Northern Star July 25 1925
SALVING A BARQUE
LONG, LONG PULL GETTING THE EXAMINER OFF
FIRMLY BEDDED IN SAND
BULLOCK TEAMS AND MAN POWER PREVAIL
A FEAT OF THE 'SEVENTIES
The following is a description of the salving of the barque Examiner, which went ashore in 1872 slightly north of the Clarence Heads, just where the breakwater is now. It is furnished by Mr. C. Yabsley, of Coraki. This ship was built by his father, Mr. W. Yabsley, at Coraki, in 1870. She was 260 tons burthen, and was very strongly built of hardwood timber obtained from near Coraki. The builder, Mr. Yabsley, was owner and master. He went to the Clarence with a load of pine from the Richmond for D. B. Selman, mill owner, and in endeavouring to sail out (no tug being available) the ship went ashore. The description given in this diary can be appreciated by anyone who knows what a task it is to haul a vessel of that size out of the sand at the edge of the sea, over a terrace, and then into the river again - a distance of somewhat over a mile. This vessel was so strongly built that after all this experience she did not leak a drop on re-launching. At one period of the salvage operations, an easterly gale had moved all the timber that had been placed under her, and left her hanging by the middle.
COMMENCING THE TASK
May 1. - The vessel hard and fast in the sand. The crew working hard to refloat the vessel, but made no headway.
May 2. - The vessel settling deeper in the sand. W. Yabsley and H. Yabsley arrived from the Richmond.
May 3. - T. King and C. Yabsley arrived.
May 4. - The vessel about eight feet in the sand. H. Yabsley started to Coraki for a team of bullocks.
May 5 and 6. - Sailors getting spars and sails down.
May 7. - Sailors getting spars ashore.
May 8. - Finished getting spars and sails ashore, some of the sailors left.
May 9. - H. Yabsley arrived with bullock team. T. Yabsley, O. Jones, J. Flynn and R. Thompson arrived.
May 10 - All hands cutting logs in scrub about a mile away for blocking under the vessel. Bullocks hauling same.
May 11. - All hands cutting timber. Bullocks hauling.
May 14. - All hands cutting logs. H. Yabsley arrived with more bullocks.
May 15. - C. and T. Yabsley started to look for some long trees to use for levers for lifting the vessel. Found 40 good ones, from 50 to 65 feet long and about 24 inches diameter at big end and about 14 inches
diameter the small end.
May 16. - Some of the men cutting logs and trees for levers. W. Exton arrived.
May 17. - All hands cutting timber. Bullocks hauling.
May 18. - All hands cutting timber, s.s. Ballina crossed out for Sydney.
May 20. - T. King and crew squaring logs on two sides, some for blocking under the vessel and some for putting under the screw jacks and the levers.
May 21. - W. Yabsley and J. Flynn digging a saw pit for sawing cleats for bolting on the side of the vessel, for the end levers to grip under. These pieces being 6 feet long and 8 inches wide and 6 inches thick, bolted on with three bolts 1/2 inch thick.
May 22. - W. Yabsley and Flynn sawing cleats. T. King and crew squaring logs.
May 23. - All hands squaring logs. Bullock hauling.
May 25. - Queen's Birthday. All hands squaring logs. Passenger steamer came from Grafton with a number of passengers to look at the vessel.
May 26. - All hands squaring logs. Bullocks hauling same.
May 27. - Some hands bolting on cleats. Others getting levers in position with the ship's derrick tackle and winch.
May 28 and 29. - Bolting on cleats and getting levers in position.
May 30 and 31. - All hands digging sand away from under the vessel to get the screw jacks in.
May 31, June 1. - Mr. Selman delivered 40 pieces of timber sawn, 6 x ?, s.s. Agnes Irving crossed in. Jimmie, the sailor, left.
June 2. - Joe Cook came on a visit from the Richmond.
June 3. - Commenced to put logs under the vessel to put the screw jacks on. Mr. W. Gollan, J. Lang and two young ladies passed from the Richmond. A sailing vessel crossed in.
June 4. - Putting logs under the vessel to put the screw jacks on.
June 5. - All hands working with, screw jacks and 40 levers, 20 each side of the vessel, lifting the vessel 8 inches. Mr. Barton, the mailman from the Richmond, stayed at light.
LIFTING THE VESSEL
June 6. - Lifting the vessel 2 feet by the stern. The barque Schoolboy passed from the Richmond down to Sydney, s.s. Ballina crossed in.
June 7. - Lifting the vessel 2 feet by the stern. Mr. Yabsley, John Yabsley and John Lenos came from Coraki.
June 8. - Lifting the vessel 2 feet by the stern. Misses A. Yabsley, E. Yabsley, E. Robinson and J. Robinson came on a visit.
