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my horse in a place of safety, would either have shot him, as he gang
served many others, or put him in some inaccessible part of the country, where he might not have been found again. We never know, in this fluctuating sea of life, when, or in what manner, a civility may be repaid.
The mounted police, who, immediately upon a confirmed report of “ bushrangers being out,” are despatched in pursuit of them, with orders to capture or shoot them down wherever they can, have a most irksome and laborious duty to perform, rendered still more arduous by the difficulty of gaining correct information of their movements. The shepherds and stock keepers, occupying the lonely out-stations, are the best authorities upon these matters, if they choose to be so; but it unfortunately happens that
many of these men, who have themselves been “ in trouble,” have a secret leaning towards the runa
naways, or at least they remain neutral, and only see what they think proper, and this renders it very difficult for the police to worm out of them any intelligence upon which they can depend. The bushrangers, on the other hand, before they have been “out” very long, are sure to have correct informants in many quarters; thus it frequently happens that while the police, concealed on some adjacent spot, are watching a suspected hut, ready to sally forth and surround it on the arrival of the bushrangers, their track has been noticed by one of the inmates, through whose means intelligence has been conveyed to the enemy that “all is not right,” and so the bushrangers keep away until they hear better news, and laugh in their sleeves at their misdirected pursuers. The bushrangers noreover are sure to be well-mounted, for they can take fresh horses from every station, whereas the police can seldom obstair a remount ; and, in addition to this, the vast preponderance of energy possessed by men who are riding for their lives over those who pursue them for the ends of justice, gives them another great advantage.
• Buchan Charley” indeed talked with the greatest contempt of the local authorities: the commissioner of the district was an “old woman,” and the mounted police a set of “ harmless men,' who could never get a glimpse of his party, nor dare to follow him, if they did, through the broken country to which he would betake himself.
After all, the reality of the unwelcome visit fell far short of the anticipation, and we suffered no great detriment from it; money we had none to lose, for it is an article seldom kept on an establishment at any distance in the interior, business being transacted by means of cheques and“ orders” on Sydney. They took some articles of clothing; among other things, a new white hat of mine (from the hat-case before mentioned), which Charley wore with great satisfaction to himself, and which moreover was a mark that long served to distinguish him. The most annoying part of the affair was the conclusion, when we saw our unwelcome visitors scamper off, in a cloud of dust, towards the next station, mounted on our two best horses, which we had been keeping in condition for very
purposes. In one instance only, while they were at our station, they threatened violence. They had met and dismounted the son of a settler who was much respected in the neighbourhood, but had restored him his horse upon hearing his father's name. This young man, more from love of adventure than anything else, joined the mounted police in pursuit of the bushrangers, who, upon ascertaining this, were much exasperated at what they considered unhandsome treatment, and sent him a laconic message, that, “ if they came across him, he was a dead man.
The sequel of their history is soon told. After a career of ten months, they were at last very cleverly captured by the police, in an unguarded moment, when they had left their encampment, unarmed, in search of their horses. But as they were on their way to jail they managed to procure a handcuff-key at a station where they were halting for the night, and, simultaneously free. ing their wrists, made a sudden attack upon their captors. Each party rushed to seize the muskets of the policemen, which were standing in a corner of the room. These in the scuffle were trampled under foot, and the contest was long protracted above them. The bushrangers were one less in number than their opponents, but by far the most powerful men, and were gradually getting the mastery, when the sergeant of the police, by a dexterous manoeuvre, succeeded in regaining his carbine, and in placing it at the head of his antagonist, the luckless Buchan Charley. This decided the event; two of the bushrangers surrendered ; but the third, our Irish visitor, fairly fought his way out of the place, and was not recaptured until some time afterwards.
They were tried at the ensuing assizes at Berrima ; accusers enough and to spare appeared against them, so we were saved the trouble of the journey and expenses of the prosecution—no slight matters in Australia, however amply they might have been repaid by hearing our old enemies convicted of “fat burglary,” and brought up to receive their fearful sentence, transportation to Van Diemen's Land for life.
For a long time subsequently to their capture, it was quite a pleasure to awake in the morning, and feel that “the bushrangers had been taken,” and that our supplies might thenceforth remain safe in the store, and our saddle-horses once more thrive for their owners.
