Station is situated 160 kilometres south-east of Broken Hill, on the eastern
side of the Darling River downstream from Menindee.
The current station is 250,000 acres and is 25 kilometres north-south and
80 Kilometres east-west. Robert and
Linda McBride, the current owners, run 10,000 sheep and 150 cattle.
May 1855 William and Ross Reid secured an abandoned river frontage run
downstream from Menindee. They gave
it the aboriginal name of that area - TOLARNO.
The Tolarno acreages at first were small but they took up other smaller
sections named Booliva, Gunanola, Gal Gal Range (consisting of 144,400 acres),
Gun pongulla, huco, Mourte, Malinguh, Porcupine, Prunella, Tyndiah, Toorincoca,
Undeethee as well as Outer South and Boat Warnegah runs combining these together
as one property. This meant a 45
mile river frontage with land extending sixty miles east to the Bolabooka Lakes.
By 1880, the Reid brothers had leased seventeen runs.
the 1870's Ross and William Reid operated their own fleet of steamers to deliver
their wool clips direct to Port Victor for transhipment direct to woollen mills
in England. In early 1868 Ross Reid
married Lucy Reynell whose family were the founders of the famous Reynella
Winery. To prepare for the
forthcoming marriage Ross had a new homestead built on Tolarno.
As well he also built outer offices, stores, stables, blacksmith shop,
saddlers shop, cart shed, chaff stores, bachelors quarters and extended the
fruit and vegetable garden. Tolarno
gave the appearance of a small township. The
blacksmith shop still stands and is over 100 years old.
Inside is the forge and on the wall are the original tools used.
Today it is used mainly for storage.
A school was also constructed for the children of families employed on
the station, and children of neighbouring stations.
This school closed in 1917 and in the late 1920's the school building was
transported across the river to Netley Station at a cost of 29 pounds and by
June 1931 this building had been moved several times as a result of white ant
problems. Eventually the school was
set up as room next to the Netley Homestead before being closed down.
All that remains on Tolarno of the school house are the foundation stumps
about 100 metres north on the right hand side of the main entrance to the
1878 a new woolshed was built on Tolarno and unlike the original bark roof and
bush tinkered structure which it replaced, the new shed had an iron roof and
comprised of 100 stands (today there are 8 stands in the shearing shed).
In close proximity to the new woolshed were built a wool room, scouring
plant and large shearers quarters. The
original woolshed still has one end remaining from the original.
The tinkered walls were cut from trees on the property.
When the woolshed was constructed in 1878 Tolarno was 1,000,000 acres and
it was central to the property. Approximately
330,000 sheep were run and shearing would have been undertaken 12 months of the
year. Outside the woolshed was a
rail connection to the wharf to enable the wool to be scoured before shipping.
Wool was also transported to Pooncarie, the largest inland port, by
camels or bullock teams as the Darling was sometimes dry.
The woolshed now is in the left hand corner of the station and not a
convenient location as sheep need to be mustered and drove long distances.
The shearers’ quarters have accommodation for 22.
During the recent shearing there were 8 shearers, 4 roustabouts, cook and
had two hotels built on the station for the convenience of the workers.
These were named the Victoria and Tolarno Hotels.
The latter was soon renamed Cliffs Inn because of confusion with the
hotel and station being of the same name. The
Victoria was constructed from red gum slabs and had an iron roof.
It opened in 1877 and operated until 1905 when the last owner was T.D.
Kennedy. The only sign where the
Victoria Hotel may have stood is an old bottle dump 400 metres away from the
main house. The Cliffs Hotel was
south of the Tolarno homestead and was open from 1870 until 1904.
The supposed site of Cliffs Hotel is marked by a bottle dump on the left
hand side of the old main road south of the shearers’ quarters.
The lease for this hotel was held by William A Fields.
1873 Ross and William Reid purchased the 98 ton barge Venus to be prepared for
the 1874 wool season. The following
year Ross bought the steamer Jupiter which had begun as a river barge in 1860,
in partnership with Hugh King. Another
boat was the Gem and in 1875 Ross had the 66 ton steamer Menindee built in Port
Adelaide in partnership with S.R. Hasseltine.
This boat was 106 feet long and fitted with a 30 horsepower engine
capable of 8.3 knots. It had a
draught of 6 feet and was unfortunately not suitable for the frequently low
state of the Darling River. In 1870
the steamer Bourke was added to the Reid fleet, which was the largest privately
owned fleet of steamers on the inland waterways.
