshed. It is a comfortable brick building, surrounded by a shrubbery, foremost amongst which were luxuriating the bunya bunya, and the deep-green-leaved kurrajong. A nicely designed school-house is above the residence. The prospect of a journey to the top of Mount Battery, or Table top, was an inducement to retire early, and the next morning opened fine with a bracing air blowing. Mr Charles Huon acted as pilot, and his reminiscences of Australian life, extending over a period of sixty years, were full of interest, and relieved what would otherwise have been a tiresome and wearisome ride. He had followed me in my travels, and gave some interesting incident which occurred at each. Lobb's Hole, the fearful, was once part of his run; also part of the Three Brothers, on Monaro, near the Rock Flat, with the Seltzer water springs.
When about five miles from the home station, we began the ascent of Mount Battery, It is attained by following up spurs in the mountain, which are in places almost perpendicular. Our horses proved the better climbers, and at places we crawled up on our hands and knees. I shall not easily forget the risk we ran from tho danger of overbalancing and rolling over the precipice below. We at length reached the first wall and the worst part of our journey was over. Mount Battery or Table-top is of course, the most conspicuous object in that part of the colony. Its total length is about a mile and a half. When the top of the mountain is reached, the tourist who wishes a really good view ascends one of three land marks, rising on the top of the mountain. The nearest and largest was probably the first seen by Major Mitchell, hence its appropriate name of Mount Battery, or perhaps more common and not less applicable name Table-top.
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