An historical account of Traralgon, written for the boys and girls of the city.
First published in 1970. Reset on CD Rom 2001
About the author - William J. Cuthill - click here
Chapter 2. With Hobson at Traralgon - 1844-1853
In this chapter, I hope to be able to give you all a good picture of how Traralgon looked 126 years ago, and how its first settlers lived. You must remember that it was just a little corner of Gippsland, with nothing beyond but a couple of settlers and then the deep dark forest of huge gum trees, where there were a few lyrebirds, a few koalas, sometimes a few wandering black fellows, and not a blade of grass to feed horses or cattle, and Melbourne up to a week's ride away on horseback, especially when the creeks and rivers were in flood in the winter time.
When Edward Hobson reached here in 1844, he was able to take up the run for which his brother, Dr. Edmund Hobson had applied in Melbourne. He took the land on both sides of the Traralgon Creek and his run went from the river out to Traralgon South and two and a half miles west from the creek towards Morwell. Another squatter named James Rintoul had taken up a run where Sheepwash Creek runs into the Latrobe River. He called his run "Loy Yang".
It must have been the Hobsons who gave the Traralgon run its name. The name comes from the aboriginal words "Tarra", meaning a river, and "Algon" meaning little fish, and that is why I have called this story "The River of Little Fish". It was probably Edward Hobson who spelt the name as we spell it today, for the Doctor, who did not come up to see the run for three years, spelt it "Tralgon" when he was writing a letter to his wife in Melbourne while he was here.
There are other places still carrying native names here. "Loy Yang" means Big Eel after the huge Conger eels which were once very plentiful in the river. "Koornalla" means Running Water, but that name was given to that place only early in the 20th century. At the same time, Le Roy was named after Roy Lee, the son of a farmer in that area. Then Flynn's Creek, which was first spelt "Flinn's Creek", was named after a police officer named Flinn who was at Alberton in 1848. And Callignee was given its name by the Tanner family after a place in Ireland. You have already read that Tyers was named after Commissioner Tyers, the Chief Government man in Gipps' Land. Glengarry was first called Eaglehawk, and it was many years before the name was changed.
When he arrived, Edward Hobson's first job was to build himself a house. Of course, he had to have water nearby, and it was rather difficult to find good dry land anywhere near the creek or the river, there being such a mass of rushes and scrub along both banks. So he picked a high piece of ground near where the creek runs into the river, and near a large waterhole. The waterhole is still there but it is often dry in these times, now that the farmers have cleared and drained the creek flats, but in those days it was full of water, and as there were no tanks to hold water, water from the waterhole was used in the house.
If you turn left off the Princes Highway down Park LanFeaglee, you will eventually reach the farm of Mr. Jack Gilmour. The big dry waterhole is right near his house, and Mr. Gilmour can point out a spot on the bank of the waterhole where there is a lot of broken crockery mixed up in the earth. It is here that it is thought Hobson had his house. Rev. Francis Hales, who called there in 1848, wrote: "His house is very small, formed with wood and lined with packing cloth", and Mrs. Fanny Perry, who was here in 1849, tells us that it was weatherboarded and had a roof of stringybark. Further around the waterhole there is a hole in the ground, which might have been a well in those far off days. One of Mr. Gilmour's boys found an English penny with the date "1847" on it, near where Hobson's house stood.
It must have been lost by Edward Hobson or one of his visitors.
And who were the Hobsons? I can tell you for there is quite a lot about them in the old books. They were both Australians. They were born in Parramatta near Sydney, Edmund in 1814, and Edward in 1816, but were brought up in Van Diemen's Land, where their grandfather was a government doctor. Hobson's Bay was named after Captain William Hobson who brought Governor Bourke from Sydney to Port Phillip in 1837 on board H.M.S. "Rattlesnake", and he was a cousin of the father of our two Hobsons.
Edward Hobson started off life as a sailor on a small sailing ship which traded between Van Diemen's Land, Swan River (as Perth in Western Australia was called), New Zealand, and Port Phillip. In 1837 about eighteen months after Melbourne was founded, and he was about 21, he brought a flock of sheep and some cattle to Port Phillip where he settled. His run, which he called Kangerong, was near Arthur's Seat as I have already told you, and he was the first settler to that part. The long flat stretch where Dromana now stands was called Hobson's Flats. He also had all the land from Rye to Point Nepean, and he called this run Tootgarook.