Ill-fated Charley !-his unceremonious visit often recurred to our minds, and, bugbear as he was to us all, we felt something like pity for his fate, and gratitude to him for restraining his ruffianly companion, who richly merited his sentence. But Charley seemed capable of better things, as if, could he have retraced his steps, he would yet have repented him of the evil. Even when plunged in crime, beyond the pale of human mercy, he was not a hardened villain ; and for this reason the more bitter must be his remorse, as he now pays the lingering penalty of his last rash step, tempted by the bushranger's motto, " A short life and a merry one.”
Sheep Farming-Mode of Depasturing Sheep—Dislike of Shepherds to their
Vocation-Appearance of a Sheep Station-Unsettled habits of its Inmates -Wages-Laziness induced by the Occupation-Shearing-Bush Shearers - Interior of a Wool Shed at Shearing Time-Conveyance of Wool to Sydney-Horse and Bullock Drays-Life on the Road — Return of the Teams—The Catarrh-Cause of the Disease—A Head-station during the Catarrh-Lambing Time-Management of the Ewes—Other Diseases among Sheep—The Scab—Causes—Mode of Cure-Difficulty of preventing Contagion-Regulations concerning Removal of Diseased FlocksFootrot-Sheep the best Stock in the Colony-Advice to Purchasers of Sheep.
Ever since the earliest days of the colony, when the climate of Australia was found to be particularly suitable to the growth and improvement of fine wool, the value of sheep has always been steadier, and higher in proportion, than that of any other stock. A settler may take most pleasure in the breed of his horses, or the pursuit of his wandering and unreclaimed herds, but he feels that his main dependence for support lies in his flocks; give him a good lambing and a heavy “clip," and he looks upon the rest as a secondary consideration. Except the merino, few breeds have been tried, and none with equal success. Throughout the year the sheep are wholly supported and fattened for market on the natural grasses of the country, of which, except in cases of extreme drought, there is always a sufficiency; and, from the equability of the temperature, they require no housing nor any extra attention during the winter.
On the head-station, where the pasture is required for the use of saddle-horses and working oxen, sheep are seldom kept, but are “put out” in various parts of the run, at stations on which two or three flocks are depastured.
The number of sheep grazed together varies at different times, according to circumstances, of which the most pressing is the scarcity of labour, which compels the stockowner to put his sheep in larger fucks than his judgment would otherwise recommend, as, when kept in smaller flocks, they thrive better, and yield heavier fleeces.
The want of labouring men, especially shepherds, has of late years been so severely felt by the colonists, that in some districts, where, a few years ago, the flocks seldom exceeded from five to eight hundred sheep, two thousand and upwards may now be seen grazing together. But this, of course, is practicable only in very open country. In "scrubby" or forest “runs” the shepherds would be unable to prevent a numerous flock from separating, and this, by exposing them to the ravages of the native dog, would entail certain loss.
For every flock two men are required, the shepherd, and another called the watchman, whose duty consists in taking care of the station, preparing the meals, watching the sheep at night, and shifting the folds every day. But the most usual, because the most economical method, is to keep two flocks at one station, and to fold them near each other at night, so that one watchman is sufficient for both; and thus, for their entire management, three men instead of four are employed.
Every morning, soon after sunrise, the shepherd sets out with his flock, which he follows without intermission during the whole day, keeping within certain limits pointed out to him by his master as the extent of his “run," and which if he wilfully transgresses he is liable, upon the second offence, to be fined by the commissioner of the district. He returns at sunset, when, as soon as he has seen his sheep safely in the folds, his day's work is over, and he resigns all charge of them to the watchman, who passes the night alongside the folds in a “watch-box.” This is simply a sort of wooden frame, covered with hides, or the bark of trees, and standing about a foot from the ground, with an opening at one side large enough to admit a small mattress and blankets. Here the watchman, after tying up near the folds several of his “coolie" dogs, who will awaken him on the approach of a “warragle," or native dog, his only cause of alarm, rests well enough until sunrise ; when he re-delivers his fleecy charge to the shepherd, and resumes his work as hutkeeper.
The sheep are counted out of the folds some two or three times a-week by the owner or superintendent, who rides over from the head-station for that purpose at a very early hour,