June 9. - H. Yabsley and John Robinson started for Coraki.
June 10. - Heavy rain. Not much work doing.
June 11. - Raining, the cook left, John Ford took on the cooking.
June 12. - Lifting the vessel 2 feet ? inches by the stern. Finished lifting the stern. H. Yabsley and P. Hyland came with two bullocks to kill for beef. Three young ladies and J. Robinson started to Coraki. s.s. Agnes Irving crossed out.
June 13. - All hands commenced to get the rudder off the vessel with a lever, which broke. One piece flying up and striking T. Yabsley on side of head, knocking him about three yards across the deck, insensible for some hours. John Robinson, John Yabsley and P. Hyland started to Grafton in a boat for a doctor. Dr. Houson came. W. Green, C. Benger and T. Baxter came from Coraki to work. s.s. New England
June. 14. - Lifting the vessel by bow 2 feet. Dr. Houson started to Grafton. H. Yabsley and John Robinson started for the Richmond. Three sailing vessels off the
June 15. - Lifting the vessel 2 feet. Mr. Selman delivered 110 pieces of sawn planks 6x3.
June 16. - Joe Cook and Arthur Yabsley came from Coraki on a visit. The schooner Lookout crossed out. s.s. Ballina crossed in. Mr. Selman came on a visit.
June 17. - Lifting the vessel 3 feet. Joe Cook started for the Richmond. Thomas Yabsley getting better. Three sailing vessels crossed in.
June 18. - Lifting the vessel 2 feet.
June 19. - Laying ways to launch the vessel inland to get clear of the breakers. s.s. Agnes Irving crossed in. s.s. Ballina crossed out. Two sailors came from Grafton looking for work and were taken on. These men refused work on the s.s. New England, and got three weeks free lodging at Grafton (in gaol) .
OLD JINKER DIES
June 20, 21. - Laying way to launch this vessel inland. June 21. - Killed old “Jinker" for beef; about 15 years old. Good old fellow. Seen his last days on the beach. T. Yabsley started to Coraki to have a rest.
June 22. - All hands out in bush falling and squaring logs. Bullocks hauling same.
June 23. - Mr. Garrett came on a visit from Chatsworth.
June 24. - All hands falling and squaring logs. s.s. Ballina crossed in.
June 25. - Launching the vessel towards the land with bullocks and tackle; 15 feet. The barque School Boy passed, bound for the Richmond.
June 26. - Sliding the vessel inland 20feet. The Rev. C. F. Curry came on a visit and went up in the main top to have a look round.
June 27. - Sliding the vessel, inland 15 feet.
June 28. - Sliding the vessel inland 10 feet. Split three sheaves in the tackle blocks. Two schooners passed out.
June 29. - Sliding vessel inland 25 feet. s.s. New England crossed in.
June 30. - John Robinson started for home. A stray sheep came along the beach. Don't know where it came from.
July 1 and 2. - All hands putting logs under the vessel to launch her towards the river, Matthias King and Barrett Hollingworth came from the Richmond on a visit.
July 3. - Laying ways under the vessel.
July 4. - All hands putting logs and ways under the vessel. Pilot Freeburn came on a visit.
July 5. - All hands removing sand.
July 6. - s.s. Ballina crossed in.
July 8. - All hands jolting planks together for launching vessel on.
July 9. - W. Yabsley making large tackle blocks. Others bolting planks together. A large dingo that often came by night and had a look at the vessel was caught in a snare last night, but got clear.
All hands putting way under vessel.
July 11. - All hands removing sand.
July 12. - S.S. Athletic crossed in.
July 13. - All hands putting down wooden anchors to hook the tackle on to.
July 14. - W. Yabsley started to Coraki.
July 15. - Bolting launch ways together. Sailors strapping blocks. Mr. Yeager came on a visit from the Richmond.
July 16. - Rigging four large tackles and four small ones to hook on to the larger tackles for the bullocks to haul on. One sailor left.
July 17. - Commenced to haul the vessel towards the river with four teams of bullocks. Only removed her two feet. The anchors would not stand the strain.
July 18. - Easterly gale and heavy sea. Washed the logs from under the vessel, and let her down in the sand. Mr. Cravigan came from Tuckombil Station and stayed all night.
July 19. - All hands putting logs in and blocking the vessel up.
July 20. - All hands lifting the vessel with levers and screw jacks.
July 21. - Mr. Garrett came on a visit.
July 22. - Hauling the bow inland to get clear of the breakers. Broke the big cable 1 1/2 chain doubled.
July 23. - Hauling the vessel inland 14 feet. Two vessels sailing out.
July 24. - Hauling the vessel inland 20 feet. The horses left with the postman. The barque School Boy passed, bound for the Richmond.