Edmund Hobson was two years older than Edward. He studied to be a doctor in Hobart, and then went to London and later to Germany, where he passed his examinations. He came back to Van Diemen's Land in 1838 as a doctor. Sir John Franklin was the Governor of Van Diemen's Land at that time, and Dr. Hobson went on an overland expedition from Melbourne to Sydney with Lady Franklin in 1839. In 1840 he came to Melbourne to live, and son became one of the chief doctors here. As I told you earlier, he was one of the doctors who founded the Melbourne hospital. He seems to have used some of his money in dealing in cattle, which he kept on runs managed by his brother Edward. The Hobson's little schooner was called the "Rosebud" and she was wrecked in Port Phillip in 1840 where the town of Rosebud is nowadays. That is how it received its name. The Hobson's had a part in naming other places too, but as this story is about Traralgon, I will let those stories remain for another day.
Hobson's run had an area of about 19,200 acres. "How much land is that ? " you ask. Well, it is really 30 square miles. Five miles along the Latrobe River was the north boundary, reaching half way to Morwell on the west, and out to the dry creek beyond the Maffra railway line on the east, and the run went out south, to where the good land stopped and the ranges commenced. The Traralgon run was thought to be good enough to graze 1,600 cattle, or 12,000 sheep.
James Rintoul, although he wrote his name "Rentoul" - maybe he was not as good at spelling as you are - was Hobson's neighbour on Loy Yang run. He was a stockmen for a squatter named Pearson whose run was near Kilmany, and maybe, the 700 cattle he had grazing on Loy Yang belonged to his boss. Loy Yang is still pronounced "Low Yang" and I think this is the way it was pronounced at this time, for you will find it spelt "Low Yang" in some of the old Government books.
This run was not quite as large as Traralgon run. It contained about 16,000 acres, which is just 25 square miles. The books do not tell us how many cattle it could take- they just show 6,000 sheep.
It was not long after Edward Hobson's arrival at Traralgon that more squatters arrived seeking more land, and they had to go further on towards the Haunted Hills where the grass finished and the forests began. William Bennett and his brother-in-law, Albert Brodribb, with the help of Hugh Reoch, picked out a run on the Morwell River, with the north boundary along five miles of the La Trobe River. Hobson's friend, Hugh Reoch, pronounced "Roach" tried to get this run for Dr. Jamieson, a squatter in Western Port, but he gave it up in favour of Gorringe.
Hobson soon had an acre of land ploughed up ready for a spring sowing, and then set off for Melbourne in November to bring in some more cattle.
Soon after he left for Melbourne, some visitors called. They were Alick Hunter and three friends, and they had ridden right over the ranges from Devil's River near Mansfield looking for more runs. Of course they were disappointed to find Hobson away, but Hugh Reoch was there. He was living at Hobson's until he could get his own huts up on the run he had selected for Dr. Jamieson. Alick Hunter, Reoch, and two of the others cut a big log five feet through and dropped it across the La Trobe, and then went exploring the bush towards Mount Baw Baw. They saw plenty of huge tree ferns and lyre birds. On their return to Hobson's, they took their horses and rode up to Morwell to see if there was any more country left. Of course they could not have the land already picked by Bennett and Brodribb for themselves and Gorringe. They crossed to the far bank of the Morwell, and spent some hours exploring on foot. When they returned they found that three of their horses had escaped. So they put four saddles on one horse, and walked back to Hobson's to find one horse had reached home before them.
Alick Hunter kept a diary, and he tells how, while they were out looking for a run and were camped on the bank of a creek at night, they were awakened by one of their dogs barking. They immediately moved out of the glare of their camp fire, and could see at least one blackfellow hiding in the reeds. Hunter knew that his pistol was well loaded, so he told Reoch to fire first. As he expected, the pistol had to be fired a couple of times before it went off, and Reoch missed the blackfellow. The blacks then coo-eed to each other, and then disappeared, and all that Hunter and Reoch could do was lie down near their horses in case the blacks tried to spear them. Next morning they found that one of their dogs had been speared, and they felt that, if the dogs had not given the alarm, they, too, would have been speared.
This is the only story I can find where the blacks attacked the settlers hereabouts. All this happened while Hunter was on a journey across the river near Glengarry where he thought there would be some good land for a run, so I think they must have been camped on a creek over towards Toongabbie when the blacks attacked them. Hunter decided to put his name down for this land with Mr. Tyers in case he could not find any better land over the Tarwin River in South Gipps' Land.
At this time, there were many swamps and morasses where we now have streets of houses. All the flat area around Mitchell Street, was a swamp, and if you wanted to cross the creek from Hobson's you would ride up to the first bit of high land, which was near the Long Bridge. It was just below here that the first bridge was built over the creek, and it was known as Hobson's Bridge.
The year 1845 saw the arrival of the cattle of Brodribb and Bennett and also Gorringe. Brodribb and Bennett took their cattle to Hazelwood run, and Gorringe occupied his new run next to Hobson. He called it Mary Ville, and the town of Morwell is now standing on part of his run. Hobson also drove a second mob of cattle around though South Gipps' Land to his Traralgon run.
