The flood of January 1874, which I had witnessed on the Langlo, had proved a great eye-opener on the Paroo, where water rose 6ft over the roofs of the abandoned stations, so that there would have been no escape for any inmates hemmed in by billabongs.
Preliminary to my entrance upon the surveys of the Warrego district, Commissioner Barron had been on the Paroo and Bulloo rivers, where he marked off and adjusted several runs that had been taken up immediately after the discoveries of Burke and Wills. I accordingly took up his southernmost and northernmost points on each river and continued their surveys towards their bends, after which I turned south and followed their waters to the boundary of New South Wales.
My work fairly commenced with the survey of Quilberry Creek, thence extending my measurements to the Paroo. I traversed it to its head. The wave of pastoral enterprise having set in upon Western Queensland, there was a large inflow of capital, principally from Victoria, for taking up and stocking new country, which I was now surveying. The Upper Paroo had, however, been taken up by Mr Bullmore, so that being yet unoccupied, I had the experience to measure a long stretch of wilderness.
After reaching the head of the Paroo I turned south ward and passed through land that had been abandoned and forfeited, which probably had been the means of saving many lives from the fact that the stations had been formed upon the river with deep billabongs behind them, in imagined places of security above flood level. The flood of January 1874, which I had witnessed on the Langlos, had proved a great eye-opener on the Paroo, where water rose 6ft over the roofs of the abandoned stations, so that there would have been no escape for any inmates hemmed in by billabongs. Upon the most elevated spots, between the rive and the billabongs, I could not reach the flood mark with a riding whip when standing up in the stirrups.
Continuing my surveys southward I reached Humeburn Station at the junction of the Paroo Rver and the Bechel Creek. This station had recently passed into the hands of a Victorian investor, who happened to reach the station just before the flood. Built upon a rise, no one could have doubted its security from any rise in the river, which, however, defeated the most confident estimate of its possible limits by an unceremonious entrance into the homestead, compelling the proprietor, manage, stockman and cook to take to the roof for three days.
I reached Humeburn in June 1874, after a protracted survey of unoccupied country and appreciated the domestication of the pastoral occupation. The surrounding countryside, after its inundation was clothed with luxuriant verdure and as the flood did not damage to the improvements the well ordered arrangements had not been disturbed.
The ball was at my feet as there was nothing in the Pastoral Leases Act of 1863 and 1869 to prohibit my acquiring a stretch of this country at the Crown rental, and disposing of the same at a high premium, which was already being done by a class of speculators who were flourishing nearby. Upon full consideration I came to the conclusion I would have nothing to do with it, as no man can serve two masters, and as I had always had an antipathy to the land jobber and monopolist, I had no ambition to join their ranks.Building the Commonwealth – G. C. Watson
Bechel Creek being unsurveyed I forthwith traversed it to its head and adjusted all the runs thereon. About twenty miles above Humeburn I came upon the station of Bechel in the possession of Messrs Lyons and Playfair. Mr Lyons, who accompanied me on the survey of his country was from the colony of Victoria, a well-educated young man about 30 years of age with a well informed and well balanced mind. He had had extraordinary adventures with the natives; on one occasion he was beset by a hostile and numerous tribe, but being well mounted road across the Warrego and reached Coongoola (William’s).
Passing out of the Tuningllnnumbah Creek and plains I was gratified and surprised at the luxuriant pasturage and splendid country, and the great future when water conservation should be availed to nullify the occasional visitations of drought. Some few miles above Bechel and new station was being formed by Mr Ridley Williams, one of he Coongoola family, who was striking out for himself.
Completing the survey to the head of Bechel, I returned to Bechel station and after drawing plans of the work I resumed the survey of the Paroo River downward.
I might here observe that I found there were vast tracts of country, vacant Crown lands, between the Paroo and the Bulloo. The ball was at my feet as there was nothing in the Pastoral Leases Act of 1863 and 169 to prohibit my acquiring a stretch of this country at the Crown rental, and disposing of the same at a high premium, which was already being done by a class of speculators who were flourishing nearby. Upon full consideration I came to the conclusion I would have nothing to do with it, as no man can serve two masters, and as I had always had an antipathy to the land jobber and monopolist, I had no ambition to join their ranks.