"Early Days at Carapook"

by Jean Hutcheson MURRAY (1882-1972)

Jean Hutcheson MURRAY was born in 1882 at Chetwynd, north of Casterton in South-West Victoria, Australia. She was the daughter of Alexander MURRAY (1845-1941) and Lilias TEMPLETON (1856-1936) who lived at "Oaklands", Carapook.

Jean Hutcheson MURRAY, locally known as "Miss MURRAY" left a set of 11 pages of hand-written notes on the early history of Carapook. Jean died in 1972, aged 90 and is buried in the Sandford Cemetery. The following extract from her notes provides an insight into where she fits in the early Sandford and Carapook families of HUTCHESON and MURRAY.

"1846 - In a letter written to Mr. G.R. ROBERTSON, 'Warrock', by Mr. George HUTCHESON saying he and his Mother and brother had arrived at 'Runnymede Station' the previous day, December 30th, 1845. Mrs HUTCHESON was the grandmother of the late Alexander MURRAY of 'Oaklands' Carapook and his daughter Jean Hutcheson MURRAY is writing up this history of Carapook and District as told to her by her Father and Mother, Mr. and Mrs. Alex MURRAY."

The following is a transcript of Jean MURRAY's notes on the history of Carapook....

"Early Days at Carapook"
1837
HENTY Bros. had selected all the land from Coleraine to Casterton & Sandford & Runnymede. After a few years land was made available for Selectors about 1850.

It was then that many settlers came to Carapook and secured blocks of land. Sites for a Township was surveyed and also for Churches, Ch. of England and Presbyterian & Methodist.

Over 60 families secured blocks of land & settled on them. They were faced with many difficulties as no timber was available for houses. Many lived in tents & some were built of sods. Earth & grass mixed together, made very warm houses & cool in the summer, and some were made with canvas & bark roofs. Eventually a saw mill was started up amongts the red gum timber, and some slabs ere obtained to build a room or two. But most of the timber came fron Digby, about 40 miles away. Trees had to be cut down with saws & axes & then split & carted home by bullock drays, and often they would be bogged for at river crossings. No bridges in those days, only a few spars laid at the bottom of the creeks etc to make a firm crossing. The name of the creek running through Carapook was called Sawyers Creek and not McPherson Creek as they call it now.

Carapook means Hilly Country called by the Blacks in the early days.

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The names of some of the residents were A. JOHNSTON "The Gums", George McDONALD "Bella Vista" & James TEMPLETON "Oaklands", and many others, MILBURNs, HOWLETTs, FORBES, McKAILs [sic], PENROSE, HUTTONs, LANDERs, COOKs [sic], GUTHRIDGE, MARSH, ELLIOTTs, ANSONs, LEURS, BELLINGERs, MURRAYs, MORONEY, HOUSTON and many others. So many children about and no school. Mr. ELLIOTT who lived on part of Burnbank decided to commence a school so children could come and a charge of 1/- a week for each child was made and after a few years the residents build a large stone school & residence, and a teacher, Mr. C. RADFORD was sent along & young women and young men with beards all anxious to learn to read and write. Some children had to walk many miles to school and would carry their boots, so not to wear them out too soon as they were very hard to get. Only one Boot Maker in the District, and he lived at Sandford, and the children had to walk there to have there feet measured for a pair of boots, and then put their boots on when they arrived at school.

After a few years a School was built at Carapook, also a Residence and Mr. RADFORD moved there for quite a few years. Then he went to Sandford School.

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Mr. Caleb RADFORD taught at the Sandford School after he left Carapook. He was highly esteemed and very popular, when he retired he married a Miss JENSEN of the State School in Casterton.

Then to Carapook came another teacher, a Mr. ELLIOTT [sic] & family followed after a few years by Mr. THOMAS & family, and then Mr. & Mrs. HAYMAN and family who lived at Carapook 12 years. About 40 children attended the State School and an assistant teacher was sent. Mr. & Mrs. HAYMAN also taught in the Sunday School and their daughter played the organ for all services each Sunday. So they were very much missed when the time came for them to move on to Mordialloc.

