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IFHAA Biographies Library

Robert J Salisbury
Chr 9 Sep 1834 - 31 Mar 1897
Submitted by
Gary Liddell

These letters have been reproduced with all the original spelling


Spottiswoode

29th Dec 1871

 

My dear Father,

I wrote to you last month and to Ambrose this I could not write to you as I promised on act of it being our busy time, and my overseer not being well bought heavy on me. However I have done shearing and half of my wool is now in the market, and I am in good hopes it will sell well this year. This is the first year it begins to give me a clear return for the last nine years work - for that space of time it was a hard struggle with me - my only profit was the increase of my sheap - my other recourses of making money, I always laid out in Stock, Horses and Cattle, and until this year on act of the low price of wool, it took all nearly to pay expenses of the working of my Station but now wool as rose to very near its old price, it will leave a good margin of profit and now I do not intend to buy any more stock, but to let what I have increase to a certain amount and then sell off every year, any that I have over the amount I intend to keep.

I have just completed an arrangement with the Government for 21 years lease of this station with the right of purchase of the hole or part for 5/-(Five shillings) per acre at any time during the 21 years. This arrangement makes the station much more valuable as in the event of my selling it, I have the right to transfer all my privileges to whom soever I sell it. I am just preparing to go down to town for my 12 months supply and after that when the cool weather sets in, I intend to take Marion and children down and send you there likenesses - this promise depends greatly on my better half for she as had so much roaming about with me that she almost dreads leaving home for a few weeks.

I am very much disappointed about this last mail ship going down. Of course, ere this you have heard of it. I was in hope to have had a letter from Mother and Rosie. However if they did write, I hope they will do so again for by all accounts the mail will be completely destroyed even should they recover it. I have not received any newspapers form you yet. Tell me have you ever got any from me. I sent you in all (Five). There is bitter complaints out here about the newspapers, not one in three ever coming to hand. The letters you write jointly to Charles and me, did you address them to him at the Porcupine Hotel. I had wrote to Charles and also to the post master but as yet have received no reply but expect to hear next mail but I told him how anxious you where t hear from him an di think he will at once write to you. The fact of him and I not keeping up a correspondence, you must not blame him for that, it was my fault for after partying with him on Old Bendigo in 54, I never wrote to him till about 4 years ago then he did not reply to it for nearly a year and a half but as soon as I hear from him I will let you know and I am anxious now to find him for should the world not have gone smooth with him, you can depend Father, I will do what a Brother ought to do, if he chooses to write to me.

I send you by this mail also the up and downs of my life out here - dates I cannot send and I write from recollection, but you can depend on it being correct. Many things you may see to blame me for but hope you will make allowance for my inexperience of the world and I can assure you when I came to this colony, everything seemed to be upsidedown to what it was at home. Is Mother's Mother alive? If so, give her my love and tell her I do not forget my boyish days when I lived with her. Ask mother to send me her likeness. I would like to have one of all my sisters if possible. If you have any of Augustas please let me have one. I have wrote to Emily and hope to get an answer soon. Marion sends her love to you and begs me to state you need never fear now but what you will hear regularly from us. So with kind love to yourself, Mother and all the rest.

                                                                                                                                Believe me

                                                                                                                                   My dear Father

                                                                                                                                      Your affectionate Son

                                                                                                                                          Robert J. Salsbury


Spottiswoode

29th December 1871

 

