Poor Opinion of Tenindewa

Geraldton Guardian November 18th 1913
Our Tenindewa Trip (by C.O.N)

We had been falsely accused of holding a poor opinion of the Tenindewa country. We could never ascertain how such an impression existed, as we were not aware that we had said anything derogatory to the district. Whenever we spoke of Tenindewa was from hearsay, as we had never been there. We concluded therefore if fault there was then “hearsay” was to blame, and we had better go to Tenindewa and see for ourselves. There was a standing invitation and offer to pilot us around from Mr. H J Stafford, the enthusiastic ex Station-Master of Geraldton, so one fine morning we set out with a light heart. In pre-railway days and up to the time it blossomed forth as an agricultural centre, the district was known as Wolya. The old Wolya well was a camping place for weary travelers across the cruel sandplain, on the road to Mullewa and en route to the Murchison. Contrary to usual practice, the railway department (or whoever named the siding) has since endowed it with a more euphonious* name……Tenindewa….. how glibly* it runs! We are told it is a most beautiful place in spring and we shall not be surprised if, in the near future, such a beautiful place, with such a beautiful name is not the theme of a spring poet.
*Euphonious means (according to Siri) “of sound (especially speech) pleasing to the ear.
*Glibly means (according to Siri) “fluent but insincere or shallow”
Tenindewa is almost due east of Geraldton, and as the train crawls 55 miles distant. En route it attains at Indarra, eight miles [actually 4 miles] from our destination, at a height of 895 feet (273 metres) above sea level. As Geraldton station only 5 feet (1.5 meters) there is some justification for the crawl. Tenindewa itself is 641 feet (195 meters) just a little higher than Grant’s Siding (Newmarracarra). Mullewa, 10 miles (16 kilometers) further on, is 250 feet (76 meters) higher still. It will be seen how irregular are the gradients on this railway. When Mr. Charles Smith realizes his ambition, and is able to take a ticket from Yuna to Mullewa direct, there will perhaps, be fewer snorting and puffing locomotives running on the Geraldton Mullewa section. The train service from Geraldton is quite convenient, but it is quite the reverse from Mullewa. The residents of the district should take time by the forelock and press for a timetable that will enable them to visit their metropolis, Geraldton and reach home the same day. When the Mullewa-Wongan Hills line is taken over by the Department, Mullewa will no doubt be treated as a junction station, and the district timetable arranged accordingly.
On arrival at Tenindewa we alight at the spick and span station and are heartily greeted by the ex-station master, who looks a typical pioneer …bronzed certainly, but still wiry, and emblematic of his ole railway sobriquet*. There is the usual assortment of county side parcels to be gathered for us and our friends, the all important mail to be secured, and we set out behind Duke [the horse] for Mr. Stafford’s homestead on the banks of the Kockatea Gully, three miles distant where we were made heartily welcome by Mrs. Stafford and her daughters. Their healthy appearances and their assurances that they enjoyed the “simple life” that falls to the lot of those who go to the land were happy auguries* for the tenor of those notes and eloquent testimony to the climate of Tenindewa. Mr. Stafford’s homestead is comfortable but unpretentious. It is built of iron, and provides ample accommodation for his large family and occasional travelers like ourselves. He jocularly refers to the fact that the original was, like the world, built in six days. Mr. and Mrs. Stafford wisely deferred the selection of a site for, and the erection of, the permeant building until they got used to the place. They have now selected the site, and it will not be long before home is laid. After refreshing the outer and inner man, we take a stroll round the farm buildings, whilst our steed “Duke” is recuperating for aa hard afternoon’s work.
Enthusiastic though he is as to his prospects as wheat grower, it is satisfactory to note as we emerge from the house that Mr. Stafford has not deserted his old love, and that he continues to breed high-class poultry. As is well known, he enjoys a reputation in the poultry and show pens. Hundreds of white leghorn fowls of all ages flit here and there as we pass along the incubator room, which contains two machines. Several foster-mothers are distributed on the grassy slopes adjoining the house, and in the distance numbers of turkeys are contentedly picking as they roam. Needless to say, the returns from Mr. Stafford’s poultry yard are satisfactory. We next come to a fair sized paddock, fenced with Cyclone netting and barbed wire, which has just been completed, and it is completed to keep the pigs within bounds, Mr. Stafford having decided to go in for pig breeding, as part of his scheme of mixed farming. Four excellent sows in litter have been secured for a start, and a boar has been ordered from Newmarracarra. With an undoubted demand for pork and bacon in the district, there should be money in the business. Although he has only been on the place four years there is sufficient shed accommodation to keep all machinery and horses under cover. And there is ample plant for working the property in the present stage, the machinery comprising two binders, a harvester, a winnower, a chaff cutting plant , driven by a benzine engine, beside vehicles etc. Mr. Stafford’s horse flesh was unfortunately seriously depleted during the year by he death of two draft mares whilst foaling. The two were valued at one hundred pounds ($200.00). “Its all in the game” philosophically comments our guide, as we inspect the working teams. We did not see any sheep. The present flock is quite a resent acquisition, and having a strain of Shropshires, [which] had inconsiderably walked through the fence and sampled the crop. Fortunately they were discovered before much damage was done, and placed in a distant paddock.
As we wished to see something of the district that afternoon, we now returned to the house, and harnessed up for a twenty mile (33 kilometer) trip round our host’s and neighboring crops.
*Sobriquet means (according to Siri) A person’s nickname (which in HJ’s case was “Narrow Gauge”)
*Auguries means (according to Siri) A sign of what will happen in the future (eg.an Omen)


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