Everyone in town used to affectionately call my place the ‘promised land’
Robert Ellis, Eugowra
At my uncles place at Murga in 1949, they had a rabbit drive, I remember the rabbits were that thick
Eugowra had the first Police Station, established there with a couple of constables just after the robbery in 1862 at Escort Rock. They got a couple of police that were not very successful in chasing bushrangers around the place. Eugowra began the same as a lot of other towns: it was a good watering place. In the late 1850s there was a gentleman by the name of Lyall. He built the first inn there and they used to cross the creek at the back of the inn. It was only a very flimsy sort of a bark hut, but it was a stop-over on the way to Forbes.
The railway got to Eugowra in 1922 and that changed things dramatically for the town, as it was for every town when they first got the railway to come to their place. Railway workers spent a lot of money in the town and bought sheep that they killed and ate and the workers helped the local farmers there for several years
In the ’40s there was a shop J W Lees. There were 17 people worked there and you could buy all your grocery needs; they were the fuel agents and they had men’s and women’s clothing, just about anything you wanted you could buy. That was ‘the’ shop.
The earliest fellows brought a lot of sheep and a lot of cattle [to the Eugowra district]; they were long-horned cattle, old English breed. In 1960 I brought my first farm and the boundary fence was up against the Nangar, now the Nangar National Park.
In 1945 I was five years old and I can remember the planes flying over Eugowra when the war had concluded and they were dropping pamphlets. They had a big parade and it concluded at the Showground. It was usually a march through the street and up to the Showground where everything occurred in those days. There was great rejoicing as there was everywhere in the country, all the little country towns were the same.
I had an uncle and aunty who had a farm near Murga and as a boy I was fond of the area. I knew most of the old hands that lived around there. I remember in the 1949 August holidays I went to my uncle’s place there, Jack Parr was his name. They had a rabbit drive. In a 300 acre paddock they had about four guys and about 20 dogs, burning logs and digging out rabbits and shooting them for about a month. They built a 6 foot high netting fence and all the kids from near and far and older people were banging things and shooting rabbits and dogs chasing.
I can remember rabbits that thick: I counted 29 on the cement bridge one day when I went to school. Even in a good year there’s not much feed so all the kids used to trap rabbits in my time and skin a few. I could skin a rabbit pretty good when I was ten and I got 2 shillings and 6 pence a pound for about six rabbit skins and put all that money in the bank and thought I was making a fortune.
Well it has been said I am a Eugowra man living in Molong and I suppose I’m happy to take the blame for that. I’ve always been involved with a lot of things as a young guy in organisations in Eugowra, and I have happy memories of everything I tried to do to help the place.
I did some share farming after a while with a neighbour and I finished up buying another 1000 acres in 1977. So I finished up with nearly 1700 acres and leased about that much country also, with 2000 sheep. Everyone in town used to affectionately call my place the ‘promised land’. One old guy had been out there and he said, ‘You are living in the promised land, Rob,’ and I said, ‘Why do you think that is so, George?’ He said, ‘Well, I don’t know what’s promised but I will tell you one of these days when I find out.’
Interviewed by Marg Carroll