My dear Father,

I now at your request give you the up and downs of my life out here. I will commence by telling you we had a good passage out tho’ a long one in the good ship ‘ Lord Delavel ‘, For had she not been a good ship, we should have never seen Austraila, tho’ I should rather thank the Commissioner in Gravesend who detained us 24 hours and made us take in 40tons more ballast, For in a storm of the coast of Portugal, where we was driven, a sea struck her and threw her on her beam ends and there she lay and would have stopped there for that 40 tons of ballast. And even with that, it was hard work to get her righted. After that everything was pleasant on our voyage out. Charles and I joined in in company with 4 more, viz. George Elliott and his William, Werg…. Batters and his brother William, with the idea of going to the diggins but like all other Companies of this sort, we no sooner landed than we found how utterly we were suited to pull together, that we immediately departed. Upon landing in Melbourne, I did not walk 50 yards before I found L5 note laying in the road. Some said ‘twas a lucky omen. I hope so. However it came at a very opportune time, for the money you gave us on leaving home hot got beautiful small on the voyage out. After stopping for about 2 weeks in Melbourne, Charles and I joined with James Ainslie of northam and another party Llewellyn Hughes in went to Castlemaine diggins. Here we stopped and worked for about 2months with no luck. Charles took ill of dysentry and got so bad that he had to go to Melborne and he seemed to dislike the diggins I had to go with him. Ainslie and Charles works together and Hughes and I together. The hole that I and Hughes was working when Charles and I went to Town was abandoned, 4 yankees went into it and in 10 days took 30lbs (Thirty) pounds weight of gold out of it. When I heard of this in a letter from James Ainslie, I cannot say how I felt to blame Charlies. I did not but he seemed to have a great repugnance to the diggins but I must say I was sorry I did not immediately go back upon getting him to Melbourne. However I did not but stopped for a short time and then both him and I joined the mounted police, then a very respectable body. This did not suit me tho’ it did Charles so after stopping (8) months, I left Charles, put his savings with mine and started a diary, in which we would soon made a good start in the world. But this was not to be, for the owner of the property became (insolvent). His property was all seized and so knocked all my buisness in the head. So our savings was all lost with that 12 months work of mine. I went to Melbourne to see if I could get any redress from this party but found from legal advice I could not. I took very ill then with colonial fever in which I was bad for 3 months. During that illiness, I have some confused recollection or writing home to Emily and complaining bitterly of her, saying I thought you might have done something better for us and for which, my dear Father, I have been very sorry for ever since letting us come out here and if I had 50 sons tomorrow and was situated as you were, I would do the same as you did. As soon as I was able, I left Melbourne, my money done, in fact left in debt. I then borrowed a few ponds off a friend and started back (*) for the diggins. I forgot to mention I wrote to Charles several times after me illness but never received a reply from him. This may and I know will be painful for you to read but without any favor to him or me shall just state the truth to you. I went to the diggins, the Avoca and was unlucky. This was the first time that I new what starvation was. I n this, I cannot discribe to you what it is to be an unlucky digger but I will try. For over six weeks when my money was done, I, or rather we, for I had a mate, Herman Vogel, a brother of the great German music composers, we sometimes had to work till 2 or 3 o’clock in the day till we had the price of a loaf of bread. "In the midst of riches you will find the greatest poverty". On the goldfields you will find it so, for the two diggers in the next claim to us found a 7lb nugget and in all the excitment , for they had been unlucky before, came and showed it to Herman & I and asked us to come & have some dinner with them at night which we declined. Now this was our 2nd day without breaking our fast. This was the longest we had ever been and I think, had it not been for seeing that seven pound nugget, we would not have thought so much about it. However we had little to say to each other and Herman took up his concertina. He was a splended player and after one or two tunes he played Home Sweet Home and he fairly gave in and I think I did the same just for that night, but when morning came, we went and tryed just one tub more. We got over L3 worth of gold out of it. We soon paid a little attention to the inner man. Now this was the first time and I think the only time I ever was unmanned in downright difficulties but just give it a thought. For 6 weeks sometimes we had not 2 lbs of bread between us for 24 hours and then the wind up was 2 clear days and both of us young fellows never new what want was and this Herman Vogel was such a sensitive fellow and I think I was the same so no = one new but ourselves what we were doing. Our luck now had changed. W4e reached L9 in clear money and then no more signs of gold so we made up our mines to make a push further. I told Herman of my Brother and would like to go round that way, as when Charley and I settled, I would have enough to start us right for 12 months. So we walked across to where Charles was near Bendigo, a distance of 230 miles. Now when I went to Town to see if we could get some redress from the party on whose Station we started, I left with Charles 2 horses and things that had cost him and I over L160 in cash invested in our business then me but in my not placing quit so much cash as him, I gave my time and labour as an equivilent, but when I came back with Herman he told me he had sold the horses and things and considered them as his share, as he had layed out fully that amount. I had took one horse away when I went away to Melbourne which I sold for L19 so that was what I got for my share of 12 months and 3 months illness. I stopped for 2 days with Charles and then left him. I have never seen him since and do not imagine Father that we parted in anger. We did not, for at that time I was too young to explain my feelings even to my own Brother. I felt too much hurt in fact to say anything to him but I must say I do not think Charles thought I would part from him for good. However I did and Herman and I started for the Ovens diggins. Charles then was still a Mounted Constable. Herman & I arrived on the Ovens goldfields all right with 1/7 d in cash to start with. However this is what they call wet diggins and require companies to work it and these comps employed men, at so much a day to work for them. So we took a job for 3 weeks then started for ourselves and for six months barly managed to make do of it. The 7th month we got a little so I bought a horse and dray and we joined a company of 12 yankees and opened up a claim on a creek. We got a good prospect in the bed of the creek as we made a Dam and a false course for the creek. 