The Gregg Family
After a cursory inspection, Mr. Alex Gillan lodged an application with the Land Board at Melbourne on 1st. January, 1878, for "License to Occupy" three hundred and twenty acres in the Paris of Poowong. (Later to be Allotment 42)
After what appears to have been a considerable delay a license was issued on 1st. April, 1879.
This action could well have led to Richard Gregg's introduction to South Gippsland.
From the file pertaining to Allotment 42, 1 have found that at on stage Mr. Gillan had not fulfilled the conditions of the residential clause; being for the six years of the license, the Head Teacher at th Cattle Station Hill school.
In a letter of explanation to the Department of Lands and date 30th. July, 1885, Mr. Gillan stated in part that he "had a m residing on the ground for the first three years and the same party Richard Gregg - who has now a selection himself, has been looking after it up to the beginning of the present month".
We know that Richard registered the birth of their daughter Euphemia on 12th. May, 1879, at Glendonald, and it is now fairly obvious th he came to Poowong shortly afterwards.
It was on 25th. August, 1879, that Richard made an application for a "License to Occupy" under Part 2 of "The Land Act, 1869"
amended by "The Land Act, 1878" and being for one hundred an sixty acres, Parish of Poowong.
This application was considered by the Local Land Board held Warragul on 11 th. November, 1879, which recommended that it be granted, subject to special road conditions.
The License (Number 10673) was approved by the Governor Council on 5th. January, 1880.
Poowong, which was the first settlement in this region of Gippsland was still in its infancy, with the first selection being made on 17 April, 1874.
After three months of living in the area and five years of operation by the earlier selectors to guide him, Richard would have had ample opportunity to gauge the potential of this district, but by the same token, almost all of the Bluegum country had, by this time, bee selected. However, there was one parcel of land of three hundred an twenty acres which had been applied for twice, in relation to "License to Occupy", and had twice been forfeited.
This land adjoined Allotments 50 and 10 on the South by 32 chain; Allotments 11 and 12 by 951/2 chain on the East; Allotment 44 and 46 by 321/2 chain on the North, with the Western boundary of 103 chain fronting open land - Messmate country.
The limit of area to one selector was three hundred and twenty acres but under the 1862 Land Act Richard had already selected, obtained the grant, and sold one hundred and sixty acres at Lake Buloke, an was therefore restricted to one hundred and sixty acres in his venture at Poowong.
Richard chose the Southern half of the block which contained the last stand of Bluegum, of any significant acreage, to be selected in the Parish of Poowong. An area of approximately eighty acres on the Eastern side is strong Bluegum, with the balance being a mixture on Gum, Messmate and Blackwood.
When we look at Allotment 49 on the Parish plan today, which shows the Poowong-Drouin Road on the Western boundary an Timms Road on the North, it would appear to be a simple operation to select and farm this land. But such was not the case. Although each selection fronted, and was sometimes surrounded by, a Government road, practical access was another thing.
When Allotment 49 was selected, roads, as such, were non-existent and the surveyor has shown a track following the ridge and adjacent to where the Poowong-Drouin Road is now.
The first official evidence that 1 found to confirm that this road ha been defined and the Parish Allotments numbered, was May, 188 Other bridle tracks were shown and one selector, when stressing point in relation to a particular situation, wrote that "the selector could not travel without trespassing on each others land".
In February, 1884, William Aitken (Allotment 11) wrote to the Secretary for Lands requesting a road from the North-West corner his block to the Poowong-Drouin Road. This letter is published in full, as also is a letter from Surveyor John Lardner. These letters are self-explanatory in relation to the road system of that time. (0 24th. October, 1879, Benjamin Matthews had selected Allotment 48 and A. Mitchell was on Allotment 13.)
On 2nd. March, 1886, Mr. Matthews accepted an offer of £62 compensation and on 13th. December, 1886, this road (now Timm Road) was shown on a plan of Allotment 48.