In April 1845 John Fowler Turnbull bought Loy Yang run from James Rintoul. Turnbull was really the chief man in the Traralgon area for many years, and we must remember the part he played in our little village, just as much as we do Edward Hobson. He was a Scotsman who went to New Zealand first, and came over to Port Phillip in 1838. He and his brothers were wealthy men, and were big traders in Melbourne in those early times, and were also interested in Port Albert. He took up several runs for his cattle, and for a time, was a partner with Hugh Reoch. He was a storekeeper at Port Albert when he first came to Gipps' Land, and then he had a run near Flooding Creek (Sale) before coming to Loy Yang.
Another settler who came here towards the end of 1845 was Maurice Meyrick. The Meyricks were friends of Hobson. There were three of them. Alfred and Maurice were brothers, and their cousin was Henry Meyrick. Henry Meyrick wrote some very interesting letters to his people at home in England while he was staying at Hobson's and they have all been kept for us to read, and are in the La Trobe Library in Melbourne.
Maurice Meyrick thought that there was enough room for him to squeeze in between Traralgon run and Hazelwood run, but he had to get out, and Hobson let him run his sheep on Traralgon run while he looked for another place for them.
In Gipps' Land, everybody looked to Port Albert for everything. There was only one road, and that was a track that led from Longford to Port Albert. You could cross the Glengarry River, as it was called there, by boat, and swim your horses, and ride on into Flooding Creek, and then on to the Mitchell, as they used call Bairnsdale. Or, if you were coming to Hobson's, you turned off at Longford, and came along the south side of the river through the various runs. Beyond Hobson's there were just the two runs of Mary Ville and Hazelwood, and then bush for miles. Few people would think of trying to ride through the forest to get to Melbourne.
It was much easier to go to the Port, and take a ship, if one was here, or to ride on through South Gipps' Land. However, in November 1845, a party of the black police on their way back to the station at Dandenong, marked a road through the bush to Melbourne. In marking the track they would have blazed trees here and there by chipping off a large piece of bark. They kept to the north side of the River La Trobe until they reached the Moe area. Here they crossed to the south side and found a way though all the fern gullies, and eventually reached the runs of the settlers down near Mount Ararat.
Everyone was pleased that a direct road had been found into Gipps' Land.
The settlers in Gipps' Land were trading by selling their cattle to the butchers in Van Diemen's Land, where there were so many convicts and soldiers to be fed. Cattle were worth about £3 each if sold in Port Albert, but could get £4 or £4.10.0 in Van Diemen's Land, so it was well worth sending the cattle across Bass Strait in the cattle boats. Hobson did not own all the cattle on the Traralgon run. He was grazing quite a number for a Melbourne Bank, and would be paid at so much for each beast for each month's grazing, and, when ready to be sold, they would be driven over to Port Albert and then shipped off to Van Diemen's Land.
It was at about the end of 1845 that people came to live where our town stands today. Thomas Windsor and his wife, Elizabeth, and their two small children, Thomas and Eliza, came here from Holey Plain near Rosedale, and built a house on the high ground where the Methodist Sunday School is now built. When he first came here, Windsor was employed as an overseer by Hobson. His house would have been just as rough as Hobson's, for there were no sawmills to cut boards, no iron for the roof, and no tanks for the water. So you can picture it with its red gum slab walls, stringybark roof and earth floor.
Early in 1846, Henry Meyrick set out from Port Phillip for Gipps' Land with his sheep. He came round through South Gipps' Land like all the others, and left his cousin Alfred in Melbourne to collect their cattle and to follow on. Henry had, as one of his assistants, a young fellow called George Eagle, about whom I will tell you more later. Eagle also had 200 sheep in the flock. The Meyricks had decided to take up two runs on the Macalister River called Glenmaggie and Glenfalloch. Of course you have heard of those names even today.
Well, Henry Meyrick eventually reached Hobson's with his sheep in April, and in his letters he tells his brother in England how he has lived under a tarpaulin for the last twelve months. The way of making a camp in those days, was to throw your tarp over your dray, and you had a ready made home. He had three flocks of sheep, one each Alfred, Maurice, and himself - but he had only had one man to help him look after them. He had 1500 lambs born to his sheep in 1846, and 1350 of those lived !
The direct road into Gipps' Land was now being used by the police parties, and they could make the journey from the La Trobe River, which really meant Hobson's, to Dandenong in three days. Up until this time, there was only one post office for the whole of Gipps' Land, and that was at Alberton, and the letters used to be sent away from there by sea. As there were seldom any ships calling at Port Albert other than the cattle boats going to Van Dieman's Land, the mail to and from Gipps' Land used to be sent through Launceston, and it often took up to six weeks for a letter to go from Port Albert to Melbourne by that way. When the police found that the way into Gipps' Land was so easy along the new track, they started to carry the mail as well, and also the money for the Treasury at Port Albert.