Other teachers came, Miss DRUMMOND, Miss W. URQUHART & others and Mr. O'HALLORAN who was there for a number of years. Miss POVEY helped as Sewing Mistress for some years. Sun. School still functioned, Mr. DALTON acted as Superintendant for a few years, & then Miss MURRAY took charge & taught in Sun. School, & also played the organ for over 50 years, and I still play...

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...the organ on 3rd Sun. at Carapook and as I live in Casterton now, I play the organ for some Services in the District and also for the Scottish Mothers Union. Over 40 children attended the Sun. School, many of them having 5 miles to walk (Mrs PEARCE & family), in fact all children in those days walked to Sun. School and their parents also walked for services each week.

After many years a Store & Post Office was opened at Carapook, that was a great help to all the people as many of them walked to Sandford for their drapery & groceries, etc, about 6 miles. The only mode of transport being a dray drawn by one or two bullocks. So many of the young girls would walk to Sandford and take butter & eggs to sell, and buy a few groceries, etc to carry back. One day a wild cow chased them, and they all ran for a tree and hid in the branches so the cow could not see them and the cow scraped up the ground and bellowed and then turned and ran back to the mob of cattle. Then the girls lost no time in making for a fence about a mile away. it was sod fence made of sods of earth & brush on top or if...

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...there was plenty of trees, they would be made of branches & logs, as no wire was available to make wire fences as we have today. So the girls did not return that way.

About 1870
The Store at Carapook was owned by Mr. PROUDFOOT & wife & family who lived there for many years, so it was much easier for the residents to do their shopping. The Post Office was also conducted by the PROUDFOOT family & they were very interested in the Church & Sun. School. They were missed very much when they left the district.

Then a Mr & Mrs J JELBART & family bought the Store & Post Office and also commenced a Black Smith Shop which was a great help to the people on the land as much cultivation was carried on and the horses to be shod, and mending of harness for the horses, and plow shears to make. So Mr. JELBART and his sons were kept busy. Also he had the contarct for the Post Office and mail to and from Casterton to Carapook several days a week. Crops of oats and wheat were grown and had to be hand-reaped for many years and turned into bundles and carted to the stackyard & then it was laid in long...

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...rows on tarpaulins or canvas, head for head & then threshed with a flail, it is two pieces of tough wood, one about a foot longer than the other, about 3 ft by 4 ft in length and tied together with a strong piece of hyde, a hole through each end, oblong & tied loosely, so one end would swing holding the longest piece in your hand. When the grain was collected, it had to be put through sieves to take the chaff out, so it was a long proces getting the grain ready to send to the Flour Mill, to have it made into flour & bran & pollard.

Later on James TEMPLETON of "Oaklands" was able to get a reaper, so the crops were cut quickly and not only hs own, but his neighbours also.

After a few years, many of the Settlers moved away, as the land they had selected and after doing residence on it for a number of years, became the property of Mr. George McDONALD who had also selected "Bella Vista", so he had a fine property of 2000 ac.

Mr. George McDONALD came from Mexico, he was a good friend to all his neighbours, also a big woolshed was built...

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...not only for his own use, but his neighbours who had the use of it also.

In those early days it was necessary to wash the sheep before they were shorn. So also two large dams were made and yards, etc and at the 1st dam where it was necessary to have hot wat & soap to wash them & then the sheep would swim through the second dam to wash the soap out of the wool. So that paddock was always known as the Sheepwash Paddock. I think the dams are still in use, although it must be 100 years since they were made.

1883
A Church was built at Carapook on the Pres. Ground and all the settlers helped to pay for it. A Carpenter from Digby built it at the cost of 80. It has served all Denominations for over 80 years to hold their Services each Sunday, and now we only have one Service a month & Sun. School twice a month.
1967 It has been painted inside & outside and looks very nice & well preserved, about 30 children attend Sun. School and also the State School...

