George Everard

In Australia’s early days of large sheep runs, a key character in the development was the itinerant workers who became known as swaggies. They are remembered today in Banjo Patterson’s poem and song Waltzing Matilda. Walking from property to property looking for work, they provided an important supply of labour to the Squatters as they trudged the tracks with their swag (Matilda) on their back. (a bed roll with all of their worldly possessions rolled up in it).

They would walk for many hundreds of miles, occasionally getting a lift on a wagon, but mostly on foot. They would take on any work and often were put on as a cook, shearer, shepherd, fence builder, rabbit trapper, Dingo trapper or any other job they were offered.

George Everard was such a person travelling the Wimmera and Mallee region. He wandered as far as Adelaide, Melbourne and even Phillip Island. His wanderings would take him up through Mildura to the north when there was no town just a sheep run called Mildura Run, and south to Portland. He visited Melbourne often and spent time in a fledgling Mount Gambia.

George had a good education in England before coming to work for his uncle in Melbourne. He didn’t take well to the work and set out on the path of the swaggy, Keeping a journal as he traveled. In his later years he sat down in a hut at the Albacutya run and put his memories down.

It is rare to get a document from the perspective of the Swaggy but here is one by George Everard. It is a fascinating read and gives an insight to the birth of Australia from the point of view of these famous itinerant workers.
I hope you enjoy it.

This is not George but you can imagine that he was something like this as he aged.

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The pain that has stopped me working

Through life’s journey you come across personalities that have a major effect on you. Usually these are family that you have known all of your life but sometimes they have been part of your world for a short time and had a major impact on you.

Dawn Petschel was one such person and it was a shock to get a call from her son on my birthday to let me know that she had passed away and I was required by the family at Dawns request to speak at her funeral. I wasn’t sure I was the one that should do it as I only knew her for five years, surely there were others that would do a better job. But when told that it was her wish I had to do it.

I prepared the speech while in Melbourne with the family for my birthday and set out for Rainbow the day before the funeral. Everything was going to plan until we arrived.

My little Chihuahua Bam Bam  (Al Carbonero) was first to the back door of the car when we arrived and I lifted him out to go for a wee. He suddenly rushed back to me and I picked him up. His heart was pounding and he was very stressed, it was eight o’clock in the evening and I sat with him trying to comfort and calm him but to no avail there was no vet to go to and just before midnight he passed away in my arms. I had lost my best friend, constant companion and comforter that had ridden the ups and downs with me for the past nine years. He may have been small, but he knew just what to do when he saw that I was feeling down. He would climb into my arms stand up and look me in the eyes with a look of it will be OK and then lay down and cuddle into me. A silent act but it said it all.

The emotional pain was intense as I struggled with his loss and was still carrying him in my arms at two o’clock in the morning. How was I going to cope at the funeral with this double loss in my life.

Somehow I managed and got through Dawns funeral with his little body lying on my pyjamas waiting for me. I couldn’t bury him so I made a tomb for him but months later I have not recovered from his loss. He was too young to go and I still needed his ever present comfort.

This is the reason I have not been able to put up new posts and stories this year.  Only now am I able to write this but not without a tear in my eye. I am hoping to get back into it again in 2016 but I will never forget my little champion.

BamBam happy web

This is Bam enjoying a run in the sand at Lake Hindmarsh a few months earlier something he loved to do..

2015-07-28 12.39.46

Bam is at rest in his tomb. He is lying on my pyjamas with his chin on his favourite teddy between his paws.

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Len Petschel’s story


Len PetschelDawn Petschel asked me to finish her husband Lens story from a pile of notes and typed sheets he had left.

I promised I would do my best but was not able to complete the task before Dawn had passed away.

It is now complete or as much as I can complete it at this time so is presented in the page on Len Petschel.

Len gives a very good look into the life of the second generation of farmers that took over from the selectors and the life they lived as they toiled to make a living from the land.

Len Petschel’s story

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Goodbye Dawn Petschel

Dawns funeral 1

Goodbye Dawn Petschel.
Rest in peace.

Farewell to a wonderful lady and friend. A tireless worker for her community and a welcoming smile for strangers.

Nothing was too hard for you and you inspired others with your enthusiasm. Your knowledge of the history of the area and the people that lived there will be missed by many for a long time. You were always ready to share what you knew to anyone that asked and if you didn’t have an answer on family tree issues or history, you would search tirelessly to find it for them.

Rainbow is a better place because of you.

Your friendliness, knowledge, hard work and commitment to the community has ensured that.

Rest in peace wonderful lady.
Your work is finished and now it is passed on to others.
You set a standard that will be hard to measure up to.
We will miss you.