July 26. - Hauling vessel inland 18 feet. Killed two bullock for beef. S.S. Helen McGregor crossed out.
July 28. - Hauling vessel inland 20 feet. Mr. Garrett came on a visit.
July 29. - All hands laying ways under vessel to launch her toward the river.
July 30. - Commenced to haul the vessel toward the Clarence River, 10 feet. Laying way and hauling vessel - 15 feet.
August 1. - Laying way and hauling the vessel towards the river - 15 feet
August 2. - Laying way. Digging sand hills and hauling vessel 20 feet.
August 3 - Digging sand hills. Laying way. Hauling vessel 25 feet. James Cook came to work. H. Yabsley and J. Ford started home.
August 5. - Hauling vessel 40 feet. Broke strops on the block.
August 6. - Hauling vessel 50 feet.
HAULED ??9 FEET
August 7. - Hauling vessel 99 feet. Mr. Barton, the mailman, came and stayed all night.
August 8. - Hauling vessel 68 feet.
August 9. - Lay ways, digging sand hill. Hauling vessel 92 feet.
August 11. - W. Yabsley started to Coraki, walking. Finding another arrival in house.
August 12. - Hauling vessel 162 feet. W. Yabsley came from Coraki.
August 13. - Hauling vessel 18 feet. Mr. C. Garrett walked along the beach from Ballina and stayed all night.
August 14. - Hauling vessel 132 feet. Captain Creer came on a visit.
August 15. - Hauling vessel 102 feet.
August 16. - Hauling vessel 10 feet. Strong wind blowing sand on the ways.
August 17. - Hauling vessel 194 feet. s.s. Ballina, crossed out. Mr. Newby came from the Richmond on a visit, and. stayed one week.
August 19. - Hauling vessel 139 feet. S.S. New England.
August 20. - Hauling vessel 193. Broke some of the gear.
August 21. - Hauling vessel 138 feet. Captain Creer came on a visit.
August 22. - All hands digging away sand hills and filling up hollows. School Boy passed bound for the Richmond.
August 23. - Hauling vessel 190 feet. Captain Muir came on a visit.
August 24. - Hauling vessel 132 feet. Mr McLaren and Arthur Yabsley came on a visit and stayed all night.
August 25. - T. King started to Coraki.
August 26. - Hauling vessel 150 feet. Mr Cook came from the Richmond on a visit.
August 27. - Lost some of the bullocks. T. King came from Coraki.
August 28. - Hauling vessel 173 feet. Sea Ripple crossed in.
August 29. - All hands digging away sand hills and filling hollows.
August 30. - Hauling vessel 130 feet. s.s. Ballina crossed out.
September 1. - Mr Cook came from the Richmond on a visit.
September 2. - Hauling vessel 162 feet.
September 3. - Hauling vessel 169 feet. Mr. Cook started for the Richmond.
September 4. - Hauling vessel 143 feet.
September 5. - All hands digging away sand hills and filling in hollows.
September 6. - Hauling vessel 237 feet.
September 7. - Hauling vessel 290 feet.
September 8. - Captain Holden came on a visit. Sea Ripple off to Ballina.
September 9. - Hauling vessel 190 feet. Schooner Sea Ripple taking in ballast.
September 10. - Hauling vessel 280 feet.
September 11. - Hauling vessel 215 feet. Broke some gear.
September 12, 13, 14. - Hauling vessel.
September 15. - Mr Garrett came on a visit.
September 16, 17. - Hauling vessel.
September 18. - Hauling vessel on to the bank of the Clarence River.
September 19, 20. - Lifting the bow with levers and screw jacks.
September 21. - Lifting the bow with levers and screw jacks for launching in the river.
September 23. - Getting launch ways under vessel.
September 24. - Day of joy to see the vessel plunge into the Clarence River. Tight and sound. Did not leak a drop. Pilot Freeburn, his crew and other visitors to see the vessel slide into the river.
September 25. - Commenced to get the top mast up.
September 26. - All hands sending up top masts and spars.
September 27. - All hands sending up spars and rigging. Schooner Welcome Home crossed out.
September 28. - All hands sending up spars and sails.
September 29. - Schooner Wallaby bar bound. Captain Pratt came on a visit.
September 30. - Working at the rigging.
October 1 and 2. - Setting up the rigging.
October 3, 4. - Making spars and sending up sails.
October 5. - Finished the rigging.
October 6. - Taking in the gear.
October 7. - Taking supplies for tea.
October 8. - C. and T. Yabsley started home with the bullocks, bidding good-bye to the sand and the salt water. Came to Swan Bay in the day, and part of night. T. Baxter and P. Hyland started home.