3 times we done this and 3 times our damn was washed away by heavy floods which came on & the 3rd time we were ruined amongst the lot of us. It had cost us nearly L500 and when we had finished the damn the 3rd time, we were so confident and jolly for we new the first weeks work would pay for all but that night the rain came on and the next morning by 10 o’clock not a vestige of our damn was left and do not think our damn was indifferent one. This compy I joined were well up to there work being all Californian diggers. So there we all stood, everything washed away and not 5/- left amongst all of us. However I was the best off for I had my horse and dray. Now a storkeeper had often wanted to buy this turn out from me and had offered me a good price for it. So I went straight to him and offered it to him for the price I had refused from him only a week previous. He was a gentlemany fellow and would know the reason so I told him we had lost our all with the floods and before we seperated, I wanted the money to divide with my mates. So he came down, had a look at the claim and would not buy my horse and dray but joined in with us, found tools and everything else to the amount of L70 and started us again. In 4 weeks, we were able to pay him for his kindness and had a good balance to each of us. In 4 months, we had L300 per man. The claim was then done but not so our luck. I took a notion to sink a hole close to our tent and often spent an hour init, till at last I could not go any further without help and I did not like to leane it till I had seen the bottom. So after a little persusaion, the compy allowed my own mate, Herman to come and help me. So we bottomed it at 21 feet and in 1 week after took L1343 worth of gold out of it. So you see Dame Fortune had not quiet forgoten me. Many thanks to her for that lift but still I had to put up with her presious freaks a good bit since. And now came a great misfortune one me. Herman Vogel had a small fortune left him at home and had to leave me. Never in my life did I feel so lonisome to part with a man as this for a better hearted or more gentlemanly a fellow never could be in all our ups and downs, I never saw him since he maried and stopped a home. After he left our compy broke up. I began to speculate and buy into claims and in 3 months that I could have done without pockets in my trowsers so far as money was conserned. But still tho’ sad I hope I was a wiser man. I had lost my money in honest speculation which might have made my fortune but since I lost mate Herman I felt diggin was not my fort. I had enough of it and would try something else. I had heard a good deal of the jolly life of a bushman, especially stockman, so I bought a good horseand started for the Sydney diggin’s. Aftyer going about 150 miles, I met a man with 900 head of cattle. He wanted a man that new the way to Melbourne. All the men he had were strangers on that road. I at once engaged with him, went down and came back to his Station in Manars, the coldest part of Austrailes. This man seemed to take a liking to me for upon my arrival at his Station he gave me charge of 1,000 head of Cattle to takedown the Murray river, the largest river in Austraila. I made a successful trip and came back. Here I found out a thing that I was not aware of before - that I was a good rough riders, especially in Manars and to this fact, I believe I am indebted for the way have got on so steadly since. Tho, I never new a Salsburyto be a good rider. Yet Father such was the case with me. I turned out to be the best rider both in that district and also in Adlaide. For with respect to Adlaide let me tell you there was a very wicked horse in the possion of a very wealthy man, more money than brains. This horse had thrown everyone that tryed to ride He was an entire so confident was the owner that he offered L5 to 1 no-one couldride him for an hour. So I went to see that horse. The owner was there showing him to another Gentleman. I told who I was, and he shewed me the horse, told me all about him. ( I hope you not think Father, I am praising myself in in this affair - do not, for it is mearly to show you what little a thing changed me into the steady course I have led since. ) I had good references in my pocket from the squatter I had been droving for and I new there was a good opening about this part, so I made up my mind what to do. I new the owner of the horse always dined. After dinner, I took up the bet that I would ride the horse L10 to L50. I did so the next morning and won the L50. This was just what I wanted. The witnesses to the affair were nearly all Stock Holders and after the Affair, that day, I engaged with one Squatter to take management of his Horse Station on which he had 900 Head of horses. In 3 months after he gave me the situation as head Stockman over the whole of his cattle, 8,000 head, as well as the horses. But I must go back and tell you, after I took the cattle down the Murray, I took another mob - 1200 head - down the Darling, the largest river in Austraila. From where I started to where I delivered the mob was over 2000 miles and out of that was 900 miles of uninhabited country. This trip cured me of droving. Ther was only one man had took a mob of cattle that way before me and he had lost 2 1/3rd (two thirds) with the Blacks. The Blacks are very numerous but I had a good party of men, 10 in number and made a splendid trip as far as dilivering the cattle went. But we were very much anoyed with the Blacks for as they had partly routed the first mob of men, they tryed us very hard but did not succeed. However I must say for 4 months I never got 4 hours sleep clear out of the 24 hours but just towards the later end the Blacks tryed to give me a sleep to make up for it. For going down to the river one day for a drink, never thinking blacks was near me , one threw a nullah nullah at me, a stick with a nob at end, which caught me on the back of the head and I had a good sleep for two days (2)days. And had it not been for my own little black boy, Jacky, that would have been the last of me but he saw the black fellow and gave the alarm to my men. About my Black boy, Jacky, I will tell you more I have him still. He is my righthand man. He saved my life then. After delivering this mob of cattle, I went down to Adlaide as much at first for the benfit of my health, for the blow I got on my head troubled me for a long time after. So now I settled down to Station work and soon got the cattle and horses broke in quiet to their run and my employer. Mr John Mc Kinley being a very perservering energetic man took to exploring for the Government and was the first man crossed the continent. However in his private exploring, I was his companion and this is where I learned to be a good bushman. For he was without exception the best ever I come across and he made a fortune by finding out country and selling it afterwards. Here had I of had L2000 in cashg at that time I could have turned it into L30,000 easily, for the amounts given for new country then was fabulous. But poor Mc Kinley and I had many hard days work and he payed me well and he made an immense fortune and in (2) years lost it in station property thro’ heavey droughts. After he gave up the private exploring and got into difficulties thro’ the drought, I took the whole management of his station property and managed to pull him thro’ by the time the creditors allowed me (2 years) in which they were so well satisfied the made me a present of L300 and Mc Kinley poor fellow paid me a salary and since is one of the dear friends to me, a man seldom meets inthis world. After the wind up of of his affairs, he went in search of Burke and Wells and went over the continent for which good services he got handsomely payed both by the Melbourne and Adlaide governments. And on his return to Adlaide he married a Lady with a very large fortune and is now an indipendant man. I will send you his travels as soon as I can get them. While in his employ I got married to Marion and after winding up his station affairs, I struck out for myself. But first let me tell you one or two of our affairs in private exploring . One time we started out to go 300 miles from one river to another and in so