Chapter 7 Dulhunty Papers

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Many changes adverse to the squatter and pastoralist class occurred during the next century. There was a growing hostility to the old world with its hereditary privileges, its landlordism and class distinctions, and a growth of social reform and development of the labour movement. The Australian colonies had successfully pioneered a radical democratic political system, with emphasis on the high status in the community of the "common man". After the granting of responsible government, the squatters never carried on the burden of leadership in the community.

Hard times were experienced by the widow, Mrs R.V. Dulhunty, after the death of her husband Her children were educated at a small school at Dubbo Some of the elder boys were sent for a time to the King's School.

After the sale of Old Dubbo in l866 the sons, according to newspaper reports, had to "come down to" positions in the town. Marcus joined a leading wool firm; John established himself as a Commission Agent at Bathurst, later becoming a successful grazier; Robert was appointed Stock Inspector and Coroner at Dubbo; Alfred joined a firm of Stock and Station Agents at Queanbeyan; Hubert settled on a small grazing property at Bathurst. Lawrence developed pastoral properties in Queensland, and was finally attached to the Public Estate Department. He was the ancestor of the present Queensland branch of the family.

Most achieved moderate success and played a worthy part in the semi-public life of the country districts in which their interests lay. John was described in Australian Men of Mark:

All that is of advantage to his district demands and receives the attention of Mr Dulhunty, and he is always ready with advice and assistance to further the interests of the country. He is a well known figure in the semi-public life of the town and has been for some time deputy sheriff and returning officer for the city of Bathurst. As a member of the Agricultural and Pastoral Association for many years and as one of its active executive officers he has done much to place it in the first rank of country associations. His worth is recognised in those among whom he lives...

The Dubbo Despatch, in 1918, said of Robert George:

No man was better known in the Western Districts than Mr Dulhunty. The big-mindedness, the cheerfulness, the generosity, the open-heartedness and the atmosphere in which his boyhood was spent remained with him till the end. Early in life he followed the occupation of his father and owned a grazing property on the Marthaguy, where, by industry and application to work, he prospered for some years. Then came a run of ill-luck; but the reversal of fortune, the hardships and setbacks of those early times could not discourage such men as R.G. Dulhunty. In the early eighties he was appointed stock inspector, a position he held until his retirement in 1914. In that capacity the character of Robert Dulhunty was well brought out. He courted no man's favour, and he feared no man's frown. He did his duty regardless of the consequences, never letting the considerations of personal friendship sway him in his judgements, never allowing any personal motives to deter him from speaking plainly, or taking such action as justice insisted upon. In spite of his consistent proof that he had the courage of his convictions, he commanded universal respect.

A bluff geniality and sterling honesty were the dominant notes in his character. He was always good company. His friendship was courted, and wherever he stood in the street he was as attractive to the passers-by as a magnet is to a needle. He had a heart of gold and the instincts of true manhood animated his breast. Life was much richer for his existence, and his death is a loss to the district, though he leaves a good record to perpetuate his memory.

Apart from his public duties, he interested himself in the concerns of the men on the land, and his advice was always of benefit As a member of the Dubbo P A & H. Association, he rendered good service, and in amateur sport he was a strong entity.

His character had been one that continually preached the doctrine of manliness, probity, and clean-living. Everyone had to admire him for the spirit of independence which he displayed, an independence which was quite the reverse of the haughty or overbearing, an independence which was gentle and kind in its application. He was a man who was courageous in all his undertakings of life. Prosperity did not make him haughty, nor did adversity cast him down. He was affable in his converse, generous in his temper, and immovable in what he had maturely resolved upon. He was accustomed to choose right with an invincible resolution to bear the heaviest burdens cheerfully, to be calmest in storms and most fearless under menaces and frowns. He was a great man in many respects, and he had left his footprints in the sands of time .

On the death of Lawrence, in 1908, a Brisbane paper reported:

Mr L.J. Dulhunty, a gentleman, who was associated with many phases of western life, died yesterday at his home in James Street, Woolawin.

