Australian Town and Country Journal at KellyGang 7/9/1872
A Tour to the South.
[BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT]
THE BILLABONG AND THE MURRAY
YARRA YARRA, the estate and station of James M'Laurin, Esq., M.L.A., is a magnificent property, at the head of the Billabong Creek, The area of the station is about 80,000 acres. About 10,000 acres are purchased land. Yarra Yarra was formerly one of Father Therry's stations, but in charge of the noted cattle duffer, James Feeney.
The residence, just completed, is a fine spacious building of granite, and the school-house, laundry, stores, &c., are also of the same stone. The grounds in connection with the house are laid out with, considerable taste. An avenue of fine tress, borders of the osage orange, and artificially arranged flower beds, besides choice plants and shrubs in endless variety, are seen in various parts of the grounds growing well. The granite-built school-house is in the modern gothic style of architecture, and is a most compact church-like building. It is nicely furnished with maps, diagrams, books, &c.
The water-supply is obtained from the united half-a-dozen streams which join near the house, and form the well-known Billabong. Force pumps and tanks supply the house on a novel principle. Overseer's house, men's quarters, stables, and barns, complete Yarra Yarra, which resembles a township, and is much larger than many places resuming that name. About twenty-five or thirty men find constant employment, and at the last census ninety inhabitants were on the station. One thousand travellers were provided with accommodation gratis in one year.
A pleasing point in this property is the large quantity of artificial grasses that have been sown on the station. Besides five paddocks of lucerne, 1 also noticed others of clover, prairie, rye, cocksfoot, buffalo, and rib grasses. In the afternoon of my arrival, Mr M'Laurin drove me out to the wool washing dam, three or four miles distant. The country through which we passed was open forest well grassed land, which seemed to continue for many miles. Ranges in the distance marked the boundary of the run. Two conspicuous fronts of the range are called Mount Pleasant and Mount M'Laurin. A large gap lies between.
The wool-washing establishment is one of the most complete in Australia. The water is carried to the dam from the creek by a race a mile and a half long. It is impossible to convey an accurate idea, by pen, of the plan adopted for warm and cold water application here. Pipes are connected with the dam and run over head; the main pipe supplies water for shower-bath and races, and also fills the boiler. Tilts are let in the swimming pens, and by a series of races the sheep are run through the various processes of cold and warm water, and then on to a good drying ground. An inspection shows at once a vast saving of time and labour without any danger of losing the sheep. I understand that about £1000 was expended by Mr M'Laurin on this work.
Yarra Yarra run carries about 30,000 sheep and 1000 head of cattle, besides a few horses. The sheep deserve more than a parsing mention, as Mr M'Laurin has taken much pains to improve the breed. His stud flock I particularly admired. Mr M'Laurin, at the time of my visit, had only just returned from Tasmania, where he had purchased seventy Leicesters, and three fine wool rams from Mr Gibbon, whose success as a sheep-breeder is well known. The stockyards are also worthy of notice, being of immense size, and of the strongest character.
There are several hundred miles of fencing put up on Yarra Yarra. Nearly the greater part is of the best description, good substantial posts and strong well-fitting rails.
Yarra Ynrra, it may be remembered, was prominently brought before the public at the time pleuro pneumonia was prevalent seven or eight years ago. By order of the Government some six or seven thousand head were slaughtered and burnt off the run. Perhaps there was never anything like such a slaughter in the world before. Mr M'Laurin believes that this was unnecessary in a great measure.
I left the station, with Mr M'Laurin, early in the morning for the Murray via Copabella. For the first seven or eight miles the road continued through the station with its beautiful meadow land, and then we began to get into high ground again. Crossing some rough ranges and a few water-courses, we came to a small station belonging to Mr Armstrong. I understand that horses are principally bred here but Mr Armstrong was not at home when we called. Below Armstrong's there is a good stream where we rested our horses, and had some luncheon. After another hour's riding, still over uninviting country, we came to Copabella, or more properly Copa-billy, meaning, I believe, a large lagoon. Copabella is a cattle station, sixteen miles from Yarra Yarra, and about the same distance from the Murray. It is the property and residence of Mr James Robertson, and will be remembered as the home of 'Cast Anchor Jack,' previously described. We had dinner at Copabella, and I continued the journey alone.
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