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Milton Ulladulla in 1883

On 20 January 1883, the popular broadsheet publication ‘Australian Town and Country Journal‘ published a unique insight into the district of Milton-Ulladulla. Called ‘Southern Pencillings‘ and attributed to ‘The Raven’, it included several line drawings featuring Pigeon House mountain, Lake Conjola, Airlie House and Ulladulla Harbour.

From Australian Town and Country Journal, 20 January 1883…

“Once upon a time, that is, a little more than 40 years ago, two young men, not long out from “Bonnie Scotland”, started shipbuilding at what is now the port of Ulladulla then, I need hardly say, a terra incognita to most people. In the course of a few years one of these paid the debt of nature – he died and the survivor was joined in the business by his brother, at this time just arrived in the colonies. The names of these two brothers were David and James Warden.

Some nine or ten years after the commencement of the ship-building business, the estate of the late Mr. Alex. McLeay, which consisted of 2560 acres of land, with 300 or 400 head of cattle, being put into the market, it was purchased by the former of these brothers, who has since added about 1500 acres to the original purchase.

The Croobyar Estate then, for that is the name of Mr. David Warden’s property, is the largest of its kind in the Ulladulla district, comprising about 4000 acres of first-class dairy land, nearly all of which has at one time or other been under the plough. With the exception of the home farm, which consists of 400 acres, the whole of this is let out to tenants, of whom there are 17 or 18, with farms varying from 60 to 70, and from 300 to 400 acres.”


Southern Pencillings in Australian Town and Country Journal, 20 January 1883


{The illustrations above are 1. the wharf at Ulladulla Harbour with the Allowrie alongside; 2. the “water trees”; 3. Pigeon House from Woodburn, 4. graves of those lost on the Walter Hood, Wreck Bay; 5. view of Lake Conjola; 5. Airlie House, residence of Mr. David Warden}


“These tenants, all of whom are in easy circumstances, some indeed rich, have abandoned every thing in favour of dairying; they don’t even grow their own potatoes, although the soil is well adapted to the cultivation of that root. The country on this estate, which is well watered by a network of small creeks, there being water in every paddock, had originally a park-like appearance. The soil is principally black loam, with large quantities of granite on the higher land.

Rye grasses and white clover form the chief herbage; the latter, which grows most prolifically, does not require sowing, the seed being carried about by cattle. A Kentucky blue grass has also been lately introduced here, and promises well. Oats, barley, and sorghum are cultivated for winter feed. Ayrshire cattle, here, are now taking the place of the Durhams, which were for a long time the favourite breed. Mr. Warden recently got up from Melbourne some of the former, for which, being from prize cattle, he paid a high figure. I send a sketch of Airlie House, the residence of the owner of the Croobyar Estate ; this is a very fine two-story stone villa, said to be one of the handsomest south of Sydney.

Mr. James Warden, the brother of the above, represented for several years the electorate of Shoalhaven. He owns a nice property, known as the Boolgata Estate, three miles from Milton, on the Shoalhaven-road.

Adjoining Croobyar is Woodstock, a homestead containing 600 acres, at one time forming a portion of the Wason Estate, which consisted of 2560 acres. This, in addition to 400 acres let out to tenants, is the property of Mrs. Ewin, the widow of the late Mr. Ewin, by whom it was bought some 16 years ago. Mr. Ewin’s purchases of thoroughbred shorthorns, at the Sydney Exhibition eight or nine years ago, will be recollected by many. The Woodstock dairy is one of the largest, as is the Woodstock homestead one of the prettiest, in the Ulladulla district.

On the west side of Croobyar is Avenal, a dairying property consisting of 400 acres, belonging to Mr. Thomas Hobbs. This farm occupies an elevated position, being situated on a slope of the range; from the verandah of the homestead a view of almost the whole of the district is to be had. The land here, as is generally the case on and near the ranges, was originally covered with a dense brush. I noticed at Avenal, which, by-the-bye, has been occupied by the present proprietor for the last 17 years, 40 acres of oats, looking splendidly, and being for the purpose of winter fodder, a well sunk 40ft through the solid granite, and containing a permanent supply of water, and a most luxuriant orchard.

