chapter  3
3 Pages


In no case have the selectors any of the grass rights allowed by the law. This extremely valuable land (through the second run goes the Moama railway, and the third includes a frontage to two rivers) was alienated chiefly by auction, which meant sale at about 21/- an acre. Even the township reserves were largely acquired by the squatters because of purchases in regard to improvements. The device of Volunteer Land Orders was also utilized, for 92 of them were spotted over the second run. By such means was the Deniliquin public estate reduced to 'narrow reserves and a few other shreds'. The case was typical, too, for in the Deniliquin surveyors' district, two and a half out of four million acres were made into large estates. And so on, throughout the whole Riverina. 6. PEACOCKING i.e., seizing the 'eyes' or the vantage points throughout in such a manner as to render the intervening land useless. This was a very valuable cattle station, carrying a large herd, and in the Clarence district, one of the best in the colony. The total area was 258,293 acres; and the holder obtained the main water-frontage and the other key positions by buying 27,209 acres, by getting a pre-lease over 39,740 acres, and by having 53,555 acres locked up in reserves. Selectors held only 322 acres of this vast area and could not obtain pre-leases. The land was bought in '40-acre lots scattered broadcast over the run, and it is impossible not to admire the skill displayed in letting them fall exactly where they are wanted. No general ever posted his troops in more impregnable positions. The wonder is how it came that the Department of Lands allowed their surveyors to measure so many scattered lots on the same run, to enable the lessee to destroy the public estate. The whole transaction would be incredible were it not confirmed by the map.' 7. PRE-LEASE This run was also in the desired Clarence district to the north. Of a station containing 89,000 acres, the lessee had bought 14,036 acres of the frontages and commanding positions. A forest reserve of 24,000 acres prevented selectors from encroaching on the upper part of the run, while the intermediate lands were vacant, because commanded by 11,494 acres of pre-leases. So successful had these pre-leases been, that selectors held only 1191 acres and no grass rights. Each squatter obtained a pre-emptive lease over adjoining

427 land to the extent of four acres for every £1 of improvements which he erected on his run. Such land could remain locked up indefinitely if the lessee did not choose to exercise his right of purchase. 8. DUMMIES i.e., evading the Act by using puppets to fulfil the necessary conditions. This station in the Liverpool Plains district admirably shows the results. It consisted of 48,000 acres, only five miles from a railway line. It was 'situated with a fine agricultural area, where the rainfall is abundant and regular'. Yet, of 112 conditional purchasers, 108 worked in the interests of the station; so that the run obtained 18,111 acres by conditional purchase, while bona-fide settlers could get only 321 acres without pre-leases. The lessee, however, was enabled to grasp 7930 acres of pre-lease. Such dummying, although not always on a scale so organized, went on everywhere. AOOREGATION This illustrates the evasion of the law of 1861, even where good results came. In the Monaro (S.W.) lands, there were 'substantial results from the Act of 1861, though not in the form presented by the law'. Dummying was an institution here, and, in these typical counties of Wallace and Beresford, onethird of the land went to the original run-holders; one-third went to proprietors who had amassed estates of from 3000 to 10,000 acres; the other onethird went to comparatively small holders, who had estates from 320 to 3000 acres. Only one-fifth of the original selectors held land here, and, thus, the Act had directly fostered the aggregation of small allotments (acquired by conditional purchase) into large holdings suitable to combined grazing and tillage.