October 9. - The barque Examiner laying at the Clarence Heads, ready for sea. The bullocks were tailed every night till eleven o’clock by C. and T. Yabsley, and then put in yard and taken out in the morning at 4 o’clock by O. Jones, R. Thompson and Flynn until 8 o'clock, and then put in the yard and yoked for the day. Captain Yabsley supervised the work all day, and every night after tea posted up the cast of the day's work.
The staff, Captain Yabsley and his four sons, William, Henry, Charles and Thomas, his brother John, Thomas King, John Robinson, Oliver Jones, John Flynn, Robert Thompson, John Lenos, James Cook, Patrick Hyland, William Green, Charles Benger, Samuel Baxter, John Ford, and two sailors who came from Grafton, and three of the crew who stayed on, all the other sailors left.
It is understood that Captain Yabsley never asked advice from anyone; he always carried out his work with his own judgment; also that the cost was about £1400. The cost to-day with engineer, book keepers, and the staff of men and wages, would run into a few thousand pounds. The insurance company was more than satisfied. It expected it would be three times the amount. It pays part of the cost.
Clipping from the “Clarence and Richmond Examiner,” Grafton, on September 24, 1872.
THE STRANDED BARQUE EXAMINER
"It will be in the recollection of our readers and the general public that on April 30 last, the barque Examiner, when leaving our port in ballast, bound to the Richmond River, being light, was carried ashore on the north beach at the Clarence Heads, and it was feared at one time that the barque would become a total loss, but under the indomitable perseverance of Captain Yabsley, her owner, the Examiner, we are glad to learn, is likely soon to be again afloat in her natural element. When first the attempt was proposed to endeavour to launch her from her bed, the distance seaward was very short, but the action of the sea rendered it a very difficult and hazardous undertaking, while to remove the vessel so as to launch her into the Clarence River, she would have to be taken upwards of a mile, and we now learn that Captain Yabsley and
his staff of employees have already succeeded in moving the barque that distance to the water's edge, and we hope to be able to congratulate her owner in our next issue on the completion of a work which many a younger man would have failed to carry out, and on the successful floating of his good vessel, which we hope will for many years be engaged traversing the waters of the Pacific, never more to meet with a like misfortune. We understand the Examiner will be floated off at high tide today (Tuesday)."
Northern Star May 15 1926
MR WILLIAM YABSLEY
The following pioneer history is supplied by Mr. C. Yabsley, of Coraki, son of the gentleman who is the subject of this memoir. The "Centennial History of New South Wales," 1888, says: "Mr. William Yabsley was born at Devonport, England He served his apprenticeship as a shipwright in Plymouth dockyards, and at the expiration of that time shipped as a carpenters mate on a man-o-war brig, Beagle, which left England on an exploring expedition to the northwest coast of Australia. He was on the vessel for two years. He went to Sydney, and in 1839 went to the Clarence River on the schooner John Cutter. Here he engaged as a shipwright and built a vessel which he named the Providence. His son takes up the story from this period.
In talking with our representative Mr. C. Yabsley mentioned that when his father was at Ballina the late C. Jarrett arrived there from New England. He came for the purpose of obtaining cabbage tree palms for hat making, but remained to become a dealer in cedar. Among those who were at Ballina at the time, Mr. Yabsley mentions Matthias Lewis, T. Chilcott, and the late V. J. Norris. The first schooner to cross the Richmond bar was the Sallie and the first steamer was the Rainbow.
Re T. Chilcott. He was a pit sawyer, and being unable to get a mate for the pit, put a weight on that end of the saw and did the job himself.
Re the s.s. Beagle, built by Mr Yabsley. This boat was taken to Sydney by two members of the family and two other employees, a crew of four in all. Today it would require at least twenty to do a similar job.
Mr. C. Yabsley speaks of a cricket match played at Ballina between Lismore and Ballina in 1867. The Lismore team rowed to Ballina in boats, a trip of 70 miles. Among those who took part in the match he mentions the late R. S. and Walter Wotherspoon and J. Howard. He mentions that one day when in Lismore he saw the late L. G. Snow clearing foxtail grass away preparatory to erecting a school on the corner now occupied by the New Firm. This was about 1865.
Tatham Station referred to was then owned by Machattie and Tuckombil Station by Claire and Stapleton.
Mr. William Yabsley arrived in Sydney in1836 by sailing vessel. On hearing of the cedar cutting on the Clarence (which was then called the "Big River") he worked his passage on a small schooner which was trading there. This schooner only carried four hands. All went well till the bar was reached. Here the captain gave orders to get the boat out to sound the bar. Not knowing there was any danger, he got into the boat with the captain and one sailor to sound the bar, he pulling one oar, the sailor the other, and the captain steering. Just on the bar a big sea swamped the boat and turned her over. The sailor went straight down and they never saw him again. Mr. Yabsley asked the captain if he could swim, and he replied that he could not, but had a rope tied to the boat, which he hung on to. The tide was running in. After some time the boat drifted in clear of the sea, and Mr. Yabsley swam and towed the boat to the shore.
