Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer Chapter XII page 1

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Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer by Sup John Sadleir

(full text transcription)

CHAPTER XII - THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF VICTORIA

Towards the close of 1859, greatly to my satisfaction, I received orders to proceed to Hamilton , even then more commonly spoken of by its old name - The Grange. Beechworth was not an uninteresting district, and we had made some pleasant friendships there. I say ‘we’ as I was now a married man, and the question of house keeping was a serious one where all the necessaries of life were so very costly. Apart too from this, the departure from Beechworth of O’Hara Burke, under whom it was a pleasure to serve, brought about a less congenial state of affairs. Burke’s successor was a man of good family and a zealous officer, but he was very difficult to get on with. He had married beneath him, and it was a necessary condition of peace and good fellowship that the households of his friends should be open to intrusion at all hours. Well, we were not “taking any”, and so to escape further unpleasantness were glad to get away. It was a curious thing about this officer - as long as his wife lived he showed constant devotion to her and denied her nothing. Yet on the evening of her burial, for she died not very long after I left Beechworth, he appeared in one of the theatres, and in police uniform, in the company of a female of notorious disrepute.

I have nothing to note of the journey to Hamilton , but the awful condition of the road from Portland , whither we had travelled by steamer. During the last fifty miles to Hamilton there was liquid mud up to the axle of the dog-cart. But our toils were forgotten on reaching the high bank over The Grange, where there broke upon out view the loveliest bit of pastoral scenery that we have yet looked upon in Victoria . It was spring time and everything was fresh and green. There was the village lying in the foreground, surrounded by rich beautiful plains broken only by Mounts Pierrepoint, Napier, Rouse and Bainbridge, and shut in on the extreme north-west by Mounts Sturgeon and Abrupt, some twenty miles away. The people on every side we found as hospitable and agreeable as one could desire. Messrs Cuthbert Featherstonhaugh, PM, “the Governor” as he was called, and F H Puckle, Crown Lands Commissioner, were the principal officials, and with these and their families we became friends at once. My wife and I were new chums still as regards life in the pastoral districts of Victoria , and the hospitality on every side was a revelation to us fresh from a country where visits were made only on special invitation. Here the squatters, to use the generic title of the large landholders of the period, felt hurt if one passed through their neighbourhood without putting up with them for a day, or indeed as many days as one pleased. I will try to recall the names of some of these kindly squatter friends of more than half a century ago.

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