doing run short of water. We had gone too far to turne back, that was death and it was impossible to make the distance as we reckoned for we found it too mountainous to go the way we thought. Our horses at last gave in and we had been then (2) clear days and nights without water and the glass in the sun standing upon an average of 115 Fahrenheit. To discribe to you how we felt, it would be impossible. You Doubtless have read of the sufferings of people dying from drought but in many cases ‘tis not so bad as thought. Mc Kinley and I were both very strong men and strong constitutioned and till the 2nd night we stood it all night. But the first things that told on us were the failure of our horses. Then towards the latter end of the 2nd night the want of water and intense heat began to effect our head. Never shall I forget the dreams I had that night and Mc Kinley was effected the same. Sleep was impossible and by some manner of means, every time our eyes closed, it was merely to start up in a fright and look at each other. But when the day dawned, we both seemed pretty right, made up our dead reckoning and saddled our only 2 horses. The heaviest draw- back was our tongues both were swollen and that to a fearful extent and when the sun came out we were done. But God in his infinite Goodness came to our aid. Had our horse been able to carry us, we could not ride and when the sun became too strong, we just let the horses go and poor brutes they seemed at as great a loss as ourselves. For there they stopped and poor Mc Kinley and I by mutual consent seemed to acknowledge to ourselves it was a case with us. Hear Mc Kinley managed to tell me more of his private life at home than I new before and in return I shewed him a pocket- book I brought from home and which I have yet and which contains some of my writings on that trip, which now seems very foolish, and I told him, as he first told me, whoever stood out the longest was take all papers back with them. And after this our minds was more easey and we both fall asleep, I think for about 3 minutes, when we heard one of the horses neigh and both started up. There was this sign, on both horses both had smelt water. Every bushman knows this sign on a horse and our horses so nearly done, they seemed to be unable to move but looked the one way and walked off. And neither Mc Kinley or I had energey left to attempt to stop them. And after one long look we followed the horses and true to their natural instinct, they came on an old kangaroo patch which we new led to water. And we were certain water was down there by the way the horses walked. We had to sit down for a minute ocasionally and the last time Mc Kinley said to me "Salsbury I would give a Jews Eye for a pint of water." My answer was if I had them I would give Doz Jews for that amount of water. This was the most narrow escape both of us had. We let the horses get too far ahead and neither of us seemed inclined to follow them and had I not noticed one of the horses attempting to trot,and fell, we were done. I pointed it out to Mc Kinley and we both walked on and in time enough there was a water - hole and nearly half full. Here we stopped for 5 days. Is this not singular that a horse can find water where a man as no idea of looking. Such is the case and just imagine two men following the horses at the last pinch and it really was the last hope. But thank God we found water but both of us were ill for long after that. But Mc Kinley reaped the benfit of this trip for we found any amount of cattle tracks and three months afterwards came out with our stockmen and got about 700 head of cattle. These cattle were the increase of those that had been lost on the Darling by the man that came down before me. This was my last adventure with Mc Kinley. Some time, if God wills it, I will tell you more of this man who I am proud to own as one of my best friends. After the wind -up of his affairs, I started for myself. I had a few cattle and there was a Township sprank up which promised to be one of the best in these parts, everyone thinking it would be the main depot between N S Wales and Victoria. Ihear invested the most of my capital in Town Allotments and started a slaughtering and butchering business. Things throve for six months when the Government changed there mind and planned a Township higher up so that ruined this one. The contractors failed that were building and to make this part of my story short, I lost over L500 here and when I sold off and payed my debts, which I did, I had 2 horses and a spring cart, my wife and only boy. Misfortunes never come single-handed. Our boy was eighteen months old. He took ill of an epidemic then rageing dyptheria and dyed. I did not know till then what married life was. my misfortunes I cared little of then as long as I had health. Tho’ for my wife’s sake I never felt and reverse of fortune and the lossof our boy so much I cannot tell you how much, for I blamed myself. I had given too much credit, having every hope the township would go agead and I bought 500 sheep on credit and on the Govt proclaiming the other Township, I had to pay quick all my debts to save my credit and since then I would never go into debt again and that promise I have sacredly kept. What I have now I have bought and paid for as I got it but on leaving that Township we were very sad. The last two days I devoted to fencing in the grave of our little boy and then be started up the River, poor Marion was very bad. But here I found the benifit of a good wife. Never till now did I know the value of her. Had I not had her I think I would have turned like Mc Kinley, A roaming life was best suited for me at that time. To have gone exploring for private parties at that time, I could have got L500 for 12 months work but that I could not do as my promise to Mc Kinley when in his employ prevented me from take a job of this in the district. So I started as I said up the river Darling with 2 horses and a spring cart and about L6/0/0 in money and God in His goodness was kind to me here. I had not gone 30 miles when I met a squatter who new me and had rode 300 miles when he heard of my downfall, to secure my services. He offered me the management of his station, in all 12000 head of cattle at a salary of L400 per year. I need not say I took it. He was a great friend of Mc Kinley’s; his name was Mc Gregor, came from Lochaber. With him I stopped for 12 months. He was in great difficulties. The firm of Power Rutherford in Melbourne had his property in there hands and found out thro’ James Auishe of Norham who was there head clerk that it was impossible to pull him trro’. So I done the best I could for him and much Father lays in a managers hand for I assure you, I saved this Mc Gregor over L2000 of stock which he would have lost had I not had the managing and I will try and explain this to you. The most of his stock had a certain brand and this certain brand was morgaged to Power Rutherford. Mc Gregor purchased 3 imported Bulls. Now I picked his cattle for the best cows and there increase. I put a distinguishing brand on them and went further back for there increase till I had a good mob of cattle, still leaving the amount on the station as mentioned in the morgage.. But the way he had it, the morgagees could have taken all his cattle he had on the station. But before they closed, I removed the ones I had culled out about 10 miles off the station also all horses over the amount mentioned in the morgage. Had they got those on the station, they would have claimed the lot. They entered an action in the Supreme Court against me but I got a verdict and heavy costs with it, for I proved by there own receipt they had received from me the amount of cattle morgaged . but the quibble they