1850 to 1859


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An 1850s map of Bendigo, shows that the road to Heathcote does not enter or exit Bendigo where today's McIvor Highway exists. In the early years of this decade, Bendigo was the name generally used for the goldfields and Sandhurst did not exist. There was no township as such and trade was conducted from tents erected on the goldfield. The mentioned road is shown north of Nolan Street and the later cattle yards, between what was often referred to as the two White Hills in approximately the same place as the future Heathcote rail line and Strickland Road. The road led to nothing more than a gold mining and camp area. I have a suspicion that it eventually joined the current McIvor Road alignment at the east end of Atlas Road.

Supplies for the miners who came to Bendigo for the various gold rushes were provided by enterprising merchants, or even miners who were not striking it rich. They sold their products from tents on site.

The camp was eventually moved, or removed as variously reported, to Camp Hill, closer to today's Pall Mall in 1852, facilitating commercial development which expanded very rapidly. The Municipal District of Sandhurst was not proclaimed until April 24, 1855.


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September, 1852

Government Gazette No. 38, reports that Mr. Robert Ross Esq. of Axedale Station, Campaspe River, is appointed a Magistrate of the Colony of Victoria and its dependencies.

As Crown Lands are taken up by settlers, the Squatters Runs start diminishing in size and the Axedale Run is no exception. In 1852, Mr. Robert Ross's holdings are nothing like the 67,000 acres of the preceding years. He now has a number of holdings. One of these consists of 640 acres with the Campaspe River flowing through the middle of it. The East half of what is referred to as Axedale Station, is the current-day Marydale, and the West half is the current-day Axedale Golf Course, having had a previous life as the Axedale Racecourse and Recreation Reserve. Ross also has Allotments 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, Section 1, Parish of Axedale, of approximately 354 acres, North side of McIvor Road, on the East side of the Axe Creek.

There is no bridge over the Campaspe River at this time and the road approach on the Eastern side is nothing like what it is today [2015]. The McIvor Road is nothing but an unmade track through the forest and, if you are travelling from McIvor [Heathcote] to Axedale and are lucky enough to make it to near the Toolleen Road intersection, you continue to the left through the Knowsley Forest, across the current-day Quarry Road at the bend about half a kilometre down from the current course of the McIvor Highway and continue along the South boundary of Axedale Station [now Marydale] towards the Campaspe River. When near the River, you turn right and continue towards the current day Campaspe Bridge. A left turn then takes you down a well-worn approach to the river shallows. If luck is still with you, and the River is low enough for you to try it, you wade or maybe even swim, across to the West bank and continue your journey. However, if the river is not low enough, you have three choices - turn back, find another place to cross, or wait for the water level to drop. The Campaspe River, generally untapped for irrigation back then, carried a lot more water than it does now.


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February, 1854

• Robert Ross applies to Mr. Powlett, Chief Commissioner of Crown lands for permission to erect a 'commodious inn' on the road from his station to Sandhurst where 'the roads via the White Hills and the Sheepwash Creek divide situate on the Axe Creek about 8 miles from the crossing place at the Campaspe and 8 miles from the township of Sandhurst'. [This will become the first Axedale Hotel. Based on an advertisement for its sale by then owner, Michael Costelloe, in 1867, it existed on Costelloe's 2 acre property at the corner of McIvor Highway and Hawkins Lane, Longlea.]

Robert Ross writes to the Chief Commissioner of Crown Lands as follows: "There is at present a great want of accommodation for travellers on the line of road from the Campaspe to Sandhurst by way of my station of Axedale. It is my intention if I be fortunate enough to obtain permission from your office to erect a Commodious Inn at a portion of the road where the roads via the White Hills and Sheepwash Creek divide, situate on the Axe Creek about 8 miles from the crossing place at the Campaspe and 8 miles from the township of Sandhurst. I have had conversation with the Bench at Sandhurst on the subject and the Magistrates have expressed it as their opinion that a Hotel is much required in the locality in question. I therefore address you for permission to erect it on Crown lands, and would esteem it a great favour if you would give me an answer at an early date addressed to care of Ross and Clarke, Bourke Street. I have the honor to be Sir, your most obedient servant, Robert Ross." Ross is advised that there would be no objection to the proposal. Mr. W. A. B. Miller is later granted a licence for what will become the first Axedale Hotel.

[Ross's father, Lieutenant Colonel and Major, James Hunter Ross, was a solicitor with a practice in Bourke Street, Melbourne. His partner from about 1853 to 1857, was John Clarke. The legal papers for Robert Ross's Hotel were therefore handled by his father's practice. The reference to the road divide refers to what is now the Longlea Lane/McIvor Highway intersection.]

March, 1854

• Frederick Leete applies for land on which to erect ... [see Axedale hotel file at PROV]

August, 1854

• Robert Ross, Esquire, is appointed a Returning Officer for the Electoral District of the Pastoral District of the Loddon under the provisions of "The Victoria Electoral Act 1851" vice C.B. Hall, Esquire absent from the Colony..


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March, 1855

• Gold is a pastime that is remunerative to a few. New diggings on the Axe Creek are viewed as somewhat mythical as many search for them without success while others say they are finding nice specimens. Mr. Miller, of the Axedale Hotel, [at Axe Creek] says that they are 20 miles [32km] distant from his place, following the course of the Creek, but that he can reach them in five miles [8km] by a short cut. Of course, the short cut is not identified.

July, 1855

• Crown land lots are opened and advertised for selection. Amongst others, there are 22 lots at Axedale, at the junction of the Axe Creek with the Campaspe River, between 10 and 15 miles [16km and 24km] East of Sandhurst, near Ross or Axedale Station.

September, 1855

• Fox and Hounds - Jones' hounds embark on a run from White Hills to the ranges between McGowan and Boyle's Station, then to the right of Boyle's, on to the back of the Axedale Hotel [Axe Creek], then direct to Sugar Loaf Ranges, then tried crossing Campaspe Plains and doubled back on to McGowan's paddock and crossed the road. The hounds caught up with their quarry at the new township of Goornong, formerly known as 'The Crab Holes'. It takes 2.5 hours to cover a calculated total distance of 30 miles [48km], including the crossing of Baker's Bog without any mishap.

• Michael Costelloe, proprietor of the Axedale Hotel, posts a notice about a found stray horse near the Axedale Hotel. The owner can have it back by paying the costs of advertisements, expenses, and proving ownership.

October, 1855

• One unidentified land allotment, at Axedale, is advertised for sale.

• Michael Costelloe finds three more strayed horses near the Axedale Hotel. The owner can claim after proof of ownership and paying costs.

November, 1855

• Michael Francis Costelloe marries Anne Francis O'Sullivan at Emerald Hill. Anne is the daughter of Mr. William O'Sullivan, Architect, of Limerick, Ireland.

• Nineteen land allotments in Sections 1, 2, 3 and 4, are advertised for sale at the junction of the Axe Creek with the Campaspe River, between ten and sixteen miles east of Sandhurst, near Ross or Axedale Station.

December, 1855

• Nineteen land allotments at Axedale on the Campaspe, and twenty six country lots immediately north and south of the township of Axedale are advertised for sale.

• The proprietor of the Axedale Hotel, Michael Costelloe, in returning his sincere thanks to his numerous friends and the public in general, for the very liberal patronage he has received since opening, begs to assure them that no expense or endeavour on his part shall be spared to render it deserving of their continued support. The stock of wines, spirits, etc., have been selected with the greatest care. M.F.C. [Costelloe] can, with the fullest confidence, recommend them to his friends as equal to any to be had in the colony. There are several large, well fenced and watered paddocks, stock yards, and sheep pens for the accommodation of settlers and others travelling with stock. Horses taken to graze by the week or month.

The Axedale [Hotel] is within eight miles of Bendigo, on the main road from there to McIvor [Heathcote], Kilmore, and Melbourne.

Costelloe is about to play a larger role, albeit with some notoriety, in the Axedale history story.

• Another identity, George Washington Haycock, Pall Mall, advertises that he is a Weighbridge Proprietor, and General Commission Agent. The weighbridge is at the rear of the Post Office and it is suggested that miners might benefit from weighing their quartz there. He is also an agent for Cobb and Co.'s Telegraph Line of Coaches and advertises reduced fares for Castlemaine to Melbourne - £3, Bendigo to Melbourne - £5, and Maryborough to Melbourne - £5. There is another advertisement advising Merchants, Storekeepers, and all persons having goods to forward to the Diggings, or any part of the Colonies, England, and the United States, that he and T.K. Newton and Co. have purchased the concern of F.J. Rogers and Co. and are prepared to carry out the forwarding business in all its branches. There is a note stating that a John McCormack has no further interest in the concern.

Haycock is something of a Wheeler/Dealer and has a finger in many pies. He is about to play a pivotal role in the fortunes of Robert Ross and the Axedale history.


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January, 1856

• George Washington Haycock is one of seven Councillors elected to the very first Sandhurst Town Council. He takes on the Treasurer's role and provides a two-roomed weatherboard building at the weighbridge at View Point. One of the Council's first undertakings is the removal of stumps in the streets and filling in the prolific diggers' gold mining holes.

• Haycock and Newton advertise forwarding services under the banner of Telegraph Stage Office and General Forwarding Depot, 23 Bourke Street East, Opposite the Union Hotel, Melbourne. Four-horse wagons are despatched daily to the various diggings. It is the principal booking office for daily coaches to Castlemaine, Bendigo, Maryborough. They also advertise daily lines to Ballarat, Creswick and Fiery Creek, Beechworth, Wangaratta, Albury, etc.

Haycock's affairs continue to increase and he is subsequently authorised to receive payments of calls on shares associated with the Colonial Bank of Australasia.

• As a matter of general interest, Persons interested in bathing are advised that baths, opposite View Point and Royal Hotels are now open for use. Any concerns or fears that the water may be used twice, re allayed with advice that a good supply of water is available and, having been used once, will be passed into the creek.

• May and Son advertise Conveyance to Heathcote, leaving Harney's Bendigo Hotel every Friday morning at 9 o'clock, calling at Heathcote, Kilmore and Melbourne, and leaving the Albion Hotel, Bourke Street every Tuesday morning at 6 o'clock.

• A Sandhurst Business Directory shows John Harney as the Proprietor of the Bendigo Hotel. He may be the John Harney who previously occupied the Axedale Run. G.W. Haycock is shown as a Weighbridge Proprietor and General Commission Agent, next to the Post Office.

