Australian Town and Country Journal at KellyGang 22/6/1872 (4)
Approaching Jerilderie, my thoughts were diverted by a magnificent sight in the distance. The day was intensely hot, and skirting the plain there appeared a beautiful lake, a clear limpid sheet of water. Beyond and on its margin, were outlines of houses, churches and steeples. The delusion was perfect, and we reined up our horses for a some minutes to look upon the splendid mirage. In a short time it disappeared, but in its place came other water views, and as we proceeded the lakes sometimes seemed so close that we had difficulty in believing it was a delusion.
Jerilderie, from the aboriginal "Jereel," a reed, at last was reached. It is a small town of about 100 inhabitants, and contains a good Public School, two stores, three or four public-houses, a saddler's (Mahood), and blacksmith's shop, &c. The Jerilderie Public School is a nice little brick building. It was under the charge of a clever young lady, Miss Kate Mahony. There were only twenty-eight pupils on the roll, and twenty five in attendance. I did not expect much from the children, and was therefore agreeably surprised on witnessing their proficiency in reading, writing and analysis, arithmetic, geography, and singing - the latter particularly. Though young, the children were clean and well-behaved. Altogether the school reflects great credit to the teacher.
The principal stores are Messrs Henry Levy and Co., and Mr C Van Der Maal's. These are general stores, and well supplied with a most miscellaneous stock-all country goods. The principal hotels are the Royal, and the Court-house. Court is held in Jerilderie on the second Tuesday of each month. The magistrates who generally attend are R Blackwood, W Rawlins, C M Lloyd, and J Weir, Esqs. Sergeant Johnston is in charge of the police, and acts as C P S.
The principal annual event about Jerilderie, and in fact, the whole of Riverina, is the great pastoral show held there. Splendid show yards have been erected at a cost of £400 or £500, for sheep, cattle, and horses, though principally the former. The committee have spent £50 for dies for their medals, which are issued to successful competitors. Mr Wm Hay , of Boomoonoomana was the first president of the Jerilderie show. Mr Mitchell is the president this year. The show is generally held in the last week of July, or first week in August. Jerilderie is a wonderful little place in its quiet way, and I am given to understand by the leading storekeepers, that a good deal of money is expended every year in the town.
Leaving Jerilderie and crossing some large plains, the first place come to was the cattle station of Mr P Brennan . His house is on the right bank of the Billabong, seven miles from Jerilderie. For twelve miles further there is no habitation, and the miles seemed interminable. At last a well kept comfortable inn called the Cocketgedong, was reached. It is built on a slight eminence, and is kept by Mr Alexander Murray.
Taking a right-hand track, I entered a forest, and a few miles from the hotel I reached the station of Messrs Watt and Thomson, called Cocketgedong . The residence, in the midst of some fine pine trees, is in a picturesque position, and consists of a cluster of buildings, including private residence, overseer's house, servants' quarters, kitchen, &c. The paddocks, all capitally fenced, were surprisingly well grassed, in com parison to others lower down the Billabong, at that time of the year. The area of the station is about 45,000 acres, and upwards of £18,000 have been expended on improvements, &c, during the past six years. It was particularly pleasing to notice that the spirited proprietors wore doing much to improve the breed of the stock, and thereby benefit not only themselves but Riverina generally. Among the more prominent objects of interest among the stock is a celebrated young bull, a perfect "Lord of the Manor " boasting for his ances tor the well known “Duke of Brunswick." In sheep, recent importations, are prize Tasmanian rams descendants of the celebrated exhibition prize sheep exhibited by Mr Gibson, of Tasmania.
Leaving Cocketgedong a few hours steady riding still over plains, brought us within sight of Urana . As we were making straight for the township we were informed that we would have to go round two miles, as the bridge had been washed away; this we accordingly did. For a considerable time past this most vexatious annoyance bas been quietly borne by the people. The mail, day after day, has to go round, losing two miles, with the additional waste of time und trouble to the driver of taking down and putting up slip-rails on the way. This matter should be seen to at once, and for the small cost it is a disgrace to the "powers that be."
I had almost omitted to mention that for five or six miles before the traveller gets to Urana, the road runs right by the Urana Lake, a fine sheet of water covering 20,000 acres, and being about 40 miles round. Half of it is a frontage to Messrs. Watt and Thomson's station. Urana (aboriginal "aurana," meaning mia mia, or camping ground) is on the Urana Creek, 400 miles from Sydney. There are less than 100 people in the township. Two public-houses, two stores, a post and telegraph office, and a police station comprise Urana, which boasts of neither church nor school. The hotels are Mr John Perrin's "Urana," and Mr A J King's "Royal." Both of these seem to be well conducted. The stores are Messrs. Mort and Watson's general, including wine and spirits (Mr Robertson, manager) ; and Mr James Price's Free Trade general store. The great annual event at Urana is the races ; generally held about March or April. The prizes run for amount to over £300. Considering the sparsity of the population, this is a very large amount. It is principally subscribed by the station-holders of the surrounding country, whoso hospitality and good feeling is proverbial. Personally I cannot speak too warmly of it, though, for the present, I regretted that time would not allow of my more extensively visiting and reporting on the vast improvements going on in that part of the country.
The station of the Lord of Widgiewa will form a subject for the next article.
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