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Members Family History'sThe William McMillan Story- Mrs Marjorie Grant (1075)
Trek from Victoria to Darwin in 1915-16
William (Will) was the youngest son of Archibald McMILLAN and Ann JAMIESON born 4 Dec 1863 Bullarook Vic. Archibald left Kilberry Scotland on the "David Clarke" arriving in Melbourne in 1839. William married at Myrniong Victoria on 14 May 1891 to Isabella Jane MUIR.
Will farmed with his brother Donald at Broughton north west of Nhill Victoria and they lost most of their sheep during a five year drought. Will was offered a cattle station in the Northern Territory. Will followed the footsteps of his father Archibald who in 1845 Archibald set out and discovered McMILLAN’s “Leaghur Station” on the Loddon River between Boort & Kerang. On 27 January 1915, Will and wife Isabella, sons William, 22, Donald 20, Maxwell 18, Neil 16,John 14 and two daughter Agnes 24 and Ann 21 intending to travel by covered wagon overland to Darwin. Elizabeth 11 remained in Victoria.
With fifty-five blood horses and the wagonette the family began its perilous journey north. They travelled to Cowangie then Mildura, crossed the Murray River and headed across to the Darling River arriving at Menindee. Here they forded the river and continued on to Broken Hill. They then travelled north to the Queensland border, crossed the Gray Ranges and eventually arrived at a station property known as "Brandsby". The journey was trying and due the continued drought there was a shortage of water and grass for the stock. They had to remain in "Brandsby" for some months where the living conditions were hard and primitive.
When the rains came Will decided it was impossible for the women to continue on like this, so with his wife the two girls, sons, Donald and John they turned toward Adelaide crossing then to Sydney and eventually succeeded in getting a passage by boat to Darwin, where they arrived on 13 May 1916. The other three boys William, Maxwell and Neil continued on horseback and with packhorses and spare horses towards Darwin. In the open country with only bush tracks and a compass to guide them the boys continued towards Darwin. These three daring young men with no knowledge of bush lore pushed on from station to station. The worked with their hands from sunup to sundown and earnt a living as they went earning two pounds per week.
Having crossed the Cooper River they came upon verdant country with plenty of feed and water for the horses. They remained here for some time giving the horses a chance to recuperate. As they was no means of communication, packhorse travelling was slow, no word of the young men reached Darwin for months, and they were given up for lost. The Northern Territory Administration undertook a search, but there were no clues. After several months Maxwell decided to ride to the telegraph station at Daly Waters which was managed by a Mr. GRAINGER. On the way to Daly Waters he contracted malaria, and weak from hard riding he collapsed on arrival at the station. He was able to give Mr. GRAINGER a message, which was relayed overland to Darwin.
Will was elated to hear that his sons were alive. The Territory Administrator, Dr GIBRUTH immediately provided transport for him to travel to met his sons at "Boorolloa". The happiness of their reunion was soon clouded, as malaria was rife in the Territory.
Dear Bella & all at Home,
We arrived here on the 26th we had to drop Dawson and the colt at Tanumbirina Station 100 miles back. It was a long Trail spelled two days and went out to see the copper show. It is 15 miles west from here. Silver & Copper I should say the reef runs for half mile. Iron Stone Country (Reef Quartz.)
It is not rich very low percent I don't like it permanent water 400 yards. Will has gone to Borroloola to get grocers, (The Store will supply 12 months). Will will be back in 3 days and we will open up mine. This is a not the mine Will spoke off. The man that had the other is sick Berry Berry on his way to Camooweal. Expect to here tomorrow of him.
I have had a bad a turn of the fever myself it came on me the day going out to the mine. I have it for six day now I can sit up today and walk all the fever has left me. I am not eating yet a now hungry milk and hot water. Will soon be right now. All the boys are thin. Mc 8 stone 4 lb all healthy. Mc showed me two pieces of copper. He says there is a 5 acre hill with it every yard or so. If he is correct it will be a lovely find. Macs hack has eaten a poisoned bush. We had her at home doctoring up last night went away have not found her yet. I am a bit better this morning cup of milk Breakfast teaspoon of mazena boiled rice for Dinner. Venus has a horse foal it is quite a big one bay white on foreheads only slightly marked. The country round here is lovely Stony Hills and creeks and Magnificent Trees.