Over the years the roads and their condition have been one of constant concern, firstly to the early settlers, who had been known to walk to Drouin in less time than it would have taken to go by coach; and today the Grants Commission accepts that the cost of road reconstruction in the Korumburra Shire is in the top bracket.
The first bluemetal to be spread on the Southern section of the Poowong-Drouin Road was in 1914 and it was in intermittent sections on the hill bordering "Woodland Park". The material was carted, as spalls, by tip dray from the quarry on Timms Road, to a stockpile nearly opposite the gateway to "Woodland Park". Here, it was a one man operation to break the stone to the required size, with a hammer.
A short time later a mechanical crusher was installed at the quarry and this created quite a lot of interest.
Although I do not have one word of written evidence as to when the remainder of the family moved from Maryfield to Poowong, 1 accept what has been handed down verbally and that it was some time in 1880. The mode of travel was by train to Drouin and then by dray to Mr. Gillan's selection, with the last part of the journey being between that selection and Allotments 43 and 44.
When Mr. Gillan's six year "License to Occupy" had run its, time and he applied for a lease on 8th. April, 1885, the application was showing a hut valued at £5 and a five-roomed house of slab and shingle valued at £24.
As Richard worked this land for six years and lived on it for the first three years (batching for the first year), 1 would expect that this house would have been ready for occupancy when our Grandmother and their eight surviving children arrived, and would have been their home for the next two years. From there it would have been a move to "Woodland Park" in 1882.
In March, 1881, Richard sold the land at Maryfield and when we pause and sum up the position at this point, we find that Richard would have had a reasonable look at Victoria over the previous twenty years. When he, in 1886, answered a question "have you at any time held land under lease or license from the Crown?" the answer was "Yes .. . . . .. Do you still hold it?" - "No. Didn't like the locality". 1 take this as referring to the Lake Buloke selection. And so I take the view that the choice was to be between Maryfield and Poowong.
With Poowong being double and more reliable as regards rainfall, more productive on a per-acre basis: a young district with a vast potential and therefore better suited to a growing family, and perhaps climate-wise also, more akin to Moneylagin.
So Poowong it was and still is for many of the Gregg Family!
By mid-1882 the family would have a work force of Sarah age eighteen years and three boys of fourteen, fifteen and seventeen years with "Mater" and "Pater" at forty-one and forty-three respectively.
The building of a five-roomed slab and shingle house should not have presented many problems, so I would assume that the house the possessed in January, 1886, was the one they moved into in 188
On 25th. August, 19 79, it is our intention to unveil a plaque on th road reserve, adjacent to the gateway of "Woodland Park-, and plan a tree on the site of this first home, it being approximately two chain to the East of the plaque.
On 25th. January, 1886, Richard applied for the Lease which was granted on 3rd. August and to take effect from I st. February, 188 The term was fourteen years and the area one hundred and seven three acres.
A copy from inter-department files is as follows:
Richard Gregg Poowong
Recommend that Gregg's License for 160 acres be revoked and that new License be prepared bearing the same date for 174 acres. The alteration is necessary owing to road deviation.
24.3.86 Jas Thomas.
At some later time Allotment 48B of twenty-seven acres on th Northern boundary was added to "Woodland Park".
The following information shows what improvements had been made during the six years of the License: -
4 Chain - Post & Split Stuff @ £1 £ 4. 0.0
26 Chain Stub or Picket @ £1 £26. 0.0
46 Chain Chock & Log @ 10/ £21. 0.0
110 Chain Stump & Log and
Running Dog Leg @ 5/ . £27.10.0
- 1 st. Year - 1 % acres @ £8 - Oats and Potatoes £12. 0.0
- 2nd. Year -
- 3rd. Year - 1 % acres @ £8 - Potatoes, Carrots, etc . £12. 0.0
- 4th. Year - 3 acres @ £23 - Potatoes and Oats £69. 0.0
- 5th. Year - 1 % acres @ £8 - Potatoes and Oats £12. 0.0
- 6th. Year - 4 acres @ £8 - Potatoes and Oats £32. 0.0
11 'h acres in all.