rose was they were entitled to the increase and I could not see that. I maintained so long as the original amount was handed over that was morgaged was sufficent. This action took a long time and the decision was of vital importance to squatters and many benifited by it since. For these agents holdimg morgages on station property, at home you could hardly imagine the sharp way they wind a squatter up. For the interest they charge on money is from 10% to 20%.. So in this action. I saved Mc Gregor over L2000 of stock so he had that to start again with. I now found that superintending stations was not a paying thing for a man had to keep up appearences. So after 12 months with Mc Gregor, I thro’ off the gentleman and went to work to make money. I started 2 Horses teams, 8 horses in each team, and found I could do well and did so for 5 months when the River was made navigable and that stopped carring. So now I made up my mind to go overland to Queensland. This was new country and carriage was high. So off Marion and I went and we had now another little son, the present young Bob. Let me also tell you, my Black boy come along with me. This Black boy is the best of the Aboriginal breed ever I came across. He as been with me know 15 years and a more faithful servent no man could have. In fact, he considers himself as my private property and I can assure you he takes far more interest in my affairs than, than almost any white man and in many instances he is worth gold to me for he is a splendid tracker. All these Blacks are good trackers but one like this is thoroughly civilised, and had so much practice at tracking as he as, you at home could not credit the way this boy can follow a lost Horse or Bullock and fetch it back. But this will survive, out of the many Horses and Cattle that I have owned I never have lost one since I owned this Black boy and this last few years after shearing, he drives one of my 8 horses teams with the wool to town. So much for Jacky; he will live I suppose and die with me or mine. So to go on, we started from a point 320 miles up the Darling overland for Queensland and got over all right in (9) nine week to a township on the Baloonne River where I left Marion in a comfortable hut the day after New Years day /64 to go down to Brisbane 400 miles further to bring up loading I had contracted for and which I had made up my mind I would clear L499 out of. I got down to Brisbane, loaded up my teams, in all (7) seven teams for I hired (3), my own not being able to bring the lot I had contracted fetch. And we got back to within 70 miles of where I left Marion when down came the rain as we call it here the commencement of the great flood, 1864. This country in a great many parts is subject complete inundation and at this time, few white men now of for floods, that is a flood like the one I am about to discribe to, I do not think occours often in a man’s lifetime. The rain kept steadely on and stopped the teams from traveling. The 2nd afternoon, Jacky called my attention to the fact that it was his opinion this country, Queensland was no good, Big fellow raintumble down and big one water jump up. This made me uneasy for the Blacks seems to have a natural instinct like a beast as in danger of this sort. That night I slept but little, listening to the heavy rain. Towards morning, I put my feet out of the side of my Hammock to reach for a match but instead of touching the ground first, I found there was about 9 inches of water. The Black boy’s remark came back to me. I struck a match and thro’ another match into the water and watched it and tru enough we were camped in flooded country for the match floated away. I soon had all hands up, stowed everything snug on the drays when daylight broke. Inevery direction was a sheet of water. About 2 miles back I new of sand hill and back there Jacky and I started and found the Horses on the top of the ridge 3 miles from our camp was a station, for that I started taking one dray at a time having 16 Horses to one dray and then with great difficulty got them to where the station was. Here the water still kept rising and tho’ it was on high ground yet before the next morning our drays were in as deep water as the morning before. So we started again and followed the ridge further on and found higher ground. At the far extremeity, it rose up to a small mount and to the foot of this mount I got the drays the 2nd night. Still the water kept rising and by morning was up to our camp. Now by this time, our horses were getting knocked up and I saw our only chance was to get the drays up on the top. So at we went for out here I notice a man that as been long in the colony and thrown on his own recourses, never hesitates a second after he makes up his mind to do a thing. And this was one trying a job I assure you. Our horses gave in completely when we had got (5) five of the drays up. The other two, the water was up nearly to the axle tree and on those 2 drays was over L800 of stores and to mend matters, my men was nearly knocked up. So we took that hour, ‘tis hard to tell what passed in my mind. The loading on those to drays belonged to a very respectable storekeeper and to loose that lot of goods would ruin him. My men here all but one and my Black, refused to work any more so us three fell two trees and cut 2 sledges out of them and took 4 Horses to each sledge and then I opened a case of grog, gave the men a good glass each and explained to them it was no loss to me but it was ruin to the man that owned the stores. So asked them to make one more effort. This was enough. They went at it with a will and I got them to carry all the loading out to the sledges, jacky or I taking it up by little lots, up to the top of the mount known all over Queensland as Salsbury’s Mount. The next morning the 2 drays I left below were hardly visible and now I began to get very uneasy again about the loading and the worse than that the thougt came often to me my wife and boy, how the were but I found on close exammination of the timber that grew on this ridge that it never had been all under water. So here my teams were camped (9) nine weeks. At the end of the 2nd week the flood went down considerably but still impossible to move. One day about 12 o’clock a man came up, poor fellow, to our camp. Never shall I forget the expression on his face. He had been lost for 9 days and after he got a little to eat told me he had come from the township where I had left my wife. He of course neither knew me or her but that he knew a woman and her children was washed away on the oposite side of the river from the Township. Now mine was the only House on the oposite side and in this information he was certain and convinced me he was correct 5tho’ upon any other subject I could not rely on him. For He was so weak from Starvation and exposure that upon some subjects he was childish. That idea the woman and children was drowned and it was impressed on his mind so by the people talking about it the few hours he stopped in the Town. How I felt on this information you can imagine. Only one thing puzzled me ; how this man got onto this ridge before the water stopped him. I afterwards found out he had to get on to the South-sidethro’ a dense scrub in which he had lost himself. Poor fellow had beenwalking about till he heard my horses’ Bells. Now I soon made up my mind, to stop there I truly think I should have gone mad. So left the loading in charge of my Black boy and the one white man that had stood me when all the rest gave in. Now Surat, the Township was (65) sixty-five miles from here and Jackyand I reckoned up where it lay from our camp. So I took the best saddle horse I had and went off. Never till now did I know what a good hearted Blackfellow this