• The Axedale Races are held over January 24th and 25th but the actual location is not shown. George Haycock is listed as a Steward. Michael Francis Costelloe, Axedale Hotel, is the Secretary and Treasurer. The report of the event indicates that this is the first Axedale Races as it mentions "It is an old saying 'that every beginning is weak' and there is nothing at Axedale to prevent its application to racing" It would not be fair to criticise a first performance. It is sufficient that it made a holiday for all, and as the weather was most propitious, we have reason to believe that the company assembled enjoyed it.

All riders were required to be residents of the Parish. The first day's race results are, Publican's Purse: Easy John and Ballaarat, Mr. Boyle and Warlock, Robert Ross - won by Ballaarat after some unspecified difficulty in making the decision. Axedale Town Plate: Orphan Boy, Mr. Scott, Kate Kearney, Mr. Costelloe and Creeping Jane, Mr. Boyle - won by Creeping Jane.

Racing results on the second day were Hurdle Race: 1st. Creeping Jane, Mr. Boyle, 2nd. Badger, Mr. Costelloe, and 3rd. Whalebone, Mr. Thompson. Hack Hurdle Race: 1st. Lucy, Mr. Beckett, 2nd. Fistula, Mr. Lamb. Hack Race: 1st. Dinah, Mr. Lamb, 2nd. Shamrock, Mr. Iron. Consolidated Stakes: 1st. Easy John, Mr. Boyle and 2nd. Warlock, Mr. Ross.

• The Cobb and Co. Telegraph Line of Coaches advertise a service between Bendigo and Melbourne that takes one day for the journey. It leaves the Shamrock Hotel every morning, except Sunday, a 6am. George Haycock runs the booking office at View Point.

• More Crown Land is offered for sale with 7 country allotments at Strathfieldsaye, on the Axe Creek; 4 at Wellsford, at the head of the Kangaroo Creek; 45 at Axedale, on the Axe and Kangaroo Creeks, near the junction of the former with the Campaspe. There are also 7 lots on Sweenies Creek, near its junction with Axe Creek,

February, 1856

• Jeremiah Le Haire is charged with stealing a watch, the property of Mr. Michael Costelloe, at Axedale. He is proved guilty of larceny and receives a sentence of twelve months hard labour on the roads.

May, 1856

• Michael Costelloe advertises for a gardener. Apply to the Axedale Hotel.

June, 1856

• On June 1st, 1856, Robert Ross, of Axedale Station, writes a Letter to The Editor of the Bendigo Advertiser regarding the need for a bridge over the Campaspe River to afford ready communication with the golf field of McIvor and the agricultural district of Kilmore. He says he has been approached by inhabitants of McIvor and a meeting at Heathcote is planned preparatory to asking the Government for a bridge building grant. Assistance and support from Sandhurst residents is expected. Mr. Henry Chater, Solicitor, has offered his services. [An 1858 map shows that the approach road from Heathcote was via a road that crossed the present day Quarry Road at the bend about 0.5km south of the intersection with the McIvor Highway, heading straight towards the Campaspe River at the southern boundary of what was then Ross's pre-emptive right, then via a right turn towards the location of the current bridge. The road then widens out to the river frontage to provide for crossing at a shallow point at the south end of Campaspe Reserve. On another map, the road around the pre-emptive right has a note that it is not part of the grant.]

A followup article in The Bendigo Advertiser adds support for the bridge, saying that Ross's letter deserves more than a passing notice. There are several fords where one can cross in dry seasons, however, in seasons such as we have had, and are likely for some time to have, the stream of the Campaspe swollen to a formidable turbid. winter's torrent, forbids any passing over it for days together, and a passage at length is only affected with extreme difficulty. Recently the fords formerly used have become so bad that teams cannot cross by them and for some time past they have crossed the river by passing through a portion of Mr. Ross's private property. The increasing traffic between this district and McIvor, and the rapid occupation of the rich alluvial lands adjacent to the river by a numerous agricultural population, demand that something should be done to facilitate traffic between the districts. The present movement deserves to be supported".

An 1858 map shows that the approach road from Heathcote was via a road that crossed the present day Quarry Road at the bend about 0.5km south of the intersection with the McIvor Highway, heading straight towards the Campaspe River at the southern boundary of what was then Ross's pre-emptive right, then via a right turn towards the location of the current bridge. The road then widens out to the river frontage to provide for crossing at a shallow point at the south end of Campaspe Reserve. On another map, the road around the pre-emptive right has a note that it is not part of the grant.

• A reader only identified as "Humanitus", writes a letter detailing the demise of a cattle buyer: "A poor, industrious, sober man, having a wife and three children, travelled along the Campaspe from Castlemaine, to procure cattle to establish a dairy at Castlemaine. After a wearied journey, he purchased and paid for eleven cows to start him. He succeeded in swimming his horse across the Campaspe, he going by a boat, and leading his horse by a bridle. Another difficulty arose to cross the Axedale Creek. He tried it and perished, his remains are yet to be found, The horse, true to its lost owner, remained almost stationary at the bank, but alas no tidings of his master. It now rests with some friend to break the woeful tidings to a bereaved widow and almost destitute children—the task I could not bear, as I was nearly a victim, through crossing from the Bendigo side. Is it possible that human life is to be still sacrificed in this way, when one bridge over the Campaspe, and one over the Axe Creek, would obviate such fatal results? Hundreds have perished in a similar way, and never heard of. Were it not that I met the McIvor postman who,knowing the creek, dare not cross, I might have met a watery grave. The postman and I should have slept under a gum tree, lay on the grass with our wet saddles for a pillow, or lie in a ditch, but fortunately a homestead was at hand, Mr. Boyle's, of Splitters' Creek, who kindly afforded all the hospitality which his countrymen are proverbial for. The name of the unfortunate man who has thus come to his end, is John Cameron, of Campbell's Flat, on the Loddon River. Several persons were detained at the Axe Creek, in consequence of the flood, and would have had to remain under tho rain, had not Mr. Edward Boyle taken them safely across on his mare. I am, yours, HUMANITAS."

July, 1856

• A number of Title Deeds are transmitted to Treasury. Of interest is John Baillie who applies for 1r 36p, 1r 22p, 1r 33p, 1r 38p, and 2r at Axedale.

• A single unidentified allotment is offered for sale at Axedale.

• The Coroner, Dr. Roche, holds an inquest on the body of John Canham [sic.] at the Axedale Hotel. As reported: "It appears that on Wednesday, 11th of June, the deceased, who was purchasing cows at the Axedale Hotel, made an attempt between three and four o'clock to pass the creek on horseback by the crossing place, the creek at the time being flooded. The deceased took of his coat, and had proceeded three or four yards into the water when the strength of the current swept away him and his horse. The horse succeeded in reaching the bank, but in its struggle, threw the deceased out of his saddle. He held by the mane of the horse, sank two or three times with him, and was ultimately shaken off and carried away. From this time, nothing was seen of the body till last Sunday when Johnson, the gardener at the Axedale Hotel, walked down the bank thinking he might possibly find it, and saw the portion of a leg above the water. He got a stick and bought it alongside the bank, and drew up a body which proved to be that of Canham. A verdict of accidental death was returned."

[There are several inconsistencies, other than the deceased's name, between the inquest report and the previous Letter to the Editor. If the cattle purchase took place at the Axedale Hotel, near the Axe Creek, Canham would not have had to swim the Campaspe River as previously mentioned, unless he had to go to the Campaspe to collect them or had already purchased them before going to the Axedale Hotel to purchase some more. There is no mention of anyone accompanying him, so, how was it ascertained that he had previously crossed the Campaspe - a point that was not mentioned in the inquest report?]

The fortunes of Robert Ross, of Axedale Station, are about to take a turn for the worse. There is a relationship between Ross and a George Washington Haycock, the details of which took quite a deal of wading through. The circumstances and actions will be covered in considerable detail as they relate to the district which is known as Axedale and the twists and turns are rather intriguing. We will come to Ross a little later when the relationship is revealed.

• The Bendigo Advertiser reports: The commercial community of Sandhurst was yesterday [July 24] thrown into a ferment by rumours which seemed pretty well authenticated, that Mr. G. W. Haycock, a gentleman long connected with this township and district, had disappeared under circumstances which rendered it extremely probable that he had absconded, leaving behind him a large number of debts and liabilities. Mr Haycock's general character, and his extensive credit here and in Melbourne, caused the rumours to be received at first with incredulity, but so many suspicious circumstances have transpired that it seems impossible to doubt that his disappearance is owing to the cause alleged. It is sufficient at present to say that it is reported that several bills accepted by him have been 'dishonored'; that as agent of a hotel keeper in this district, he received a sum of £2,000 as purchase money of the hotel, which he has not given up, thereby preventing the departure of the owner of the hotel in the Champion of the Seas by which he had taken his passage. Several minor sums have been mentioned as having been borrowed by him [Haycock] a few days previous to his departure for Melbourne and it is also stated that a large number of persons, chiefly miners, who had deposited their earnings in his hand, will lose their money if the reports are true. Mr. Haycock was Treasurer of the Municipal Council, and according to the loose system in which it appears they conduct their monetary transactions, it is said that he could, if so disposed, have appropriated the whole of the funds lying to the credit of the Council. If this is the case, it seems strange that a man who has apparently not scrupled to appropriate the money of private persons with whom he has had commercial transactions, and who have even accommodated him by loans, should have refrained from touching the money of the Municipality. And we trust that the narrow escape our Council have had from bankruptcy will prove a warning to them against conducting their business in so loose a manner, and trusting to the honesty of any man, no matter how well he stands in the community.

In addition to other transactions, we have heard of large obligations on the part of Mr. Haycock to squatters and settlers in the district and in the colony of New South Wales. Mr. Haycock had, during the last few months, engaged in extensive speculations in stock and had purchased some stations. Some of his friends who have still some confidence in him, believe that his absence is owing to some urgent business matters which demanded his immediate presence in the neighboring colony. The disappearance of Mr. Haycock seems to have caused a great sensation among a number of people in Melbourne to whom he was under considerable liabilities. It was the arrival of some of these persons in Sandhurst on Wednesday evening by Cobb's Coach, that first caused the fact which had for some days been suspected by a few people to be generally known.