- 5 Room House 22x14x8 - Log and Shingle £50. 0.0
- Stable &Chaff House 30x15x8 -Log and Shingle . £20. 0.0
- Piggeries and Fowl House, etc . £10. 0.0
- Dam 8x8x8 £ 6. 0.0
- Well 12x12x12 £ 8. 0.0
- 100 acres Cleared, Timber Rung, Scrub cut and picked-up and sown with English Grasses
@ £4 per acre £400. 0.0
Boundary Fence cannot be put up until all clean.
Richard Gregg transferred this property to Angus N. Gregg on 27th. January, 1899, at 2.22 o'clock in the afternoon.
The selectors, like Richard, were governed by the Land Act, and possibly its most important clauses, in relation the them, would have been:
That the area I now desire to obtain would not, if added to the area already selected by me under this or any previous Land Act or Acts, exceed 320 acres.
That I am not under eighteen years of age.
If the applicant be a female, insert (as the case may be) the words ---thatI am not a married woman- or "that I am a married woman, but have obtained a decree of judicial separation".
Within twelve months and thenceforward during the term of the License, to occupy the Allotment by residing thereon in my own proper person.
Also during the term of the license to cultivate one acre in ten. To effect substantial and permanent improvements to the value of £1 per acre.
A License which was for six years @ 1/- per acre per annum could not be mortgaged or transferred.
On satisfactory completion of a License a Crown Lease would be issued for a period of fourteen years at the same rental.
The price of the land was £1 per acre and the rental was taken as payment of the £1.
A Lease could be transferred, mortgaged or if paid out in full at any time a Title would be issued.
The Shire of Buln Buln was constituted on 20th. September, 1878 and a perusal of the rate books show that the first rates paid on "Woodland Park" were 18/- for the year ending 30th. September, 1880. For the year ending September, 1888, Richard paid rates of 8/- on six hundred and twenty-five acres, being Allotments 62B, 62C, 62D and 62E. The Shire rates on this same land in 1978/79 were approximately $2,800.
This land would have been leased under the 1884 Land Act, when a "License to Occupy" was not needed for this grazing type country.
Richard paid the rates the following year and Sam Gregg from the until 1894.
The shire of Poowong & Jeetho was constituted on 29th. May, 1891 and the rate books are not available after 1892, so 1 am not aware who was the occupier over the years except that Angus N. Gregg occupied most of it for a couple of years until 1909. This was still leasehold as the first titles were issued in 1914, 1917, 1923 an 1940.
One interesting snippet from the rate books was on 4th. June, 1883 when Charles Brown, Splitter, at Longwarry, paid rates of 2/6 for bark hut on Crown Land.
Allotment 45 of fifty acres was selected by Mr. Henry Kimberly Splitter, and single, in October, 1878. When the Lease was approve in June, 1882, the improvements were:- House 18x10, Palings an Shingle Roof; half an acre grubbed and laid out; five acres English Grass. On 17th. June, 1884, the Leasehold was transferred to Richard Gregg with the Title being issued to him on 14th. January 1899, following the discharge of a mortgage.
This block on the Pheasant Creek is more than half Bluegum and was Richard's place of abode at the time of the 1898 fire. I feel sure that Richard would have retained the Lease on Allotment 62D of thirty eight acres, as on 23rd. March, 1914, Mr. S. J. Kenny was issued with the Title to this land, together with the transfer from Richard on Allotment 45.
An interesting feature of the Pheasant Creek, between the Poowong - Drouin Road at Allotment 42 and Timms Road at Allotment 48, is that it is the abrupt line of demarcation between the Messmate an Bluegum countries. Before the advent of superphosphate, probably some time in the 1920's, the Messmate on the Western side had very little value. Jack Wuchatsch (1880) has told me how, in its natural state, it was possible to drove cattle through the Messmate, but no the Bluegum, because of the dense undergrowth.
The early selectors pegged their blocks by the nature of the timber The best of Bluegum is generally regarded as some of the best hi country in Australia, and although this is a big statement, 1 could believe this to be true.
