History with Brian James: Typical of old time spirit

Grasshoppers at 'Eurabba' 1934-35. Photo: supplied

Grasshoppers at 'Eurabba' 1934-35. Photo: supplied

This year has been a dry season, but how far do we go before it becomes a severe drought. Meanwhile John McKenzie has put together a 10,000 acre property at Quamby and Maimuru. This was among the memories revealed by JD McKenzie from the old days at Young and on the Bland. Yesterday Mr J McGregor racked his brains for his memories of his early days.

So dry was the Bland that at night, kangaroos, emus, and wild horses flocked to Lake Narraburra for the water that could be obtained near the homestead. During June the family was washed out of the dining room and had to take refuge for four days in the loft, where the dining room table could be seen floating around down stairs. Next year the grasshopper plaque arrived in their millions and did untold damage.

Between Barmedman and Young the country was in the hands of only a few owners. There was Narraburra, held by William Lehane, who subsequently sold to F and J Keane. Carumbi belonged to Shoard and Gardener, a son of the latter, Billy Gardener, Eves of Young, while the Shoard's are still well known around Tubbul and Grogan Creek. Both Grogan and Milong stretching out to Stoney Creek being adjacent to Young belonged to the well known Tekford and Rutherford family's where traditions are carried on today by amongst others, Mr Charles Crichton, of Glaisnock. Only four stations linked up that stretch of territory. The area was rounded off by Morangorell, belonging to the far-famed McGregors, who acquired Little Narraburra from John McKenzie when the latter came into town.

Next year another dry spell killed off the cattle. And in a few years we see another man from the Bland, John McGregor, going to the Klondike to attempt to find the fortune the family missed on the Bland. John McGregor is now an old man and the fortune is elusive as ever. He is still on the Klondike braving the Canadian winters, hoping to find gold.

J D McKenzie, familiar to townsmen today, is a typical old time battler with a stoical smile, and maybe a laugh .JD's hearty laugh will become traditional. The son of John McKenzie, who came from Scotland at the age of Four, 'JD' arrived on this earth ball at White's Merrybidlinia Station, out from Bethungra, where his father had been head stockman. Women were rarely seen and Mr White had to put winkers on the horse on which he had to fetch the nurse, lest it should prove intractable at the sight of a nurse.

The family was at Eurongilely Diggings before going to Little Narruburra, John also sought the elusive metal at Emu Creek (Grenfell) before establishing the McKenzie Butchering Business with his brother, Donald.

The first sheep purchased from Tom Watt (father of Sep and Bob) had a slab wall and bark roof and it stood were the bank of New South Wales is now. For nearly 60 years the business grew only to fade out at the height of the depression.

When 'JD' was sent to finish his education at Metcalfe's High School at Goulburn with £5 for pocket money for the term and still had it at the end. His father was so impressed with his thrift that he handed him his own cheque book when he sent him off to manage the properties of 'Woodlands' and ''New Bumbaldry'.

"Feeling my responsibilities I was afraid to draw a shilling, but I believe my father's action taught me the value of money".

These two properties were sold to Messrs. Moss and Fergie , who were wishing to place a son on the land, but the land broke them. Following the bank foreclosure of Quamby and Maimaru , they passed into the hands of Roberts Grass being provided at Greenbank.

The sheep were eventually moved to Richlands, which was purchased after a lucky cloudburst which had filled the dams. In the meantime JD had prospered and had become mine host of the Australian Hotel. Camillo Marina had sold out and established a grocery business

McKenzie went into the Australian Hotel with a cash payment of £48 and out with £500 cheque for stock, etc. Walked up to the Royal Hotel, and sealed a deal over the bar with Harry Turland and within two days was the licensee of the principal hotel in Young.

The terms provided for a payment of rent and £2000 for furniture and goodwill.

'JD' speculated in land at Thuddungra and had a lease on a property between Cowra and Gooloogong. Eventually he returned to Young and purchased in partnership with his brother, Allan, their original property.

Mr McKenzie was married to Miss Sophia Jamieson at Grenfell, they had three children.

  • Historian Brian James supplies his column each Tuesday for publication in the Young Witness on behalf of the Young Historical Society Inc.