Tuesday, 23 June 2020

The Walters Move to Bargo. An extract from the forthcoming biography of Berenice Walters, The Dingo Lady

Berenice and Bern had a longing to live in the country. Instead of the university education Berenice had steadfastly refused, her father bought them a 24 hectare property in beautiful Bargo, 100 kilometres south-west of Sydney.

When they arrived, farming was the main activity in the district with large poultry farms and cropping of peas, beans and other pastures.

Bargo is well known as the place the first Koala was sighted by a white man in 1798 when one of an expedition group described it as a quadruped larger than a dog. The group were also the first white men to see a Lyrebird but thought it was a pheasant. Its ornate tail was recorded, and the nearby district became known as Pheasants Nest. The bird was shot and sent to England by Governor Hunter. 

There was also the first recording of a Wombat when expedition leader, John Wilson, pointed out dung to one of his travel companions. They slept overnight in the district then known as Bargo Brush.

Today, a plaque in the town commemorates the historic first recorded sightings. It is mounted on one of three roughhewn boulders. The flanking boulders carry plaques depicting a Lyrebird and Koala.

By the 1880s Bargo Brush became infamous as favourite haunt of bushrangers and a popular stopover for Cobb and Co coaches on their way south.

Life on the farm for the Walters was hard work but they revelled in it.

It was a life many city folks would not warm to. The mail man only came two or three times a week and parcels to and from Bargo were sent by train and collected from railway stations. Fresh fruit and vegetables, unless home grown, were bought from a travelling greengrocer fortnightly.

Their house, wired for electricity, provided electric lighting and power for a refrigerator but drinking water was rainwater collected from the roof and stored in tanks at back. Water for animals and the garden came from a dam.

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