On Thursday 9 February the weather was warm reaching 37 degrees (98 degrees Fahrenheit). We took a two hour paddle steamer ride on the Murray through lock 11 and downstream.
We admired the Murray River Flag which dates from the early 1850s; there are three variations. Our paddlesteamer flew the Upper Murray River Flag with the darker blue bands on its flag, representing the darker waters of the river’s upper reaches. At lock 11 we saw the Combined Murray River Flag.
In the evening we visited a local distillery and after sampling several types we purchased a gin infused with saltbush.
The next day Friday 12 February we drove to South Australia. Because of the pandemic we needed to apply for permits to enter South Australia and also to return to Victoria.
The Sturt Highway passes along the boundary of Ned’s Corner, a property once owned by the Cudmores. Ned’s Corner Station is now owned by the Trust for Nature who bought the property in 2002 when it was very degraded from drought and overgrazing. The Trust claims the 30,000 hectare property (74,000 acres) is the largest freehold property in Victoria and also the biggest private conservation reserve in the state.
My great great grandfather James Francis Cudmore (1837 – 1908) managed Paringa, 208 sq. miles (531 km²) near present day Renmark from 1857. Paringa was first leased by James’s father Daniel from 1850 as well as a number of other stations. In 1860 James Cudmore leased Ned’s Corner, further up the Murray. From these properties he overlanded sheep to Queensland and took up leases there. In1867 he married Margaret Budge. James and Margaret had 13 children; my grandfather Arthur Murray Cudmore was their third child born at Paringa in 1870.
In 1870 James Cudmore and Kenneth Budge, his wife’s brother, bought Gooyea (later Milo) on the Bulloo, Queensland. In October 1871 Kenneth Budge was in charge of a mob of 600 cows and 16 bulls travelling from Paringa, a Cudmore station, to Dowling’s Creek, at Gooyea. A herd of cattle this big could travel only about ten miles a day, so the journey from Paringa to Gooyea would have taken nearly three months.
In 1876 James Cudmore enlarged Ned’s Corner in partnership with Robert Barr Smith and A. H. Pegler. By the end of the 1870s 130,000 sheep were being shorn at his stations on the Murray.
James Mansfield Niall (1860-1941), a first cousin to James Francis Cudmore, worked at Paringa Station as a young man before moving to central western Queensland. His great grandson has been kind enough to share some of James Niall’s reminiscences.
In 1876 I went up to Paringa Station on the Murray, and took a position there as bookkeeper. I had to travel by train to Kapunda, thence by coach to Blanchtown, Overland Corner, to Ral Ral. We travelled most of the night and all day for some 3 days. The coachdriver on the later stages was a man named Lambert. Lambert had been fined the previous week for over-carrying the Paringa mailbag, and when he learned I was going to the Station he did not hesitate to abuse me at every opportunity. I was practically only a schoolboy, and I put up with it until we got to Ral Ral, where a blackfellow met me leading a horse on which I was to ride out to the Station. Lambert on seeing the horse flogged it with his whip, upon which I told him that I had had enough of it, and that he could give me a hiding, or I would give him one. (Other passengers on the coach were John Crozier – late of St Albans near Geelong – Fred Cornwallis West, and Dr Wilson of Wentworth). Lambert and I had a fairly lengthy fight, and I beat him very badly, although he broke my nose, from which I am suffering even today. John Crozier enjoyed himself immensely watching the fight from the box of the coach, calling out ”Go it young un”, a term with which he always greeted me when I met him in the Streets of Melbourne 40 years afterwards. Dr Wilson patched up my nose. We had travelled most of the night in the Coach without meals, I only had sixpence in my pocket, and I hadn’t the effrontery or courage to ask the shanty-keeper at Ral Ral to give me a meal without paying for it, so I bought the nigger a nip of rum with the 6d and rode out to the Station. There I remained for probably 18 months, when in 1878 Mr Kenneth Budge (who was manager of Gooyea Station in Queensland) died suddenly from heart disease getting out of bed, and my first cousin, J F Cudmore, on whose Station I was working, hurried me off to Queensland, without notice, to go up and take control.
Ned’s Corner Station is closed to visitors because of the pandemic.
When we crossed the South Australian border we were inspected for both quarantine and bio-security; you cannot bring fruit into South Australia.
At Renmark we had a very pleasant lunch from the Renmark Club overlooking the river.
After lunch we visited Olivewood, a National Trust property which was originally home to the Chaffey family who pioneered irrigation in the region.
My interest in visiting Olivewood was to see the plaque from the grave of my 3rd great grandmother Margaret Rankin nee Gunn (1819 – 1863). The plaque had been stolen from the grave but was found in 1994 and is now cared for by the National Trust at Olivewood. Margaret’s husband Ewan Rankin was an overseer at Bookmark station – the station no longer exists as it is under present-day Renmark.
There is a link between Olivewood and Paringa as while George Chaffey was siting for Olivewood to be built he stayed at Paringa House, the Cudmore home. There was a painting of the house at Olivewood.
Harry Harbord (Breaker) Morant (1864-1902) probably did not live at Paringa House but worked on the station before enlisting in the army.
Paringa House is now run as a bed and breakfast. The land around the house has been sold off and some of it now forms part of the township. We caught a glimpse of the house from across the river standing on the bridge.
My great grandfather Arthur Murray Cudmore was born 11 June 1870. Later that year there were enormous floods and the old house was destroyed. The present house was built after the flood. The 1870 flood was measured at 11.65 metres (38 feet) at Mildura but was a very slow flood. In September the flood had reached the verandah at Mildura Station.
We paused for afternoon tea at Paringa and drove back.
On the way to Mildura we received news of another lockdown for the whole of the state of Victoria due to the pandemic. We made the decision to return home that evening. We were only cutting our holiday short by one night and the restrictions were that most businesses were to be shut and you could not travel further than five kilometres from home. We did not wish to experience the lockdown in Mildura. So we packed our bags and headed south stopping for dinner in Birchip. We were fortunate to have a holiday between lockdowns.
- P. A. Howell, ‘Cudmore, James Francis (1837–1912)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/cudmore-james-francis-271/text9913, published first in hardcopy 1981
- Margaret Steven, ‘Niall, James Mansfield (1860–1941)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/niall-james-mansfield-7835/text13605, published first in hardcopy 1988
- Peter Westcott, ‘Chaffey, George (1848–1932)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/chaffey-george-5544/text9449, published first in hardcopy 1979
- R. K. Todd, ‘Morant, Harry Harbord (Breaker) (1864–1902)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/morant-harry-harbord-breaker-7649/text13377, published first in hardcopy 1986
- Thomason, B. J. (2014). A slippery Bastard. Overland literary journal. https://overland.org.au/previous-issues/issue-214/feature-bj-thomason/
- Facts and figures [1956 floods] (2006, September 12). ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). https://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2006/09/12/1739132.htm
- Painter, A. (n.d.). 13 December 1870 Murray floods (Celebrating South Australia). Professional Historians Association (South Australia). https://www.sahistorians.org.au/175/chronology/december/13-december-1870-murray-floods.shtml
- DARLING AND MURRAY DISTRICT. (1870, September 28). Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 – 1912), p. 2 (LATE EDITION). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196734479
- Paringa, SA. (2016, March 22). Aussie Towns. https://www.aussietowns.com.au/town/paringa-sa
- Victoria to enter snap five-day coronavirus lockdown from midnight tonight. (2021, February 12). ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-12/victoria-coronavirus-lockdown-announced-by-daniel-andrews/13128514