There was very little spare money about in Port Phillip in those times. People used English money - sovereigns, half sovereigns, shillings and pennies, and the banks in Melbourne had their own different bank notes. But up at Hobson's and on the other runs, there would often be no money at all with which to pay for goods or for work done. So, instead of writing a cheque on a bank - there was no bank at all in Gipps' Land then - the settlers would write out a piece of paper like a cheque, which was called a bill of exchange, asking the Turnbulls or one of the other storekeepers at Port Albert to pay the man who handed it over the counter so much in real money, and to charge it against the settler's account. There are quite a number of those old "shin plasters" as they were called, still in the La Trobe Library in Melbourne.
In his letters home, Henry Meyrick tells how the settlers around here went out hunting for blacks, whom they shot. He also tells that his cousin Maurice and Gorringe from Mary Ville, who were out with such a party, refused to fire on the blacks. Henry wrote that if he caught a blackfellow actually killing his sheep, he would shoot him, but he could not shoot the poor blacks just for the fun of it.
PHOTO: the "grassy mound" of George Bolton Eagle's grave, in the 1940's.
Henry Meyrick kept the sheep on Hobson's run during the winter, and decided to go on to his runs up the Macalister after the shearing in the spring. But, on 31st July, 1846, death came to Hobson's. George Eagle and Henry were working together when about four o'clock in the afternoon, Eagle felt ill and lay down. He died within an hour. Nowadays we think he may have been bitten by a snake, but it was in the wintertime and there should have been no snakes about. Henry thought he had burst a blood vessel. Henry and Hobson got some boards to make a coffin, but when they went down the next day to where he had died, they found the poor fellow's body in such a condition that all they could do was put him between some sheets of bark and to bury him where he lay. If you are allowed to pass through Mr. Gilmour's farm, and go down onto the creek flats, you can see his grave. For over one hundred years there was just a grassy mound, and nothing more to show that there lay George Bolton Eagle, the first pioneer to die here at Traralgon, far away from his home in England, with just his two friends here, Edward Hobson and Henry Meyrick, to bury him.
PHOTO: the grave of George Bolton Eagle with guard rails and stone monument, in 1994.
Alfred Meyrick had finished all his business in Melbourne, and he too, came to stay on Hobson's run. He was a sick man and poor Henry had to do the shearing almost on his own. He sheared nearly 4,000 lbs. (1820 Kg) all by hand. Maurice Meyrick gave up trying to make a sheep station up near Glenmaggie, and took up a run near the Mitchell River instead.
Edward Hobson married his cousin Marie Napper on 9th September, 1846, and so there was now a lady living on the Traralgon run. You can see his marriage certificate in the office of the Government Statist in Melbourne. Hobson belonged to the Congregationalists, and he was married down at Point Nepean on his old run. He gave his address as La Trobe River, Gipps' Land, and it seems that the name Traralgon still meant nothing as an address.
But Alfred Meyrick was still a sick man, and all the work of looking after the sheep fell on Henry. As soon as the sheep had been shorn, the Meyricks rode up to have a look at the Glenmaggie country. They had been offered £200 for the Glenmaggie run, and they hoped to be able to exchange their run for one in flat country.
It was about the end of the year 1846 that William Windsor was born at Traralgon. He was the first white child born here, but we have no record of his birth. You see, people did not have to register the births of their children until 1853, and unless babies were baptized by some minister or priest who wrote the baptism in a church book, there is no way we can find out anything about the births of children like William Windsor, for there was no church at all in Gipps' Land at this time. We know that Rev. Pryce from the Church of England at Bombala came down into Gipps' Land on a short visit at about the end of 1846, but he would not have come over to such an out of the way place as Hobson's. But what we do know is that William Windsor died at Bairnsdale on 28th June, 1917, and he is probably now lying in an unmarked grave in the cemetery there - nothing to show that there lies Traralgon's first son.
On 14th January, 1847, John Fowler Turnbull, from Loy Yang, married Anne Macarthur in Melbourne. They were Presbyterians, and, no doubt, Mrs. Turnbull, like Mrs. Hobson, made life in the bush much better living for her husband.
Henry and Alfred Meyrick had hoped to buy the Traralgon run from Dr. Hobson. It was up for sale, and they sold their run at Glenmaggie only to find, on going to Melbourne, that Dr. Hobson would not sell.
Crown Lands Commissioner Tyers had found a better road to Melbourne. Instead of going along the north side of the La Trobe, it started at Hobson's Bridge, and ran along our "Old Melbourne Road" to the "Morewill". Here his men had built the first Morwell Bridge.
