26 January 2012

Australia Day 2012: Wealth for Toil (William Donald Webster)

For this year's Australia Day (26 January) genealogy blogging challenge, Shelley of Twigs of Yore has chosen the theme 'Wealth for Toil' (words from the Australian National Anthem, Advance Australia Fair).

My favourite unit in the Local, Family and Applied History course was Oral History. For one of the assignments I interviewed my father. Here, in Dad's own words, is a description of the work done by his father (my grandfather, William Donald WEBSTER, son of James Campbell WEBSTER and Ellen BUTLER).
My father was born in New South Wales, but his family lived in the Cunnamulla area [Queensland] during the late 1880s and 1890s. At Stockyard Creek near Helidon, where the family lived for a while in the early 1900s, Dad worked for a man who used to break in horses, until he learnt how to do it himself. That was his first paid job.

Later he worked for Cobb and Co. That's when he came out west again, working at different Cobb and Co. mail changes. They used to have horses out on the runs, in the paddocks, so that they'd have a change of horses for the mail coaches. His job was to break the horses in, and to keep the supply of horses at every mail change - broken in to harness, and for saddle use. There was a mail change at Barringun, and one halfway to Cunnamulla (at old 'Woggonora', over the river from what's known now as Job's Gate Turnoff), and then Cunnamulla. He would handle about six young horses at the same time, until they were right through to the riding stage.

The mail changes were just a good set of horse yards and a tin hut. They had wells put down for a water supply. In that stretch of the Warrego River there were no permanent water holes, and it was before the artesian bores. They had to have some permanent water, so they had wells for stock and drinking water. There weren't any pumps at first. They had buckets and ropes and pulleys to bring the water up. I remember him saying how there was nearly always a water boy whose job it was to have the tanks filled with water. It's a slow process, filling the tanks one bucket of water at a time! They had the tanks filled so that when the coaches came in, the horses would be given a drink immediately they were unharnessed.

Later my father worked at 'Burrenbilla', which was owned by Rutherford and Company. They had other stations down in New South Wales, and he used to go down to those properties and break in their station horses. After he was married he was manager on various properties. A local stock and station agent lent him the money to enter the ballot for land, and he drew 'Plain View'. [These recollections are continued in Outback Story.]
For last year's Australia Day challenge I wrote about my earliest document for an ancestor in Australia. I look forward to seeing what theme Shelley chooses for 2013.
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