Another Allotment which Richard had owned was Number 43, three hundred and twenty acre parcel of Messmate country Poowong North. Richard obtained this Title on 1st. July, 190 On 6th. October, 1919 the Title was transferred to John Gregg who later sold it in four subdivisions in 1920, 1924, 1937 an 1950. When this Allotment was selected by Benjamin Tribe on 23rd. January, 1879, there were no made roads but a track ha been cut, roughly diagonally, from South-East to North-West.
In relation to this track the authorised Surveyor wrote on 20 February, 1879 - "This track as shown on plan is not a good on for road, the selectors informed me they merely cut it to suit the for a time and Mr. Johnson, Roads and Bridges Surveyor has bee up to lay out a more suitable one to the Eastward".
Shire rates paid in 1892 and again in 1893 were ... Sam Gregg 609 acres - 20/-, Richard and Sam (jointly) - 224 acres (Allotment 49 and 45) - 50/- and 100 acres (Allotment 48) - 30/-.
Allotment 44 is another block with a part Gregg history. From 1st. January, 1878 until 2nd. December, 1878, the allotment ha twice been applied for and was twice forfeited. On 20th. January 1879, James Geo. Tribe selected and was granted the License to occupy on I st. May, 1879. The Lease, for fourteen years, to James Geo. was approved on I st. June, 1885. On 20th. February, 1886, h transferred the leasehold to James Tribe, Builder, of South Melbourne who obtained the Certificate of Title on 25th. May, 1899.
On 4th. September, 1903, James Tribe transferred fifty acres at the Southern end to John Gregg and the balance to Sam Gregg. John transferred his portion to Sam on 2nd. February the following year.
Later, on 7th. September, 1908, Sam transferred two hundred an twenty-four acres of the Northern section to Robert Henry Kidman and the balance to John Beverly.
The Beverly section (and more) is still with that family and a large weatherboard house, which was built by Sam, is presently the horn of grandson, John Beverly, his wife Faye and their four young children.
Sam and John Gregg appeared to work together, as research show that on 4th. April, 1894 they leased four hundred and forty acre (Allotments 36 and 28) from John Bee ("Avondale" today). cannot find further time evidence re Allotment 36, but Allotment 2 was until 17th. May, 1899 ... the same day that the Title was tranferred to Christina R. Alway.
A letter giving details of The Great Fire of early February, 189 confirms that Sam and John were dairying together at that time, so I take the view that it would have been on this land.
The fire was possibly the greatest disaster to happen in the district and our father had told me how, because of the dense smoke, it was impossible to tell where the fire was for most of the time. He told how they were virtually blind for days afterwards.
The previous Spring had been a good one, with the resultant dry grass in February, but the real danger factor was the tremendous number of dead trees that had been ring-barked some fifteen to twenty years previously. With a strong, hot, North-Westerly wind catastrophe such as this, was bound to happen.
An eyewitness account of the fires at "Woodland Park" is given by our Uncle Angus and his sister Euphemia, in a letter to their brotherin-law, Fred Umbers. With the exception of one word (John), this letter is printed verbatim with the kind permission of "Maimie" MacLeod.
Poowong Feb. 15th. '98
I suppose you and Sarah will be wondering at not getting an answer to your letters before this, but to tell you the truth I couldn't possibly get one written for last week.
However we were pleased to hear that you were getting on alright with your knee. It was very unfortunate for you happening when it did, you must have got a pretty bad fall when it is taking so long to get well.
It wouldn't be a bad idea for you to come down for a while when your knee is strong enough you could then give it time to get thoroughly strong, so you had better think about it.
The fires, well now to begin with things are not quite as bad as Tean represented although they are bad enough.
A 11 the sheds good and bad are gone and with them every straw of hay, about 6 bags of peas and the general collection of sundries we used to have in the cow shed. We managed to save the separator although the milk tank, feeder and several other little parts are burned.