Dawns story

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New Project. How did the OTIT campsite get its name

When driving around the tracks on the east side of lake Albacutya you are likely to discover a quiet little site that Parks have set up as a free camp site called O.T.I.T. but little is known about its naming. There are theories and they may have some truth in them but my challenge is to fined evidence of the origins which will be the subject of a future page in the history pages.

So far I have been given the names of two Thomas brothers as the likely source of the name but it is proving difficult to find any documented evidence.. I know that they couldn’t have been there before John Coppock who owned the lease on this land from 1846 and was the first white in the area, and I know that it was named before 1858 when George Everard, an itinerant worker and his brother arrived looking for a job  when John Coppock was still alive. John gave George a job at the homestead and sent his brother to OTIT as the hut keeper for the shepherd, although he spelt it Otahiete in his memoirs in 1858. So they were not land owners as John Coppock had the lease and were possibly shepherds working for Coppock. My search will continue but I don’t think I will find all of the answers very quickly.

As Sherlock Homes would say “The game is afoot” I will continue my research and hopefully add the story of O.T.I.T. to the site pages.

Following are a couple of pictures of the campsite. If your looking for a quiet location to spend a few days then O.T.I.T might be a place for you to camp. The access is on dirt roads but is accessible with a caravan. They have a number of fireplaces, plenty of wood, tables and a toilet on the site.

Albacutya OTIT camp ground6 Albacutya OTIT camp ground13

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Sir William Molesworth BT

Sir William Molesworth

This is a page I have recently updated.

While Sir William Molesworth was very much an Englishman, he had a lot to do with Australia’s early history, particularly that of South Australia and Adelaide.

His story is about early Australia and his campaigns and battles in parliament, so I thought he deserved a place in the front of Australian history.

I have added some information on him and his speech in parliament where he attacked Lord Glenelg calling for his resignation as Secretary for the Colonies. On this page you will also find a link to a book produced on a selection of his speeches.

While most of his campaigns were from the 1830 it wasn’t until July 1855 that Sir William was appointed secretary for the colonies a position he held until his untimely death.

His speeches led to the resignation of Lord Glenelg as the Colonial Secretary a position later held by Sir William Molesworth. He was also responsible for the removal of Governor Hindmarsh who he considered had done a poor job in South Australia.

Sir William Molesworth was one of the architects along with Lord Wellington of the development of free settlements with no convict content in the region which led to the creation of Adelaide in South Australia and Wellington in New Zealand.

There is also some evidence that Adelaide was at one time to be named Molesworth in his honour in the same way as Wellington in New Zealand received its name from Lord Wellington as these two were the main campaigners for the creation of the two settlements. Adelaide ended up with a street named after Sir William while the men he removed from power Glenelg and Hindmarsh both got a suburb.

He had much concern about the treatment of the convicts and the practice of flogging, eventually having the practice stopped. He also questioned Glenelg and Hindmarsh about his observation of the decline of the Aboriginal inhabitants in South Australia which he presented in his speech to parliament in England on Lord Glenelg which can be found at the end of this page.

His other campaign was for the abolition of the transport of convicts. This was another campaign where he was successful in achieving a result in his favour.

Sir William Molesworth Page

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German settlers in Australia

4 generations. Christianna, Hiller nee Petschel, Gotthelf Petschel, Hedwig Kruger, Paula Kruger
4 generations. Christianna, Hiller (nee Petschel), Gotthelf Petschel, Paula Kruger, Hedwig Kruger.

When you look at the names of many people that arrived in Australia in the mid 1800’s you expect the list to be dominated by English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh names. After all it was a British colony developed to house convicts when Brittan was thrown out of America by the revolution. So naturally the expectation is a population made up of soldiers, convicts and free settlers from Brittan.

The fact is that there was also a lot of migrants from the German states and surrounding countries  that left their homes during the late 1840’s and became known as the fortyeighters. This part of Europe was in a state of revolution during the 1840’s. some were just protesters upset at the establishment due to the level of poverty, others took it further and battles were rampant across the region. Things settled for a while but the region was in a state of famine and poverty and it was only a matter of time before more unrest would ensue. Governments having squashed an uprising had, “wanted lists” of the main protagonists and young men were being conscripted to bolster the armed forces in readiness for any future uprising against the State.

Large numbers of people migrated from Germany and the surrounding countries and headed for America, Australia and England in the hope of a new start. Many of them were farmers, stonemasons and builders prepared to do it tough in order to carve out a new life in a new country. This was not easy and they went through much in their chosen country. In America they were subjected to the horrors of Indian attacks as they crossed the country to find good farm land only to run into the cattle ranchers and their open ranges who did all they could to prevent these farmers from fencing in the land.

