stories, photos, anecdotes….. sharing the past
There are many towns and villages within the Parkes Shire LGA (local government area). There are also localities, places that have been named and are known to locals, but do not officially register as a town or village. The Troffs is one of the localities of the Parkes Shire and is still spoken of today. It wasn’t a town like Cookamidgera; or a village like Wongalea. However the memories of this place are still strong in many Parkes Shire residents.
According to Watts and Wright, The Troffs was originally a run.
The Troffs Run was first taken up by William Cummings (of “Clear Creek” near Bathust) in 1864 when he applied for a Crown Lease of all the vacant land between Trundle Lagoon and Mungery Runs (Application No.52 of August 1864).
As constituted at this time The Troffs consisted of 64,000 acres (or 100 sq. miles). It took its name from a large flat rock in which there was a depression shaped similarly to a watering trough. H.M. Beuzeville described this geographical feature:
‘The “trough” as [sic] about 2ft 6in (750mm) deep and 4ft 6in (1450mm) long with battered sides, the bottom being about 2ft (600mm) square. The stones from out of this hole which had been loosened by the action of [water] continually percolating through the crevices were standing some 2ft (600mm) from the edge. The supposition being that it had been lifted out of [the trough] by aboriginals in the past. It was an unwritten law of the stockmen and shepherds, and later, boundary riders that this trough should be kept clear of rubbish, as a few points of rain falling would cause it to overflow with water, and man, horse and dog could obtain a drink when other surface water had evaporated.’
Source: J.P. Watts & C.F. Wright (1987) pp.20-21
Sadly The Troffs rock was a victim of progress, as Watts and Wright attest to:
Unfortunately this rock stood at the base of a basalt hill which was quarried when the railway line was being constructed through the area and the original “Troughs” were destroyed.
Source: J.P. Watts & C.F. Wright (1987) p.21
While the actual trough was destroyed, the station name continued long after. Today it is still listed as a farm name on the Parkes Shire Council list of properties.
Watts & Wright noted that:
Cummings made no attempt to fence or make improvements upon “The Troffs” Holding using it only to pasture sheep in favourable seasons. The area basically became a no-mans land, being used by various stockholders to spell their river country in the winter months. Horse and kangaroo shooters also did good business in the area until the country was enclosed by wire fences.
The Troffs was eventually forfeited by Cummings for non-compliance with Land Regulations.
Source: J.P. Watts & C.F. Wright (1987) p.21
In March 1871, a resident of Young – Thomas Redfern Watt – purchased a five year lease on The Troffs from the Crown for nine hundred pounds ($1800) (Watts & Wright 1987 p.21). Watts & Wright claim that the run was now estimated to cover 100,000 acres and stretched from just north of present Trundle to the north of present Tullamore. Watts & Wright explain the further improvements that Thomas Redfern Watt made to The Troffs:
Watt, in conjunction with the holders of Burrawang and Coradgery, fenced the boundaries of the run with wire. A total of 64,000 acres were fenced and then divided by further wire fences into four paddocks. Watt then had tanks sunk in each paddock. These were excavated by pick, shovel and dray at a cost of 1/6 per cubic yard. The principal water supply for the station was The Troffs Tank which was situated where the present Troffs Silos are today. Watt erected an up-to-date woolshed at Boney’s Lagoon and 3,300 sheep were shorn in the first shearing season.
Source: J.P. Watts & C.F. Wright (1987) p.21
Watts & Wright report that Thomas Watt was involved in a buggy accident in 1878 at Gunningbland Station, incurring a fractured leg. While he was taken to Forbes to receive medical attention, Watts & Wright record that complications from the fracture resulted in Watt’s death.
According to Watts & Wright after the death of T.R. Watt ‘The Troffs’ station was
…sold to Webster and Laidley in 1879. In 1881 Thomas Laidley renewed the lease for the period 1.1.1881 to 31.12.1885 at a rental of 206 pounds ($412) per annum. By this time The Troffs Station totalled 130,000 acres. During this period the unfenced portion of the holding was surveyed and subsequently fenced and divided into another four paddocks with brush, drop and top rail fences.
Webster built a residence at Bullock Head Plain and erected a horse paddock, yards, men’s huts, store, stables etc He then applied for an I.P. (Improvement Purchase) of 320 acres surrounding these improvements. Laidley erected the original “Troffs Homestead” and applied for an I.P. of 640 acres. This 960 acres was the only land secured on the whole Troffs Holding.
Under the Lands Act of 1884 62,270 acres of The Troffs Pastoral Holding were resumed to be offered for selection leaving 65,520 acres as leasehold in 1885. On March 20, 1885 the Lease was transferred to The Australasian Mortgage Agency Co. Ltd as mortgagers for the Hutton Bros. The Hutton Bros held the Station for many years eventually selling to the Daryan Bros in 1901.
Source: J.P. Watts & C.F. Wright (1987) p.21
One other fact that Watts & Wright have recorded is that the Gobondry Hotel was established along the Forbes to Dandaloo Stock Route and first licenced in 1875. The Gobondry Hotel was a vital source to thirsty travellers but also supplied the needs of the many workers at surrounding stations such as The Troffs, Burra Burra and Melrose Plains. It was also a receiving station for mail and supplies bound for these properties.