The office of the Public Estate Department was closed out of respect for the deceased, who had been an officer attached to that department for the past five years.

Mr Dulhunty was the fourth son of Mr R.V. Dulhunty, of Dubbo, New South Wales. He came to Queensland in l86l and had been engaged for 40 years in opening up and developing various pastoral properties in the central western districts.

Alfred was appointed Licensing Magistrate of Queanbeyan in 1894, but died the same year, at the age of 43.

The three daughters married, and between them produced 26 children. Blanche, the eldest, married Daniel Soane, afterwards Mayor of Dubbo. She wrote for the newspapers under the name of Southern Cross. Florence married William Finch, one of three brothers, William, Edmund, and Charles, who came from England. Charles was ancestor of Peter Finch, well-known Australian actor. Alice married Francis Knyvett, a brother of Julia Knyvett, wife of R.G. Dulhunty.

The next generation remained faithful to the land, and consisted mainly of graziers and surveyors - who, in those primitive days in the bush, were still virtually explorers. This, the fourth generation, suffered the effects of a war and a depression. The twenties were in many respects a disappointing and frustrating period. The rural industries were facing serious difficulties; other industries were also showing symptoms of worsening economic conditions. During the grim days of the 1930's, R V. Dulhunty, a North Coast surveyor, son of R.G. Dulhunty of Dubbo, devised a land development scheme to develop the North Coast country and absorb unemployed bushmen. He had already published a pamphlet entitled "The Fettered Dairying Industry", outlining a scheme for the improvement of dairying conditions. His land development scheme was widely acclaimed. The Bulletin commented on 17th September, 1930:

A man with constructive notions about the best way of reducing unemployment and increasing production is R.V. Dulhunty, a New South Wales surveyor who has been spending his spare time lately in efforts to induce Governments to lend unemployment relief funds to farmers, so that they can improve their holdings employing labour in the process, and thus pave the way to increased production .

Dulhunty's idea is that loans should be at 2 1/2 %, repayable in 25 years. The 2 1/2 % part of the notion has been adopted in the Speck, but in New South Wales, Minister Thorby's plan for advances at 5%, repayable in 4 years (first year free of interest) holds the field. Dulhunty says this might be acceptable to the wheat farmers, but doesn't meet the need of the dairy farmers, who, if they increase their pasture areas, will have to save as much as possible to buy extra stock. To make two cows graze where one chewed the cud before seems likely to increase exports, Australia's pressing need, and on that score alone Dulhunty's very practical proposal deserves a good hearing.

The Sydney Morning Herald added a personal description of Mr Dulhunty:

Mr Robert Venour Dulhunty, Crown Lands Surveyor at Kempsey, has come prominently into notice during recent months because of his scheme for land improvement, which has lately been adopted by the Government, a project that while benefiting the settler is also designed to assist the unemployed. His father was one of the best known stock inspectors of the western districts, and love of the land is strong in the family. Mr Dulhunty, after a distinguished scholastic career at All Saints' College, Bathurst, took up Surveying as a profession. Still in the early forties he has, besides a youthful enthusiasm, the knowledge and wisdom that come from a close and intimate association with the land and its many problems. For that reason he was able to work out the basis of the land improvement scheme that offers so many advantages to property owners and that, if given full effect, will confer immeasurable benefits to primary production in the State.

To R.V. Dulhunty's disappointment the scheme was modified before being put into operation, as mentioned in The Sun in 1931:

Machinery for giving effect to the Dulhunty land improvement scheme has been created by the Rural Industries Board in Sydney.

The Economic Council has allocated to the Board from the unemployment tax fund a sum of 200,000 to be distributed to the first applicants for assistance.

Landowners who desire to be financially assisted to carry out such improvement work on their holdings as scrubbing, ringbarking, falling, suckering, grubbing, burning-off, stickpicking or clearing, should lose no time in lodging application with the R.I.B., Agricultural Department, Sydney. Each application will be dealt with on its merits and with consideration of the general financial position of the applicant. Terms of repayment will be determined by the Board, but they will not be so liberal as recommended by Mr Dulhunty in the first instance. However, they will be sufficiently easy to warrant most settlers taking advantage of them.

