Thursday, 20 December 2012


The drought, which commenced in '37, stayed the unhealthy conditions caused by the wet seasons, but it brought its own troubles with it. One of the first of these was the breaking up of the Bathurst Carrying Company, an association of citizens and settlers who had purchased their own horses and drays, and organised a better system of carriage of goods from Sydney. At first the "Conveyance Company" thought to weather the drought, but the price and carriage of fodder, and the losses among the horses, necessitated its selling out. This was done, and the shareholders had to meet a considerable deficit. Many of them paid up with reluctance, looking upon the call as not only burdensome but unjust--ample evidence of their ignorance as to the responsibilities of public companies. The effect of the drought was to reduce the price of stock to almost nothing. Sheep went down from £2 to 4s. a head, and a number of settlers in the district, who had borrowed the money to buy large quantities at the former price, suffered greatly, may of them never being able to recover from the loss. Later, when most of the stock had died, prices rose--milch cows could not be had for money, and a resident gave £5 for a goat to provide milk for a young child. Food became scarce, and prices for all food stuffs went up to famine rates. Many of the settlers sought to send back their servants to the authorities, but were told that they had them in the times of plenty, and must keep them through the period of scarcity. Children suffered perhaps most of all, and it was the custom of people, visiting with their children, to carry their children's bread with them, knowing how small might be their friend's store. Most of the flour to be had was almost unfit for human use, and could not be baked into palatable bread. It was made from American wheat, which, thrown loosely into ship's holds, malted on the voyage, and at the end had to be washed before being sent to the mill. For three years not a shower of rain fell in Bathurst. Early in the '40s, however, the clouds, which had often gathered, but always dispersed without rain, brought copious torrents, which flooded the river, and turned the wilderness into a garden. From Bathurst Times 11/1/1902 – by an anonymous widow

1 comment:

  1. Drought along with flood & fire are companions we have to live with in this country.
    What is changing is the ability to cope with drought events. Nowdays we can shift fodder & livestock large distances quickly. The food on supermarket shelves remain much the same that especially the urban consumer is hardly aware of the impact of drought on rural communities.
    Very interesting to read this article told in 1902 about the expierences of 1837


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