Narrandera Show an icon of our past

The original grandstand at the Narrandera Showground. Following is the second part of show history.

Mr J J Clark was among of the old identities who attended the first Narrandera Show in 1882. Born at Rose Farm in 1870, he recalled when the first post office was located in the brick building adjoining Mr W Clark’s blacksmith’s shop. His father, who was a longtime resident of Narrandera, carted bricks for St Thomas’ Church. He attended school when it was located in the building occupied by Messrs Matthews and Dangar and for many years the Council Chambers.

Mr Bob Egar was the teacher. He ploughed the yard of St Thomas’ Church in 1882 and also a block of land in Larmer Street then owned by the late Mr McMahon, father of Messrs Walter and Jack McMahon. Mr J King had a blacksmith’s shop on the site of Mrs Sciilley’s old saleyards in Larmer Street. He recalled that the first brick kiln was conducted by a Mr Dobson, near the old pound yards. The excavation was on the site on the left hand side of the Hay road south of the cemetery. The present cemetery was not then thought of.

Mr Clark’s father had Rose Farm, a comfortable little property situated near the Hay road about one and a half miles from town. It was on this property that the posts for the first cattle yards at the showground were cut. A Mr J Hallcroft carted the posts to the showground. Mr Clark shared the distinction of attending the first and every subsequent show excepting that held in 1892, when he paid a visit to England, the birthplace of his father.

It is well known that for a number of years Mr W J Weir was a noted competitor at local as well as city and other country shows, but he was also an exhibitor at some of the earliest exhibitions and even in those far off days was the owner of fine hunters and jumpers. One very fine specimen of horse flesh owned by Mr Weir, which Mr Clark remembered, was named Lalla Rooke.

Mrs Cutts and Mrs W J Weir, who were then young women, were among the foremost equestriennes in the district. Lady’s side saddle was then the fashion.

Mr Nicholas Roach came to NSW from Victoria in 1878 and walked from Deniliquin across the Old Man Plain to Hay. He stayed two or three days in Hay and afterwards ‘humped bluey’ to Mr Peter Tyson’s holding on the Lachlan River and back again to Hay. He was booked to shear at Burrabogie, so walked along the Murrumbidgee to that station. On arrival there he found that shearing would not commence for a fortnight, so he went back to Jerilderie and out to Coree, where he was given a pen, and shore there. His parents were already residing in Narrandera, but owing to the illness of his wife he returned to Victoria and did not come to Narrandera until a year or so later. He followed farming pursuits and afterwards became one of the exhibitors at the Narrandera Show, winning prizes for dairy cows, butter, potatoes etc.

While Mr Walter Harris did not attend the first show he claimed to have cut the breakfast steaks and dinner roasts for visitors for longer than any man. He came to Narrandera by ‘Shank’s pony’ from Tongala and Moama (Victoria) in 1879. With a mate from Moama and they intended to go to the Temora gold diggings. On arrival in Narrandera he found that the ‘advance guard’ of the railway construction gangs had arrived in the town and decided that if he could get a job here. He found work with a railway construction gang. Later he secured employment as a butcher. Starting in 1880 for a butcher named Essex, he worked for several butchery employers including Mr C Buffrey, Mr Madden, Mr N Roach, Mr W J Weir, Mr T W Simpson and other proprietors of a shop conducted by Mr Bellman. In 1886 he tried his fortune with a partner in a shop opposite his residence in Charles Street, but the venture was not successful. Mr Harris retired in Narrandera. Asked why there were so many hotels in Narrandera in the early days when settlement was so sparse, Mr Harris replied that the shearers travelling to and from the stations spent a fair amount of money here, but it was the big influx of workmen on the railway construction works that was responsible for the number of licenses granted.

Mr and Mrs William Clarke, of Argyle Street, Narrandera, claimed to have missed only one local show in 1923. He recalled that in 1884, Mr Mack, of Browley Station, exhibited a number of fine horses, including a fourin-hand and jumpers and a dog named Lady. The wet show in the early nineties, when the ground was too soft to permit jumping being carried out in the ring and Mr Bill Warby, of Billenbah, riding Mr Cumming’s horses bareback, were other incidents recalled by Mr Clarke. He also mentioned that Messrs C Bush senior and Ben Kenny were amongst the earliest competitors in the sheep dog trials. Mr Clarke said that when he resided at Euroley, he always made a point of spending Show week in Narrandera, bringing Mrs Clarke and the family with him and they never missed attending all the attractions. Mr Clarke arrived in 1879 and on January 13, 1880, drew a block of land at Euroley in a ballot and resided on it until he retired from farming and took up residence in Narrandera. Mrs Clarke’s parents, the late Mr and Mrs James, were among the earliest settlers at Euroley.

Mr Samuel Mulholland senior came to Narrandera with his brother, Mr Robert Mulholland, in 1878, after they had erected a homestead at New Goree, Coonong, for the late Mr Duncan Robertson and a residence at Widgiewa for the late Mr Martin Brennan. After their arrival they erected a number of buildings including the Railway Hotel. Mr Mulholland had recollections of Narrandera before the line from Junee was constructed and the clearing of the site, the construction camps and the existence of 22 hotels in the town. The Oakbank brewery on the Murrumbidgee River was one of Narrandera’s principal industries.

