Australian Town and Country Journal at KellyGang 7/9/1872 (2)
The sixteen miles from Copabella Jingellic (Murray River) is a dreary journey. In places the country is rugged, and the traveller has to go over a range, and then between a pass in the mountains. There is a creek running by the road side for some distance, and on the creek there are a number of Chinamen gold-digging. It is impossible to say how they are doing; but they are all settled down for winter quarters, as if they intended to remain, and believed in the diggings.
In a small bend, where there is a pretty scene, and a patch of good land, two free-selectors are located. This is about nine miles from Copabella. It was quite dark when I got out of the range and arrived at Jingellic, a cattle station on the Murray, thirty-two miles from Yarra Yarra. The distance is equal to fifty miles over ordinary country. I was hospitably treated at Jingellic, which is the property of Mr F P Southwick . The area of the station is 50,000 acres, and it carries about 2000 head of cattle.
The morning after my arrival I had the first view of the Murray, or the Hume. The head of this noble stream is about 100 miles above Jingellic, and takes its rise in the Snowy Mountains. Its total length is 1120 miles. I followed the Murray up for four miles, and then, in company with two young fellows, took a track to the left for a few miles up the Murray Range, which led to a newly discovered reef on the Ournie station. After some hard climbing we reached the pioneer encampment. I found about 120 persons on the ground, and from the accounts in circulation it seemed likely to prove a second Paxton's.
The Isabella Reef, Johannah Creek, Ournie station, was discovered about nine months ago by George Willard. It runs east and west and varies in thickness from 18 inches to 3 feet. Some months back the prospector's had a trial crushing at Adelong, and the yield was 12oz to the ton. This astonishing return naturally caused great excitement. A rush was made, and a number of the claims were jumped. Lawsuits followed, and the principal ground for jumping was that it was not a proclaimed gold-field. The quarrel was continued for many months, and it gave the legal gentlemen some work.
After the decision of the nearest local Court, Tumbarumba, it was apparent that the first on the ground would have possession, and one of the most exciting races on record took place between the rival parties, viz., the original holders and the jumpers. Though most of the diggers had come in that morning, their horses were quickly mounted, and as only diggers can ride, at a tearing pace they started from Tumbarumba. The distance is twenty five miles. Neck and neck about half-a-dozen of the horsemen rode for the first eight or ten miles. They then began to fall out of the race, and it was ultimately reduced to three, of which two were jumpers, and one was of the original party. The latter got on the ground first, and was putting in his pegs when the two jumpers came up. A scuffle ensued, and one of the jumpers held the original owner while the mate pegged out the claim. This, of course, was not lawful, and the jumpers were summoned for the assault. The morning appointed for the trial the party assaulted got two horses saddled-one for himself and the other for his witness.
The witness proceeded to Tumbarumba, but the party who was assaulted disappeared, and has never been seen or heard of since. His horse, saddled, was noticed standing outside the tent door all day, and at last attracted attention. Search was made, but without avail. The Government then offered a reward for the poor fellow, but not the slightest truce was found. There is no doubt of his having met foul play. There is still another difficulty. His party having possession of the ground, and got rid of the jumpers, continued to work the reef. His share is now variously estimated to be worth from £500 to £2000, and the mates are in a fix about the matter.
There were twenty-three claims opened out when I visited the reef. The Prospector's (Mabin and party) were turning out some splendid stone, as were also Kennedy and party No 1, and Stewart and party No. 3 west. Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 6 had struck the reef on the west side, and Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 10 on the east.
The great drawback is the want of machinery. Through various causes considerable delay has arisen. Machinery was expected months ago, and now there are some hundreds of tons of stone at grass. 1 believe that the nearest crushing-machinery is at Adelong, and it is out of all reason to send stone there, the country being so rough, and the distance so great. I believe that a good machine is now on the road from Morse's Greek, and will be operation in a few months. There was not a store or shanty on the reef that I could see, though there were several spoken of as likely to be opened.
Within sight of the reef, and on the bank of creek, there is a remarkable instance of industry and forethought, which redounds to the credit of John Chinamen. When the rush to the reef took place three Chinamen at once set to work to plant a garden. They dug up less than an acre of ground in this wild part, trenched and planted it with all kinds of vegetables, and though scarcely five months have elapsed, they are now supplying the whole the reefers (120) with cabbages, and all other vegetables of good quality. Their garden is a picture neatness and order. Such enterprise and industry well deserves to be crowned with success.
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