Acts and Warrimoo Robertson
Identifying the geography of
New South Wales as being very similar to the countryside
he recently visited in the California Gold Rush, Edward Hammond Hargraves set
off across the Mountains’ Road towards Bathurst seeking
clues to a possible ‘ ’
west of the Great Divide. El Dorado
|Hargraves the heroic Discoverer--he is supposed to be saluting cheering goldminers, with the Blue Mountains in the background|
Hargraves then showed Lister and two of his mates, James and William Tom, how to build as well as use a ‘Californian Cradle’, and shortly left for Sydney to announce the discovery of gold in the colony.
|An old photograph of William Tom and the 'California Cradle' that he constructed, which launched the Australian Gold Rushes|
|John Hardman Lister--it was he who showed Hargraves where the gold could be found, and it was he and the Tom brothers who actually mined the first payable gold, but it would be decades before he and the Toms got some belated recognition|
The next decade saw a massive influx of immigrants. For a group of colonies which had taken sixty years to achieve a white population of 405,000, the next ten years’ arrivals amounted to a tidal wave. In that time over 700,000 new optimists, including 50,000 Chinese, swamped the countryside seeking a new and fortunate life.
|One of S. T. Gill's famous sketches, at left, diggers off to the goldfields--most walked--and at right in an anonymous drawing, Chinese miners at their labour|
Throughout all this, the area now known as Warrimoo remained a campsite. The famous ‘Black Stump’ referred to by Maisie Lupton had a clearing and a basic fireplace where weary travelers could bed down, bake some damper and boil a billy. There is (up to this point in time, at least) no evidence of non-Aboriginal occupation up to the 1860’s.
The Demand for Land
Many of the new immigrants saw opportunities in the fledgling settlements of the colony, and felt that land ownership offered the best chance of building wealth. However most land throughout
New South Wales had already been
“locked up”, either as , previously granted
and/or sold land, or as large scale “Stations” controlled by wealthy squatters,
who paid peppercorn rental to the Crown for their properties. Crown
|Sir John Robertson--while a wealthy landowner himself, Robertson could see the need for a fairer and more dynamic system of land distribution--thus his 'Land Acts' became law in 1861|
The question of land distribution became a sore political issue in all the colonies, so that ultimately the Premier of New South Wales, John Robertson, introduced a series of Land Acts which allowed “Selectors” to peg out 40—320 acre (16—130 hectare) ‘agricultural lots’ and then purchase the land at One Pound per acre over time. They were obliged to live on their blocks for at least three years and make economic improvements. Now, the “rush for land” had begun.
|'Selectors' pegging out their land in the 1860's. They had to pay one pound per acre and live on their block in order to achieve ownership, as well as make 'improvements' such as dwellings and clearance.|
Naturally, the most fertile, well-watered, less rocky and most accessible land was sought out and struggled over. In many districts, squatters aimed to block the new and enthusiastic farmers with a host of subversive and downright shonky practices, yet the process continued.
Soon, even less desirable farming land became available, and residential blocks to service transport networks such as roads, ports and railway stations, were released by the ‘Crown’ (the colonial government of
Warrimoo’s existence as an identifiable Europeanised ‘place’ was drawing
closer… New South Wales