From there it ran over the Haunted Hills to reach the mouth of the "Naracoon" where it flowed into the La Trobe. His men were building the first bridge over the Moe, and from there his line of road ran over the ranges which lie between the Moe Swamp on the left hand, and the La Trobe River on the right until it eventually reached the station of a settler named Anderson, on the Bunyip River. This new line of road is important, for after this time in March, 1847, travellers started to ride through the bush between Gipps' Land and Melbourne. When these people came to Traralgon, if they did not camp out, they would stop for the night at Hobson's at Traralgon, or Turnbull's at Loy Yang, for there was no Travellers' Rest or Inn here yet. They could drive a gig as far as the Moe, but from there to the Bunyip River, it was just a bridle track through the bush. You could not go on at night, for your could not see the marked trees in the dark, and if you were still in the bush when night fell, you had to camp there until daylight came and you could see your way again.
Mr. Tyers had the help of Hobson and Brodribb in finding the last part of his line of road down at the Bunyip end. Hobson must have been a good bushman when we remember how he made those early rides through the forest soon after Strzelecki went through.
After leaving Glenmaggie, Henry and Alfred Meyrick went to live for a while with the Desaillys at their station on the Thomson River. It was here that in May, 1847, a further tragedy occurred. Mrs. Desailly became gravely ill, and Henry insisted on riding all the way to Alberton to get a doctor, there being none anywhere else in Gipps' Land at that time. The Thomson River was in flood, and in swimming his horse across, he drowned. A coffin was made for his body when it could be found, but poor Mrs. Desailly died a few days later, and his coffin was used for her. His body was found later and was buried on the banks of the Thomson River.
Two of our more important settlers were now made Justices of the Peace. Across the other side of the La Trobe there was a run called Rosedale - not where the town of Rosedale is now, which was called Snakes Ridge run, but on Rosedale Creek. The settler here was David Parry Okeden, and he was made a J.P. in August, 1847. Hobson was made a J.P. in September 1847, and his address is still given as La Trobe River.
It was in October, 1847, that Dr. Hobson first came to Traralgon to see his run. Edward Hobson's first baby, Teddy, was born at about this time, and maybe that is why the Doctor was here. He wrote a letter to his wife, and spells the address "Tralgon". I will now tell you part of what he wrote:
"The country is by no means an interesting one, being very thickly timbered, except on the banks of the rivers, where the plains are extensive and exceedingly rich. On my run I could plough 1,000 acres of the richest soil in the world without cutting down a tree. In sight of the hut there is a splendid mountain, now white with snow, rising to the height of 5,000 feet, to which, if I have time, I am very anxious to go before I return."
We know that he was looking at Mount Baw Baw. He wrote his letter so that the Black Police, who were supposed to call next day on their patrol through Gipps' Land, could take it to Melbourne for him.
Superintendent Latrobe, who was in charge of the Port Phillip District of the colony of New South Wales, told Governor Gipps in Sydney that he was going to inspect the new road into Gipps' Land. It was in November, 1847, and he had a party of the Black Police with their white officers with him. When they were on the track between the Moe and the Morwell, it became dark and started to rain, and even the Queen's Superintendent had to sleep that night in a tree.
But, on 29th November, 1847, he arrived at Hobson's, where Mr. Tyers and Brodribb met him. Superintendent Latrobe went on to John Reeves Snakes Ridge run the next day, and back to Hobson's again for the night. Can you just imagine Mrs. Hobson entertaining the head man for all Port Phillip in her humble home. You see, there was no place to stay between Anderson's hut on the Bunyip and Hobson's, unless you turned off at the Morwell Bridge and rode south of the track for four miles over to the Bennett's at Hazelwood.
Alfred Meyrick, who was now living at Alberton, was also thought to be a worthy citizen, for
the Governor made him a Justice of the Peace in December, 1847. Hobson sometimes sat in Court as
a J.P. There was a Court at Flooding Creek and another at Alberton, and he sat at both places on
occasions, and Alfred Meyrick also sat in the Court at Alberton. It was nearly thirty years before
a Court was opened here at Traralgon. The chief squatters were usually made J.P.'s and the Government
relied on them together with the Police Magistrate to hold Courts to punish people who broke the
law and to settle other disputes.
Another sad event occurred on 4th March 1848. Dr. Hobson, who had been a sick man for many years, died at his home in South Yarra. His death came as a great shock to all the citizens of Melbourne, who thought much of him, for he was only 33 years of age. He was buried in the Old Melbourne Cemetery, which was removed some years ago to make room for the Victoria Market. A beautiful monument was erected over his grave, and when his body was removed to the Fawkner Cemetery, the monument was re-erected over his grave there for us all to see.
After Dr. Hobson died, the gentlemen who had been named in his will to look after his property, continued to hold the Traralgon run for the next five years. Edward Hobson still lived here and managed the run.
