Saturday, 24 March 2018

#52Ancestors - Week 12 - Misfortune

Working on the land in Australia can provide many challenges. Farmers and pastoralists can enjoy a run of good years on their properties but they can can also experience severe misfortune in the form of floods and droughts.

Early in the days of the new convict colony of New South Wales some convicts had access to small parcels of land to farm to help support and feed members of the colony. Eight of my family convicts settled near Windsor in the Hawkesbury area where they all farmed land of varying sizes. Although Uriah Moses depended mainly on his bakery and general store for his livelihood, he also owned some land. The Hawkesbury River provided access to large stretches of fertile land but it was also subject to flooding. The 1867 flood, known as the Great Flood, occurred 150 years ago, however the threat of flooding in the area continues.
George Hutton
However, at the other extreme, droughts can dramatically affect the livelihood of property owners in most parts of Australia.

George Hutton purchased his property, The Troffs (near Parkes, New South Wales), largely with money provided by his father. The property was initially run by the Hutton Brothers as his brother, Arthur, also worked on the property from 1883 to 1898. The Troffs was a sheep station and was run successfully until there was a period of years with insufficient rain. Early in the 1890s there was some rain each year but not enough. Then from 1895 to 1902 there was what became known as The Federation Drought.

George tried to run the property with reduced stock however eventually he was forced to concede defeat and sell his land. However he continued to live in Parkes for many years where he worked as a rabbit inspector. Meanwhile his family left the area to live in Sydney.

George was not the only family member to have to contend with drought forcing them to sell their property. Arthur Lord owned a sheep station, Metavale, near Cunnamulla, in south west Queensland from 1924 to 1946. During this time he and his family survived a number of droughts before deciding to sell the property and move to a smaller property, near Toogoolawah, with more reliable rainfall. In contrast to the dryness of Metavale, I have photos of paddocks at this new property, in 1950, covered in flood water.

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