A strong wind sprang up, blowing the schooner out to sea with the mate and one sailor, and they did not return for two days. The captain and Mr. Yabsley walked about the beach for two days and nights without food or matches. The vessel crossed in all right, and after picking up the captain and Mr. Yabsley drifted up the river with the tide to Grafton. Here Mr. Yabsley went ashore and later on got a mate and started cedar getting, squaring the logs. The Government would not allow them to square the logs with an axe. They had to dig a pit and saw off the sides of the logs with a pit saw. Any large logs had to be cut into junks as the small vessels could not load the big logs. He now wrote to England for his wife and one daughter to come out to him. In those days it took just six months for a letter to reach England and another six months for the reply to come back. When Mrs. Yabsley reached Sydney she did not know how to find her husband. However, she was advised to go to the wharves and ask the captains of the vessels coming from the Clarence if they knew of her husband’s whereabouts. She happened to meet Capt. Freeburn (who was afterwards pilot at the Clarence Heads), who was able to tell her he knew of a man of that name and described him to her. So it was decided he was her husband, and she came to the Clarence with Capt. Freeburn.
In those days the blacks were very bad. Men working in the scrubs always kept a gun on the log beside them, and when going to the river for water carried a gun in one hand and the bucket in the other. Almost every man had a gun. Those who hadn’t would get a piece of wood and chop it out like a gun and make it black in the fire.
Later on a man came from Sydney and started to build a small schooner at South Grafton near Wilson's Hill (it was known then as Wilson's Hill), and Mr. Yabsley was given work with this man and stayed on till the vessel was finished. He then went back to the cedar cutting. There were no cattle on the Clarence or Richmond at that time. The people were able to find plenty of game in the scrubs and swamps.
During this time on the Clarence a man came from Port Stephens with a mob of cattle and a team of bullocks and a dray to carry the rations for the trip. Later on Mr. Yabsley bought six of the working bullocks and commenced hauling the cedar logs to the river bank for the cutters.
After about six years they decided to move on to the Richmond. Some of the cutters said to him, "You are not going that long journey alone?" remarking that the blacks would kill him. Four of the men said they would accompany him. They packed their tents and blankets and made a start with six bullocks and a dray and one cow and calf (a milker). They carried the calf in the dray all day and tied it up at night. This made the cow follow and they were able to get milk for Mrs. Yabsley and the children, one a baby only four months old, and two older boys.
The second day on the way the tyre came off the wheel, and they had to cut a slide out of a fork of a tree to take the wheel back to Grafton to a blacksmith, who had only commenced work there two days previously. When the tyre was put on the wheel Mr. Yabsley asked the cost. The reply was half a sovereign. Mr Yabsley replied "I haven’t any money now, but I will send it first chance." The smith did not say anything, but put it down as a dead loss. About twelve months later a cedar cutter was going back to Grafton, and the blacksmith received his half sovereign, and was pleased to find a man who did keep his word.
On getting back to the dray another start was made, but they made very slow headway. It commenced to rain very heavily and rained for weeks without a break. The creeks were running bankers, and they had to wait for days before being able to cross. The bullocks were yarded every night.
After six weeks on their way they arrived on the Richmond near Codrington, and made a start cutting cedar. A few weeks later a
Government surveyor came from Sydney to get a tracing of the river. Needing a boat Mr. Yabsley got the contract to build one. He cut a cedar log into boards with a pit saw and worked day and night building the boat, and was to receive cash on delivery. However, when the surveyor took the boat he paid with an order which had to go to Sydney to be cashed. There was nothing else to do but give it to the captain of one of the small schooners to get the money, which took about three months.
Later on Mr. Yabsley moved to Ballina, where it was much quicker to get the cedar shipped. The trouble was to get the team to Ballina. The only route was to swim Bungawalbyn Creek at the mouth, then follow the creek to Mooninbar, then make for the beach and follow it to Ballina, crossing Evans River at low water and also swimming the river at Ballina at low water. On arriving there he built a hut on the river bank just where the North Coast Company's wharf now stands. He made a start hauling the cedar logs from the scrubs to the river bank for the cutters. This team was the first and only team at Ballina at that time, which was about the year 1842. [actually 1846] This work went on for a long time. There being no money on the river Mr. Yabsley received cedar logs in payment for his work. These he sent to Sydney and received food in exchange (beef being obtained from Tatham station). Later on Mr. Yabsley commenced to build a small schooner, working at it on rainy days and at night after tea, Mrs. Yabsley holding a fat lamp to enable him to see, there being no kerosene available in those days. After a long time the vessel was launched and named the Pelican, and carried cedar to Sydney. Mr. Yabsley sailed her himself a few trips, and then placed a captain in charge. She did not run very long. On her way to Sydney near Port Stephens she met a strong easterly gale and was blown ashore and became a total wreck, the four hands being saved. In the morning the men counted twenty three vessels which had been blown ashore that same night. These four men were the only souls saved out of all the wrecks. During that morning a stockman from a station near by came along to see if any vessels had been blown ashore by the gale. On finding what had happened he rode off for a spade. He and the four survivors of the Pelican buried all the bodies that could be found. One vessel, a large one loaded with tallow from Brisbane, had two young women on board who were both drowned in their bunks. The stockman, had a team of bullocks, with which he hauled all the Pelican's cedar to Port Stephens. It was then shipped to Sydney.
