Maleny Pioneers & Neighbouring Districts

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Durundur and Conondale Stations.

A recorded history and discription of the Woodford, Bellthorpe and Conondale districts, (the original road to Gympie prior to 1885.)


THROUGH THE MORETON DISTRICT. {BY OUR TRAVELLING CORRESPONDENT.) THE DURUNDUR ESTATE. A QUARTER-OF-A-MILE from tho Woodford Hotel are the white gates giving admission to the homestead of Durundur. This run, with tho adjoining ones of Conondale and Mount Kilcoy, is the proporty of Messrs. M'Connel and Wood, with an area of 50,000 acres of free- hold and 40,000 acres of leasehold. It is watered principally by the Stanley River, which runs through the middle of the estate for over twenty miles, besides other tributary creeks. Noticeable, distributed all over the run, are a series of splendid lagoons, which from the soundness of their banks make safe and excel- lent watering places for the stock. The supply, too, is apparently never-failing ; oven in this very dry season no perceptible diminution in the water can be noticed. The principal features of the land are ironbark ridges and apple-tree flats ; an immense quantity of timber has been rung, enhancing tho quantity and value of the pasturage, and doubling the carrying capacity of the run. The soil on tho flats on either side of the river is a rich chocolate loam, capable of growing anything ; and I believe the firm intend shortly to cultivate largely, in the shape of lucerne, rye-grass, and other fat-producing fodder. Scattered all over tho place are substantially-built sheds, in which are placed troughs filled with Liverpool salt and phosphate of lime mixed. The cattle largely avail themselves of this, being thereby materially improved in condition ; the salt is also a, preventive from many of the ailmonts all cattle are liable to. I hear that this one item costs the firm 100 per annum, but Mr. Wood considers he gots six times that amount in the benefits aceruing. The run is divided into several pad- docks, with subtantial two-rail fences. In some cases the barbed wire is introduced. The top and bottom wires are of the ordinary descrip- tion, the two contre wires being barbed. These latter are fastened to light posts, by slots cut in a downward direction on the side of every post. Barbed wire acts as an excellent pre- ventive to cattle of wandering disposition, one prick on tho nose generally satisfying their curiosity, and they prefer to leave well alone in future. The ride from the gates to the house is like passing through a park ; the country has been well cleared of timber, leaving a very pleasant pastoral view. Arriving at the house, the first thing likely to attract the visitor is a gigantic Bougainvillia, covering the end of the house. At the time of my visit this was one blaze of purple blossom, very beautiful to look upon. The dwelling-houses were burnt down some years ago, and have not yet been replaced. The present home is a regular bachelors' quarters, very comfortable, and supplied with every thing to make life pleasant. The lawn in front is covered with buffalo grass, soft and springy to tho foot. At the back is a good-sized garden, where a plentiful supply of vegetables is grown; vines and other fruit-trees also flourish, Store, butcher's shop, stables, and horse-yards are near to hand and very complete, The stockyard is just within sight of the house and large enough to work a big mob of cattle. In the piggery-and I must say the pigs here are treated like gentlemen-I saw a very handsome high-bred Berkahire boar, eight months old, from Bethungra; adjoining him were some superior sows of the same breed. On the place were also some pigs of the white breed known as Prince Alberts; but these have not been successful. There was a large mob of store pigs for butchering purposes. As the firm does a large retail butchering business all round the district, killing several bullocks weekly, the appearance of the store pigs is easily accounted for. Having his breakfast hard by was a chestnut Suffolk Punch, sixty-three months old, bred by Mr. Dangar, Neotsfield, N.S.W. This colt promises well, and is very cobby in his appearance. Close at hand, in a fine paddock, was the very handsome entire horse Highlander-a rich bay with black points. This horse is a Yorkshire roadster for hackneys and light harness horses. He has a most intelligent head, with a noble crest and rein. He is in great request, and his stock are highly thought of. He is a sure foal getter, and I saw many of his children in use about the station. He impresses his own characteristics on all of them very legibly, and there is a great family likeness amongst them. His brood mares were a very handsome lot, most of them of superior breed. I also saw a splendid colt by the Arab entire Farhan. This horse died last March of colic. His son is the living image of him, with the same lively restless nature, he being always on the move. Feeding in every direction were the purobred stud cows of Hereford, and their calves, evidently of the most docile nature. Durundur was taken up by Messrs. Archer of Gracemere in 1840, and sold by them to Mr. M'Connel in 1846, with 1100 cattle at 8s. per head. From the veranda of the house a fine view is obtainable closed in at the back by lofty ranges, while the dark green of the scrub timber of the river presents a grateful rest to the eye at the rear. The valuable timber has never yet been touched ; the supply of beech and cedar is practically inexhaustible, repre- senting millions of feet. If a railway were to come within reasonable distance, saw-mills could then be started with a decent chance of profit, and another industry would be set afloat. It is a splendidly grassed country and cattle thrive well on it, fattening in nine months. Every inch of it is serviceable. All the river frontages are the best farming soil possible, and I only hope the day will come when tenant or freehold farmers will be settled from one end of it to the other. CONONDALE RUN. It was with sundry misgivings that I saddled up at Durundur to pay a visit to Conondale, an out-station belonging to the former place. Weird hints had been dropped of the awful ranges to bo climbed over on foot, with places where one would literally have to hang on by one's eyelids. " At the call of duty, la Tambour Major, I started, piloted by G. Johnston, who has been in the Durundur employ for the last eighteen years. A first rate pilot he was too, beguiling the way with many a yarn of olden days. My horse Jack was a prime old favourite of Mr. Wood's, whilst my guide rode a son of Commodore Nutt, a fine little fellow, but as full of mischief as he was high. After travelling eighteen miles of about as rough a country as could be found here or there the