Photographs from England shed light on station life

In late 2013, the CSU Regional Archives was very fortunate to be contacted by Mr Martin Herring from England, who had in his possession five rare photographs of Toganmain Station taken in 1891. Through the generosity of Mr Herring, these photographs have now been donated to the Regional Archives, and we are now able to gain a pictorial insight into life on one of the Riverina’s largest pastoral properties.

It is believed that the photos were sent back to England by a 15 year old John Shephard who was serving in the Merchant Navy. John was sending the photos to his sister (who is Mr Herring’s maternal grandmother). Unfortunately John died in 1918 when his ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the Irish Coast. To this day, it is not known how young John came into possession of these photos of Toganmain or if he ever visited the station.

Toganmain Station, located between Darlington Point and Carrathool on the southern side of the Murrumbidgee River, was one of the principal grazing properties in the Riverina. It was first established by Sir Alexander Macleay before being sold to Thomas Robertson in 1876. It then remained in the Robertson family until 1988.

In 1893 (just two years after the photographs were taken) Toganmain Station exceeded just over 300,000 acres in size, and was bounded by extensive Murrumbidgee River frontage. The homestead and accompanying outbuildings resembled a little colony including barracks, stores, carpenter’s and blacksmith’s shops. Even in 1893, the homestead already had electric lights installed, and telephonic communication with the outstations of Toganmain were also in place (in some places stretching over 25 miles).

The Toganmain woolshed was a fine structure measuring 240 feet in length and 80 feet in width. When shearing took place it was not unusual to have 60 shearers engaged, along with rouseabouts, cooks and shearing hands, as well as another 30 men employed on contract to work at wool scouring. In total it was not unusual to have over 150 men employed to complete shearing. Amazingly, in 1891 a total of 218,000 sheep were shorn at Toganmain. The wool clip from Toganmain Station also had an excellent and enviable reputation for both quality and style in Australian and English wool trade circles.

The CSU Regional Archives has an existing collection of records documenting Toganmain and Cooinbil Stations during the mid to late twentieth century. The State Library of NSW also has an extensive collection of earlier records from Toganmain which cover the nineteenth century.

Toganmain Station Hands - 1891
Toganmain Station Hands – 1891

To view the other photos from the Toganmain Station collection, please visit our flickr page at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/csuarchives/

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