The Cattle passed on yesterday one lots and the others pass on tomorrow 80 miles dry stage to Anthony's they have lost a good few and it is quietly on the cards they will have a heavy losses. Every day they are people passing here. There is a wagon coming now.
I must conclude with love to all at home.
Yours affiliated Husband W McMillan
4th Sept I am much better but weak, address all mail to us here. I ate something. We expect Will on the 7th from Borroloola then we will open the mine and come home. It is very warm, hoping you are all well.
Letter written by Will Jnr. on Tuesday 31 Oct 1916 from "Tanumbirina Station".
On Monday Aug 31st Will and his father arrive at "Top Springs", Dad stood the journey out even better than I did, His knee gave him considerable trouble at first, but it soon got well. After a few days rest Max, Dad and I rode out to have a look at the copper, next morning Dad said he felt bad asked if we had the quinine but upon looking in pack bags found we had come away without it. He said we to go back to "Top Springs" so we started next morning with black boy to "Top Spring".
Max and I went after meat down on to McArthur where we got meat and returned to Top Springs to find Dad in a delirium. This was our first shock; he was not in it all the time only when he would go to sleep. There were two strangers with Neil and one of then and Neil gave Dad a sponge bath during the afternoon this man was per boot and passed on thorough this run down between Hodgson and McMinne-poor fell he perished, fine man, miner by occupation.
Next morning Dad got up real well and was fine for several days, I went to Borroloola for rations and returned he was well again but a bit weak, had three days rest and Dad said he was well enough to ride out to the copper show. Dad stood journey out to copper show first class, he was pretty tired and had tea and went to bed slept soundly all night. Next day Neil and I built bush hut over the river and shifted over, it was lovely and cool, thick roof of cane grass and leaves, also covered in three sides leaving in no rays of the sun, and Mother it was cool, delightfully cool. Next day started on the mine, put charge of fracture into rock and blew up some splendid copper. It was to our liking, Dad used to walk down and have a look at things, but as we got about 5 feet down by 6 feet long the copper gradually got worse in quality until at last none at all. We were all grievously disappointed.
Dad had a craving for meat but we told him that it would kill him to eat meat so he refrained from doing so for some time, but we got fresh meat also salt beef and meat he would have. He ate three lots boiled meat and big meal of steak and gravy for tea. He asked Max and me to go to Top Springs for remainder of horses so we could return to Darwin. Max and I left early and got back next day, but Dad said he did not feel well enough to start next morning. He kept getting a slightly worse and at last went to bed with another dose of the fever. I was nursing him by this time and he got very badly for a few days and then right as on could wish, but very weak.
We discussed all modes of getting him away, but Dad did not think he could stand the shaking or heat and reckoned he would be right in a few weeks at most. He was doing real well eating sleeping and drinking getting well fast until Thursday night when he felt a bad turn coming on. He could eat nothing and during his sleep his arms would give alight jerk as though the heart was affected, I did not know what to do for love of him (exactly--) I got him to take some milk but that was all.
Next morning bad very bad. His eyes were glazed and he still had the jerk of the arms. The end come about 2.30 p.m. Friday 13 October. He gave a cough and I was sitting near his head a few paces off and moved to see if he was breathing but failed to see the blankets move and straight way looked closely to find that the slight cough must have been the last breath he took. Neil and I were spell bound imagine our feeling and regrets and our thoughts for your feelings and comforts. I am sure but for this last turn Dad would have been up and about within a fortnight.
The boys wrapped their father in a blanket, bug a grave and buried him, reciting a bush railing around his grave. Max rode to Mataranka, where Will said to wait. Neil and I arrived on 25th "Tanumbirini Station". The next day I got the fever that laid us up for a full week and had no idea how long it will be before we can travel again. Today is the first day I have moved away from camp. I feel much better the fever having practically left me but still frightfully weak. Neil took a bad turn yesterday, bad this morning but slightly better this evening. We have all medicines and rations, also get two mugs of milk per day from the Station, with permission to get what we require, help ourselves to what vegetables we want. Dick Laffin the manager is a fine man. Two men he has fencing for him have fever also
The weather has been very hot but nights cool with fair breeze blowing. The average of the horses is in fair condition but four of five very poor. They will be able to travel in though. The water stages are long in places. We are about full up of the North rough living and being in the sun all the time, always more or less untidy impossible to be otherwise. It is very dry; the only green things are the trees and ourselves.