Watts & Wright discuss the establishment of early drinking establishments in the Trundle region, and The Troffs Hotel was one of these:
In 1878 Mr Patrick Moloney moved to Gobondry and took up the licence on the Hotel… Moloney ran the Hotel until his death on February 3, 1885, at which time his widow, Honora, took over the licence. Finding that business was again failing Honora decided to make a move and in October she closed the [Gobondry] Hotel and took over the licence on The Troffs Hotel.
The old Gobondry Hotel was eventually destroyed by fire around 1900.
THE TROFFS HOTEL: The Troffs Hotel may have been the earliest of the wayside shanties established in the Trundle district. It was originally owned by a man named Spargo. Spargo applied for a lease of several small blocks of land three miles (5 km) north of Trundle Dam in 1876 but it would seem that the shanty had been operating for some years prior to this date. The Bathurst Times of January 7, 1865 reported that a boundary rider named Thomas Bayliss, who worked for the owner of Coradgery Station and was stationed at Trundle Lagoon, was a frequent visitor at Spargo’s shanty.
On April 4, 1880 the licence for The Troffs Hotel passed into the hands of Thomas Riley who held the licence until it was taken over by Honora Moloney on October 15, 1885. Mrs Moloney held the licence until she transferred it to her newly erected Trundle Hotel in 1888. At that time the Troffs Hotel was sold to a Chinese contractor (Tommy Ah Foo or Char Nong) and it became the nucleus of a large Chinese Camp, the remains of which can still be seen today. From that time the site became known as “The Chinaman’s”.
Source: J.P. Watts & C.F. Wright (1987) p.34
While the popular spelling of ‘The Troffs’ seems to contradict the spelling of the word ‘trough’, Watts & Wright do record that there is an alternative spelling which is in line with the correct spelling for water trough:
THE FORBES TO DANDALOO MAIL RUN: To the men and women who lived and worked in the isolated regions of rural NSW the mail constituted a vital link with civilization. It not only bought [sic] news of friends and family but also of the world outside their small community; newspapers, books and catalogues of merchandise varying from ploughs to Easter Bonnets, all of which could be purchased by mail order.
The first regular mail run to pass through the district was the Forbes to Dandaloo Mail Run which commenced operation in 1877. Up until that time mail had to be collected from Forbes. A contract for the Run was first advertised in 1876 but initially there were no applicants. Mr Herbert M. Beuzeville finally became the first contractor and commenced the run on February 1, 1877. At that time the contract stated that the mail should be carried from…
“Forbes to Dandaloo via Blowclear, Gunningbland, The Troughs, Gobondry, Burra Burra, Mumble Plains, Block H. Woodlands, and Albert Water Holes; once weekly; by horseback; for 320 pounds ($640.00) per annum.”
Later (1888) the contract called for the postal line to pass through:
“Forbes, Bogan Gate, Trundle Lagoon and Dandaloo via West’s, Todd’s, Hertzog’s, Christie’s, Saw Mill, Blowclear, Gunningbland, Troffs Homestead, Gobondry, Burra Burra, Mumble Plains, Block H, Woodlands Homestead and Albert Waterholes.”Source: J.P. Watts & C.F. Wright (1987) pp35-36
A regular occurrence was to select a portion of land from a large estate and then make it your own property for living and working on. ‘The Troffs’ experienced this as well, when around 1889 Francis William Gibson selected a portion of ‘The Troffs’ which he named “Plevna”. Two brothers, James and Daniel Crowley, also selected two blocks of land of 2,560 acres each on April 25, 1889 which had been part of The Troffs Estate. This was 17 miles out from Trundle. James called his selection “Cardungle” and Dan called his “Moira”. It is recorded that the only dwelling on their properties when they arrived was a boundary rider’s hut and it was in this rough, yet solid, two roomed hut that the two families lived until the building of their own houses was complete. (Source: J.P. Watts & C.F. Wright (1987) pp.62 & 67)
The Forbes Advocate, in reprinting an interview that The Trundle Star had with Adrian Willmott, includes details of what the topography of ‘The Troffs’ was like:
From this point we journeyed on to ‘The Troffs’ and thence to the outstation, 15 miles away. Messrs. Hutton Bros. owned ‘The Troffs’ in those days. Mr James Hunt now occupies the homestead that Messrs Hutton Bros built.
The out-station was first known as Cardungle, but when the Government officials came along they reckoned the people didn’t know how to spell the word properly, and so they spelt it with a ‘k’, making Kadungle of it.
Mr F.L. Atkinson…. was overseer at ‘The Troffs’ in those days, and at the time practically the only habitations in that area were the homesteads on Burra Burra, The Troffs, Cardungle, Coradgery and Murrumbogie homesteads.
