Category Archives: The Mallee

The Mallee the land they built a fence around.

This is the area North of the netting fence that runs along the 36th parallel. It follows the white settlement from the Squatters through to the selectors the life of the people and the development and demise of their settlements.

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


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

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