Nine miles south of Milton, on the Clyde-road, one comes to Mr. Francis Macmahon’s Woodburn estate, which comprises an area of 1000 acres, the whole of which is farmed (dairy) by the proprietor ; this is watered principally by springs. The outbuildings here, more especially the cowsheds, which are topped by a useful loft, are of the most
substantial character. The luxuriance and healthy appearance of a hawthorne hedge here, a quarter of a mile long, makes one wonder that this shrub is not more generally used than it is in these southern districts, for the above purpose. My sketch of thc Pigeon House was taken from here.

Half way on the road between Milton and Woodburn, are the “water trees” ; these are, as the accompanying illustration will show, two spotted gums, of a fair size, near the base of each of which is a small hole, in which, if you put in your hand, you will find at all seasons of the year a pool of cool water. Many theories as to the cause of this strange phenomenon exist, the most probable of which is that the roots of the trees have tapped a spring.

Although I might have spoken of several other dairying properties here, properties that have long since brought a competency, and in some cases fortunes, to their owners, the above-mentioned may be taken as the representative estates of the Ulladulla district. Also, it might he stated, the remarks as to the soil, grasses, stock, &c, made in connection with Croobyar, are as a rule equally applicable throughout the district.

Murramarang station, a freehold containing 5000 acres of land, very much resembling in appearance the Sussex Downs, is situated 14 miles south of the port of Ulladulla. This is owned by Mr. John Evans, one of the Croobyar tenants, who uses it as a fattening and heifer station.

A series of what are known as lakes, but are in reality arms of the sea with the mouth often blocked up by sand, extends along the coast of the Ulladulla district. The principal of these,commencing at the north, are Conjola, Burrill, Termeil, Tabourie and Durras, all of which are beautiful expanses of water, surrounded by high land and containing an abundant supply of fish and oysters. On the first-named of these, which is seven or eight miles from Milton, and a favourite oystering and fishing expedition resort of the people of that town, a most enjoyable day can be spent. A wonderful triple echo is to be heard from this lake ; this echo was brought out to perfection, the day of my visit here, by means of a cornet, that being the instrument affected by one of our party. Wreck Bay, which by road is about eight miles from Milton, has become notorious, as its name will suggest, for the number of vessels lost there; the most disastrous, however, of these casualties was the wreck of the Walter Hood in the year 1870, by which several lives, including that of the captain, were lost. Near the scene of the wreck, and hidden by the thickly growing bush, are the graves of some of the victims of this disaster. The eternal voice of the sea, at one time a distant moan, at another a furious roar, in the first case forms a painfully appropriate funeral dirge for those who lie in that lonely spot, but in the second, seems to speak of triumph and to scoff at its victims.

A small township has recently sprung up at Redhead, a promontory situated in Wreck Bay. The cause of this is the establishing there, 4½ years ago, of Messrs. Goodlet and Smith’s sawmills, where on an average 40,000ft of timber per week are cut. Mr. William Pearson is the manager of this mill, at which about 30 men are employed. The plant consists of a 25-h.p. engine, a breaking-down frame, three circular benches, and a shingling machine ; the principal timber cut here is blackbutt, all of which is pro- cured in the district. Communication is held with Sydney at regular intervals by means of two schooners. There is a school here with an attendance of 52 children, and whilst on the subject of education, it might be stated that in the district of Ulladulla there are 12 public and provisional schools having on their united rolls 637 scholars.”


SOURCE: Southern Pencillings ‘The Ulladulla District‘ by The Raven, Australian Town and Country Journal Saturday 20 January, 1883, page 24. Sourced from Trove


MUHS bus trip to historic Braidwood, NSW
Ulladulla's famous Funland, and Rowen's Arcade

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