School at Hotspur in 1863

A letter to the editor of "The Age" ca1937 provided a snapshot of life at Hotspur on the Crawford River in 1863. The letter is unsigned but deduction from the address of Amphitheatre and a check of the Victorian records points to the likely author being a Donald McDONALD, born ca 1853 son of Alexander McDONALD and Ann MATHESON who had three siblings born at Hotspur from 1866 to 1870. This Donald died at Amphitheatre in 1939 aged 86 and he had a brother Ken, likely to be the Ken McDONALD mentioned in his letter below.

Old Bush Schools.


Sir,-I have been reading the old Victorian schooldays, but did not see many of the old bush schools mentioned. I first went to school in the little township, of Hotspur, on the Crawford River - used be called the Smoky River. Hotspur is 32 miles from Portland on the Casterton-road.

The school I attended was a, common school-teacher, Mr. Thomas Prior, very handy with the cane, otherwise a good fellow. I started school at the age of seven-74 years ago. I remember all my schoolmates. Could give their Christian names and ages. This was in the year 1863. The following are the families that attended at that time:-Beatons (3), Hiscocks (2), Hiscocks (4), Nicholsons (4), McDonalds, (3), Blackwoods (3), Kings (4), Smiths (2), Jeffreys (3)., McKinnon (1), Hunt (1), Rules (4), Murchisons (3), Shaws (3). Stocks (3). Sypotts (4), Coopers (2) Finlay (1), Swifts (2), McIntosh (3), Whytes. (3), Brindley (3), Williams (4), McLeans (7), McLennans (3 ), Ben McKeand and brother William, Polly Charter, Ken McDonald.

I well remember the kangaroo hunt on the Kangaroo Station, some time in 1864, if I remember right. There were about 3000 yarded by horsemen with stockwhips, and when yarded all who could use a stick went into the yard and killed them. An old man called Kangaroo Jack was to have the skins if he wished. I am certain he did not skin them all. The Kangaroo Station at that time was owned by the late Duncan and the late Angus McEachern.

I read in Monday's issue of 'The Age' a bit of history about the Henty family, of Merino Downs and Muntham-all very good, but there was no mention of the slaughter of the poor blacks on Murdering Flat. The Henty family got the credit of being the pioneers of Portland, but Captain Dutton was there seven years before then, and sold pigs and potatoes to the Hentys.
-Yours, &c.,
Amphitheatre. BAILEY-STREET

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