I trust Don has had good health out with his party. We expect to be in about end of this month all being well. Ann and Agnes will be accustomed to the heat by this I time. Beth I suppose knows all the scandal of Darwin by this, as well as worn out several pairs of boots, walking to and from school, I shall conclude trust Mother your health is good and as also all the others. We expect to make a start off again on about 4 Nov, saying we travel 15 miles per day will soon land us in there.
Love from your son, Will.
Maxwell came back to "Tanumbirini with a buggy lent by Mr. PALMER Manager of Mataranka Station". Eventually when their health had improved they set out for Darwin. Neil was still extremely ill and weighed only six stone. When they arrived at Katherine, a retired chemist cared for Neil, at his primitive home. They continued their treck to Darwin when Neil had recuperated and arrived early in the December of 1916. The entire town turned out to welcome them. The news that the young men were safe was wonderful for the inhabitants of the North. Their father dead and the lads themselves having no knowledge of cattle (all their lives they had know only sheep). The Administration considered it unwise for them to take over the station, so they began work at Vesty's Meat.
The family when on to develop and run a large Ice and Cold Storage company in Darwin. Part of obituary written by Mary widow of Neil McMILLAN published in The Catholic Weekly Dec 1 1966.
Included is Will Snr and Will Jnr letter to his wife and mother with thanks from Bradley & Marianne McMILLAN descents of Donald. Distant relation to Marjorie Grant: Email email@example.com
Stampedes Leaghur Station (between Boort and Kerang Vic) before 1873
From Charles McDonald Memoirs written 1938 "Our cattle, some of them at least, used to come and camp on the hill especially in the springtime when mosquitoes were troublesome in the flood country. We had a large wood heap not far from the house, and in that vicinity the clotheslines and privet.
One evening, bright moonlight, there were about 150 camped close to this wood heap, some would be lying down others standing chewing their cuds. About 11.30 p.m. Davie, Johnnie, Alf, Geo and I were in bed and we heard a terrible noise like thunder and the cattle all galloped past between the buildings. We boys got out as quick as we could and we could see the cattle over about a quarter of a mile on the plain. They were all huddled together in a bunch and they were very silent and frightened in appearance. Something had given them a great fright, and about a quarter of an hour later, one of the young bulls let out a very subdued moo, so much as to say what the deuce was that - nothing followed them. So we went back to bed, wondering whatever had frightened them.
"We found out next morning the cause of the fright and stampede. One bullock apparently had been scratching his neck on the clothesline post (two posts supported a long wire for hanging the clothes to dry and he must have got his horn under the wire which was fastened around the post; evidently he started jumping and twisting. However he uprooted the post, and galloped round as far as the clothesline would let him, with the post still hanging on his horn. He must have gone about 50 yards in a half circle before he got rid of the post. But on his trip round he must of have had a rough time as the clothesline he was dragging was coming in contact with the cattle which where lying down. As they started to go they would be tripping over the wire. It would be around against their necks. So the poor old bullock must have got a good shaking and the others a terrible scare. They were some time before they reoccupied their camp.
Charles McDonald was the son of Flora McMILLAN and John Boyd McDONALD who arrived in Victoria on board the "David Clarke" in Oct 1839. We would like to hear from any of descendant of, David Charles McDonald b 1854 died Adelaide after 1938 John Alexander McDonald 1854, Alfred McDonald b 1867, Archibald McMillan McDonald b. 1867, Charlotte Jane McMillan McDONALD married (?) IRELAND. He was electrocuted, near Cessnock via Maitland NSW., family two girls, George Duncan McDONALD b. 1875. thought to have gone north. Please contract Marjorie Grant 54 Kilkerrin Dr., Moama 2731 N.S.W or Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Scotland to Australia - from a nobody to a member of Parliament. - Mrs Marjorie Grant (1075)
The Hon William CAMPBELL was born on the 17 July 1810, He was the fourth child of Christina and Finlay CAMPBELL of Aberfoyle, Perthshire Scotland. William married Isobella CAMERON on 11th February 1837 in Kilmallie in Argylshire Scotland. William and Isabella CAMPBELL were the first members of this family to migrate to Australia. They arrived in 1838 to Sydney on "The Fairlee" in December.
Echuca-Moama Family History Group - Last Modified : 14 Feb 2002