|End of the Squatters
|Aboriginals lived in the Wimmera (as it later became known),
when Major Mitchell passed through in 1836. He gave a favourable report of the country,
saying that the grass would support sheep and cattle. From the 1840's, land between the
Wimmera River and Lake Marma was occupied by squatters as Crown Leasehold. Marma is
Aboriginal for Home of the wild duck. Amongst the first squatters were 2 Scotsmen, William
Taylor and Dugald McPherson, who in 1848 chose land at Ashens and Longerenong
respectively. Other squatters came and went, but they were not as successful as Samuel
Wilson who constructed weirs, dams and water channels to provide permanent grazing for his
sheep. He dammed the Wimmera river at Ashens and Longerenong to divert water into the
Ashens and Yarriambiac Creeks. By 1871 he leased all the country surrounding Lake Marma to
as far away as Longerenong Station. His sheep runs were the largest in the Wimmera,
occupying a total of 206,600 acres (83,610 hectares).
Mr. William McClintock, was
employed by Mr. Wilson at Longerenong to work the land around Lake Marma known as the
Coorong Paddock. In October 1871 another station hand Henry Friend became the 1st Freehold
owner at Marma Gully, as it was then called, when he pegged out 190 acres (77 hectares) on
the east side of Lake Marma. This was the beginning of the end for the large stations
owned by the squatters. On the 31st of May 1872 Henry's wife gave birth to Emma Marma
Friend, the 1st white child to be born at Marma Gully. Also around that time, the German
settlers from South Australia, including Johann H. M. UHE, came in search of land to grow
wheat. They each selected up to 320 acres, to within 3 chains (60 metres) of Lake Marma.
However there was a dispute over water rights with Samuel Wilson, which delayed the survey
3 years, during which time they took off 3 crops without paying any rent. H. Friend and G.
Degenhardt also had land taken off them for future township purposes.
These farmers selected land under Sections 19 & 20, of the 1868 Land Act. This was
a 3 part process of applications for - Licence, Lease & Crown Grant. The would be
selector, having decided upon a piece of vacant Crown Land, was required to dig a trench
not less than 2 feet long, 6 inches wide and 4 inches deep in the direction of the
continuous sides of his selection. He was also required to place posts or cairns of stones
bearing notices at the corners of his allotment. He would then make an Application for
Licence and apply to have the land surveyed. If the Local Land Board approved the
application, the selector was allowed 3 years to cultivate 10% of the land selected,
enclose it, live on the property and pay rent at 2/- per acre per annum. When the selector
had complied with the above requirements, he was permitted to apply for an Application for
Lease. He thus obtained a further grip on the property and continued to pay rent at 2/-
per acre per annum. Having obtained a Lease, the selector was free to apply for an
Application for Crown Grant at any time, simply by paying the balance of the purchase
price of 1 Pound per acre. ($2 per 0.4 hectare) and the land was his.