The Hay Historical Society has much pleasure in presenting this collection of the writings of Harold M. Mackenzie, travelling agent, dealer and journalist of the late 1800's. The series of fifty-one articles appeared in the Hay newspaper, the Riverine Grazier, in 1893 and 1894, and has remained until now an un-exploited gold-mine of information about the Riverina of those days.
Mr. Mackenzie journeyed through much of the Riverina, from around Booroorban in the south to Ivanhoe in the north, and from Darlington Point in the east to Balranald in the west. On his travels he visited many of the large freehold stations of the time, noting a wealth of information about the nature of the country, the present and past owners and managers, the pastoral activities and sheep breeding lines, the rabbit extermination plans, the cropping experiments, and the challenges and overall potential outlook for each holding. Having surveyed a couple of dozen of the major properties, Mr. Mackenzie returned and paid attention to the small-holdings in each area, the selectors and lessees who populated much of the district, especially tracts of country far from the highly-sought river frontages and where the getting of a living was a daily battle. Along the way, he enjoyed attending race meetings, paid a visit to the artesian bore being drilled near Hay, and took in the Mossgiel Show. All of this and much more, including some poems he wrote, are included here. For an accurate first-hand account of those times, with a great deal of local colour and detail, his lively and readable essays provide an extraordinarily valuable primary resource for historians and genealogists. It's interesting that he compared Booligal with Hell more than two years before "Banjo" Paterson's immortal poem!
The articles Harold Mackenzie wrote have been reproduced in full, with no changes except to introduce paragraph breaks at times. Spelling and punctuation have been left strictly as they appeared in the newspaper, even if they vary or are not as they would appear today. They are listed in the order they were originally published over a sixteen-month period, so that references to the unfolding season and to local events such as shearers' unrest are in their chronological context. We can only speculate why some properties are not included. Perhaps the manager was absent when Harold came to call. He states that he will not write about a place without checking his facts with the landholder.
The main project has been to illustrate the series, and a collection for that purpose has been made of both old and new photographs. In many cases sites have been visited for the purpose of making a present-day record of the district's historic attractions. Where appropriate, pen drawings have been made of the sites, often from older photos of now-demolished homesteads and woolsheds. Locality maps have been compiled and inserted in each article to aid the reader who is following in Mackenzie's footsteps. Some properties which missed out on a visit from Mackenzie are represented here with photos, usually in the account of a neighbour's holding.
Ian Beissel has written a foreword to the Mackenzie essays, outlining the settling of the Riverina and the start of the great pastoral runs. He takes us from the time of Captain Charles Sturt's journey through the region in 1829, and follows the development of the pastoral industry, noting the major influences on the fortunes of those early settlers, namely the gold rushes, the navigation of the rivers, the Land Acts, and the introduction of rabbits. This fills in the history of the area up to where Mackenzie himself takes up the story. A guide to Ian's sources is included for those who are seeking further reading.
Five delightful poems are included in this collection, as a treat for the student of pastoral history. They appeared in the Riverine Grazier in the years between 1896 and 1900, submitted by William Tully, who wrote as a shearer at Tarwong Shed. Nothing further is known of William Tully.
Not a great deal is known of Harold Montague Mackenzie himself. As far as can be ascertained, he was born in 1860 at St. Kilda, Melbourne, to John Mackenzie, land and estate agent, and his wife Emily Cordelia (née Lingham). A close neighbour was K. E. Brodribb, a name very well-known in the Riverina. As well as having his own business, John Mackenzie worked with J. Younghusband in the firm of Younghusband & Co., warehousemen and importers, during the 1860's. He died in 1877. Harold appears to have followed in the family tradition, being described as a dealer at the time of his death in 1913. Well-educated and widely-travelled, he died of tuberculosis, and was buried at sea two days before his ship was due to dock at Melbourne after a passage from Colombo, Ceylon. He was not married, and no more recent details about his family have been located. The family came from Ireland in 1842. No connection has been found with the Scots-born McKenzies of Echuca who were connected with Younghusband Ltd. from the 1930's.
Harold Mackenzie had intentions of publishing this series of articles himself. I think he would be pleased with this book.