It is regrettable that Mr Dulhunty's scheme was not adopted in its entirety by the Economic Council and the loans granted for twenty-five year terms. To repay in two or five years is a difficult task even for settlers in the wheat areas where production results are more or less immediate. The short-term loans to coastal settlers will impose hardships, for conditions are entirely different.

Mr Dulhunty has once more brought this aspect of affairs before the notice of the Economic Council, and in a letter addressed to that body pointed out how restriction would adversely affect coastal settlers.

Leaving Kempsey in 1932 R.V. Dulhunty moved to Port Macquarie, where he has taken an active interest in the development of the town as a tourist resort.

The women of the fourth generation kept something of the glamour of the "landed gentry", retaining the aristocratic bearing and outlook of the squatter classes, lamenting the loss of domestic servants, and preferring not to meet socially anybody connected with "trade".

Commanding personalities were Irene, daughter of R.G. Dulhunty of Dubbo, who married Cyril Hungerford, of Hungerford & Spooner, well-known chartered accountants of Sydney, and Ena, daughter of John Dulhunty of Bathurst, who married William Burrows, Commander of the Encounter, lived alone for a year, the only white inhabitant of a small Pacific Island. She was author of two books, My Life in the Pacific, and Contract Bridge, the latter published by The Endeavour Press, Sydney, in 1932. One of the most colourful personalities of the fourth generation was Venour Royle Dulhunty, brother of Robert Venour. He left Australia at the age of 20 and migrated to South America, where he held an administrative position with an English engineering company building a road from Valparaiso to the Argentine. This venture came to a sudden end with the Valparaiso earthquake. He later managed a large munitions factory outside London, and subsequently an aeroplane factory. During his lifetime he travelled over most of the world and made and lost several fortunes. In 1946 at the age of 67, he returned to Australia. The Naval Reporter of the Malta Times, 1946, recorded this event:

Malta - port of call - is a haven of men-o'-war, liners, cargo vessels and kindred craft that ply the seas and with a story in every one of them; like the ex-Admiralty motor launch "Ivanstan" and the Royal Thames Yacht Club ketch 'Elinor", vying with one another in their venturesome dash from the United Kingdom to Malta.

The 70-ton two-masted ketch "Elinor", battling against headwinds the whole of the long passage, collided with an American "Liberty" ship in mid-Channel and was sailed 150 miles with a shattered bow.

The "Elinor", owned by Mr Dulhunty, an Australian-born agriculturist and engineer, accompanied by his wife, off Australia on a business trip, with the exception of the collision in mid-Channel has suffered few serious mishaps.

A drift in the Bay of Biscay, after the auxiliary engine had cut out did, however, lead to an eventual rescue by a French lifeboat from Brest. It was here that several members of the French crew "disappeared" after going ashore. Substitutes were found and course was set for Lisbon through heavy seas. "Like walking about in hilly country" was the description of ex-R.A.F. radio-technician cum-engineer John Pike, who literally tied his belongings to a stick and joined the ship at Guernsey for "come what may".

After a pleasant 10-day stay at Gibraltar the "Elinor" sailed to Bouga, Tunis, Algiers and Malta.

It is possible that after repairs the "Elinor" will hoist her sails for Benghazi and Alexandria.

There was a suggestion that the yacht "Elinor" would enter the Sydney-Hobart yacht race, subject to Customs approval, and mention of this was made in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1947:

Hobart, Thursday - Provided certain Customs procedure can be overcome, Mr V.R. Dulhunty, an Australian and member of the Royal Thames Yacht Club, England, will enter the well-known English cruising yacht "Elinor" in the next Sydney-Hobart ocean yacht race. She is a vessel of 65 feet. The yacht arrived at Singapore last month and is undergoing overhaul. Mr Dulhunty will be obliged to pay 3,500 duty if "Elinor" remains in Australian waters more than three months, but it is hoped that some arrangement will be made to overcome this requirement.

