Shearing commences to-morrow! These apparently simple words were spoken by Hugh Gordon, the manager of Anabanco station, in the district of Riverina, in the colony of New South Wales, one Monday morning in the month of August. The utterance had its importance to every member of a rather extensive "CORPS DRAMATIQUE" awaiting the industrial drama about to be performed. A low sand-hill a few years since had looked out over a sea of grey plains, covered partly with grass, partly with salsiferous bushes and herbs. Two or three huts built of the trunks of the pine and roofed with the bark of the box-tree, and a skeleton-looking cattle-yard with its high "gallows" (a rude timber stage whereon to hang slaughtered cattle) alone broke the monotony of the plain-ocean. A comparatively small herd of cattle, 2000 or 3000, found more than sufficient pasturage during the short winter and spring, but were always compelled to migrate to mountain pastures when the swamps, which alone in those days formed the water-stores of the run, were dried up. But two or three, or at most half-a-dozen, stockmen were ever needed for the purpose of managing the herd, so inadequate in number and profitable occupation to this vast tract of grazing country. But, a little later, one of the great chiefs of the wool-producing interesta shepherd-king, so to speak, of shrewdness, energy, and capitalhad seen, approved and purchased the lease of this waste kingdom. Almost at once, as if by magic, the scene changed. Great gangs of navvies appeared, wending their way across the silent plain. Dams were made, wells were dug. Tons of fencing wire were dropped on the sand by the long line of teams which seemed never tired of arriving. Sheep by thousands, and tens of thousands, began to come, grazing and cropping up to the lonely sandhillnow swarming with blacksmiths, carpenters, engineers, fencers, shepherds, bullock-driverstill the place looked like a fair on the borders of Tartary. Meanwhile everything was moving with calculated force and cost, under the "reign of law". The seeming expense was merely the economic truth of doing all the necessary work at once, rather than by instalments. One hundred men for one day rather than one man for one hundred days. Results soon began to demonstrate themselves. In twelve months the dams were full, the wells sending up their far-fetched priceless water, the wire fences erected, the shepherds gone, and 17,000 sheep cropping the herbage of Anabanco. Tuesday was the day fixed for the actual commencement of the momentous, almost solemn transactionthe pastoral Hegira, so to speak, as the time of most station events is calculated with reference to it, as happening before or after shearing. But before the first shot is fired which tells of the battle begun, what raids and skirmishes, what reconnoitring and vedette duty must take place!
Editore Library Of Alexandria
Formato Ebook con Adobe DRM
EAN-13 9781465612939 9781465612939