Mr. Haycock was, for the last three or four years, a resident in Bendigo. Before the town was removed, he occupied perhaps the best position in it as a general storekeeper, in which capacity he seems to have amassed some money. When the township was removed, he gave up business as a storekeeper, and commenced as a Commission Agent. He was for some time agent for Cobb and Co., which office he held to the last. His success induced him to embark in various speculations—the last and most extensive of which we have already alluded to. If he has really absconded, it is likely that the multiplicity of engagements in which he found himself mixed up proved hopelessly embarrassing, and he saw no means of escape from ruin except by flight. Mr. Haycock was generally liked and respected on Bendigo, and his credit was perhaps better than that of any man in the place. He was a kind hearted man, who has done many a good turn for his fellow townsmen, and it is difficult for those who knew him to understand how he can become an absconder. The gathering difficulties of a perplexing variety of pursuits and consequent obligations, and the temptation thrown in his way by his unlimited credit, and the large sums of money in his hand, facilities which in a few days the knowledge of his difficulties would deprive him of, these may explain how a man so generally respected could become an absconder. It should be remembered, too, that Mr. Haycock never invested his money to any extent in real property. He made no ties likely to bind him to the place, and established no home for himself. We do not say that these things are evidences of premeditation on his part; but it must be confessed that they lessened the difficulties in the way of clearing out at any moment.

We should not be doing justice to this subject did we not allude to the very serious injury which an event of this kind is likely to do to this community, in ruining credit for a time and thereby paralysing commercial operations. Of course, such an event could not occur, unless where there was an extensive trust amongst business men. The re-action, though it last only for a short time, must be very injurious, even to the most honest traders. We say nothing of the losses and probable failures which the affair itself may involve. These we trust however, will be less serious than is imagined. Out of adversity how ever, we sometimes obtain good, This event will have a good result in checking the reckless system of credit so prevalent here, imparting such an impetus to wild speculation. The mere adventurer will suffer while eventually, the legitimate and honest trader will undoubtedly be benefited,

• Another article details stock movements heading south over the Murray River: "... there are 62,000 store sheep between the Edward and the Murrumbidgee, 18,000 only being unsold. Between the Murrumbidgee and the Lachlan there are 25,500, in small lots, all of which are fat, and chiefly unsold. A mob of 12,000 has just crossed the Murray, at Hopwood's, or Maiden's, the joint property of Mr. G. W. Haycock, of Bendigo, and Mr. Protheroe, of New England; the latter gentleman brought down in the past season the finest lot of sheep that ever crossed the Murrumbidgee, and he is now coming down with more."

• Haycock's disappearance continues to occupy newspaper space: "No further information has been received concerning this gentleman, and the question, as far as regards the reason of his disappearance, remains pretty much as it was, with the difference which every day's absence makes against him. Fresh revelations are made of additional probable losses being merely the necessary result of his extensive business transactions. A paragraph in another column states that several dray loads of flour from the Murray, consigned to Mr. Haycock, are within a few miles of Sandhurst. Report also speaks of large flocks of sheep which are en route for this place, which had been purchased by him. So the plot thickens! There is still a hope among some persons, that the missing man may turn up. Absentees from Bendigo for any time, have always been spoken of as bolters. But the grounds for any hope, are extremely vague and unsatisfactory. Mr. Haycock's former good qualities however make persons indisposed to regard him as guilty of the villainy which public rumour ascribes to him. This incredulity is so far creditable to the past career of Mr. Haycock, but if he has absconded it only makes his conduct the worse. When anything of this kind occurs, it is extraordinary what a variety of strange revelations are made concerning the past history of a man. Of course, into these we cannot at present enter. We have only further to make one or two remarks concerning the unaccountable squeamishness of people who object to newspapers publishing anything about matters which for twenty-four hours previously have been the talk of everybody in the township. For our part, we do not understand this sort of thing, and feel strongly inclined to ascribe it to a sympathy with the delinquent much greater than is warranted by reason or by justice. Honest men would be the last to complain of the exposure of villains, either real or suspected. The public have a right to know as much as possible of the truth of what has become public. The facts which led to suspicion in the present case are incontestable, and should Mr. Haycock turn up tomorrow, he would require to be provided with an extraordinary explanation of very extraordinary conduct in any business man".

• Haycock has support among his friends as this extract from an Epsom-based article indicates: "The rumored absconding of Mr. Haycock has caused great excitement here, as so many Americans reside on Epsom, and they have always looked up to Mr. Haycock as their leading man. Many of them, indeed, refuse to believe it even now".

• Haycock now listed Insolvent: "In the insolvent case of George Washington Haycock, late of Sandhurst, in this colony of Victoria, stock dealer: Whereas on the petition of Francis Dessily and George Dessily, of Billibong, in the colony of New South Wales, the estate of George Washington Haycock, the above-named insolvent, was on Monday, the twenty eighth day of July, one thousand eight hundred and fifty six, by order of His Honour, Mr. Justice Williams, one of the judges of the Supreme Court of the colony of Victoria, placed under sequestration in my hands until the same should by the said Supreme Court be adjudged to be sequestrated, or the said petition discharged according to law, and His Honour did appoint Thursday, the fourteenth day of August next, for the said George Washington Haycock to appear before the said Supreme Court, to show cause why his estate should not by sentence of the said court be adjudged to be sequestrated for the benefit of his creditors, and His Honour did at the same time appoint Henry Steel Shaw Esquire, of Melbourne, one of the official assignees of insolvent estates within the said colony, to be the official assignee of this estate. Dated at Melbourne this twenty eighth day of July, AD, 1856. Frederick Wilkinson, Chief Commissioner of Insolvent Estates.

August, 1856

• A small article from August 1st: "We understand that an application has been forwarded from Sandhurst to Melbourne to the Supreme Court for the purpose of superseding the sequestration of Mr. Haycock's estate".

• A report gives an indication of interstate stock movements: "There is no apparent decrease in stock travelling to Victoria and to the border runs. Mr. Cooper has just arrive with 8,000 sheep, as yet unsold. About 8,000 splendid sheep from Mr. Morris's run on the Murrumbidgee have just crossed, and in a few days hence will be at Maiden's. 15,000 sheep have also arrived for Messrs. Caldwell and Ross; these sheep are from the Macquarie River and are also an exceedingly fine lot. They were bought as store sheep but 25% are fit for killing, having fattened on the way. 6.500 belonging to Mr. Peters crossed yesterday, they are fat, and are fine animals. Mr. Maxwell, of New England, is still on the Billibong, with 18,000 unsold up to this time, but as there are several large purchasers here (Maiden, Mooney and others) it is probable that many of those sheep will change hands. A mob of horses, upwards of 100 head, have just gone on for Melbourne; they came from Mr. Henry Osbourne's run and there is also a mob of cattle close by the same gentleman's property. Mr. Taylor has also a small mob of horses about to go into the Bendigo market. The Edward punt has been going night and day and stock holders have almost come to fisticuffs for the precedence. 3,000 sheep belonging to Mr. Haycock, of the Bendigo, (or Haycock Brothers and Co.) are about to leave for that market".

• A Municipal Council meeting reports that orders had been given by the office of the Commissioner of Public Works for a survey for the purpose of forming a bridge over the Campaspe, plans and specifications were in course of preparation, there had been no provision in the 1856 estimates for funding and it will be placed on the estimates for 1857.

The Town Clerk read a letter he had written to the Attorney General, requesting to know what course should be pursued in consequence of the absence of Councillor Haycock.

• The Municipal Council Clerk receives a letter from Edward A. Fayrer, Messenger, advising that Haycock's estate is under sequestration and all monies, bills, receipts, securities, bonds, and all other documents, property or chattels are now attached. The Town Clerk states that earlier reports that the Council is indebted to Mr. Haycock in large sums of money is not a fact. Vouchers from Haycock's office for payment on account of the Municipality need to be adjusted with the Bank.

• A man named Lonergan, from 'the Axedale' attempts to gain money by false pretences through using copper filings and a mixture that was supposed to pass for gold. He was paid twelve one pound notes for the bag of metal which was noted to be a darker substance than Bendigo gold. Lonergan was subsequently committed for trial.

• An advertisement, cautioning persons against disposal, removal, concealment, embezzlement or receipt of any moveable property, monies, or securities, formerly belonging to any insolvent estate that has been attached, appears. Persons knowingly infringing, on conviction thereof, faces severe penalties including transportation and imprisonment with hard labour.

• The Municipal Council is advised that Haycock's absence does not render his position [Treasurer] vacant. A resignation letter from Haycock, dated July 28 is tabled and his resignation is accepted. Haycock had previously given the letter to the Chairman, with instructions to retain it, but it was given to the Council as the easiest solution to their situation.

September, 1856

• The affects of Haycock's insolvency begin to spread. In a court case, McPherson v. Ganley, Ganley is summoned for 'illegally occupying certain lands, and having illegal possession of, certain property without authority.' The charge is eventually dismissed as the property, purchased by Ganley, is that of the firm McPherson and Haycock, and not part of the sequestrated estate of G.W. Haycock. The Assignee had no authority to sell it and no offence had been committed. A horse, illegally seized by the Assignee, had to be returned to Mr. McPherson

• A first meeting in the insolvent estate of haycock, is held. Haycock is said to have absconded to America, from whence he came and is supposed to have taken £20,000 with him. Claims would have to be scrutinised very narrowly. Several claims were postponed.

• Haycock's disappearance now takes a bizarre turn. A body, believed to be that of Haycock, is found floating near the Custom House Wharf [Geelong]. In the pockets of the deceased is a pawn ticket with a note to advise the person's fate to Cobb and Co, Melbourne, a slip of paper with "My name is Geo. W. Haycock, of Bendigo", with a request to advise Cobb and Co. Telegraph Office and a similar request to advise Cobb and Co., or T.K. Newton and Co., Bourke Street, Melbourne. The pawn ticket is for a pistol, pawned in the name of Hamilton and countersigned Geo. W. Haycock.

