James "Barney" BARNETT 1809-1892
Elizabeth AUSTIN c.1822-1883

Staffordshire, England; VDL (Tasmania); Portland, "Merino Downs" and Portland, Victoria, Australia

James "Barney" BARNETT 1809-1892, b. Staffordshire, England to James BARNETT and Ann BROWN; brought sheep from VDL (Tasmania) to Portland, Victoria and then north to "Merino Downs" for the HENTY family; d. Portland, Victoria; married 1851 at Portland, Victoria to Elizabeth AUSTIN c.1822-1883, b. ... to ...; d. Portland, Victoria.

In 1884 James BARNETT had an article "Old Times in Portland" published in the "Portland Mirror" which was reproduced in other newspapers at that time...

"The Mount Alexander Mail" (Vic.) Saturday, 22nd November 1884.
OLD TIMES IN PORTLAND. -- I came to Portland in 1836, in the Eagle, Captain Fawthrop, in charge of sheep for Messrs Henty. As there was no jetty at which to land cargo we had to throw the sheep over board and let them swim ashore, and this was done without the loss of a single sheep. We kept them for two days in Portland and then took them out to Kittson's Flat, where we had a hut built, and everything made comfortable. While there I took a stroll on the beach, and we saw (I mean myself and a man named Payne) a barrel floating about in the surf. Payne and I dragged it ashore, and I went to the hut and got a gimlet and a couple of bottles, thinking we had secured a cask of rum. To my disgust the cask proved full of oil. Fancy "Barney" enacting "Struck Oil" on the Bridgewater beach in 1836. I took a sample of the oil to Mr Henty, who sent a bullock dray to take the cask and mast home, and afterwards forwarded them to Launceston.
All went well for some time, the monotony of my life being only varied by a visit to Portland once a fortnight to report progress. After a time the sheep began to die through eating some poisonous herbs which grew on the heath ; sometimes we lost seven or eight a week, so we toook them to Wattle Hill where we had them shorn and kept for some time, though greatly annoyed by wild dogs. I forgot to mention that we had ten acres of land, fenced and ploughed, on Kittson's Flat, where we had good crops of vegetables of every kind, but once a hurricane came on, and blew down all the fences letting in the sheep who ate all our crops. The wild dogs would rush the sheep and kill them before our eyes, so we used to shepherd them night and day, the one in front and the other behind the flock. After that we took them to Mount Eccersley [sic Eckersley], where we remained for a spell on our way to Merino Downs. When we reached the station Mr John Henty sent us to an old hut where I thought we wore comfortably settled at last, but I soon found I had to carry my gun wherever I went for fear of the blacks. One morning I took my piece and left the hut in charge of the shepherds and a blackfellow, on my road to the station for rations. Suddenly I heard a report, and found it was a black my mate had shot for stealing sheep. Dr. Byass was at the station, but could not cure him. My mate went to the station and reported having shot the black, and I happened to be there at the time. John Henty sent his dray to bring the wounded man to the Home station, and as they were carrying him all the blacks followed, and John Barnnon gave them a dog to take to their mia-mia to got rid of them. Dr. Byass wished to cut off the man's leg, but the blacks would not have it ; so they carried him off to the Emu Creek. His leg afterwards mortified and the others killed him.
All was quiet for a time, until they got a chance to fire the run, and then we were removed to the big oak flat to get grass for the sheep. We were there for a few weeks, but the blacks followed us, and were a perpetual annoyance. I kept a black boy who used to tell me what the others were going to do. He said, "Keep the sheep in, and watch the blacks." They came about forty strong, and we stood with our guns and kept them at bay till they went off, and then we let the sheep out. I kept one for eating, and gave the entrails to some black boys and girls. After that some of the men came and asked for mutton, which I gave to keep them quiet. Again some more came, and I took up my gun, but the black boy called out to them to run, and they scampered away like madmen. I went to get some dinner for the shepherds, who said when they came in there were black's hidden in the creek. I told him to wait till I informed Mr Henty. He informed me he had no one to send but an old man who was crippled. Mr John Henty came himself, and I followed with the old man, Billy Barter, I carrying the swag and the guns. The blacks called, "Barney, what name that one ?" I replied "Him kill-em-all." Mr John Henty said the first shot he heard he would come up, but there was no firing and he did not come up. Once I went to move the sheep-yard and took my gun, keeping a bright look-out when suddenly I heard a "yahoo," and turning round, saw a mob of blacks on the hill. I showed my gun and they fled. All was quiet after that for some time, until they set fire to the grass and burnt us out. Then they moved us on to the Murdering flat, and we had peace for a time. One day a great mob came down Bryant's Creek at night, and held a coroborree. I got frightened and left the flat, but in the morning one of my men mates came down and told me that they were going to have a fight with the blacks on the other side of the Glenelg. They went off, but we remained with the sheep.
At last shearing time came, and Mr J. Henty said he would have a bit of fun with the big cannon, which was loaded with wadding. He told Tom Greaves to let it off, but he would not for fear it would burst. Vines [sic Richard VINE] fired the shot, and the cannon burst, breaking his arm in two places. I then left the station and came to Portland with letters to Mrs S. G. Henty. When I reached the Smoky River I camped till the night, as I wanted to miss the blacks. At night I fell asleep, and a traveller came, to whom I said I was going to Portland. He then told me there were no blacks along the road, except an old gin and a man. I then proceeded to town, which I reached in safety, Mr S. G. Henty telling me I was a lucky man to get there at all. -- By James Barnett, in the "Portland Mirror."

James BARNETT and Elizabeth AUSTIN had the following family....

  1. Mary Ann BARNETT 1852-1924, b. Merino, Victoria; d. Melbourne, Victoria; m. 1876 at Hamilton, Victoria to Cornelius Connell McCABE c.1837-1913, b. Co Donegal, Ireland to Charles McCABE and Mary DEVITT; d. Casterton, Victoria; 8 children born at Coleraine, Condah, Portland and Casterton, Victoria.
  2. Elizabeth Austin Rebecca BARNETT c.1857-1929, b. ...; d. Melbourne, Victoria; m. 1881 Victoria to Edwin Richard ASHBEE c.1830-1890, b. London, England to Richard ASHBEE and Elizabeth ...; d. Ballarat, Victoria; 5 children born at Ballarat, Victoria.
  3. Julia Ann BARNETT 1857-1898, b. Portland, Victoria; d. Ballarat, Victoria; m. 1880 Adelaide, South Australia to John McKAY c.1854-1917, b. ... to John Small McKAY and Amelia FRASER ...; d. Melbourne, Victoria; 9 children born at Portland and Ballarat, Victoria and South Australia.
  4. Jane BARNETT 1860- ..?.., b. Portland, Victoria; m. ....; d. ...
  5. James Frederick BARNETT 1866- ..?.., b. Portland, Victoria; m. ....; d. ...

Links to Pioneer Names at...

Carapook & Muntham : Casterton : Chetwynd : Dartmoor : Digby : Harrow & Balmoral : Hotspur :

Merino & Henty : Sandford : Strathdownie : Wando Vale

Daryl Povey