We rode into ‘The Troffs’ 15 miles for our mail, and it was a ride through absolutely virgin forest. The ring of an axe was never heard, and the yap of a dingo or the laughter of a kookaburra was generally the only break in a silence that was almost oppressive.Source: The Forbes Advocate May 27, 1927 p.9
In the same newspaper, another The Trundle Star report was reproduced. This interview was with Fred Beuzeville, the son of Herbert Marshall Beuzeville. H.M. Beuzeville was a prolific writer, using the pen name of “Bilbie”. Fred Beuzeville told The Trundle Star that the family “…came to the out-station of ‘The Troffs’ in 1884. At that time there was no Trundle.” (Source: The Forbes Advocate May 27, 1927 p.9)
The Troffs did have a small school, although it was not called by the locality’s name. It was called “Eastella”. It originally opened in 1926 and then closed in 1932. Five years later it reopened but was then finally closed in 1940 ( Source: J.P. Watts & C.F. Wright (1987) p317). Not a lot of information is available about Eastella school. Parkes Library would love to hear from anyone with stories, memories and/or photographs of Eastella school.
Maureen Bell and Bernadette Boneham are sisters who both have fond memories of ‘The Troffs’. The girls were two of the children in the Burke family, for whom ‘The Troffs’ was more than just a locality – it was the name of the property that the Burke family lived on! Both came into Parkes Library to share some of their memories and photographs of ‘The Troffs’ and they have kindly given permission for their personal stories to be included on this blog.
The house was owned by the Hunts who lived in it prior to the Burke family coming to ‘The Troffs’. Other families that they remember neighbouring their property were the Barnes (who lived at ‘Rocklea’), the McLachlans (‘Reas Falls’) and Tony Conroy who lived at ‘Dangamore’. The Hunts made good use of the large lounge room at ‘The Troffs’, using it a s a ballroom for the local area. While the Burke family used the lounge room as a makeshift ballroom too, it was mainly for youth dances. Maureen and Bernadette remember that the school paddock [EDIT: the school being Eastella which closed for the second and last time in 1940] was lined with pepper trees.
While the locality known as ‘The Troffs’ did not have any shops, it was a great place to grow up according to both Maureen and Bernadette. Their house was in two parts with railway sleepers between the sections. There was no electricity until 1959. The Burke children would ride their bikes one mile (1.61 kilometres) to then catch a bus that took them to St Pats school in Trundle. They needed to be at the bus stop by 7.15am to make their ride. In 1961 there was a bus from Kadungle – known as “the little green beetle” – which took over the school run. Catching this bus allowed for a later departure time.
There were other buildings on ‘The Troffs’ property. Bernadette remembers a shearing shed but this was not used by the Burke family. There was a pigsty with a “thatched” roof. Near the property was the Trundle-Tullamore Road, but it was still in the stages of being tarred. Bernadette remembers their father taking a 99-year lease on another property that the Trundle-Tullamore Road went through. This property was known as “The Additional”.
The sisters remember their father owned the first Holden in Trundle. The Burke family also had a De Soto ute with a metal floor and a canopy. This was used to transport the pigs when required. It was then cleaned out to transport the children to church on Sunday!
Telecommunications was very different from today for the Burke girls, with a phone number of 61H. Party lines were commonplace. Today with digital telecommunications, only a caller and receiver can hear the conversation. However, when phone lines were physical cables, there would be a number of houses on a local loop telephone circuit – meaning that anyone whose telephone was on this loop could listen in to other conversations. While this might seem like a gossipers’ dream come true, most people utilised telephone etiquette and would ask, “Anyone using the line?” if they couldn’t hear a conversation before making a phone call.
While there were no shops, the Burkes did what a lot of families on property did back in the 1950s, selling eggs to the egg board, while also selling surplus milk.
For grocery items that the family could not produce, the Trundle store and Frogley’s General Store (also in Trundle) would deliver groceries to the house via the mail run. Baked bread would come on this mail run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. However, many staple items that are taken for granted today were special treats – the Burke children enjoyed going to mass at Trundle because afterwards they would have a meal at Grandma’s in 1 Hutton Street where they might be fortunate enough to get sausages! A strong memory is that whenever the family drove into Trundle there was always the smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the air.
Bernadette recalls the businesses in Trundle in the late 60s that the Burke family frequented. There were:
In addition to the goods that could be purchased from Trundle, Bernadette remembers travelling tinkers who would bring their wares almost to the door. The Rawleigh’s man was a popular merchant, who sold “Man & Beast Ointment” along with a selection of essences and even material that could be purchased for making clothes.
In 1972 Bernadette moved away from ‘The Troffs’ and lived in Tullamore. Her memories of the businesses in Tullamore then include two general stores, a bank, a hotel, a barber, a butcher, a café (Vamvas Café) and a bowling club. There was also a Post Office which was also the manual exchange.
The Troffs railway station was first open on December 15, 1908 and was officially closed November 23, 1974 (Source: NSWrail.net) It is still a popular venue for railway station, silo and train enthusiasts to take photographs of.
Parkes Shire Library would like to thank the following people and organisations for their assistance in making this post possible:
Spotted a mistake? Maybe you have something to add. If you have stories, photographs and/or memories of The Troffs that you are willing to share, please contact Parkes Shire Library via firstname.lastname@example.org Your stories are part of the history of the Parkes Shire, allow us to preserve them for posterity and share them on this blog. Alternatively you may leave comments on this page.