The Geelong Advertiser, in covering the inquest, reports, "An inquest was yesterday held before the Coroner, at Mack's Hotel, touching the death of Geo. W. Haycock, whose remains were lying at the above-mentioned hotel. The jury having been sworn, and after viewing the body, heard the following evidence deposed to before them. Mr Archibald McNeil, a sergeant of the water police, deposed : About twenty minutes past five, yesterday evening, my attention was called to a body floating off the Customs' Wharf, it was the body of a man. John Ross called my attention to it. I drew the body to the steps, and gave information to the police ashore. The body was afterwards conveyed here. I searched the body, but only a pipe was found on it. I was informed of a bundle having been picked up an hour before on the wharf. It is a bundle of clothing. Henry Bruce found tho bundle. These papers, I was told, were taken from the waistcoat pocket; also, this knife, some thread and a pencil. The papers produced were as follows: On a pawn ticket, "I wish my acquaintances to know my fate at once. P.S.—Write to Cobb and Co.'s, Melbourne." On a slip of paper, "My name is Geo. W. Haycock, of Bendigo. Whoever finds this will please send it to Cobb and Co., Telegraph Office, Melbourne. Geo. W. Haycock." On a second slip, "Please let Cobb and Co., or T. K. Newton and Co., of Great Bourke Street, have this note as soon as you can. G. W. Haycock."

The body had on black trousers, long boots, a white shirt, a black neckerchief and a black wide-awake. In the bundle were a coat and waistcoat with the tails cut off. He appeared from 45 to 50 years of age, fair hair and complexion, and had not been long in the water. The bundle of clothes had been taken on board the ship "Harriet Nathan" and had to be retrieved by Police. Constable Walter Murray, of Bendigo, identifies the body as Haycock.

The inquest jury, after hearing the evidence, delivers the verdict that the deceased had committed suicide while labouring under insanity. The Coroner agrees with the verdict. However, the matter is not as clear cut as it appears. Several Sandhurst people receive letters saying that Haycock's dead body had been found in Corio Bay, or Geelong harbour. One of the received letters contains, "It is rumored here to-night that the body of Haycock has been found in the bay at Geelong, but I can not vouch for its accuracy. It is also reported that a letter was found on him announcing to Cobb and Co. that he was dead. It appears incredible that a document, after so long an immersion, could be legible. Certain it is that one of Cobb's agents has gone to Geelong this evening for the purpose of inquiry. Receive this only at its worth. I only repeat what is here rumored, and believing that you feel interested". The letters create doubt as to the validity of the inquest evidence. It appears that there is reason to suspect that Haycock has put an end to his life, but none of the notes found on him are dated.

Mr. Hunt, who had been in business with Mr. Haycock as a cattle dealer, and who had been intimately acquainted with him, proceeded to Geelong to procure a sight of the body, in order, if possible, to identify it. Mr. Hunt forwards a letter, "I am just returned from Geelong after burying poor G. W. Haycock. He was found drowned at Geelong, and I had no difficulty in identifying him. He bad been in the water some ten hours, after wandering about the country penniless, as I believe, since his first disappearance. He was little changed. I did all that under the circumstances, could be done, and every respect was paid to his remains, God rest his soul".

It would now appear that Haycock's fate has been ascertained. However, there are still doubts. A writer queries the validity of reported circumstances; the length of time the body was in the water, the appearance of clothing, and the fact that no medical persons seem to have been involved in the inquest. The Bendigo Advertiser advises that a gentleman from Bendigo has gone to Geelong to have the body exhumed.

• The second meeting of Haycock's insolvency case takes place. Mr. Bayne says that there was no evidence to connect the bundle of clothes with the body and Police had hastily jumped to that conclusion. He added that it would appear that Haycock, fearful of being pursued by his creditors, had placed his coat on a rail, with certain written papers in the pocket to lead his creditors and the public to the belief that he had destroyed himself. Nothing was found in the clothes on the body but a small clay pipe. The Official Assignee, Mr. Shaw, feels there is great reason to doubt that the recently buried body is that of Haycock. Mr. Bencraft, Solicitor, and Mr. Shaw's Solicitor, travelled to Geelong and exhumed the body. Mr. Bencraft gives evidence that he knew Haycock for two to three years and the exhumed body, from a coffin labelled George Washington Haycock, was not Haycock. This was supported by Mr. Shaw. Mr. Hunt states that he recognised the body as Haycock at the inquest. This was supported by Mr. Butler.

Proofs of debt were postponed until the next meeting.

October, 1856

• Six persons swear that the exhumed body is that of Haycock. A reader, believing that Haycock is alive, makes the statement that he is either dead or alive, and asks the Bendigo Advertiser to try and ascertain the truth. A following newspaper article weighs up the views of the two sides and says that only one side has any mention of evidence: That of the body not being Haycock An article in the Geelong Advertiser supports the view that the body is that of Haycock and also that a barber had cut his hair about four days before his body was found.

• Decimus Protheroe, a business associate of G.W. Haycock is charged with assaulting John Hutchinson, M.D., outside the Shamrock Hotel, after suspecting that he was the writer of an article discrediting the group who recently swore that the drowned body was Haycock. Protheroe is fined £10. During the assault, Protheroe had pulled out a section of Hutchinson's beard. He produced it in court, wrapped in paper, and suggested that a Professor Sands could stick it back on again for eight pence.

November, 1856

Title Deeds are transmitted to the Treasury, They include quite a number of Axedale properties: Pierce Hogarth - 47a 2r 10p; William Murphy - 32a 2r 20p, 84a 1r 24p, 45a 33p and 58a 2r 9p; Henry Backhaus - 50a 2r 5p, and 46a 24p; Simon Obrien - 36a 2r 12p; John O'Connell - 66a 10p; Pierce Hogarth - 78a 2r 32p; Michael F. Costelloe - 77a 20r 77p, 77a 20r, 76a 3r 3p; Michael Cornell - 78a 2r 3p; David Kelly - 104a 10p; John Brien - 51a 24p; Thomas Sexton - 98a 3r 10p; Peter Nowlan - 77a 2r 8p; Rowland J, Shelley - 93a 81r 3p, 68a 1r 8p, 158a 2r 32p, and 87a 1r 24p.

Robert Ross is now affected by Haycock's insolvency. Ross had endeavoured to cover a number of debts by selling off a portion of his holdings. Unfortunately, the purchaser was Haycock who paid for the purchase with a bank draft. Ross deposited in the Oriental Bank, Kilmore, but the Manager, Mr. Anderson, dishonoured it. Ross could not realise any payment for the land and was then unable to satisfy any debts. More clarification required here .....

• The third meeting of Haycock's insolvency takes place. Finally, there is now little doubt about Haycock's death. The Official Assignee, after saying that he hopes the creditors appreciate the difficulty he is experiencing in both protecting their interests and making sure that he does not become a defendant in any court case. From certain intelligence received, the Official Assignee caused to be attached a large and valuable lot of sheep, supposed to be the property of the estate, and at that time depasturing on the Axedale station, which later had been purchased by the insolvent [Haycock] from Mr. Robert Ross, [Axedale Station] in June last, and the agreement for which is now in the hands of the Assignee, and distant only a few miles from insolvent to headquarters, and place of residence at Sandhurst. Whilst in charge of the messenger of the court, duly authorised under the warrant of the Chief Commissioner, but during his temporary absence at Bendigo, the sheep were driven away, and all traces of them lost for the time. As soon as the Assignee was apprised of this event, advertisements were forthwith placed in all the public prints,cautioning the public against purchasing or harbouring the said sheep. The sheep were once again taken into possession by the Assignee within 24 hours and resold by him.

Prior to the resale of the sheep, they had been removed from Axedale Station and sold by the nominal owner [Haycock] to a settler who paid for them by a bank draft that had been refused following the advertisement about the loss of the sheep. After suitable endorsement, the draft was passed into the hands of another person, the present holder, who is now suing the drawer of the bill. In addition to this, a promissory note for a considerable amount, the proceeds of another large lot of sheep, has been attached in the Bank of New South Wales where it was placed for collection, where, when it becomes due, it is hoped it will be placed to the credit of the estate without any litigation. It certainly appears most strange that a person placed in a position similar to that lately occupied by the insolvent, and involved in such extensive speculations, not only in this colony but also extending to the adjacent colonies of New South Wales, Adelaide, van Dieman's Land, etc., should neither himself have kept any record of his multifarious operations or employed anyone else to do so. The Assignee still believes that a mistake has been made in the body identification. The consideration of two claims, one preferred by the Bank of Australasia and another by the Agent of Mr. Charles Bird, a creditor at present resident in Adelaide, were postponed until the next meeting; the former for the production of the deed of incorporation, and the latter for that of an affidavit by Mr. Bird of the circumstances under which his claim arose. A discussion arose amongst the creditors present as to certain terms offered by Messrs. Protheroe and Hunt in settlement of the existing differences. It was ultimately resolved that the Official Assignee should be empowered to negotiate with Messrs. Protheroe and Hunt on the matter. The meeting was adjourned.

• A meeting of the Bendigo Hunt Pack is advertised for Costelloe's Axedale Hotel.

• Michael Costelloe places an advertisement for eleven strayed milch [sic'] cows. Information leading to their recovery will result in a reward of £8 on advising Costelloe, at his Public House, Axedale Hotel, Axe Creek.

December, 1856

• At the third meeting of Haycock's insolvency, the Official Assignee reads proposals from a meeting of creditors. The estate must be kept open so that other matters can be concluded.

• A Government Gazette shows an entry: Robert Ross, 91 acres, 2 roods, 24 perches, Axedale. No further details are given but the area equates to an allotment on the East side Axe Creek, North side of McIvor Highway in the corner of the Highway and the Creek. In 1857, this property was to pass into the hands of Michael Costelloe and it was also to become the site of the Perseverence Hotel. It indicates the Ross purchased this section of his pre-emptive right.

• Mr. Robert Ross now appears in the Insolvency Court on December 16th. At the first meeting, it is said that he has been a settler occupying Axedale Station, on the Campaspe and sequestration was compulsory on the suit of Dalgety, Cruikshank and Co., the petitioning creditors.

Ross is sworn and examined. He owes £2,000 and a half year's interest, to the executors of the late James Mitchell, having borrowed from Mitchell in January 1855, and mortgaging his pre-emptive right on the 'home' station [East of the Campaspe]. He had since sold the Station, with the sanction of the solicitors, with security in lieu given over a freehold public house and farm of 91 acres on the Axe Creek, 9 or 10 miles from Sandhurst, on the McIvor road. They also held security over 267 acres adjacent to the 'other' property. The pre-emptive right extended over 640 acres, 320 of which were at the home station, and 320 at the cattle station. There was a debt due to Dalgety, Cruikshank and Co., and it was owing to their having obtained judgement and issued an execution, that the insolvency had been brought about. Ross's debts are listed as:

There is about £800 owing to Mr. Caldwell. [His previous partner.]