was. He seemed to be afraid to part with me and yet wanted me to go for he was very fond of my little boy and could not think he was drowned. For he was satisfied in his own mind I never could be drowned for I once saved this boys life in crossing the Darling river coming overland to Queensland, and could not think Bob would be drowned while I lived as he belonged to me. However I started and that afternoon went as near as I could reckon (10) ten miles when night came on. Sometimes the water was up to the Horses belly and sometimes swimming and just at darki saw dry ground and made for it. It now came on to rain and when sunset it was so dark I could not see my horse’s head - we have little or no twylight here - so traveling was out of the question. I camped and tyed the horse up to a tree, made a fire which gave me all I new to keep it in as the rain came down as it only seems to in the tropics. About 12 O’clock at night my fire went out and I found the water rising. Never Father shall I forget that night. I could hear the dull moaning sound of a creek that the water had burst over the Banks in daylight. I would not have been afraid for I am a very good swimmer and plenty of trees to stop and rest on - could have swam back to my drays - but the night was as black as Ink and the rain falling in torrents. Thoughts came into my head then of you all at home, of her I had left in Surat and my boy. God forgive me but I thought my lot was hard but the dumb animal, my horse, had more sense than me for he waited paitently till day broke. Day no sooner Breaks than ‘tis broad daylight. The water was about 3ft deep then. I had one good look at my compass and made for the furtherst tree I could see and when I got to it could see dry land ahead and got to it all right. My horse proved himself to be a fine swimmer and to give him a better chance I threw every thing away but my trousers and shirt and nothing on his back but the saddle. To leave this dry ground in your first thoughts you may think I was foolhardy but not so Father. I had made up my mind to go to Surat or until I new the truth. Had anybody met me here and told me Marion was right, all the world not had possessed would not have tempted me into the water again but, of course, that satis faction I did not get. So that day I swam (11) creeks and went thro’ two sheets of water, one (3) miles - the other (5) miles and a good deal of swimming in both sheets and let me honestly tell you I never felt what Fear was that day till I got to the last creek (4) miles from Surat. This was not a very broad creek but deep and very rapid. My horse was getting tired and as I looked at the creek, the thought came into my head - I had done what 19 men out of 20 would not have done that day and that I had done it in a sullen, determined way not carring wether I destroyed the life God had given me or not. And more than that he had given me the understanding to travel threw the bush for where I came on to this creek was exactly on the Track I had come down with my drays 2 months previous. And now the thought came into my head- will never cross that creek even after all you have done. However I did not hesitate (5) minutes but off clothes, straped them on the saddle, led the horse in and swam after him and even after I had got across safe, so strong had the idea entered my head that I would be drowned ther that I could hardly satisfy myself I was all right. Little did I think I should save a man’s life there in less than a month afterwards - of this I will tell you more. I dressed myself, trousers and shirt, and now I began to feel tired as well as my horse for I new all danger was passed and about 2 miles from Surat it got dark and I came to some teams. They had followed my tracks overland from the Darling. I stopped and enquired about Surat and found out it was not Marion but a Squatter’s wife with (3) three children 4 miles down the river had be drowned and that 5the night the flood came on them in Surat. The next morning they saw over 4 feet of water in my hut and a storekeeper, the one whose goods I had so much trouble to save, went across the river in a canoe and bought her and our boy across and she was living with him and his wife, all well, and told me how they had followed her husband’s tracks overland from the Darling. One of them was kind enough to offer me a glass or rather a nobbler, colonise name of Rum, of all grog in the world I dislike this but at this time, I thought it the most refreshing I had ever drank. So I went on my way not telling them who I was and had many a joke with them afterwards about it. I stopped at Surat. The flood began to abate in about 3 weeks then started back a different route for my teams. At last, after swimming several creek, came to a station about 10 miles from where my teams were camped. Here I found a womwn and her two daughters, starving. Her husband had started to the Township for rations just after the commencement of the flood. So I gave them what I had and as I found it was impossible to get back to my camp, where I had plenty, I went back to Surat and it was on this trip I came to the same creek I was afraid I should be drowned and there found a man, a very gentlemanly Sort of a fellow, who told me he had been lost for two weeks but he had rations with him that had lasted till within 2 days of then. He told me he could not swim so told him to stop and I would bring him some rations tho’ in the whole of the Township, I was the only one that had any flour. For Marion still had a boy left which she was giving out to the women and children but no-one else. After I swam the creek, this man, seeing my horse swim so easy, put his in and tryed to follow. His horse went down like a shot and never came up again, leaving him. So, of course, in I had to go and believe me the hardest job ever I had to was to get that man out with his cursed Inverness Cape for I did give vent a little to my feelings after I got him out for he had an inverness cape on that weighed fully 2 stone when full of water. But he was very thankful to me, I believe so thankful he would have freely parted with anything. But after all, this man turned out the most dishonest and ungratful man ever I had the pleasure of coming across. His name was Hoeflich. He went back with me to Surat. He told me he was a Storkeeper and had several teams - Hawking - and when he found out the way I was getting on told me with the quainty of horses I had and teams, with money he would advance I could do first rate, Storkeeping and I must say I required little incumbent to leave off carring. So this man and I entered into an agreement of partnership in L1500 worth of stores he was to buy, he finding the goods and I finding teams and labour to sell the same; and I of course to reap profit which was more the cent per cent. This was to commence as soon as I had fulfilled my contract for this loading. Now I had great difficulties to finish this for I had to try and get my teams in before the road was properly passable for the people in Surat were perishing for the commend necessiteys of life and the (10) week after commencement of the flood, I got the first dray in and in one hour, everything that I had brought, being all rations, flour, tea and sugar, belonging to the storekeeper that had saved Marion and our boy was sold. All the flour he sold for L12 ( twelve ppounds) per bag. So by bring his loading in first I thought I shewed him I did not forget his kindmess to mine. The remainder I got after great diffulties and after paying men’s wages and loss of six horses that got drowned, I was in pocket by this trip but thanked God I got off so well as I did. For to give you an idea of the disastrous effects of a flood in Queensland, let me give