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Bukkulla Station (1839 - )

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Location: Inverell, New South Wales, Australia
Bukkulla Station, situated about 20 kilometres directly north of present-day Inverell in north-eastern New South Wales, was first taken up by George Wyndham in 1839. Along with the pastoral stations at Byron Plains (Peter Macintyre) and Inverell (Alexander Campbell), Bukkulla (as Wyndham’s property was then known) was at the time the only other pastoral run in the Inverell region. It comprised a massive tract of land covering about 130,000 acres.

Wyndham, the son of a noble British family, had arrived in Australia in 1827. The following year, he purchased a property near Branxton, in the Hunter Valley, which he named Dalwood. There he not only raised cattle and horses but also cultivated maize, wheat, hemp, mustard, tobacco (which he had some success with for a number of some years), millet, cape barley and, of course, grape vines. By the late-1830s, Wyndham had accumulated enough capital and manpower to found several new runs; firstly, Mahngarinda, near Merriwa, then Colly Blue (or Collybllu) on the Liverpool Plains, followed by Bukkulla, and in the 1840s Keelgyrah, on the Richmond River, Nullamanna (which adjoined Bukkulla), and New Valley, near Tingha. Within twenty years of arriving in the colony, then, Wyndham had secured seven properties covering about 200,000 acres.

On Bukkulla, Wyndham appointed a superintendant to manage the property, which was soon thriving. By 1850, it carried 300 horses, 2,000 cattle and 7,000 sheep. Throughout these years, Wyndham himself remained at Dalwood with his wife, Margaret, and their eleven children (ten of them boys!). But he took a keen interest in each of his properties, and in 1844 Wyndham embarked on an extensive tour to assess their development and progress. With twelve bullock drays drawn by more than 120 bullocks, and accompanied by Margaret, the eleven children, numerous servants, horses and even milking cows, the party progressed at a lesurely pace, reaching Bukkulla in 1846. There a ‘neat cottage’ had been built near the Macintyre River, along with a stone dairy and forge (later converted into a wine room). During this visit, Wyndham ordered that a new homestead be constructed further up the hill as the existing cottage was vulnerable to attack from Aborigines. With some of his sons were reaching manhood by this time and assuming greater responsibility for the various properties, Wyndham may also have been preparing the way for their imminent arrival.

Accordingly, in 1849, three of the Wyndham boys, Reginald, Charles and Guy, took up the management of Bukkulla Station. On instructions from their father, whose love of wine-making was ‘expansive’, they brought with them grape-cuttings from Dalwood which were kept fresh during the journey by being placed in a creek each night. These were originally planted on Fraser’s Creek but later moved to a site near the present village of Bukkulla. There the vinayard grew, and by 1870 it was producing 11,000 gallons of ‘delicious’ wine a year. Although ‘the neuclei of several promising vineyards have been laid of late’, the Inverell Times reported in 1875, ‘the only developed [one] in the district is Bukkulla, the wines of which were awarded first position at the Paris Exhibition’. On the basis of this success, the Times hoped that the Inverell district would become ‘a great laboratory of - wine, which it were a national improvidence to devote to sheep walks, could we only recommend the husbandsman and find trusts to possess it’.

The station’s management was much less successful in other respects. Despite the Inverell Times’ contempt for sheep-rearing, wool was Bukkulla’s staple production. And yet, the Wyndham boys showed little regard for this most important - if not primary - function on Bukkulla. For them, as one member of the Wyndham family later put it, finances were ‘a distinct bore, and certainly not to be compared in importance with cricket, racing, and hospitality’. They established a cricket club at the station and devoted a considerable portion of their time to breeding horses. The stud was no doubt a magnificent one; at the time, the Wyndhams were considered the biggest breeders in the colony and had become famous by producing horses of unusual stamina. But the up-keep of these horses, which in 1868 numbered 300, was extraordinary. A large number of jockeys and grooms were employed on the station, while strings of horses were entered by the Wyndham brothers in races as far away as Victoria. The sheep were not allowed to graze within five miles of the homestead, this area being reserved for the horses. To make matters worse, during the 1860s the station’s flock of about 30,000 sheep was almost unsaleable due to a drop in wool prices. It became more profitable to boil them down for tallow than to sell them alive. Neglect of Bukkulla’s central source of income together with a conspicuous lack of frugality combined to create serious financial problems for the station, and in 1875 the banks foreclosed on the property. It was purchased by Anne Murray.

Meanwhile, Hugh Wyndham, who had relinquished all his claims to Bukkulla in 1874, prospered on nearby Westholm. There he consolidated his hold on the property by purchasing large quantities of free-hold land; indeed, he was so zealous in this regard that the Minister for Lands ordered forfeiture on one of the free-hold selections on Newholm because he could not accept that Hugh’s three year-old son - in whose name the selection had been lodged - was meeting the residence and improvement criteria of the Robertson Land Acts! Nevertheless, by the 1880s, Hugh Wyndham was doing so well that he was soon in a position to buy back Bukkulla (in 1888). He immediately pulled down the old house on Newholm, and used much of the material to build a new homestead on Bukkulla. He also erected, about 1890, a new woolshed on the property which made use of machine shearing from the outset. He is believed to have owned the first motorcar in the district, as well as the first telephone line, which his two sons, Heathcote and Hugh, connected from Bukkulla to Wellingrove. The Everetts of Ollera were so impressed with the line that they promptly commissioned the brothers to connect up their homestead and its outstations in the same way.

In 1909, Hugh Wyndham died, leaving a property much-reduced by the free selection laws of the mid to late-ninteenth century (it was then only 2,300 acres) to his two sons and four daughters. Eventually, Bakkulla Station passed onto Hugh, who managed it until his death in 1934; it then passed into the hands of his four children, who shortly therafter managed the property as a partnership. Under the able direction of the eldest son, Hugh Leslie, Bukkulla retrieved much of the ground lost during the Depression and World War Two. In the 1950s, several new buildings were erected, the property was equipped modern machinery, including an irrigation outfit, new pastures were introduced, and the old homestead was remodelled and modernised. Bakkulla Station remained in the Wyndham family until recent years, when Leslie finally sold the property to K Bloomfield.

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Inverell Times (7 August 1875, 12, 17, 24, 26, 31 May, 2 June 1944); HL Wyndham, Bukkulla Station (Bukkulla: Privately Published, 1957); Golden Horizens: Supplement to the Inverell Times (28 February 1972); Elizabeth Wiedemann, World of its Own: Inverell’s Early Years, 1827-1920 (Inverell: Devill Publicity, 1981).

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Structure based on ISAAR(CPF) - click here for an explanation of the fields.Prepared by: Sophie Patrick
Created: 26 June 2002
Modified: 7 July 2006

Published by The Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, 5 April 2004
Prepared by: Acknowledgements
Updated: 23 February 2010

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