Amounts totalling £2,300 to £2,500 to his father, Colonel James Hunter Ross, for cash advances from 1846 down to a recent period. [James Hunter Ross was a Lawyer, founder of Blake and Riggall Law Firm in 1841, died 18/09/1865, St. Kilda.]

He drew a bill on G.W. Haycock [Insolvent] for £1,245 for the purchase money of the Station sold to Haycock, the draft for which was dishonoured by Mr. Anderson, of the Oriental Bank, Kilmore. Ross gave Anderson security over 120 acres freehold land for the value. However, this property had previously been mortgaged to a Mr. Barrow for £1,200 at 15% interest. Barrow's mortgage was paid off when 320 acres of land of the home station [East of the Campaspe] was sold, with some cattle, for £2,500.

Further examination is postponed.

• Horses are being sold at the Axedale Hotel and a mob of 40 horses is offered.

• Special meetings are being held for the proving of Haycock's debts.


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January, 1857

The overflow from the Haycock and Ross insolvency cases starts to spread.

• Michael F. Costelloe, Licensee of the Axedale Hotel and neighbour of Robert Ross on the Axe Creek, is now drawn into it. Mr. Jones, a well-known Auctioneer, advertises some crops for sale, as the property of Mr. Ross, an insolvent. Costelloe claims them as having previously bought them, and commences removing them. Mr. Jones, working for the Official Assignee, Mr. Jacomb, gives Costelloe into custody on a charge of felony. He is immediately bailed out, and the entanglement continues.

John Quail, Francis Price and Michael Costelloe, surrender to their bail to answer a charge of unlawfully removing certain property, in the official custody of the Official Assignee in the insolvent estate of Robert Ross. Ross states that, in the latter part of December, he accompanied auctioneer, Mr. Jones from the Axedale Hotel to the Axedale Farm and pointed out certain crops. At this point, Costelloe's lawyer objects and says that it is first necessary to prove Ross's insolvency, but the hearing continues. Mr. Costelloe was present at the time of the visit to the farm. The crops, from about 40 acres cultivated, had been Ross's property before the insolvency. Ross says that at the time the crops were pointed out, the property was mortgaged to the Oriental Bank, and Costello, when viewing the crops, said that they were not as valuable as he had expected.

Ross had shown Jones the crops as ordered in a letter from Mr. Jacomb, Official Assignee. Costelloe had not accompanied Ross and Jones to the farm, but had left the Axedale Hotel and overtaken them along the way. There was no conversation in Costelloe's presence as to who owned the crops.

Ross is later present at the Axedale Hotel when Jones serves an attachment on Costelloe. Costelloe says he has papers to prove that he bought the crops and will enter his protest against the crops being sold. The case is remanded for eight days.

February, 1857

• Michael Costelloe, the landlord of the Axedale hotel, appeared to prosecute a man name John Quail, [the same John Quail who was involved in the crop removal?] whom he charged with using threatening an abusive language. It was necessary for Costelloe to send for the Police. Quail is fined £5, with 14 days in default.

• The unlawful removal of property case in which Mr. S. Jones is the complainant and Mr. Costelloe the defendant, and which has arisen out of a disputed claim to certain property appertaining to the Insolvent Estate of Robert Ross, of the Campaspe is again postponed for 14 days, awaiting important documents.

• Mr. Henry Steel Shaw, Official Assignee, requests reimbursement of £60 from the Municipal Council of Sandhurst for acknowledged payment made by Haycock on behalf of the Council, out of his own pocket.

March, 1857

• The Ross insolvency case continues. Mr. Jacomb, Official Assignee, reads his report, saying, "In this estate the official assignee has met with considerable difficulty in attempting to realise the assets, and is afraid that the right of ownership to almost everything will be contested in a court of law. The insolvent had, previous to the sequestration, sold part of his property to Mr G. W. Haycock, who, it is asserted, parted with his interest to the Oriental Rank, Kilmore, and they appear to have sold to a Mr. Costelloe, who attempted to remove the crops at Axedale by force, and was given into charge for so doing, but the magistrates at Bendigo have not yet decided the case. Under these circumstances, it is impossible for the official assignee to form any opinion as to what the estate is likely to pay." Two or three proofs are then admitted without opposition.

Is this associated with the estate of James Mitchell? - Sir George Stephen appearing on behalf the official assignee for the purpose of opposing the admission of a claim preferred by Mr. Ross (of the firm of Ross and Clarke), which had been partially examined late at the last meeting.

Ross supported the claim, and, in answer to the objection offered to the proof, examined the insolvent at some length, and produced for his Honor's inspection several private letters which had passed between himself and the insolvent, having reference to the advances which form the subject of the claim in proof of their having been made as a loan and not as a gift.

Mr. Bayne appeared for the insolvent. The evidence of the insolvent was directly in contradiction of that which had been given by Mr. Cruikshank at the last meeting, and, under these circumstances, Sir George Stephen, in the absence of the attorney for his client, applied for an adjournment of the examination. His Honor intimated that if Mr. Ross was prepared to adduce any evidence he would receive it now. Mr. Ross [Snr.] replied that he was prepared, with evidence corroborative of that which had been given by his son. His Honor then took the statement of Mr. Ross, who was cross examined by Sir George Stephen. The meeting closed.

• Races are once again held at Axedale. Robert Ross is not mentioned as a contestant. One of the races deserves comment: Hurdle Race - Three times round the course, ten jumps, four feet high. Mr. Boyle's Harbinger is first and Mr. Ganley's Walkover is second. The less said about this race the better, as neither of the horses were able to leap, and the riders ought to be thankful that the hurdles were so easily knocked down, which tended very much to save their necks.

• Mr. Shaw, Official Assignee for Haycock's insolvency, acknowledges receipt of £60/4/11 from Sandhurst Municipal Council.

April, 1857

• A large sale of 93 horses is held at the Axedale Hotel with 150 buyers attending.

• A Bench of Magistrates consider a number of annual Publican's Licence applications. Among them are Jeremiah Heffernan, Shamrock Hotel, Epsom; Michael Francis Costelloe, Axedale Hotel; and Edward Kennedy, Clare Inn, Campaspe.

May, 1857

• L. McPherson and Co., announce that they intend to hold a great horse sale, followed the next day by a sale of thirty head of milkers and calves at the Axedale Hotel.

June, 1857

• An article in The Bendigo Advertiser: An amount of £1,000 is made available for the construction of a bridge over the Campaspe River and tenders are invited. A large amount of traffic is now being carried on upon various roads crossing that river. That from M'lvor, which is also one of our main roads to the Metropolis, is used extensively by the carriers, and the one to the Goulburn diggings is becoming every day of greater importance to the diggers. The great high way for the millions' worth of stock annually imported into this colony from New South Wales and Northern Australia also crosses the Campaspe, and demands attention.

During the prevalence of the floods it is always a matter of difficulty and danger to cross this stream, and since the opening of the McIvor goldfield, a large number of persons have lost their lives in the attempt to cross it. Every winter a host of serious accidents take place for want of some safe and proper means of conveying stock and property across the swollen stream. A punt and a boat or two in private hands at different stations supply the only present means to travellers of getting over it, and people have sometimes a long distance to travel out of their direct route in order to reach them. This entails considerable loss of time and inconvenience, and the erection of bridges at the main crossing-places has become a necessity which must be attended to. A single bridge will not be sufficient for the wants of the public, and the sum voted for its formation is wholly inadequate, even for that purpose. We have it on the authority of persons well able to pronounce an opinion on the matter, that a safe and permanent bridge would cost at least ten times the amount, and that the money proposed to be expended will be almost entirely thrown away.

There should be two at least; one for the Goulburn and McIvor traffic, and the other at a considerable distance lower down for the convenience of the settlers and the numerous overland parties entering the colony along the Campaspe, from Maiden's Punt and Echuca. With regard to the position of the bridge, we find on consulting a chart of that part of the country, that the direct line to the Goulburn diggings from Bendigo, crosses the Campaspe at the Axedale Station. It is a matter of great importance that the Government, in choosing the sites for works of this description, should so place them as to render the roads as short as possible between the points to and from which the greatest amount of traffic will pass over them.

The insufficiency of the sum voted is very much to be regretted, but it is to be hoped that it is not yet too late to rectify the error.

• Michael Francis Costelloe posts an advertisement which will make him very unpopular in some quarters:

"Axedale Run, Campaspe - I hereby give notice that from and after the 15th day of the coming month, July, all cattle, horses, etc., found depasturing on the above run without my consent, will be impounded by me, and all trespassers removed. Michael Frs. Costelloe. Axedale, 18th June 1857." [This indicates that Michael Costelloe is now the owner of some of Robert Ross's former holdings.]

Several properties on the east side of, and adjoining the Axe Creek, were under the name of Robert Ross before his insolvency. Several properties on the west side of, and adjoining the Creek were under the name of M.F. Costelloe and remain so. The Robert Ross properties are now also under the name of M.F. Costelloe. Costelloe has managed to obtain properties from Ross's insolvency proceedings. Ross will move to New South Wales.

July, 1857

An article, indicative of troubling times for what remains of the Axedale Run, and Mr. Costelloe, appears in The Bendigo Advertiser. Owing to its relevance to the demise of Squatter's Runs in general and to the Axedale Run specifically, as well as a tilt at the Government of the day, I quote it verbatim:

"GOVERNMENT POLICY ON THE LAND QUESTION. We are informed in some of the Melbourne papers that the Government are beginning to falter with respect to the Land Bill. They are quailing before the universal burst of indignation which has arisen throughout the colony; and meditate a speedy retreat with as little disgrace as they can help. This is just possible. It may be that the men composing the Government begin to under stand that public attention is fairly aroused to the great question of the disposal of the public lands, and that they dread the just resentment likely to overtake the exposure of such nefarious policy on their part.