little " varmint" wanted to buck. Three miles from Durundur we passed through Stanmore, the property of Mr. G. Mason,'with an area of 2000 acres. The soil is a rich chocolate loam, well adapted for any crop, The house, a well-built edifice, stands on a ride commanding a fine view of the property. The Stanley is on one side of it, and the range towers above it on the other. Here we began to enter the gorges of the range ; we travelled for three miles through some splendid timber, 90ft. high to where the branches sprouted out and as straight as a ramrod. At last we arrived at the postman's track to Conondale. The old Gympie road makes a detour to the right of at least five miles longer and very rough to travel over. This track at the first start is almost as steep as a church steeple to a town bred mouse, and consequently rather soft; the waste of tissue in climbing up is terrible. It is about half-a-mile up it, and so steep that timber-getters use it as a shoot for sending their cedar logs down on crossbars. With many a grunt at last the summit was scaled ; and then what a magnificent sight was there to feast our eyes on ! The view amply repaid us for the trouble of the climb. On every side towered pile on pile of ranges clothed with splendid timber, whilst looking eastward, far away, glinting in the sun, were the far-famed Glass Mountains, the Bay, and Bribie Island fully thirty miles away, So clear and bright wa the atmosphere that the smoke of a passing steamer was distinctly traceable. Hard by I noticed a stockyard for camping cattle in when passing to and from Durundur. The rain has been plentiful, so that the grass is a treat to behold. The supply of cedar and beech and other valuable timbers ia practically inexhaustible. Up the gorge to our left a survey for the Gympie railway was made; after looking at the country, one wonders how any Government could have entertained the idea for one moment, so enormous would be the expense. Yet it is all agricultural land, if by any means carriage at reasonable rates for the produce could be provided. A lover of ferns would here be in his glory; till lately there were two beautiful fern trees over 6ft. in height, but some vandal has, for sheer mischief, cut them down. Staghorns and vari-coloured creepers are as common as geraniums in a garden. After a short spell we entered the big scrub; deliriously cool and grateful was the shade now offered to us, whilst our road was thickly carpeted with dry leaves, with here and there piles of native, plums lying rotting. It is a wonderful scrub-the beautiful creepers and shrubs now in full bloom, the hoary moss-covered trunks of the gnarled trees twisted into a thousand fantastic shapes by [ myriads of vines. The roots of these native figs are well worthy of closer inspection ; they branch off 6ft. or so from the ground downward into the earth, acting the part of buttresses to the tree, each root having; its edge as sharply defined as the cutwater of a boat-evidently a provision of Dame Nature to support the tree, which has no taproot. The silence, too, was almost oppressive, broken only now and again by the love-songs of the pigeons, whilst the gloomy splendour strongly reminded one of the deserted aisles of some giant cathedral. About the centre of the scrub we passed a branded tree, marking the dividing line between the Brisbane and Mary rivers waters. As the scrub opened out into magnificently-grassed ridges we began gradually to descend, till we came to a terrific place to go down, called the Red Pinch. The track is somewhat im- proved now; goodness knows it is still bad enough. What it was in olden times when it was the only road to Gympie I leave to the imagination ; no words are graphic enough to describe it ; suffice it to say capsizes were of daily occurrence, drays were smashed to smithereens, and bullocks by the dozen had their necks broken. From the top of the pinch a grand view of the valley of the Mary is obtained ; far as the eye could reach stretched tier after tier of mountains, like Pellon piled on Ossa, striving to scale the very heavens themselves. The Red Pinch negotiated, we followed the course of the Mary, crossing it two or three times ere we reached Conondale, about six miles distant. We constantly passed through mobs of cattle looking first rate, in good her and condition ; so thoroughly quiet we could hardly kick them out of our road, the consecquence of the strict embargo on the use of all dogs and whips. It was certainly a novelty to me, who have always found mountain bred Herefords to be the wildest and rowdiest in tho colony. These just lifted up their hoads, showing their beautiful white faces so spick and span as if fresh from a bath, and their curiosity satisfied, at once returned to a more worthy occupation-that of putting on fat. Away to the left I noticed a homestead formerly owned by a Mr. W. Gold, but now station proporty. It is a beautiful cedar house, surrounded by a large garden, securely fenced, and full of valuable fruit trees, "Tis a thousand pities so nice a residence should be unoccupied. Noticeable on this river are the convenient watering places for stock, sound hard bottom, leaving no beast of suicidal tendency a chance of getting bogged. We passed hundreds of cedar logs lying in tho river, awaiting a fresh to float them to their destination, Mary borough. Further on, so clear was the water, we interviewed a catfish resting in the centre of its nest, intent on spawning purposes evidently. Conondale homestead, tenanted only by a stockman, is beautifully situated on a high ridge, nestling like an eagle's eyrie in the centre of a series of lofty timber-capped mountains, in front for over a mile stretched a beautiful plain, running right up to the range, where is the pure desert Arab entire Aldebaran disporting with his wives. Close by the house was a good serviceable stock- yard capable of working a large herd of cattle. The rails are of solid timber, and every post is a round one. The run is divided into several paddocks, thereby keeping separate the pure-bred cows, the weaners, the store cattle, and those set apart for fattening. The Sandy Creek country is simply magnificent beautiful flats alternating with splendid ridges closely covcred with blue, couch, and other flesh-producing grasses. Poople talk about the Darling Downs and the Western plains ; but for all-round country, of lasting quality, able to stand the worst of droughts, with a carrying capacity also almost unlimited, and able to keep the stock in good condition, I must honestly confess in all my wanderings through Australia I never saw any country to surpass Conondale and very few to equal it. Transcribed from 'The Brisbane Courier' Saturday, 12th December 1885

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