Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Lights Of Cobb And Co.

Cobb and Co. was a much renowned mode of public transport in early Australia for
the benefit of overseas visitors.

Cobb and Co On the Logan.

For almost 10 years after settlement on the Logan Agricultural Reserve in 1861-62, transport in and out of the Logan district was limited to three very primitive options:
The traveller either rode or drove his own horse;
travelled on one of the river boats;
or walked.

roads were surveyed and opened as even the rough bush tracks they were, settlershad little choice. And for some time after the bush tracks were opened, public transport didon them simply did not exist.

The number of farmers and their wives who actually walked to Brisbane with produce for sale,then walked back again to their Logan home was just astounding.
The first road was surveyed in 1858 and was opened shortly afterwards.
It is thought that this track was named as Slacks Track or Beenleigh Road.

There is evidence of a coach service through Browns Plains as early as 1863, but Cobb and Co.did not establish it's official route in Queensland until 1865 when a service operated betweenIpswich and Brisbane. The first definite reference to Cobb and Co. Coaches operating in theLogan district, dates from January 1871 then a weekly service between Brisbane and Nerang.

The Albert river was crossed by Carter's ferry before continuing on to Nerang.
Carter's ferry operated between 1860-71.
Fees charged for the ferry were:
Passengers on foot..................1 penny
Single horse and rider .............4 pence
Vehicles loaded
or unloaded.............................8 pence
Bullock teams..........................1 shilling
Demand for a coach service between Nerang and Brisbane was heavy, s0 within weeks theservice increased to three times per week. Later it ran every day and then 1875 a secondNerang route was commenced.

The Coaching Service

Jingle of harness and slap of rein
Heard in Brisbane's Albert Street;
Cobb and Co's ready to roll again-
Stables echo to horse's feet.

The service was three times a week,
Stopping at eight mile plains;
Down from the city to Nerang Creek,
where the horse's teams were changed.

Carrying passengers and the Royal Mail,
The Logan was part of the long run,
Travelled over a rough bush track,
In eighteen hundred and seventy one.

Clouds of dust went soaring high,
As the coach disappeared from sight;
Hooves had made the flintstones fly,
And the canvas blinds rolled down tight.

Wheels crunched on, the coach came through,
On gravel streets of Beenleigh town;
A common sight the people knew,
When the pioneers ploughed the ground.

All kinds of weather, the coach was bound;
The colonists waved it past,
It covered mud and hardened ground,
And down each grade the team sped fast.

Driver's curses fell o'er the plain,
As to and fro everyone was sent;
Tightly held on leather reins-
Over deep ruts the vehicle went.

Out to Beaudesert the service ran,
An era now etched in fame;
Those coaching days seemed all so grand,
In the time the settlers came.

--Sheelah Stenhouse.

Now a more well known poem by Henry Lawson. One of my favourites.

The Lights Of Cobb and Co.

Fire lighted; on the table a meal for sleepy men;
A lantern in the stable, a jingle now and then;
The mail-coach looming darkly by the light of moon and star;
A growl of sleepy voices; a candle in the bar;
A stumble in the passage of folks with wits abroad;
A swear-word from a bedroom--the shout of "all aboard!"
"Tchk tchk! Git-up!" "Hold fast there!" and down the range we go;
Five hundred miles of scattered camps will watch for Cobb and Co.

Old coaching towns already decaying for their sins;
Uncounted 'half-way Houses', and scores of 'Ten mile Inns';
The riders from the stations by lonely granite peaks;
The black-boy for the shepherds on sheep and cattle creeks;
The roaring camps of Gulgong, and many a 'digger's Rest';
The diggers on the Lachlan; the huts the Farthest West;
Some twenty thousand exiles who sailed for weal or woe-
The bravest hearts of twenty lands will wait for Cobb and Co.

The morning star had vanished, the frost and fog are gone,
In one of grand mornings which but on mountains dawn;
A flask of friendly whiskey--- each other's hopes we share--
And throw our top-coats open to drink the mountain air,
The roads are rare to travel, the life seems all complete;
The grind of wheels on gravel, the trot of horse's feet,
The trot, trot, trot and canter, as down the spur we go--
The green sweeps of the horizons blue that call for Cobb and Co.