Australia was similar as they were not welcomed by the squatters who also ran herds on open ranges and resented farmers fencing in the best grass country for farming. Fortunately the Australian Squatter was not as vicious as the American rancher and the law of the gun did not exist to the same extent here. The aboriginal was not as warlike as the American Indian making Australia a safer place for them, but they did have to face animosity and the hardships of  a brown dry country with its arid countryside and deserts.

This is the story of one of those German families, told by Christianna Wilhelmina Auguste Henriette Petschel, born 23rd March 1840, who made the trip at the age of eight  in 1848 as her parents set out to start a new life in Australia and ended up in the Wimmera and Mallee.

Read her story carefully and you will learn about the trials and tribulations of these early German settlers who brought their skills, knowledge, religion and culture to add to the mix in a new country.

For further reading and a description of the German states in 1850. See

Trouble in Germany

For Christianna’s full story go to the link below or look in the
Mallee History section

German migration to Australia in 1848


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The history of country telephone services.

Old Outlet Creek bridge Albacutya4

As you travel around the Mallee and Wimmera and for that matter much of outback Australia, you pass by many twisted, rotten and leaning poles along the roads but take no notice of them. If you look closer, you will find some with telephone wires hanging from them, if you stop to study them, you will find that they are made from many types of trees and some are even water pipes or the wires are attached to a growing tree or in some cases dead trees that just happened to be in the line and position where a post was required.

Have you ever wondered why there is such an assortment of materials used to provide these phone lines to the outreach properties. Why didn’t the PMG of the early 1900’s use a common poles for their lines?

The pole in the picture above is located in the bush on the West side of the Albacutya bridge. It sits alone in the bush, a sign that there was once a home or something in the area, but there is no other sign of settlement. The home that it serviced is long gone but this pole stands proud as a monument to what was once there.

I have added a new page and new photo album on the telephone poles in the Mallee that I have photographed in my travels.

Telephone Poles in the Mallee page

Telephone Poles Album

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In search of the first site of the Albacutya Run homestead

For some time I have been trying to locate the first homestead that was set up by John Coppock when he arrived in 1846. He had spoken with Robert William Von Steiglitz (the second son of an Irish Barron) and discovered that the Hindmarsh Run boundary was the 36th parallel later to become the location of the netting fence in 1895. John asked what the land was like to the north and Von Steiglitz replied that he didn’t know as he had never gone up there having arrived on his run only a few months earlier. It was agreed that Coppock would leave his stock at Hindmarsh while he explored the land to the north. It appeared a suitable location with the north end of lake Hindmarsh included inside the boundary and another unnamed lake to the north. Coppock named the northern lake Albacutya a name the aboriginals used for it and named his squat Albacutya Run. He settled at the northern end of Lake Hindmarsh and established a homestead but ended up in an argument over what side of the 36th parallel he had built on with Von Steiglitz. After some debate that was at a stalemate Coppock moved his homestead north closer to Lake Albacutya. I have been searching for the first homestead for some time and had been told that I would know it when I found it as either Coppock or his companion Egerton had planted almond trees on the site. I tend to believe it was probably Egerton that planted them as he returned later to his own run at Mount Egerton near Buninyong and Coppock never planted nut or fruit trees at the new homestead. Local rumour was that the home was on a sand dune ridge close to lake Hindmarsh so I have been looking around and had located what I thought would be a likely site but could not get to it until after the harvest as it was surrounded by crops. I was discussing the location with Trevor Petschel a local that was born in the area, who told me he thought he new the site I was looking for, but was unaware of how it got there and agreed to take me to see it. It was on the sand dunes I was going to explore and indeed there was a number of almond trees surrounding the site as well as imported peppercorn trees. It puzzled me as to why John Coppock would pick this location but trevor pointed out that it had two advantages. The first was that it had a soak close by. (This was a hole at the bottom of the rise that collected water that would slowly seep from the sand dunes that held it after rain providing a waster supply of drinkable water near by. The other was that it had two higher sand dunes that served at lookouts for passing travellers etc. I was delighted to find the location but had not taken my camera with me and to make things worse we were followed by an eagle that hovered very close above our heads as we walked over the dunes but I couldn’t get a photo. Yesterday 30 December 2014 I took my brother to see the site but discovered that the dunes all looked much the same so we wandered through the sand for some time and to my excitement we not only found the homestead site again (which by the way was 27 minutes north of the 36th and therefore Coppock was right he had built on his own land) but the eagle was following us again just as it did the first time I went there, only this time I had the camera. A hawk decided to also join the party but was not hovering like the eagle so I didn’t manage many pictures of it as it darted around. You will find more of the photos in the photo pages under Albacutya.

Coppock almond trees 2 Eagle 7

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