In April, 1848, the first Minister of any Church visited Traralgon. He was Rev. Francis Hales of the Church of England, and set out for Gipps' Land on horseback from Melbourne. He was told to carry pistols for protection against the blacks, but he would not do so. He rode up as far as the Bunyip River in company with other travellers and, on the way, stayed the nights at the homes of the settlers, but there was still fifty miles of silent bush through which he had to ride alone before he reached Hobson's.
After he crossed the "Narrikan" River, it began to get dark, and he dismounted so that he could still feel the notches in the trees marking the track. But he eventually had to camp the night alone in the bush only thee miles from Hobson's. Next day was Sunday, 9th May 1848, and he found Mr. and Mrs. Hobson out, but their servants were there, and they made him comfortable. The Hobsons returned later in the morning with their little boy Teddy, who was now six months old. That afternoon, when all were together, Rev. Hales held the first Church service ever at Traralgon. He went on up to Flooding Creek to see the people there about getting a Church for North Gipps' Land, and he called at Turnbull's at Loy Yang. He had tea at Crooke's at Holey Plain, and then pushed on in the dark to stay with the Desaillys on the Thomson River. And do you know that the Crooke family still hold Holey Plain after 120 years ?
Rev. Hales came back this way at the end of the month, and stayed at Hobson's for a couple of days. Then he left for Melbourne, calling to stay with the Bennetts at Hazelwood. On Sunday, 4th June, he held a Church service there, the first ever in the Morwell district.
When you post a letter in Traralgon nowadays, it is delivered in Melbourne the next morning. But back in 1848 it was not like that. I have told you how the letters were carried along the bush track by the Black Police. But, in July 1848, the Post Office people started a mail service once a fortnight, right through to Alberton. The mailman left Melbourne on horseback at midday on Tuesday, and reached Alberton at midday on the following Saturday. The return mail left Alberton at midday on the following Thursday, and reached Melbourne on the following Monday at noon. If the mails were heavy, they would be carried on a packhorse. Any stranger travelling through the forest would wait and ride with the mailman in return for a few shillings.
But there was only one Post Office for all of Gipps' Land, and that was at Alberton. But in September, 1848, a new Post Office was opened at Flooding Creek, and the people of Traralgon could have their letters sent there instead of having to collect them at Alberton.
In July, 1848, a daughter was born to the Turnbulls. She was called Margaret, and was baptized in Melbourne, and I cannot tell you whether she was the first girl born in the Traralgon district, or not, because the old books do not show it. She may have been born in Melbourne. The Hobsons also had a daughter Margaret who was born in December 1848, but she died when only eleven weeks old. She was probably born in Melbourne for she was baptized there , and when she died, was buried there.
The Roman Catholic Church first came to Gipps' Land in December 1848. Bishop Goold, who came to Port Phillip in 1848, decided to send Father Kavanagh from St. Francis' Church in Melbourne to tour Gipps' Land, and I have seen the old books of this Church where all the marriages and baptisms are written down. From these I can tell how Father Kavanagh went right through Gipps' Land, where he baptized 21 children and performed two marriages. These were all in South Gipps' Land, so Father Kavanagh may have taken the South Gipps' Land road. There were few Roman Catholics in Gipps' Land in the early days, most of the settlers having come from England and Scotland. Father Kavanagh went up as far as the Mitchell River before he returned to Melbourne early in 1849.
In January, 1849, Rev. Willoughby Bean, the first Church of England minister to be stationed in Gipps' Land, visited Traralgon when he was having a look at all the country that had been put under his charge. His church was to be at Tarraville, over near Port Albert, but that did not stop him from riding his horse everywhere to see that people who belonged to the Church of England. He visited Mr. Okeden, who had his run at Old Rosedale, as I have already told you, and then they rode their horses through the ford over the River Latrobe. When they reached Hobson's, they found that he had gone to Melbourne with Mrs. Hobson, and that Brodribb, who had been left in charge, had gone over to Bennett's at Hazelwood. He stayed at Hobson's that night, and rode over to Bennett's in three hours the next day, and stayed the next night with them. On his return to Hobson's he was promised that Hobson's gig would be ready for Bishop Perry and his wife, who were coming to Gipps' Land.
He then rode on to Turnbull's, and he wrote in his diary that it was a "neat little cottage, too near the morass, but altogether a more English-looking place than any I have seen in Gipps' Land." The Turnbulls were also away in Melbourne, so he rode on to Snakes Ridge run, and stayed the night with Mr. King.