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Rev. W. GILLESPIE conducted the Services at Carapook on 1st Sun. & the Rev. ROUPE [?] was the Ch. of Eng. Minister at Coleraine & once a month held a Service at Nareen at 11 a.m. and Carapook at 3 p.m. Services have been discontinued at Carapook after 70 years for which we are very sorry.

1870-78
Many of the Settlers have gone to other parts. Mr George McDONALD lived at "Bella Vista" for many years, he did not marry and always had a good staff of helpers both at the house and in the field. He was a very fine neighbour, always ready to help anyone who needed it. After a few years he built a very nice "Brick House" about 1877 of six rooms, and had a gardener to lay out a very large Garden, and a Pine Plantation, a Standing Memorial to his name, and the Garden after a few years was a joy to see and admire. Many Fruit Trees & Grape Vines were planted, a great many of lovely cherries & apples & grapes were enjoyed by all who visited him, especially the children. He was sadly missed by all his friends when the call came for him to pass away. Then to "Bella Vista" came his brothers wife and family...

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...Mrs John McDONALD & her three sons and daughter, came to "Bella Vista". George was a Chemist & went to live in France, & John who fought in the Boer War gained a Commission and was Captain John McDONALD. Mrs McDONALD & Norman lived at "Bella Vista" for many years, and when War broke out, Norman, who was Veterinary Surgeon enlisted and went away for a few years, 1914 to 1918, and Captain John came to "Bella Vista" and managed there. It was at this period that "Bella Vista" was subdivided into four Dairy Farms, and that brought several new families into the District. A severe drought was being experienced by all the land holders, Dams were dry and Fodder was being brought from Sale in Gippsland. No rain fell from Aug. to the following May.

it meant more children for the State School & Sun. School, over 40 children for the State School. An English Teacher came to Carapook (Mr Roy BAILEY). He aplied for help in the School & Miss MURRAY was appointed and continued there for some years.

Other properties were sold for Soldier Settlement and many more people came to Carapook...

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...Portion of "Muntham" was sold and "Tulse Hill", and also a portion of "Rosedale". So over 30 families reside on those properties. Now Dairying, Cultivation and Sheep are the main source of income.

Buses take many of the children from Carapook and District to Casterton State School & High School. About 400 children are collected from the various Districts for the State & High Schools & Convent each school day.

Carapook has a very modern School, Mr Bill MORRELL of Ballarat was in charge there when the new school was opened and very proud he was of it. Some of the teachers before him were Miss CAMERON, Miss McINNES, Mr MAHONEY, Mr Barry LESLIE, Peter CAULFIELD, Lex McCLINDEN, also Mr O'HALLORAN had been there for 12 years. At Carapook now is Mr BAKER from Warrnambool.
A very fine Hall also has been built at Carapook about 30 years ago.
A Mother's Club also operates and does a good job. Concerts are held each year at the Breakup Period and enjoyed by all. A Father Christmas puts in an appearance at the end of the year, all of the children look forward to that event...

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When Edward HENTY retired to Portland from 'Muntham', the Honourable N. THORNLEY Member of Parliament rented all the 'Muntham' Estate. He never lived at 'Muntham' but always had a competent Manager there. Mr BRAIM was there in that capacity for many years, and was a very popular Manager. He was very interested in children and the School, and many a box of lovely fruit came from 'Muntham' for the Teacher and the School Children. A large staff of men were employed for the working of the Estate, about 40 men all told, and a House Keeper and a married couple also to help at busy times. A big shearing shed was built to shear the many 1000's of sheep that run on the property. A Man-Cook was also employed to cook for so many men & boys, and at shearing time it was a busy scene for very many weeks. Wool being pressed and taken to Casterton Railway Station, by horse teams to be sent to Melbourne or Geelong for sale. Now the wool is sent to Portland, and so a saving in freight is of great benefit to the Grower. Wool in those days was sold for about 1/- lb or less. But then everything else was cheaper, Shearers receiving 15/- per hundred.

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