Since 1866 Mr Dan Angel had been a resident of the Narrandera district, his parents having settled at Berembed in that year. Twelve years later they moved to Narrandera. While they were at Berembed, the Angel family experienced the big flood which swept the country in 1870, the flood waters unexpectedly reaching that centre at night. The reason for the unexpected arrival of the flood water was the lack of communication whereby residents of the sparsely settled country could not be warned. Recounting his experience of the ’70 flood, Mr Angel said that the late wife of Mr John Clark, who had settled at Berembed a year or so previously, and their children climbed on to a brick kiln when the flood waters reached their home and there they were marooned for three days until rescued.

At the same time Mr Morgan was returning from Grong Grong to the station when he found the flood waters getting too deep. He let his horse go and tied the buggy to a tree, which he climbed for safety. While at Narrandera, Mr Angel became acquainted with Mr and Mrs C Matthews and family, and later induced one of that family to become his life partner.

In 1881 Mr Angel and Mr C Matthews were employed laying the survey pegs along the route of the Jerilderie railway line, which was then being surveyed. In 1882, Mr Angel was for a few months employed as a boundary rider on Midgeon Station, then managed by Mr Roberts, and after the railway line to Hay was opened in 1882 he secured employment as a fettler, a position he occupied for 23 years, retiring in 1905. In his youthful days Mr Angel rode at several of the race meetings held here and at one meeting held on a racecourse he piloted three of the four winners on horses owned by Mr Lupton of Berembed; Mr J Woollett licensee of the Riverina Hotel and Mr Jack Hilton, brother of Mrs J Dale. Mr Angel said there was a racecourse where the park is now and another on the common. He and Mr Jack Hallcroft had the job of erecting a shelter shed and judges stand on the latter. Mr and Mrs Angel attended the first Narandera show and Mr Angel remembered Mr T Bratton (father of Messrs Tom and Cecil and Mrs L Clarkson) competing in a sheep shearing competition (blade shears) at either that or a subsequent show. Mrs Angel’s parents for a time conducted the Morundah Hotel on the Narrandera side of Morundah, and nearby was another hotel, kept by Mr Underwood.

Mr A W Austin had the distinction of being president of the Narrandera P and A Association on 10 occasions, followed by Mr J T Baylis, formerly of Gillenbah Station, who held it in eight different years. Like Mr Baylis, Mr Austin was one of the staunchest workers for Narrandera shows, and as an exhibitor he won numerous prizes in the horse, sheep and cattle classes. Every member of the Roach family appears to have been closely identified with the earliest, shows, as well as the later exhibitions. Their parents, the late Mr and Mrs Nicholas Roach, came from the Ballarat district to Narrandera in 1876, and selected “Bonafide Farm” eight miles west of the town. They travelled from Victoria in a covered-in waggon and wagonette and brought their horses. Having been interested in shows at Ballarat, Mr Roach senior took a prominent part in the Narrandera P and A Association from its inauguration.

Mr James Roach said his father won first prize at the show in 1882 for a group of four draught horses, of which he himself had charge, and that his father also exhibited farm produce. The horses had been imported from New Zealand and were purchased in Sydney by Mr Roach. At one show a prize was offered for the best team of bullocks and the driver of the winning team showed his ability to wield a whip by knocking off the hats of several bystanders, including that worn by Mr Douglas, much to the amusement of onlookers. Mr Roach said his father was the first settler to bring a reaping machine (a Nicholson’s) to this district and later he brought a Woods’ binder (made by James Martin and Co Sydney) to Bonafide Farm and James Roach had the job of assembling and driving it, a job he also carried out when a binder was purchased by Midgeon Station, John Roach at Gillenbah Station, Alfred and William Watts at Euroley and W Robertson at Tubbo. Mr James Roach was a prizewinner at many local shows.

Mr Thomas Esmonde came to this district in 1876 and attended the first show, having brought from Murrill Creek Station, owned by Mr W B Tucker, several exhibits, including a pair of buggy horses and ponies, a single horse in harness and a sheep dog. Mr J T Bean, a well known Narrandera identity, was a member of the committee of the P and A Association for about 21 years. After missing the first show when he was employed at North Yanco, Mr W J Weir told the Argus he 49 shows without a break. He was a great worker for the shows and probably won more prizes there than any other exhibitor. Mr Weir’s best horses included Lalla Rooke, Thelma, Ontario, Red Leap, Lady Betty, Kem, Black Beauty, Zaraba, Bookwell, Chamois, Dariel, Gold Dust, Arabo, Lady Peggy, Lady Radium, Scottish Airs, Dandy, Aso, Landlock, Musician (which broke the world’s high jump record), Peter (which with Musician shared the local high jump record), Dungog and Bloom. The latter jumped 7ft 5 inches at Sydney and was afterwards sold to England.

Mr Chas N Culley was another resident who was prominent at Narrandera shows both as a worker and an exhibitor. The Adams family were actively associated with the P and A Association from its inception. The late Mr H D Adams was one of the foundation members and a committeeman up to the time of his death. His son Mr H B Adams also assisted in many areas. The late David Adams senior of Gillenbah, brother of the late Mr H D Adams, was gatekeeper at the first and subsequent shows up till the time of his death, after which his son (Dave Adams, also of Gillenbah) occupied that position. Father and son were gatekeepers for 48 years.

Mr H J Jarman, who came to Narrandera in 1881, said among the committeemen and prominent workers at the first show were Messrs Bowes, manager of the AJS Bank; John O’Shaughnessy, of Moombooldool, W M. McMahon, of the Crown Hotel (father of Messrs. Jack and Walter), Mat Devlin, of Deepwater Station; Campbell (a solicitor), H Manning (stock and station agent), W G Elwin (father of Messrs. George and Robert of Colinroobie), Daniels, Fred Roberts, Angus Robertson, J P Willians, H D Adams and N Roach.

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