The circumstances under which this Squatter Cabinet was elevated into office might with reason be supposed to impress them with the idea that they could do very much as they liked. The O'Shanassy Ministry went into office on the strength of certain principles supposed to be entertained by a majority of the population of the colony. Their assuming the reins of power was only the signal for a most virulent, factious, opposition in and out of the House of Assembly, in which the whole generation of placemen and tuft hunters, who saw that they were threatened with extinction, used every art to secure the downfall of a Ministry which, whatever its shortcomings, was the fair result of a Parliamentary majority. The O'Shanassy Ministry was not only defeated in th Assembly, but out of doors the candidates in connection with it met with scant favour at the hands of the electors. Of course it was to be expected that when the "People's Ministry"' did not receive proper support at the hands of the people themselves, it would receive little mercy at the hands of the people's enemies. When a politician like Mr. O'Shanassy met with defeat, it was natural that such a man as Mr. Ebiien should enter the arena, and that "honest Haines" should come back in a state of re-juvenescence from his retreat at the Barrabool Hills. After all, it was only natural that Michie should turn traitor. Setting aside the proneness of the legal mind to support either side, and especially that which pays best, Mr. Michie showed his good sense in deserting those colours which the people themselves had forsaken. He saw that on one side there was scant courtesy and no profit, while praise and pudding both went with the other. So the special pleader went with it too. Of course, here was an admirable opportunity for that class which has been all along consistent and true to themselves to make a bold stroke for fortune. They were justified in concluding that a people which had quietly allowed its best friends to be treated with contumely which was too much sunk in apathy and culpable indifference to stand by those men who asserted popular principles, that such a people was not likely to show much opposition to any policy, however flagrant. The squatters and oligarchs have all along been watching their opportunity, and no time seemed so propitious as that when they found themselves invested with unexpected trust and confidence. The sheep had forsaken their watch-dogs, and had placed themselves under the guidance of the wolves. What better fate did these poor silly sheep deserve than to become the prey of their rapacious guides. These animals have only followed their instinct in preying upon the flock, and now that a panic has been caused, and they are threatened with exposure and punishment, we hear that they intend to forbear any ferocious onslaught in future.

Let those who are simple enough to put trust in the professions of hypocrisy, believe the tale. With us it finds no credence. The present opportunity is one which may never again occur, and the men now in power will not neglect availing themselves of it. The Land Bill will be pushed through the House if possible and the Government and squatting members will take whatever they can carry by a majority. Thanks to the criminal supineness of the people and to a faulty system of representation, they can reckon on the support of a set of obsequious flunkies and ignorant dolts, who will stretch their consciences a great way to serve their friends. Such a chance may never again occur nay, we devoutly trust never again will occur. The Government know this, and how much soever they may appear to defer to public opinion, nothing short of imminent ruin will, we are satisfied, turn them from what is their settled purpose. Let no faith whatever be placed in their professions. The public must not suffer themselves to be lulled into a fatal security by any hints or promises on the part of the Government. If they came before the country to-morrow, and professed their sorrow for the length to which they had gone, and promised all manner of amendment for the future, we say it would be absolute folly to place the slightest confidence in any such asseverations. Whatever concessions they may make are wrung from their fears. We have no business to believe in them or trust them any longer. They have revealed the cloven foot, and we must be infatuated did we nevertheless believe that they might after all turn out saints.

We have excellent good reason for doubting any penitential indications on the part of the Government. That they have made up their mind to establish the tenure of squatterdom in conformity with the Land Bill, we see evidence upon every side in the steps taken by the Squatters to assert privileges conferred upon them by this bill. This simultaneous action on their part is no fortuitous occurrence, but it is the result of a perfect understanding among them as to what is likely to be the course taken by their brother Squatters in the Parliament. Indeed the public have every reason to be grateful to those gentlemen who have given such timely indications of what the country is to expect, once it is placed under the sway of squatterdom.

But, in addition to this, we have grounds for believing that the Government intends virtually renewing the right of occupancy which in some cases has expired, allowing that the owners of the runs were right in claiming leases under the Land Orders. And we have proof that the Government is so far bent upon the maintenance of the squatting system, and so little disposed to grant any facilities for the progress of civilization in the interior, that the tenure of runs, which had been almost forsaken because they included populous diggings or were in the vicinity of large centres of population in the interior, has been renewed. Thus it has happened that the Barnadown run, which includes a large portion of the Bendigo goldfield, and which ought certainly not to have been again subjected to squatter occupation, is to be continued under the squatting system. The same is the case with the run formerly occupied by Mr. Ross, of the Campaspe, which run also extends into Sandhurst, and comprises the extensive agricultural tracts of land along the Axe, Emu, Sheepwash, and Campaspe. A few months since the settlers on these creeks who possess small farms, and rear stock, sent a petition to the Government praying that the license for the occupation of the run should not be renewed, inasmuch as this would seriously interfere with the depasturing of their flocks and herds. It strikes us that the prayer of this petition might with reason have been acceded to even by a squatter Government. The run comprises a large extent of gold workings, and has been cut up by various sales of land. It contains a numerous population of agriculturists and farmers, and it forms a portion of one of the most populous goldfields in the colony. In such a place it is monstrous that a squatter's claim should be heard of. Yet it is the fact that Mr. Michael Costello of the Axedale Hotel, now exercises squatter jurisdiction within its limits, and in support of his claims exhibits a magic piece of parchment signed by Sir Henry Barkly! When a Government deliberately insults such a district as Bendigo, and such a town as Sandhurst, by the perpetuation of a system of occupancy in their vicinity suited to the deserts of Arabia, it is time that we began to think seriously of the matter, if we never did before. It is time that we began to understand the true character of the present Administration, and to cease reposing any confidence in it. Let no one be deceived by professions. Acts like these are stubborn proofs, and a Government which commits them deserves but a short shrift, and speedy execution."

• The members of the Sandhurst Chamber of Commerce, inaugurated January 6, 1857, and initially renting a room over Mr. Jones' Auction Mart, create the following memorial to the Government:

To His Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, IC.C.B., Captain General of the colony of Victoria, and Vice-Admiral of J the same, &c. The memorial of the members of the Sandhurst Chamber of Commerce sheweth:

That your memorialists in calling the attention of the Government to the increasing importance of the Goulburn diggings, would wish to point out the very serious loss and inconvenience to which both the miners and storekeepers of that field are subjected on account of the present deficient state of the escort arrangements.

That the produce of the Goulburn Goldfields, which is believed to be about fifteen hundred ounces weekly, is now conveyed privately to Heathcote, and forwarded from thence by way of Kilmore (instead of via Sandhurst as formerly), to Melbourne, and as the population is rapidly increasing and becoming of a settled character, and great success is attending both quartz and alluvial mining, it is not too much to assume that the yield of the precious metal will shortly be very large.

That the only method in which the miner can dispose of his gold at present is to the storekeeper on the spot, who is not in a position to give anything like a market price for the metal by reason of the great risk to which he is subjected, in first having to forward it by private hand to Heathcote, and then to the delay involved in its being transmitted by escort to Melbourne, and getting no returns for several weeks.

That your memorialists deem it scarcely necessary to point out the evils arising from the hazardous unbusinesslike system of forwarding large sums in gold and cash by drays or pack horses, as is done at present, and that your Excellency only requires to have the matter laid before you to remedy the grievance complained of.

That your memorialists would suggest for your Excellency's serious consideration the propriety of continuing the present escort between Sandhurst and Melbourne to the Goulburn, a distance of 46 miles, taking up by the way (at Axedale) tho Heathcote gold, by which means the expense of a double escort would be saved.

That your memorialists think they are entitled to ask this at the hands of your Excellency, for the following reasons, viz., from its contiguity to Sandhurst, and the great majority of miners being from Sandhurst, with, as in many cases, families in this town, who require to have their gold safely deposited in the Treasury here.

That nearly all the stores are branches of wholesale houses in this town and that agencies of the Sandhurst Banks would be at once opened if facilities for transmitting gold and cash existed.

Your memorialists therefore pray that your Excellency, with the advice of your Executive Council, will be pleased to give such instructions as will cause the immediate establishment of an Escort between this place and the Goulburn gold diggings, and your memorialists will ever pray, &o.

The Bendigo Advertiser prints a reader's letter, in which he complains of the local sly grog trade. He says that there are over 1,500 sly grog sellers to 150 Licensed Victuallers.

In the same issue, a letter, written by Mr. F. Brown:

By an article in your paper of the 4th instant, headed "The Bridge over the Campaspe," I understand that the spot on which this as yet imaginary bridge is to be laid over the river, is by no means as yet decisively fixed upon. Can this be true, Mr. Editor can Government really perpetrate so flagrant an inconsistency with good faith ?

The Government has laid out, and partly sold, a township of the name of Axedale, situated a few yards from the banks of the Campaspe. In the plans, the main road to Heathcote goes right through the centre of this township, towards that spot on the township reserve, originally intended for the bridge.

Now, Mr. Editor, the rise of this township entirely depends upon the traffic between Bendigo, McIvor, the Goulburn, and Ovens diggings, a fact well known to everyone who knows the locality; so much so that I am sure nobody would have thought of purchasing building allotments, excepting on the understanding that sooner or later Government would take steps to overcome this great obstacle to commercial traffic, the Campaspe, by laying a good and secure bridge across it.

Your correspondent states that the flat on which the bridge is intended to be erected is annually flooded and submerged in water. I do not know his reasons for stating so, Mr. Editor, as during five years' residence in the place I never have become aware of this fact, if fact it be. But even then, Sir, a tramway two feet high, always would he sufficient to remedy this evil, and secure the free approach to the bridge. However, Mr. Editor, if Government does not now build this bridge in the first intended place, the main road to Heathcote cannot pass through the township of Axedale. All persons having purchased ground there will be (I'm not going to say swindled) done out of their money; and it seems to me pretty evident that Government, instead of actinq for the benefit of the community at large, (if by the long cry of people induced to act at all) would sooner favour and enrich one or two squatters, who happen to have some interest with M.L.A.'s, by conducting this important traffic past the settlers' stations, so that they may derive the profits of selling stores, when numerous parties could subsist on what otherwise would fall in the hands of one single individual.

I have the honor to be, Sir, yours obediently, F. BROWN

August, 1857

• Michael Francis Costelloe posts a final notice:

"Axedale Run, Campaspe - Final Notice - All persons having cattle, horses, etc., depasturing on the above Run without my consent, are requested to have them removed on or before the 3rd proximo, otherwise they will be impounded by me. Michael Frs. Costelloe."