The yacht did not enter the Hobart race, but was sold at Singapore. How V.R. Dulhunty and his wife finally reached Australia was told in The Port Macquarie News:

An interesting personality is Mrs V.R, Dulhunty, recently arrived from England. Mrs Dulhunty was accompanying her husband, a brother of Mr R.V. Dulhunty, and they were travelling to Australia by a motor yacht, but through seasickness Mrs Dulhunty left her husband at Port Said and came here on the "Orion". Arriving at Singapore, her husband found it advisable to sell his yacht owing to the heavy duty entailed in bringing it to Australia. He is continuing the journey here on the aircraft carrier "Theseus".

A little colour was added to a court-room scene in Charters Towers when V.R. Dulhunty gave evidence as reported by a local newspaper in 1949:

"The cause of the trouble was failure to pay the delivery company?" the Magistrate asked.
"The cause of the trouble was the failure of your Government to fulfil its promises," said Dulhunty, swinging a monocle on a gold chain.

V.R. Dulhunty was disappointed in the Australia that had evolved in the last 50 years. It had passed from Colonial status to become one of the most urban countries in the world; a second-rate urban country, V.R. Dulhunty considered. Its independence had a quality of larrikin arrogance. In its industrial progress the effect of the trade unions and the Labour movement was obvious; emphasis was on equality, fraternity, and mateship. Was this what progress meant? The squatter's grandson, looking back, could only regret the disappearance of the class barriers and mourn the loss of the old Colonial charm. It would take younger generations, with shorter memories, to fit into the pattern of life in the future Australia.

It is too soon to write the story of the present generation (1959), the range too close. Life is full and busy; there is much to look forward to, not much time to look back. Descendants of the fifth generation number 88, and are spread throughout the country and city areas of New South Wales and Queensland. This generation, too, has survived a depression and a war.

Dr John Dulhunty, grandson of Alfred, Reader in Geology at the University of Sydney, has made some small contribution to the advancement of Science. Who's Who in Australia, 1955, lists some of his achievements:

DULHUNTY, John Allan, D Sc. Senior Lecturer Economic Geology University of Sydney since 1951; Acting Head Geology Department 1954-55; Member Committee of Australian Institute of Mining Metallurgy, 1955, son of John J. Dulhunty, Merriwa; born Apr 1, 1911, Ashfield, Sydney, educated Cranbrook School, Sydney University, 1st class honours Economic Geology, Dean Thomson Scholarship 1938; Sydney University Teaching Staff 1945-49; Councillor Royal Society of N.S.W. 1934-48; President 1947, engaged in research on Australian coals; publications, some 45 papers in scientific journals.

The pioneering that is going on today is of a variety that would have puzzled the squatters could they have seen the newspaper reports in 1950 of the exploits of the sons of R.V. Dulhunty of Port Macquarie:

Port Macquarie's first commercial air service was started by three enterprising young men, Messrs Philip, Roger and Bob Dulhunty, a trio of brothers of energetic intelligence who, after having done their bit to get the Tokyo surrender signed, climbed back into civvies and looked around for something just as interesting to do. Heading the team, Philip Dulhunty signed on at 18 and signed off with the BCOF after Intelligence work in New Guinea. While in Japan, in between supervising elections and rounding up Koreans who had no desire to cooperate in Macarthur's repatriation order, he learned the language, and was struck by the possibility of trading. Result, the Dulmison (Australia) Company now trading nicely from Tokyo with Australia, Venezuela and, till lately, with Korea, mainly in insulators, of which the Japanese are the world's best makers. Bob is an accountant and Roger a surveyor. Another brother, John, is a chartered accountant and secretary of the Business Brokers' Association of New South Wales.

About the only supplies Kempsey and other towns thereabouts received in the recent floods arrived by the new air service.

CONTENTS, Chapter 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, (452kB), (1341kB), (860kB),