Mr. Yabsley was still working at Ballina. One of the schooners trading to Ballina lost a mast, and the captain came to Mr. Yabsley to get him to make a new one. When hauling the spar out of the bush along the river bank where Bagot's sawmill now stands the bullocks got into the river and two were drowned, thus leaving only four in the team. He arranged with Mr. W. W. Wilson, who had a small station near Lismore, to sell him four young bullocks. The day was arranged for Mr. Yabsley to get the bullocks as he and a young lad named John Jarrett started off on foot (from Ballina), there being no horses. They drove the four old bullocks and it took them two days to reach the station. The four young bullocks were yarded and coupled to the old ones, this being done before breakfast. Mr. Yabsley asked Mr. Wilson if he would allow one of his stockmen to help them to the scrub, a distance of about six miles. He said he would not, and walked into the house, leaving Mr. Yabsley and the lad in the yard. The old man
cook in the kitchen could see there was something wrong and called them into the kitchen and gave them breakfast. Afterwards a start was made with the bullocks. The young bullocks being very wild kept running round and round the old bullocks thus making their progress very slow. They were all day getting to the scrub. It being a very hot day one of the young bullocks died. They pushed the others along the track through the scrub to a creek, it being then after dark. In getting a drink one of the young bullocks was drowned. The third one got into trouble in the creek, they cut the coupling rope and then tied him with a vine to a tree. In the morning he was dead. This left only one of the four young ones. After travelling all that day they reached home, having had nothing to eat since leaving the morning before.
A few days later the remaining young one broke the coupling rope and being wild they could not yard him. Several men volunteered to help get him in, taking it in turn to follow him all day. Just after dark that night he went into the yard with the old bullock and was then killed for meat. This meant Mr. Yabsley had to carry on with the four old ones till some time afterwards, when he bought two from Tuckombil station. This time he was lucky enough to get them home safely.
The cedar was cut into flitches with a pit saw so that the smaller vessels could load it, and in this way Mr. Yabsley was enabled to do hauling with the few bullocks he had.
About the year 1849 he moved to Coraki and there settled.
One day he received a letter from Sydney telling him to be in Garfton by a certain date as a witness on some case. He pulled a boat to Woodburn, then walked by the beach to the Clarence Heads. There he got a boat from the pilot and rowed to Grafton. The case did not come off, and he returned home via the same route.
Thomas Broker had some cedar cut at the back of Moonembah which he wanted hauled to Swan Bay. Mr. Yabsley did not have enough bullocks to haul it in so arranged with man who owned two young bullocks to let him have them. They were lent on the conditions that they should be returned when the work was completed. In the meantime, the owner of the bullocks moved to Grafton. This meant that when the work was finished Mr. Yabsley had to take the two bullocks to Grafton. He yoked them together and started for Grafton on foot. There being no roads he followed Bungawalbyn Creek, as far as about where Whiporie is now situated. Here he saw the wheel tracks of the bullock drays which carried rations from Grafton to the station above Casino. These tracks he determined to follow, driving the bullocks ahead. They gave him great trouble at times by joining the bush cattle. However he managed to got them along travelling on through the night. Towards morning he saw a light ahead. Not knowing whether it was a blacks camp fire or not, he approached it cautiously and discovered it to be the camp fire of a teamster taking rations to Casino. It was now safe to have a rest as the bullocks would camp with those belonging to the teamster. He had something to eat and a sleep till daylight. He then started on for Grafton and delivered the bullocks to their owner. He walked back to Casino and followed the river to Coraki.
A stockman came down from Rosebery station, and said the manager wanted a stockyard built, so Mr. Yabsley went up to see if he could get the job. He pulled a boat to Casino and then followed the river to Rosebery. When he reached the station there was no one there except the cook and he said he knew nothing about it, so he had to return to Coraki disappointed.