• Costelloe follows with another notice a few days later:

"Axedale Run, Campaspe - All persons are hereby cautioned against erecting fences on any portion of the unpurchased land of the above run, otherwise they will be prosecuted by me according to law. Michael Frs. Costelloe. Axedale, August 4, 1857".

September, 1857

• The gross amount of Crown lands sold in the Sandhurst District to the present time, exceeds £200,000. The number of acres sold is about 90,000. The number of allotments sold in the Town of Sandhurst is 736, at the White Hills and other places on the goldfields, 340, in the townships of Axedale, Lockwood, Marong, Mandurang, etc, 93.

• The Haycock and Ross insolvency cases become more and more intriguing. At a special meeting, Mr. Anderson, Manager of the branch of the Oriental Bank, Kilmore, is examined about certain business transaction between he and the insolvent, Ross. It appeared that a bill of the insolvent's [Ross] to the value of £1,245, endorsed by the manager of the bank at Sandhurst, "Mr. Haycock", and discounted by the bank, was, together with other papers referring to the same transaction, taken by bushrangers when he is making a business trip to Melbourne. The bill had been previously entered by the manager, giving in its stead, two bills for £900. The Court endeavours to show that the bills belonged to Ross's estate but, after considerable investigation, the Court is unable to come to any definite decision as to the nature of the transaction.

• Michael Costelloe fronts up to court on a summons for neglecting to keep his lamp burning during the night. As it appeared that he was absent at the time, he was, after being strictly warned to let his lamp shine brightly for the future, fined 1/-.

November, 1857

• The case of Costelloe v. Jones resumes Saturday, November 14: In the overall legal entanglement, it is an action of trover [Recovery of property value, not the property itself.] for the value of certain crops taken by the defendant, Jones, as messenger to Mr. Jacomb, Official Assignee, in the insolvency of Robert Ross.

In July 7, 1856, Ross wrote to William Anderson, Manager of the Kilmore Branch of the Oriental Bank, offering him for discount, an acceptance of George William [sic.] Haycock for the sum of £1,245 and undertaking that as collateral security he would hand him the title deeds of certain lands, some of them under crop. The lands consisted of two parcels - one containing 270 acres upon 60 acres of which the crops in question were growing, and the other of 320 acres. He also undertook to transfer a station called the Axedale Station, upon the river Axe, within about ten miles of Sandhurst. Haycock's acceptance was dated the 4th of July, and was payable in three months. The Bank discounted the bill. It was not met at maturity. Haycock meantime becoming insolvent. He [Ross] had never given Anderson the title deeds he promised him as collateral security. The bill, having been dishonored, Anderson promised him to perfect the securities. Ross himself began to fail in circumstance. He had meantime transferred to other creditors, some of the title deeds which he had promised to Anderson. On the 28th of October Ross entered into an arrangement with Anderson by which he gave his own acceptance, payable within a month, for £500, an acceptance of the plaintiff, Costelloe, for £874, the title deeds of the 820 acres lot, a written document purporting to create a lien in his favour upon the 40 acres portion of the 270 acres and a transfer of the Axedale Station. The title deeds of the 270 acres he did not hand over, these having been, as already stated, handed over to another creditor. All these were given as collateral securities to receive the payment of Haycock's acceptance (£1,246) and according to the evidence of both Anderson and Ross, the transaction was not with the bank, but with Ross, personally, who took up the acceptance from the bank with his own cash, and took the risk of the securities now given to him. He took this responsibility on himself as he felt himself accountable to the bank for borrowing the bill upon the promise of collateral securities, which eventually never came to his hands. On the 18th of November Ross became insolvent. On the 20th of December Anderson sold to the plaintiff, Costelloe, for the sum of £1000, the whole of the securities which he thus held to secure the £1,245, including the original acceptance, the collateral bills, the transfer of the station, the title deed of the 320 acres, and the lien upon the crops growing on the forty acres portion of the 270 acres, the title deeds of which had never been banded to him. On the 23rd of December, Costelloe entered up the forty acres. Up to this time the bankrupt Ross had been in possession of these forty acres. On the 31st of December the defendant Jones, having been appointed messenger by the Official Assignee, Mr. Jacomb, went to the lands and attached the crops. Costelloe meantime took legal advice, and on the 6th of January he returned to the lands, and began to cut and carry away the crops, but Jones, with the assistance of the police, interfered, removed Costelloe, and ultimately sold the crops. Under these circumstances, Costelloe now sued Jones in the present action for the value of the crops thus sold. On the closing of the plaintiff's case, Mr. Ireland moved for a nonsuit on the following grounds. First: The lien on the crops could not be transferred. Growing crops was a part of the freehold, and could not, therefore, be transferred but by deed. The document which purported to create a lien upon the crops in favour of Anderson not being under seal, could not therefore operate as a transfer. It was at best but a license, and a license was personal, and could not he transferred. Under the license Mr. Anderson could not transfer any right to Costelloe. Secondly: The crops were long after the "in the order, power and disposition" of the bankrupt, and was therefore vested by the insolvency in the Official Assignee. Thirdly: The transfer of the crops by the insolvent [Ross] to Anderson, if it was to be construed as a transfer, was made within 60 days before the insolvency, and was therefore void under the Act. The Solicitor-General replied: Firstly - That the insolvency although referred to generally in the course of the evidence was not yet in proof. It still rested on the defendant [Jones] to prove it. The case stood as yet as between a person rightfully in possession, and a wrongdoer interfering with his possession. Defendant must go on and prove the insolvency. Secondly - The clause in the Insolvent Act as to property "in the order and disposition of the insolvent", related to goods the property of a third person, left in the possession of the insolvent with the assent of the true owner. The clauses had no application here for the insolvent, and the true owner were here for the same person. Thirdly - It did not appear as yet what was the date of the insolvency, nor that the transfer had been made within the sixty days but, even if it did so appear, the 9th section was an answer to this objection, for it excepted property bona fide purchased or taken in satisfaction of a bona fide debt. His Honor declined to nonsuit as the Insolvency was not proved, but it was understood that the defendant [Jones] going into his evidence and proving the insolvency, a verdict should pass for the plaintiff [Costelloe], the jury finding the damages, and that these points should be reserved, with liberty for the defendant to move to turn the verdict into a verdict for the defendant.

The case continues on November 16:

Mr. Ireland opened the defendant's case. The defendant [Costelloe] denied altogether the plaintiff's right to recover. The transactions commenced in July with the discounting of Haycock's bill. That was a transaction purely with the bank, and though the transaction of the 28th of October, by which the securities were handed over by Ross, and a lien given on these crops was nominally between Ross and Anderson, it also was, in truth, a transaction between Ross and the bank. The transaction of the 20th of December, therefore, by which Anderson transferred to Costelloe, could not be effectual without the assent of the bank. A question of law would arise as to the possibility of transferring all the interest that Ross had agreed to grant. It was only a lien in the nature of a license and was not capable of being transferred. This question would be decided by the Court above. Evidence would now be produced to the jury to show that the plaintiff was not in possession of these crops on the 31st of December, when the defendant first attached them. It would be proved that the men who were employed in cutting and removing them that day were Ross's men, not Costelloe's men, and that, in fact, Costello had never been in lawful possession.

Mr. Ross, who had already been examined for the plaintiff, was now recalled. When witness [Ross] returned from Melbourne, not on the 31st, but two days before, witness's men were engaged in cutting the crops. On arriving at the Axedale Hotel, Costelloe showed him the papers by which he had bought from Anderson. Witness then went with Costelloe, and told the men that Mr. Costelloe informed him that he had bought the crops, and bid them refrain from any further proceedings until he received instruction from the Official Assignee. Cannot say whether this amounted to giving Mr. Costello possession, but he told the men not to interfere with Mr. Costello.

His Honor, in summing up, put three questioner to the jury: 1. Was the transaction of the 28th of October a transaction with Anderson personally, or with Anderson acting on behalf of the bank ? 2. Was the transaction of the 28th October a transfer for a lawful and bona fide debt, due either to Anderson or to the bank, and if not, was it for a just and competent price? 3. Was the transaction of the 20th December a bona fide purchase by Costelloe from Anderson?

The jury having retired, in about a quarter of an hour returned a verdict for the plaintiff [Costelloe] with £610 6s. damages, and answered His Honor's questions as follows : 1st. The transaction of the 28th October was with Anderson as manager of the bank. 2nd. The transaction of the 28th of October was in satisfaction of a lawful debt due to the bank. 3rd. The transaction of the 20th of December was a bond fide purchase by Costelloe. The Court adjourned till ten o'clock on Tuesday (this) morning.

December, 1857

In an article headed "Deficiencies in Estimates" Bendigo Advertiser reports: An extract:

Another very material point in the Estimates is the proposed expenditure for roads and bridges. In this respect it will be found that the country districts have been grossly and unwarrantably neglected. The people of Ballaarat are already taking energetic measures to protest against this. But if they have reason to complain, we have still greater cause to do so. Under this head, the only item affecting this district, is the insignificant and paltry sum of £1,000 for a bridge over the Axe at Axedale. Is this the only work of the description required or is this the total amount to be expended during the whole of the ensuing year on the roads in the immediate neighbourhood of Bendigo. We might point to many other obvious omissions in the estimated expenditure which it will be the duty of hon. members to endeavour to have supplied, and which at present tend to swell the balance in favour of the revenue.

• The Government Gazette details completed contracts. Contract No. 402 is in the name of J. and W. Collier, amount of £369.1.0, approved 23 July, 1857, to erect a bridge over the Campaspe River at Axedale


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February, 1858

• John McNamara is charged by John O'Sullivan, with assault at the Axedale. In the absence of the prosecutor, the case is remanded.

• Mr. O'Loughlin applies on behalf of Mr. Nolan, for a licence for an "Axedale Creek" hotel to be called the Campaspe Hotel. [The hotel is obviously in Axedale.]

February, 1858

• The Axedale Police Station is nominated as a polling place.

• Crown land sale report: "Yesterday was the last day of the Crown Land Sale held at The Shamrock. The attendance was only moderate. The land submitted to competition was situated on the Axe Creek. The bidding was very dull indeed, out of 42 lots offered, but nine were sold, and these fetched a price very little in advance of the upset price. At no prior land sale held in Sandhurst has there been so little animation shown; nor do we ever remember seeing so large an area of land sold for so small a sum. The amount realised yesterday was only £1,071/7/1. The list of purchasers includes: England, Hogan, Strachan, Brocklebank, Donnellan, White and Dwyer.

