In the early days….

Travelling northwards along the Southern Ports Highway from Robe to Kingston, is a little place called Noolook.  Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.  Which would be a pity, as I found it to be a fascinating place when I stopped by there this week.

The Noolook plaqueNaturally, the reference to the horse breeding aspect caught my eye.

Noolook1Surrounded by plantation pine trees now, back in the 1870’s it had black wattle plantations.   The bark was ground into powder for use in tanning leather, and this activity was a good supplement to farm incomes in the district.  Noolook was one of two mills for this purpose, and although the original one burnt down in 1906, it was rebuilt and remained in operation until 1960.

Noolook2Here’s the remnants of the weighbridge…..  it must have had a lot of traffic over it while in operation.

Noolook3Looking north from the weighbridge is the orchard sitting behind one of the two stone buildings.

Noolook5Yes, that’s citrus hanging on the trees….  very tempting I must say!

Noolook4As stated on the plaque, this was also the site of the Mail Coach Run and Post Office.  Back in the 1800’s, horses of course were the main forms of transport although railways were beginning to be built around the 1870’s.  The most successful coaches were those of Cobb and Co.  In fact, stories about Cobb and Co have become part of Australian folklore.  Here’s an excerpt from their site:

Staging posts were set up along each route where teams of horses were swapped and tired horses stabled, rested and fed. As a coach approached the changing station the driver sounded a horn or bugle to let the groom know the coach was arriving. Every driver had his own call, so the groom knew which team of horses to have ready. This system meant that changeovers could occur as quickly as possible and the coach could continue on its way.
Mail runs had been the chief source of income for the business from the 1870’s and it was not until after the Great War that Cobb & Co.’s mail business also began to suffer. The government decided to award mail runs to returned servicemen instead of large businesses like Cobb & Co., and it was the loss of this income that lead to the demise of the business in 1929.

Noolook7I’d say this was the coach house, the inn, where weary travellers could rest from their tiring journey over rough and bumpy roads.

Noolook6It faced east, so morning sun would shine into the rooms, very civilised I think.

Noolook8A very pleasant place overall, and yes, if only those walls could talk, I’m sure there would be many stories to tell.  🙂


7 thoughts on “In the early days….

  1. Beautiful photos, and the historical facts are so similar in some ways to the opening of the American West through the regular stage routes. I think by “Great War” you must mean WWI – that’s what the 1929 date for the demise of Cobb and Co. suggests, anyhow. Or was there another war I’m ignorant of – entirely possible!

    • In Oz, the Great War is the term used for WW1, (1914-18) and it was at the time, also tagged as ‘the war to end all wars’ . Well, we know that wasn’t true. That war had a profound effect on this country. Many towns lost most of their young and not-so-young men and there are monuments in most places to these soldiers. When the few who managed to survive the carnage arrived back on these shores, the government ‘rewarded’ them by either ill-thought out grants of land, or, as mentioned by Cobb and Co, mail contracts. Usually the men had no previous background in which ever employment option they took up, and many fell on very hard times. Subject of a very long treatise!

  2. Lovely and fascinating. Interesting that the farmstead is called Bagdad, but I suppose that was all part of the British ‘protectorate’ in the Middle East then – and it was a major strategic area during the Great War against the Ottoman Empire. The horses were going to India, again another fascinating insight into global trade built on the British Empire.

    • Those are interesting connections you make. Of course, many early Australians – who had been born here and only ever lived here – would speak of Britain as ‘home’. Thankfully we’re past the cultural cringe now, and don’t have to tug on ‘Mother England’s ‘ apron strings….. pity we’re still stuck with the Monarchy, but it’s possibly better than the American presidential system. 🙂

      • Republicanism has taken a giant step backwards in the UK this week, or at least in the English bit of the UK. Time to take the Queen off all our money perhaps?

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