We take the bright girl actress through western dusts and damps,
To bear the home-world message, and sing for sinful camps,
To stir our hearts and break them, wild hearts that hope and ache--
(Ah! when she thinks again of these her own must surely break!)
Five miles this side of the goldfields, a loud triumphant shout;
Five hundred cheering diggers have snatched the horses out;
With 'Auld Lang Syne' in chorus, through roaring camps they go
That cheer for her, and cheer for home, and cheer for Cobb and Co.

Three lamps above the ridges and gorges dark and deep,
A flash of sandstone cuttings where sheer the sidlings sweep,
A flash on shrouded waggons, on water ghastly white;
Weird bush and scattered remnants of 'rushes in the night';
Across the swollen river a flash beyond the ford;
Ride hard to warn the driver! He's drunk or mad, good Lord!
But on the bank to westward a broad and cheerful glow--
New camps extend across the plains new routes for Cobb and Co.

Swift scramble up the sidling where teams climb inch by inch;
Pause, bird-like, on the summit-- then breakneck down the pinch;
By clear, ridges-country rivers, and gaps where tracks run high,
Where waits a lonely horseman, cut clear across the sky;
Past haunted halfway houses- where convicts made the bricks--
Scrub-yards and new bark shanties, we dash with five and six;
Through stringey-bark and blue-gum, and box and pine we go--
A hundred miles shall see tonight the lights of Cobb and Co.

('rushes in the night' Aussie for cattle stampede)


Peter said...

A very interesting look back over the years Margaret, there is no doubt that the pioneers had a hard life but then they hadn't been spoiled by knowing an easier life.

PEA said...

How very interesting this post was! I love to find out how things were done in the past, especially from other countries! It's amazing what the pioneers had to do...we certainly are spoiled today!!

Puss-in-Boots said...

Hi Margaret

I've come over from Pea's. I love Henry Lawson. In fact, I have a rather wonderful volume called "Classic Australian Short Stories and Verse", so it's got Lawson, Steele Rudd and other "bush" poets and writers.

One day, I have promised myself, I'm going to memorise the whole of "The Man From Snowy River". Why? Because, like Mt Everest, it's there!:-)

Ahem. There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around...

Oh, well. That's about it at the moment. One day I shall learn the rest.

Hope you come and visit sometime.

Jeanette said...

hi Margaret
Its nice too look back in history . but i dont think Iwould make a good pioneer I like the comforts of home.
A good Henry Lawson poem.
Take Care keep happy> Jan

Merle said...

Hi Margaret ~ A good post and the poems are also good.Isn't history
interesting ? Learning about the past
and how things were for our forefathers. Take care, Margaret.Love

Claire said...

What an interesting post. Thanks for sharing!


Pip said...

My great uncle, who died about 25 years ago, was one of the last Cobb & Co drivers, so it was great to read this. Loved the Lawson poem, too. You might be interested in the Louisa and Henry Lawson Chronology which I put together for people with such interests. Cheers.

Hale McKay said...

I have to use the same adjective as most of the others - a very interesting post.

The poems were quite nice too.

DellaB said...

Hi Margaret, I love anything 'old' and reading about the pioneers, the poetry of the Australian settler's era is transporting (no pun intended) - it shows us the spirit of the people and pictures the life and times.

Meow said...

It is always fascinating to look back at how the old-timers lived. I don't know that I could've survived without all the luxuries we are used to these days. But, I guess they didn't know any better. Thanks for sharing. The poems are wonderful ... I love the flow of Henry Lawson's poems ... just wonderful.
Take care, Meow

Jim said...

I nice historical post, they were a legend like our Pony Express maybe?

Are they the same company now into the restaraunt business, Cobb and Co. of New Zealand?

Lee said...

Enjoyed this, Margaret...thanks for sharing it with us. They sure made them tough in those days. I guess the mold has been thrown away!

Cobb & Co. originally was an American my could very well still be operating these days in another format.

Gwen said...

Hi Margret..Very informative post great poem.Thanks also for your visit ,glad you liked the jokes.

Britmum said...

I enjoyed reading your post Margaret. The poems were lovely.

Take care

Merle said...

Hi again Margaret, Thanks for your visit and comments. We can all relate to It's later than we think. Glad you enjoyed the jokes etc. Love, Merle.

HORIZON said...

I wanted to pop by to say thank you for the lovely comments you left. I was delighted to find another blogger who enjoys poetry and history! Enjoyed the read and will certainly be back again soon.
Bests for now :)

Hale McKay said...

Thanks for the comments on my "Helloween" story. I was hoping the plot twists and turns would get to the readers.