Grazier’s at Stockyard
Aborigines used the area extensively. All of the Howqua River flats were dotted with large shade trees and covered in grass. It was this that prompted the original settlers to graze sheep and cattle. Aborigines regularly burned the grasses to promote new growth in order to support the kangaroo and wallaby and other protein source populations which the Aborigine depended on. Stockyard Creek was also heavily grassed making it ideal for meat production.
Forbears of the Stoneys selected land at the junction of the Goulburn and Howqua Rivers in 1864 but the Ware Family settled at Stockyard Creek in the 1880′s. Eadley Stoney ran cattle on the Bluff from early 1940 and was friends with Jack Ware from Stockyard Creek and who also ran cattle on the Bluff. Mt. Eadley Stoney on the Bluff Range was named for Eadley after he died.
Stockyard Creek was the home for Stoney’s High Country Adventure Alpine Tours and then horse rides for more than 20 years in conjuntion with cattle grazing. It is a remote, beautiful place but is also a working farm of 420 acres completely surrounded now by thick almost impenetrable bush, widely and affectionately known as “Stockyard” and has now been owned by the Stoney’s since the mid sixties.
The property was used as a staging point for the Stoney’s cattle on their way to and from summer grazing on the Bluff High Plains from Mansfield. A different mob of Hereford cattle graze the property Stockyard and the adjoining “Narboorac” lease. This mob of cattle is historically significant as the genetic line can be traced back to cattle owned and grazed on leases by the Ware family 100 years ago.
Mining in the Howqua Hills and Stockyard Creek
The Howqua and Stockyard valleys are comprised of the famous greenstone, prized by the Aborigines for axes for many centuries.
“The Yowen illiam Bulluk Clans people of the Taungurung Tribe not only mined green stone, but travelled from here up the Howqua Valley to the High Plains for trade, food sources such as Bogong Moth and ceremony. During this time disputes between different Tribes would be dealt with by the Elders of the Clans, and at times punishments would be administered. Green stone used as axe heads and spears has been found as far away as South Gippsland, around the North East and up into New South Wales.”
During the late 19th century extensive gold mining was carried out. Jasper and other semi precious stones can be found in the valleys and talc was mined for some years near Fred Fry’s. During the gold mining time, six thousand people lived at Howqua Hills so it was surveyed and a town was mapped out. The gold was difficult to remove from the rocks, finance ceased and everything was abondoned.
Visitors to the area will note the trees are the same age. This is because the 1929 fires burnt fiercely hot – and burnt everything – including all the koalas. Koalas were released at Stockyard in the late 1990′s and if you look up, you’ll see them, wedged in a eucalyptus viminalis, high, high up against the blue of the sky.