Thursday, December 13, 2012

Richmond Ramble 1 - all about some bulls

I have been preparing material to finish updating my last higher education post, Fixing Australian higher education - problems with markets & definitions, and this has been sidetracking me from posting. But lurking behind the scenes has been something of an agricultural focus. And, no, I am not talking about tomatoes or my garden!P1000951

Last Sunday, I broke out of my self-imposed writer's ghetto and drove out to Richmond. Why? Well partly because Richmond is one of five towns established by Governor Macquarie and is quite a historic place.

This is St Peter's Anglican Church. The Wikipedia article says that it was designed in c1837 by Francis Clark, the Church notice board carries a 1841 date. The Church has those very plain symmetrical Georgian lines.

I have been writing a little about the early colony on this blog and elsewhere partly driven by the unfolding drama of the Obeid inquiry (Rum, money & power - NSW history repeats itself). NSW history does repeat. Here is an example of the latest reporting on the story. I so wish that I could be so unaware of my bank account!

As I said in the Express column written this week, John Macarthur was the rogue of rogues in a colony of rogues.

He persuaded the relevant Minister of the Crown to give him a large land grant surrounding the aptly named Mount Taurus. He forgot to mention, I am sure it was just an oversight, that the land grant was smack in the middle of a wild cattle herd built up from a small group of cattle that absconded soon after the first fleet arrived and was then not found for seven years.  So excited was Governor Hunter by the discovery that he named the area Cowpastures and established a reserve with a guard house to keep away poachers from the cattle.

For some obscure reason, the Governors in distant Sydney were not impressed with Macarthur's land grant. The newly appointed Governor Bligh went so far as to threaten to take some of Macarthur's land away. In his turn, Macarthur  was equally unimpressed.  Bligh was overthrown in a military coup loosely conducted within constitutional bounds. The relevant minister had a town named after him, Camden, Australia gained the wool industry on which it rode for so many years.

For John Macarthur's part, he went slowly mad tormented by his internal demons. But his empire survived.

I will continue this story in my next post.   

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