you an instance or two. The man whose wife and 4 children got drowned in one night not only loss them but 4000 sheep and 300 head of cattle. Below him again, one settler lost 22000 sheep in the one night, another 18000 sheep and cattle they could not tell there loss and many other things. Father I could tell of for I do not think you ever could read much of Queensland. For at this time, Queensland was in its infancy and many places that people thought was quite out of all question of being flooded were the very places suffered the most from the flood. For instance Gregory the Government Serveyor pitched his camp at St. George’s Bridge, 70 miles below Surat and the first night of the flood not one part of his camp was visible but one corner post of his Hut and many of his horses drowned and he would have fared the same but for his black boy who gave him and the other white men timely warning. For let the night be ever so dark, these Black boys can go as straight as in day ligt. So now to go back to my story, I did not forget to go back to the Station with rations where I had left the woman and her daughters starving and after I had fullfiled my contract with respect to the loading I had for Surat, went down to that Station to live to get my horse fat and the womans husband was very kind to me, in return for the good he thought I had done his family in His absence for he could not get back after he left to go for rations as he fell sick. It was here that Marion was confined with our little Marion. She came at what seemed to be hard times for after the floods came the most bitter cold weather ever known in Queensland and the roads were still almost impassible and flour would have now sold for L30) per bag if it could have been had. And now again my Star was on the decent for the cold weather told heavy on my horses several more of my horse died and as a last resourse to save myself from ruin I pushed back, leaving Marion, to a township further up the river and with what cash I had bought rations, came back to her and then went down to Surat where I sold all at a very high price and now loosing not one hour but back again and doing the same journey 3 times and always realizind almost fabulous prices and, understood me Father,the Hardships I put up with than to do so none but myself and my Wife knows, I had no help but my Blackboy, who then commenced to drive one team and a good deal of his work fell on me, so now I took a spell for 3 months to get what horses I had fat anf buy more and during this time, how did my wife get on, not, perhaps as you would imagine in our old country, this Woman Mrs. Mc Callum could not show there kindness more than what they did for she was a real Highland lady in her way and firmly believes to this day both her and her children were bound for the other side of the world had I not come at the time I did. But God bles her and hers is our wish for them for there kindness more than 20 times repaid anything ever I did for them. So after I got everything straight, I started of for Taroom where I was to receive the loading from Hoeflich which he had bought in Sydney. The goods came all right but but he wrote to me and told me to send him L150 or L200 if I could spare it which I did send him L200 for I thought he might have possibly run short of cash and I received the goods all right and left Marion and our 2 little ones telling her this I hoped would be our last parting for I thought my share of the profits would enable me to start for myself and it would have been so for, by pushing into the interior I found I could easily get 300% on invoice price but before (6) weeks the mailman overtook my teams and had some letters for Hoeflich and I. I had senthim ahead to the next Station to pick on the place to camp my teams and I opened the letters addressed to us and found he had bought the goods wholey on credit, his Bills being backed by his Father, a merchant in Sydney. One letter was informing him his first Bill for L500 was overdue and dishonoured and the other would be due in 10 weeks. The first they were quite willing to protect but, if the 2nd was not provided for, they would soon wind the affairup. Now I found out Hoeflitch’s father was worth about as much money as myself. Consequently the only thing they had to fall back on was me - my teams and the remainder of the loading I had left. Now there was something in this transaction I did not like and when Hoeflich came back, I demanded an explanation from him. For understand me, it was understood and in our agreement that he found the goods and he was to pay cash for them in exchange for me placing my teams and labour which was more than equivalent. And here I found ruin staring us in the face for here in the colonies a merchant that is took in this way has a very Summary way of getting satisfaction for in 12 hours after default of payment of a bill inwhich he can show the least inclination to fraud, he can get a magistrates order and sell off article a man may have that is indebited to him. I got from Hoeflitch, I found he had purchased all our goods on credit and, in fact, the L200 I had sent to him merley went to pay his private expenses in Sydney. So know I at once determined to sell out for cash in which I was fortunite to do to a wealthy storekeeper who bought what I had left allowing me a 10% profit over invoice price and L50 cash for carriage of the goods. So with the amount I received from him and the cash I had taken I had plenty to meet our debts which I did by lodging the money in the Bank to the Credit of the Bills as they fell due. This way of acting on my part did not meet with the approval of my partner, Hoeflich but I now found that I had had a very narrow escape from him for he was nothing but a swindler and when convinced of this, after having proper settlement with him, I must admit to you I lost my temper with him and gave him such a thrashing that I know before imposing upon a man again in the way he had on me that he would consider well upon it. So now I turned back to where I had left Marion and on my road back to her, I made a contract with a squatter to take his wool to town that year and commenced at once after building a hut alongside of the Squatters where I know she would be comfortable for he had a very nice wife and family. And now Father commenced the hardest work I ever done in my life for I found upon due consideration that I could do well out of this contract providing everything went right and it was all in my own hands - no partners. I had little to fear and after nine months work. I found a little over L500 and this made only by myself and Black boy and now I shifted from this station to a place where there was (4) four overland roads met. Here I started a store, there a Public House, still keeping my teams on the road, taking wool down and getting very high prices for that, for teams, especially Horse’s teams, were very scarce. Consequently by the Horse teams I made a great deal of money and in the management of the Store and Public House, I found I had an invaluable partner in my wife. And I new that in the course of a year or so that the overland traffic would shift from here. For understand, this was new country and when other routes were found this track would be done. So I left no stone unturned to make money and in (2) two years after starting the Public House and store, we had cleared a little over (L2,000) two thousand pounds then all business was done so far as the store or Public House was concerned. Now in my spare time, while my horses were spelling, I often went out to examine the country round hear. I first took up Ruined Castle Creek Station and bought a share of (3,000) Three thousand sheep, Ewes which I put onto this