In February, Bishop and Mrs. Perry came through Gipps' Land. The Bishop, who was head of the Church of England in Port Phillip, was quite an important man, so he had an escort of native policemen. Mrs. Perry kept a diary, in which she tells us all about her trip. By this time, little wayside inns had been built here and there along the Melbourne Road, and they stayed at these. Mrs. Perry rode in a spring cart for the first twenty miles from Dandenong, and they had lunch at a little inn called the "Latrobe". From here to Moe, she had to ride sidesaddle on horseback, for the road had not been made for carts - just a bridle track through the forest. They rode on for another twenty two miles, and came to the little inn on the Bunyip River, where they stayed the night. The next day's journey was through the forest to Moe, and they reached there after dark. Mrs. Perry spells it "Mowie", and Rev. Hales had spelt it "Moay". They stopped the night at the inn here, and it was a very poor place for travellers. There were gaps between the slabs which made the walls, there was a foot space, both at the top and the bottom of the bedroom door, and the window was a hole sawn in the slabs. There was no glass in the window. There was no milk and no butter - just very salt beef, bush tea, black sugar, and happily, good bread. Rev. Bean and the secretary of the Gipps' Land Church Committee met them at Moe with Hobson's gig, and they travelled in style to Hobson's the next day. Mrs. Perry wrote in her diary just how Hobson's looked when she first saw it, and I will tell you exactly what she wrote so that you can close you eyes and see the place for yourself. She writes:
"Exceedingly pretty it is, perched upon a kind of cliff, with a large lake on one side, and a very pretty deep river on the other, while the Gipps' Land ranges rise in the background. Some of these are said to be upwards of 8,000 feet in height, but I am sure they did not look higher than Ben Nevis or Cruachan.
The house is a neat little place, weather-boarded with a bark roof, as is the case with most of the roofs in Gipps' Land, bark being more easily obtainable than shingles. It has a very picturesque effect, being prevented from blowing off by four long poles placed, two horizontally, and two perpendicularly, on each side of the roof. the view from the windows was charming, and we used to see the natives paddling out in their canoes on the lake, and spearing eels."
At this time the Windsors had made their house a stopping place for travellers, and I suppose it was about as good as the place at Moe, so no wonder the Bishop and his lady stayed with Edward Hobson.
The Perrys left Hobson's a week later, and set off across country to Port Albert. When they returned early in March they stayed the night at Turnbull's. Next day they went on to Hobson's to collect their horses and to meet the Native Police escort again.
But, while they had been away, one of the policemen, called Calcheron, had thrown away his uniform, and joined up with the local blacks. The other black policeman, called Robinson, said that Calcheron was "plenty foolish". The Perrys had lunch at Bennetts at Hazelwood, and reached the inn at "Mowie" again for the night. This time the landlady had meat that they could eat, and even cream, coffee and butter for them. But they could still look out of the little square that called itself a window, and could see the Black Police sitting around their two large camp fires amid the gum trees, cleaning their uniforms and arms, ready for the next day's ride.
It was while the Perrys were at Hobson's that grief struck Edward Hobson and his wife. They were in Melbourne with their sick baby, Margaret, and she died on 5th March, 1849.
Rev. Willoughby Bean of the Church of England called at Traralgon from time to time. The Windsors were a Church of England family, and I also find that in September, 1849, Rev. Bean baptized a baby girl, Fanny Hebbs at Loy Yang. We put all these little bits together, and we end up with quite a story. Maybe Fanny Hebbs' father, William Hebbs was working for Mr. Turnbull.
I have already told you how Father Kavanagh came on a visit to Gipps' Land at the end of 1848. In January 1850, Bishop Goold decided to come to Gipps' Land himself to see about starting a Roman Catholic Church down near Port Albert. He rode up the Gipps' Land Road, and was invited by John Turnbull to stay at his station. He wrote in his diary:
"On the 4th celebrated Mass privately at this gentleman's home. There were no Catholics on the station."
This is the first record of the first Mass ever celebrated here at Traralgon.
On 11th January, 1850, a son, George, was born to the Turnbulls, a brother for Annie. I found his name down on the list of children baptized by Rev. Willoughby Bean. The Turnbulls were Presbyterians, as I have already told you, but their church had not yet come to Gipps' Land. So, when Rev. Bean was at Loy Yang in July, he baptized the Turnbull baby and also Mary Allen who had been born in December, 1849.
In March, 1850, one of the Meyricks left Gipps' Land for California to seek his fortune on the goldfields there. I do not know if was Alfred or Maurice, or if he ever came back. I also think that about this time, Edward Hobson left Traralgon to live on his other run down at the mouth of the Tarwin River near where Inverloch is now. He may have spent part of his time with his friend James Purves on his run at Tootgarook as well. From this time on, I have not found his name in any of the old letters or books, so I think that he must have moved and taken his family with him, leaving his men to watch over the cattle on the run.