The chafficutters are safe with the exception of one leg of the big one, the vehicles are all right, but needed constant watching. It was a real terror of a day and the wonder is we saved anything, if we had not had plenty of help and water everything would certainly have gone. We were all 'dead beat" at the finish, we had two days hard fighting and a good deal of watching afterwards. I had part of Friday and Saturday battling with fires in the paddock and though that bad enough but it was a fool to Monday and Tuesday. All the grass is gone except a few patches where the grass was very short. I don't think there is an acre on the whole place the fire hasn't touched. All the fruit trees and nearly all the pines are killed.
There isn't a fence but is clean gone or badly damages, the cows lived in the flower garden for a while and helped to scoff Sweetnam's maize and potatoes also our own potatoes, we have only a few early ones left and they are partly roasted.
It is wonderful how the cattle are keeping up, if we could only get rain I believe they would do alright as a lot of the grass would spring again.
I repaired the fence around Sam's big block and have put 21 of the cows down there, there is a little of that not burned and a fair lot of water so they can knock out an existance for some time.
The other few we take a drop of milk from once a day to keep the calves and pigs alive. We killed some of the young calves for the pigs.
I will kill two swine tomorrow. I am repairing the boundary fence so as to be able to shut out stray stock when the rain comes. It is all one paddock now from here to Sale I believe and everybody's cattle and horses are mixed up anyhow.
Sam and Js (John's) grass is mostly burned their cattle have been living principally at Gillan's since as also has been Father's sheep so he has plenty of stock now. He got off very lightly having very little grass burned, all our horses spend most of their time there. S. & J. are letting their cows go, they got there cowshed burned and we pulled the separator house and half the dwelling house down to prevent them from burning also, the fire was round their house three days later than ours.
Father's house was burned on the Tuesday night while he was up here, he is putting up another mi-mi 9x8. I think it is out of burnt iron principally. As you would no doubt see by the papers the fire was much worse E. Poowong way than here.
A lot of them lost everything they possessed bar a few cattle. Cattle are lying roasted in heaps. There is a gully in Houlahan's with 105 carcases lying roasted. He lost 98 bullocks himself also his house.
Kelly further on lost 50 out of 58 cows. Hill also lost about 50 cows.
Everybody up there has lost some cattle. One man had six horses killed with one tree.
S. Pratt, Booth, Miller, W. Treadwell and J. Treadwell lost their houses besides plenty of others whose names you would likely see in the papers.
I was down at Jack M's one day, he had lost his house then but save all in it. I have since heard he has lost everything I don't know if it's true, he was by no means safe when I was down.
We haven't heard for certain how Colin or the Mac's have got on. Soff heard the Mc's were burnt clean out. I must go up and see as soon as I can get away.
I think Dan is alright they have had the fire but not so bad. Hamilton's shed and stack were burned, they were lucky to sell the place but they are having some trouble over the fire as the man wants compensation. Alex has gone down about it so we don't know yet how he is getting on. They are going to work about for a while, and then try to get a place, they and Jack Beverly are going contracting together.
1 7th. (Angie had no time to finish this so told me to do so.)
They will find it different after having a house to live in always. Jack Beverly is in town for a few days, he went down to see Mrs. McKinnon off to the West. Archie Mc. has taken a large public house over there.
We have not had any rain yet, it started a little last night, but is bright and sunny today. I hope you have had rain, I see by the papers that it has been pretty general, isn't it strange that this place should be left out.
You would notice a wonderful difference if you came here now. I wish you could come.
It was rather hard on "Pater" losing his place. He had it in nice order the garden all dug up and nice little flower garden, picket fence all round and now the house and everything is gone also the new shed he put up and little cart he had. I suppose he wont trouble much about another house.
He is living in a little shanty that he fixed up with the burnt iron.
I felt very sorry for him but Im sure I do not worry so much about things as Sally will.
I couldn't possibly have taken it cooler, it just seemed that it was all to be as no amount of help could stop the flames, although it saved some houses.
I must stop now, I hope you will soon be better. If I were with you Id give you a time of it. Spend some of your spare time in writing a long letter, there's a good old child.
I remain your loving Sis.