There is not much remaining of the wharf, just timber in the bank where
it once stood. At the back of where
the wharf once stood and still standing is a water tower with the water tank
still on it but this is not used any more.
During the late 1860's and up to the late 1870's Tolarno Station carried
between 200,000 and 300,000 sheep. Today
the count is between 6,000 to 8,000 head of sheep.
a result of financial troubles in November 1892 after foreclosing on the whole
of the Tolarno Station holdings the Union Bank offered the property for auction.
Benjamin Chaffey bought Tolarno from the Reids in 1892 and was the owner
from then until 1911. Other owners included Michael Seymour Hawker (28/9/1911-
1920 - he also had Bungaree Station in South Australia), Albert William Bamfield
(2/4/1925 -13/1/28), J.L. Warren (1928 – 12/2/1949) and W.E. and B.R.G. Hogan.
Since 1949 the property has been in the McBride family, and the current
owners are Robert and Linda McBride.
the Pastoralists (shearers strike) dispute in 1894 a holding cell was built on
Tolarno, the remains of which are still there.
An incident that occurred was the burning of the paddle steamer Rodney on
the morning of 26 August 1894. Aboard
the riverboat were 50 non-union shearers being taken to Tolarno Station.
The Rodney was moored in shallow water near the Moorara shearing shed,
ninety miles south of Tolarno. A
force of shearers waded to the riverboat and ordered Captain Dickson and crew to
transfer to a barge and remove the non-unionists.
The riverboat was set alight and it drifted downstream until it sank
several hours later. Eight men
stood trial at Broken Hill in October but were acquitted because of the absence
of creditable witnesses.
is grave on the sandhills east of the homestead and the headstone remains, that
of Colin McKiechan who died on 22 August 1899.
Nothing is known of his history.
homestead is the second built on the property.
The existing one was built by Benjamin Chaffey and consists of 20 rooms
not including the main hallway and is 100 squares including the verandah.
There was a drawing room, smoking room, dining room, seven bedrooms, two
bathrooms and an office. Of the
seven bedrooms, four are inside the house and three have outside access.
The room nearest the smoking room on the northern side was called the
"strangers room' and was available to travellers.
The other two bedrooms are on the western side of the house and may have
been for the housekeeper and governess. The
ceiling and outer walls are covered in decorative tin imported from England. It
is interesting to note that the ceilings are different from the formal and
living areas. The front main
entrance is very grand and has a decorative metal frieze at the bottom.
The picture rails were originally painted black and in the hallway
evidence remains of an archway. The
walls are plastered with horse hair which is evident on them.
The rooms inside the house all have doors to the verandah so that the
rooms were able to be cleaned by the servants who didn't enter the house.
The main bedroom with attached enclosed verandah and bathroom area was
always kept as the owners’ room. In the central area in the main hallway are
frames containing a notice of an earlier sale of Tolarno and maps of earlier
layout and paddock names. Detached
from the main home are the servants’ quarters, store room, wash room, original
kitchen and cellar. All the cooking
for the home was done in the main room, and there is a smoking cupboard to the
upper right of the fireplace. The
other two rooms were accommodation for the house servants.
The cellar has been partially filled in and is no longer useable.
Along the verandah between the servants’ quarters and main house was a
balustrade so the servants had to walk to the far western end of the verandah to
enter the house. The verandah of
the main house is 9 feet wide while that outside the servants’ quarters is
only 7 feet wide.
original colours of the home were sandstone and green and are shown in a small
section by the meter box outside the office.
existing kitchen inside the main house was installed in the 1970's.
The levee bank was constructed after the 1950's flood.
received Murray River County Council Power in 1987.
on to the property from the southern boundary on the right hand side are large
cleared areas of land. The bush that grew here was woody weed or hop bush and
grows as a result of over grazing the land.
There has been government assistance to remove this plant as neither
sheep nor cattle will eat it. It is
interesting to note that there are peppercorn trees planted along the sandhills
between the current managers home and the main house.
It is supposed that there were workers cottages along here as they
planted the peppercorn trees to hang meat in.
Stumps of old school house
Old cattle yards
Storage shed with wooden wool press
Workers cottage ~ stockman's home)
Main home and servants' quarters
Bottle dump - site of Victoria Hotel
Woolshed (shearing shed)
Bottle dump - site of Cliffs Hotel
The Netley Story Published by D. Haeusler, Glencoe, 5291 South Australia
R, SNUTH T, SNUTH B
The History of Pooncarie and District. Published by Sunnyland Press, Red
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