When Bishop and Mrs. Perry rode through the bush in February 1849 on their way to Gipps' Land, they caught up with a dray which was being pulled by six bullocks. It was only the second cart which had tried to get in that way, and it had been many days on the road. The Perrys passed it on the Melbourne side of Shady Creek.
The road was slowly getting better each year, and carriers, with their bullock drays, were bringing goods from Port Albert, even as far as Hazelwood. I have read a letter written by Henry Scott who kept the little inn at the Moe. He wrote to Robert Turnbull, the storekeeper at Port Albert, to see if he could get a dray to come right up to Moe with stores, and he wrote that the roads were first rate. At the top of his list of goods needed was 30 bushels of oats. You see, he had to keep oats to feed the horses of the travellers, for, as I told you, there was no grass for horse feed once you entered the forest. But it was to be many years before the road was good enough for the coaches to run to Melbourne.
From the beginning of the year 1851, the mailman rode his horse along the road with the mail every week instead of every second week. Of course, when the floods were up in winter, the mailman could be held up at the many rivers which he had to cross. Where possible, he would swim his horse across and try to keep the mail on time, but the travellers would have to wait until the floods went down before continuing their journey.
When the Melbourne Road became good enough, the settlers in Gipps' Land started driving their cattle to Melbourne to sell them there. You know, of course, that gold was first found in Victoria in 1851, the same year that our District of Port Phillip was cut off from New South Wales and made a new colony, and was given the name "Victoria" in honor of the Queen. When the people in Europe, America, New Zealand and other colonies heard that gold could be found so easily, many of them came to Melbourne to go to the diggings, and Melbourne became a very busy town. All these people needed meat to eat, and the squatters in Gipps' Land found that they could get more for their cattle in Melbourne than they could in Van Diemen's Land where they had been sending them in the past. So the road to Melbourne through the forest soon saw mob after mob of cattle on the way to market there.
How far can you drive cattle in a day ? Maybe twenty miles or so. But they had to eat, and to rest too. So there would be a mob of cattle resting here in Traralgon, another one ahead, perhaps at the Morwell, and another mob coming along behind at Holey Plain. The drovers would camp out, or stay at Windsor's for the night. I found in one book, where at this time, a mob and their drover stayed at "Hobson's Old Place, Tarralgon Creek". The driving of cattle to Melbourne made Traralgon more important, because it became a stopping place for drovers instead of just a run where cattle grazed.
During the winter, the mobs of cattle could not go through because, when the floods were up, you had to swim your horse over the Morwell, Moe, and Bunyip Rivers, and the swamp at the Bunyip was about fifteen miles across.
Now, until this time, all the land here belonged to the Queen, and people like Dr. Hobson and John Turnbull had been paying £10 or more each year for permission to graze their cattle on their runs. But, in 1852, the law was changed, and if a man held a run, he could ask permission to buy part of his run from Queen Victoria and it became his forever. He was allowed to buy only one square mile - that is 640 acres. Edward Hobson applied to buy a square mile of the Traralgon run to take in the part where he had his house. But it turned out that he did not even have the lease for this run. It was Dr. Hobson's run, and when he died, the gentlemen named in his will still had charge of it. They may have let John Turnbull have it for a while.
All the cattle going through had made Windsor's Accommodation House a busy place, and it was at about this time, at the end of the year 1852, that Peter Jeremiah Smith took it over. The Windsors still lived elsewhere in Traralgon, but where their home was, I cannot say. But Peter Smith looked after the travellers in the house on the rise where the Methodist Sunday School is now.
In March 1853, the gentlemen looking after Dr. Hobson's runs decided to cut the Traralgon run into two. They called the two halves Traralgon East and Traralgon West. Traralgon East was the half of the run on the east side of the creek, and took in Hobson's old house, and Traralgon West was the half lying on the west side of the creek. They sold Traralgon East to John Turnbull of Loy Yang, and Traralgon West to Edward Hobson. Of course, John Turnbull was able to join Traralgon East to Loy Yang, and his two runs gave him all the land from the Traralgon Creek almost to Flinn's Creek.
Edward Hobson who, as I told you, was no longer living here, sold Traralgon West straight away to his friend James Purves of Tootgarook, and from now on he fades out of our story. He was in trouble with the law in later years, but you must always think of him first as the stout pioneer who came to Port Phillip when just a young man, built up his herds of cattle at Kangerong, explored the wild Gipps' Land bush, and pioneered the first run in this area.
So now I have told you in the first chapter how the settlers first came to Traralgon, and took up their runs, and in this chapter how they lived by selling their cattle in Van Diemen's Land and later in Melbourne, and how, once the mobs of cattle started going to Melbourne, Traralgon became a stopping place for the drovers. In the next chapter, I will tell you how Traralgon grew into a village and received its name.
End of Chapter2