In the early fifties the vessels would be barbound for months at a time. This left the people short of flour, and they were obliged to get maize in a bag and break it with a hammer and use that for flour. The people were beginning to grow a little corn for their own use, this being planted with a hoe. Soon afterwards Mr. Yabsley built a small schooner and named her the Coraki (this name having been given the settlement by the blacks). He sailed this vessel himself for a time then placed a captain in charge and ran her to Sydney for a few years and afterwards sold her to a Sydney firm who sailed her to the Macleay.
About this time a surveyor named Peppercorn came from Sydney and settled at Tatham. He gave Mr. Yabsley an order to build him a small launch about 18 tons, saying that he could run it with quicksilver. When the boat was built he did not take her as he found his idea was a failure. The boat was named the Quicksilver, and Mr. Yabsley kept her for his own use.
In 1860 Mr. Yabsley was given the Government contract to build two slab bridges over a swamp between Tintenbar and Ballina. He and his men went down to Tintenbar in the Quicksilver, and built the bridges and returned to Coraki.
In 1862 and 1863 he built the Schoolboy. In 1864-65 he erected a big shed 30ft by 150ft for building his vessels in. The posts of this shed were 30ft out of the ground and 10ft in it and from 9ft to 10ft girth at the butt, and were lifted into position with the aid of shearlegs tackle and bullocks. In the meantime the Schoolboy was carrying timber to Sydney and Melbourne bringing rations back. In 1868-69 he built the Examiner, which was stranded on the Clarence bar in 1872 and was hauled overland a mile and refloated in the river. In 1873 he built the steam tug-boat the Index, which was used for towing vessels over the bar.
In 1875-76 he built the Beagle, which he sold to a South Coast firm who ran her to Sydney from the South Coast. She was only wrecked recently somewhere south of Sydney. During the whole of his time at Coraki Mr. Yabsley used to buy bullocks, break them in and sell them to the timber cutters. He also supplied them with rations, taking cedar in payment.
In the fifties and early sixties the station owners used to boil their fat cattle down for tallow, there being no sale for the cattle at this time. There were three boiling downs, one at Pelican Tree, one at Woram and one at Tomki. This tallow was put into casks (made on the ##) and sent to Sydney by sailing vessels. They used to “boil down” all the winter, feeding pigs on the refuse, then they would boil the pigs down last.
The blacks killed (or thought they did), three men at Pelican Tree and threw them in the river. One man, however, was not quite dead and managed to keep his head above water. He was then ##. He was helped out of the water and revived.
* * *
DEATH OF MR. W. YABSLEY, SEN.
It is with feelings of deep regret that we announce
the death of this pioneer of the Richmond, by the upsetting of the river steamer Vesta on the 21st instant
in the Richmond River. Mr Yabsley was a station
owner at Coraki, but was better known as a shipbuilder and shipowner. His shed at Coraki, where
he built the Schoolboy, and steamers Examiner and
Index, was not surpassed by any similar structure in
the colony. Mr Yabsley was originally on the Clarence, but determined to settle on the Richmond, after
visiting the latter river; and he has been resident
there for over 35 years, during which, in addition to
shipbuilding, he has been largely engaged in the timber trade with Sydney and Melbourne. He was a man
of indomitable energy, and difficulties and disasters
that many people would sink under only stimulated
him to increased efforts. Many people will remember
how he undertook to save his steamer Examiner when
stranded at the Clarence Heads, and actually conveyed her overland and re-launched her in smooth
water in the river. This was done with his own appliances and almost solely by his own employees, he himself never leaving the work. Although full of years he
was still a hale, strong old man, with vigour unabated,
and in him the Richmond has lost one of her best
men, New South Wales a type of colonist of which we
have but too few, and can ill spare. Mr Yabsley
was a Justice of the Peace, and universally respected.
He leaves a large family, all grown up, and settled
upon the Richmond, and we deeply sympathise with
them in their heavy affliction.
The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser Friday 7 October 1938
MEN THE NORTH COAST REMEMBERS.
THE YABSLEYS OF CORAKI.
The current issue of "The Land's Farm and Station Annual" - a remarkably fine publication, by the way, full of quaint and historic photos, and of articles dealing with early day and modern aspects of Australian life - makes a special feature of the sporting pioneers of the North Coast, in an article written by 'Murrungurry,' who apparently knows whereof he writes. For instance:-
When I first knew the country embracing Bungawalbin Station, on Bungawalbin Creek, the third arm of the Richmond River, it was dotted with tea tree swamps and scrubs of tea-tree. This Station was originally taken up by Clarke Irving, of Tomki, and was purchased by Thomas Edward Lance in 1860. The area comprised 700 square miles of country. It extended from Coraki, at the junction of the north and middle arms of the Richmond, to the Clarence River, with the sea coast on one side, and Wooroowoolgen and Camira Stations on the other. A little later it became the property of the Yabsleys, whose Y brand became well known in the north-eastern districts. The run then included Bungawalbin (head station), and Tuckombil, Myrtle Creek, Gibberagee, and Tullymorgan (out stations).