Country, taking into partnership , so far as the sheep was concerned, a man who I new was a first class hand amongst sheep and left him to manage them for (2) Two years during which time I still continued with my teams on the road leaving my wife to manage the Store. The Public House I had disposed of this time to the owners of the station where I had built it and at the end of the (2) Two years, I dissolved partnership with this man, he having more than doubled the amount of our sheep during the time he had the management of them. And now I took to the management of the sheep myself but still keeping my teams on the road and doing very well with them. I then bought this station Spottiswood and have made it my home for it is without exception the best, and well watered country in this side of Queensland. And had it not been for the panic that arose in Station property, thro’ the Franco - Russian war, I do not think I ever should have been able to have bought it. In the letter I wrote Ambrose, I told him the way I bought it which I suppose he will shew you. And since then I have gone on stedly doing well for between these two stations with sheep a man must do well as this Station Spottiswoode is what we term first class country and Ruined Castle Creek but good Pastoral but always good running water on it and plenty of feed. So that whatever great a drought may come, I can always find country up here to keep my sheep even should I let them increase to 20,000. This year I lost about 1,000 sheep but have myself to blame partly for that in not shifting my sheep sooner than I did. For my own private family affairs kept me closer at home for about this time our last little boy was born and I can assure you this is a very anxious time for both of us for even from here the nearest doctor is one hundred thirty miles from here and one’s only dependence in a case like this is some friend, in the shape of a married woman and even then you must have a doctor Bespoke which with there fee comes to a good deal. At Home you can better imagin how people are situated in a case like this than I can discribe to you. Tho’ I must say we have been very fortunite and now as we have got a second little Charley I vote that is quite sufficient and be done with having any more little ones for I never had any ambition to have a large family. And now Father, I have told you a good maney of the ins and out of my life, tho’ to have gone into the whole would have took me a lo9ng time to write but should we be spared to meet again, there is some things even in this sketch of my life I could explain to you better than writing. For during the time I was on the roads with the teams, to tell you of two or three illnesses I had, Fever and Ague and Colonial Fever and I can assure Father at the latter end, had it not been for the prompt way Marion acted when she heard of my being ill on the roads, one time inparticular I lay camped under my dray for two weeks unable to move with Colonial fever and only then when I came to my senses for a short time, told the Black boy to ride ahead the next day if I got worse, to the next station and let them know for hear neighbours are very good in a case of sickness, and will take good care to forward the news on to a mans family, who may be ill and in the relapse I had from the sickness I can assure you it was many a day after before I was strong again. I know shall never be the same as I was and had it not been for Marion coming down in the Buggey my time was up then for Colonial fever comes on a man in such a simple way that one could hardly think it would leave such disastrous effects after it as it does. However after this illness I hardly new myself for on leaving home I weighed 13st 10lbs on my return 11st 1ib and my hair turned not grey but as white as snow but in every other way, Queensland I consider is much healthy part of Austraila’s for let the day be ever so hot, there is generaly a cool breeze of a night, tho’ Colonial Fever and Fever and Auge is more prevelant in Queensland but I think tis’on act of it being new country and the Hardships thro’ Exposure both night and day thus the poineers have to put up with, tells more on them, for I notice the heat here in the day is much more intense than in anyother part of Austraila for you can imagine theThermoneter standing at 109 Deg in the shade, Fahrenheit and a man working hard during that heat how the change must tell on him of at night the glass generally goes down to 78 Deg. And now Father as in my first letter I told you Queensland was too hot for me which means that thro’ the few hardships I have hadto go thro’ I now have to take great care of myself and also I think I stated in in my first letter th at I was determined to be a rich man. I mean’t that I could not be satisfied until I had attained the possission I had been brought up in and to attain that possition, a man as sometimes to work harder then any can imagine. For over here twas different to Victoria as the Gold diggins gave that place the first great start but I can assure you now tis’ a fact that even Victoria cannot hide from herself that Queensland will be the leading part of Austrail for tis’ now a fact proven our Sugar cannot be bettered by any other Country. The wool also from here showes it commands the highest price in the home market except for some small parcels of wool from Sydney which is got uo by some wealthy Squatters who have made there fortune before some of us had started over here and further we have the advantage of being so near the Indian market in Comparison to any other part of Australia and now with the Californian mail route and the Americans having come over here, to compete with our home buyers for the wool, I do not think I do not think I am going to far ahead saying that even after all the troubles we have seen in Queensland, there is better day in store for us. For with the wool here you can understand how the home buyers had it in there own hand when I tell you that wool that they bought in Sydney six months; after, they sold for over double what they gave for it and during this War they seem to have had the wool trade completely in their hands, the continental buyer not being able to come into the market but now the sudden change is almost to good for some of us to believe that only got 41/2 d per lb for our wool last year and have merchants this year ofering 10d and in some instances 1/ per pound for the wool on our stations. This you can understand as given given us better heart for many honest and hard working men had to succumb and lost there all in the time of the Franco-Prussian war. For before the war wool was worth 1d a lb and people buying into Stations property at that rate you can imagine there loss. But now I see the Banks are going to take up the business for the Squatters and Have no doubt those that require there assistance will do better than when they were dependent on there agents who was only what you might call a middleman: man between the bank and the Squatter. So now I must fetch this a close as I am now off for Rockampton having just started my teams again on there 2nd Trip and pray excuse any mistakes you may see in my writing for I have had to do this in a very hurried way, generally after all as gome to bed, and the life I have led as not not tended to improve my hand for writing. So God bless you and hope this will be a happy new year for you - ‘tho suppose twill be a little advanced ere you recive this. Mariom writes with me in kind love to you, Mother and all the rest. Manys the look and inquiries I have had to answer our little once since they have seen your likeness.

Believe me.

Ever your affte Son

Robert J. Salsbury


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