The pioneer of the family was William Yabsley, who first settled on the Clarence. About the middle of 1840 he formed a settlement on the Richmond, at the junction known as Coraki, now a flourishing dairying centre, where he established himself as a shipbuilder. Settlers, then, as on the Manning, had to provide their own shipping. His home and the huts of his men, and the timber getters formed the nucleus of the township that grew there, from which he was always known as the "Father of Coraki." Among the many sailing vessels he built was the, 'Examiner,' which made several trips to Melbourne with cedar, and the 'Beagle,' skippered by Captain Leonard, who took the first load of maize from the Richmond.
William Yabsley was drowned in the Richmond through the capsizing of the steamer 'Vesta' a little below Tattumbar on January 21, 1880. She had a big stack of maize on the deck, and was swung too sharply round a bend.
Yabsley's sons, William and Tom, afterwards owners of Bungawalbin, were keen sports. When a boy, William helped for a fortnight to clear the first racecourse at Casino, and subsequently he rode up from Coraki for the first races, for which the squatters had sub- scribed so liberally that the big event was worth £200 and the Maiden Plate £80. He was booked to ride a big grey called Whalebone for George Sparkes, manager of Wooroowoolgen, but at the last moment Sparkes decided that he was too small to manage the grey, and gave the mount to another boy. Young Bill, as he was called, was annoyed, and as nobody else required a very small jockey he entered his own hack, Charlie, for the Hurry Scurry. The nomination cost him 5/- and he had then 5/- left. As there was another day's racing to see and board and lodging to pay, he felt a bit anxious. However, he rode
the horse himself and won.
Next he nominated for the Hack Race, for which Whalebone was a competitor. Jockeys were required to wear colors, but the only colors Yabsley had were in a regatta shirt that he was wearing. After some argument, Henry Barnes, of Dyraaba, said, "Let the boy start; his color's strawberry."
"They let me start," said Yabsley afterwards, "because they thought I couldn't win."
But, Sparkes's big grey, which was regarded as a certainty, fell at the turn, and to the surprise of everybody Yabsley won.
He went to Casino with 10/- and re- turned home with £30 - a budding Croesus immensely proud of his achievements. But instead of the cheers he expected, Dad Yabsley said to him, "This racing business is no good; turn the horse out." And out he went.
For all that, William Yabsley, who died in 1922, remained always keenly interested in horses and racing, and for many years was President of the Coraki Jockey Club.
His brother's interest was in cricket. He was in the game for 50 years, and reckoned he was then as good a man as he ever was. In his young days he was considered one of the best all-rounders on the river. At that time, when the Richmond played the Clarence, or one town played another, the teams assembled on the ground about 10 a.m. in their ordinary holiday dress. Then they took their coats and vests and boots off, tucked their trousers up to their knees, and went at it like true sports. A player who did not take his boots off, was considered a tenderfoot, and also a drag on the bare-footers, who could run faster - providing they did not strike any prickles or burrs between wickets.
Playing in a match at Gundurimba, Tom Yabsley hit a ball into a parrot's nest in a hollow of a tree - and killed the parrot. As the ball stuck there, an aborigine, after much argument, was engaged as tree-climber. When he threw the ball down a fieldsman caught it, and appealed to the umpire, who said "Out!"
During the other team's innings a ball was hit into the river, and Yabsley, who was fielding on the boundary, gave a boy half a crown to swim for
it. There was more argument about rules, and eventually the boy was appointed swimmer for both sides.
Near the end of the game a ball crashed through the hotel window, and the publican yelled across the field, "Now you'll have to appoint a bloomin' glazier for both sides."
The station home of the Yabsleys, Bungawalbin, was 20 miles up the creek from its junction with the river. The station supplies were at first carried from Coraki in a two-ton ship's boat, but later small steamers ran up as far as the homestead. The surrounding country was rich in game, and consequently blacks were numerous. A big tribal fight was witnessed near the homestead, when 400 warriors took part. For a day or two afterwards blacks swarmed about the station and streamed along the creek.
When the Yabsleys got Bungawalbin it was stocked with 1200 Durham cattle and 600 horses. Wooroowoolgen, its neighbor, had a fine herd of Herefords as well as Durhams. The Hereford herd was sold at the end of 1870, the Yabsleys being the principal buyers. Those Herefords always had an inclination to make back, and even when the old stock had long died out some Herefords were usually in the mobs when the lower part of Wooloowoolgen run was mustered. Yabsley appeared regularly at such times to pick up the stragglers. Though the runs were fenced, collecting strays on different runs was an annual job.
Yabsley loved to talk about the sporting pioneers of the northern districts, many of whom he was associated with in one way and another.
(To be Continued).