There were no bids for Lots 1 to 6, 14, 15, 17 to 41 and Lot 42 was withdrawn. Lot 7, Section 12 - 110a 1r 149, Alfred England for £110/16/9, also Lot 8, Section 12 - 67a 0r 11p for £7/1/5. Lot 9, Section 12 - 55a 2r, P. Hogan for £166/10/0. Lot 10, Section 12 - 45a 1r 5p, F. Strachan for £176/12/0. Lot 11, Section 12 - 46a 2r 9p, T. Brocklebank for £93/2/3. Lot 12, Section 82a 1r 27p - T. Donnellan for £164/16/9. Lot 13, Section 12 - 108a 1r 35p - J. White for £113/17/11. Lot 16, Section 9 - 180a - P. Dwyer for £180/0/0.

April, 1858

• The Survey Office issues plans for a number of towns including Axedale near Sandhurst.

• The Axedale races are held once again. There is a small attendance on the first day which is believed to be as a result of short notice. The second day was reported as not being as good as the first day. An interesting extract: "Rambler, a horse that had gained some notoriety in Melbourne, having run a second to Walkover in the Steeplechase at the last Turf Club Meeting, had it all his own way yesterday in the Hurdle Race. This horse's reputation seems to have deterred our Sandhurst cracks from starting, and he was left, much to the disgust of the spectators, to walk over the course."

• The Government Gazette advises that a pound will be provided at Axe Creek. It will be provided at the end of Code Lane.

May, 1858

• The Gazette advises that Mr. George Shee O'Loughlin is appointed Keeper of the Public Pound at Axe Creek.

• Michael Costelloe embarks on a new occupation - cattle impounding. His first Axe Creek impounding appears in the Government Gazette for May 11. It is the first of many impoundings by Costelloe, a "pastime" for which he becomes well known and considerably disliked. Impoundings attributed to Costelloe in the Government Gazette for May, take place on the 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 20th, 22nd and 28th. [One has to understand that, in those days, the unfenced squatters runs are being slowly broken up, settlers are purchasing unfenced portions for their own use and trying to eke out a living until they can fence them and it is almost impossible to prevent cattle straying if they are not contained by fences. Costelloe's squatter-like permission was covered in the July, 1857 items.]

• Publican's licence applications are received. Among them is John Baillie, Raglan Hotel, Axedale.

• A reader asks: "When does the Government intend, or does it intend at all, to expend the thousand pounds voted for the purpose of erecting a bridge over the Axe Creek at Axedale? This is a work that ought to have been attended to a long time ago. The traffic on this road, the highway to M'lvor and the Goulburn diggings from Bendigo, is very considerable, and scarcely a winter passes that fatal accidents do not occur to travellers in attempting to cross the Axe Creek. When in a flooded state, it is one of the most dangerous torrents on the country, the banks are steep and treacherous, and it is unfordable in any part. It is time that this matter was earnestly seen to. A bridge might yet be thrown over the creek soon enough to be of service during the present winter, and we think it will be sufficient to call the attention of the Government to the urgent necessity for this work to induce them to cause it to be immediately commenced. From the promptitude evinced in supplying requirements of a somewhat similar nature in other portions of the district, there can be no doubt that one so pressing as this will not be much longer overlooked or neglected. The erection of a bridge over the Axe is a very trifling matter. The money has been already voted, and the work could be executed satisfactorily in a few weeks. We are asking no very extraordinary favour therefore in requesting that it may be commenced at as early a period as possible. "The article also mentions a future survey for the supply of water to Sandhurst.

June, 1858

• The Argus newspaper, June 15, carried a Positive and Unreserved Sale notice for A Valuable and Well-known Freehold Estate, Situated on the Banks of the Never-failing Campaspe River. "L. McPherson and Co., instructed by Messrs. Booth and Doak, will sell, on the premises, on Tuesday 15th inst., at 12 o'clock, without the slightest reserve, that splendid farm of 200 acres, well-fenced in with three rail fence, and subdivided into cultivation paddocks, having nearly half a mile frontage to the Campaspe River; being about 1 mile above the station formerly known as Ross's, at the crossing of the McIvor road, about 18 miles from Sandhurst, well known to be the best market for farm produce in the colony.

The improvements on this property, besides it being divided into paddocks, are complete for a Model Farm.

A substantial and furnished four-roomed cottage has been erected on it, with a half acre well-stocked garden, containing a quantity of vines and fruit trees, and at present 100 acres of the land are under cultivation.

Barn, stockyard, sheds, dairy, and piggery, have all been built with a view to convenience and safety; and lastly, but not the least consideration, is the happy advantage this property posses of having the Mosquito and Native Gully Creeks running through it, thus enabling the proprietor to irrigate the whole in seasons of drought. Terms at sale. Title unexceptionable. All particulars can be obtained on application to the Auctioneers, Pall Mall. A luncheon will be provided. Its direct situation can be learnt by applying at the Axedale Hotel."

The property, to which the notice referred, was not specifically identified. However, the reference to the two creeks, and the nearly half mile frontage to the Campaspe River, indicates that the property is part of a 320 acre section of Robert Ross's Pre-emptive Right. Except for the property size of 320 acres, it fits the description, bounded by Doaks Roadn on the South, Crowes Road on the West, Campaspe River on the East, and with Kimbolton-Axedale Road running through the middle. Both creeks, of course, run through it. The timing could be the end of Robert Ross's association with Axedale.

• A list of Title Deeds deposited at the Sub-Treasury, Sandhurst during the current year - includes W. Todd, J. Cullen, J. Smethurst and J. Drake from Axedale.

• There are twenty seven country lots at Axedale and the Axe Creek on which deposits have been forfeited, now open for selection.

• Michael Costelloe's impoundings continue: June 5 (9 head), June 6 (8 head), June 15 (4 head), June 19 (18 head), June 25 (3 head), and June 30 (1 head). A somewhat hard hitting letter appears in the Bendigo Advertiser and is quoted in its entirety.

We have seen a letter to the effect "that a most disgraceful raid had been made by Mr. Costelloe against the numerous settlers on the Creeks that were included in the former Ross' run. Something should be done not only to hold up to public execration such tyranny, but also to put a stop to a state of things which I fear will lead to unpleasant collision." The writer goes on to state that "Mr. Costelloe has a number of men well armed who go scouring the vicinity, and drive into Pound, not only stray cattle, but even such as are in proper custody. The practice above complained of is not a matter of yesterday merely, but has been a grievance upon the small settlers in the vicinity of the Axe Creek for a length of time. It is not very long since a Pound was established at the Axe, and the numerous small settlers have been kept in constant irritation and hot water. No later than Sunday we believe some disgraceful scenes were transacted in this way, and the excitement ran so high that the gentlemen who thus signalised themselves in driving off the cattle of the farmers, very nearly came in for broken heads. As the writer of the letter in question remarks, such a state of things must eventuate in serious collision. No doubt the law gives the occupier of the land the right of impounding, but this like many similar privileges, should be exercised with due caution to consequences.

It never was intended that a privilege granted for the purpose of protection is to be turned into a means of harassing and oppressing, and that any holder even of purchased land is to retain about him a gang of fellows for the purpose of scouring whole districts and impounding cattle with and without reason. Such men are not too scrupulous about the means they employ or the lengths to which they go. In the present case we have one instance of seventy seven head of cattle belonging to a farmer owning some three or four hundred acres, impounded while under the care of a man within half a mile of the owner's fences. It is evident that in this case if it was only required that the cattle should be confined to the owner's ground, an effectual warning could have been given. But the rough riders required something to pounce upon, and it was therefore their province to drive these cattle to Pound so as to secure the penalties.

Such conduct among neighbours is most scandalous, and at the same time pernicious, for it will have the effect of calling into existence in course of time, a set of ruffianly bandits little better than the moss-troopers of the borders in old times. To show the recklessness that has been indulged in the present case, we understand that Mr. Costelloe's men actually impounded tho cattle of a settler named Murphy on Mr. Harney's run, and the case is likely to occupy the attention of the Police Court this morning. In the preceding observations we speak of Mr. Costelloe's run as if it was his purchased ground, and we show that even in that case his conduct, if strictly legal, is grossly tyrannical. But when we remember the tenure upon which he holds this ground when we know that he is but a squatter of yesterday who dares in the face of public execration to assert the most obnoxious privileges of the class, and to act the part of the rapacious landholder, we must say we are struck with surprise at his temerity. In the celebrated foray of the Teutons of Ravenswood, there was something to extenuate the affair, for the Fentons had been accustomed to hold their run under squatting tenure before the diggings were opened, and might be supposedly to view with the intolerance habit the trespassing of the small settlers. But the holder of the Axedale run is a squatter of yesterday, who can plead nothing on the score of old usages and vested rights. He is a mere occupier of Crown lands, who apes the most discreditable practices of the class, without any valid excuse that we can see.

The previous article references a legacy remnant of the squatting renewal permitted some years ago. The pound in Code Lane, is very close to Costelloe's property. The Axe Creek formed the east boundary of Costelloe's property and west boundary of the old Ross property after the Axedale Station breakup. Costelloe secured title to the Ross property after his insolvency. Costelloe also had three properties adjoining the east side of Longlea Lane, the centre one of which became the site of the Longlea Railway Station some years later.

• A small followup article:

A deputation of the farmers and settlers on the Axe, Emu, Mosquito, Kangaroo and other creeks between Sandhurst and the Campaspe, waited yesterday on the Police Magistrate, Mr. McLachlan, with reference to the impounding of their cattle by Mr. Costelloe of Axedale [sic.]. The deputation set forth the grievances under which they laboured in being subjected to the raids of unscrupulous men, who, under the sanction of law, harassed them at their very thresholds. All they required was justice.

Mr. McLachlan could only say that, as Police Magistrate, he would be most happy to afford the redress the law allowed to aggrieved parties who came before him. Complaints should be made in the proper manner, and they might depend upon it that justice would be duly administered.

The settlers, we [the newspaper] understand, do not intend to allow the matter to rest here, but will take steps to have their case properly brought under the notice of the Government.

• Mr. J.H. Knipe reports that 19 out of the 23 lots of the Axedale farms that were put up for public competition, are sold.

July, 1858

• R. Benson, will be, amongst other places, at the Axedale Hotel, Axedale, [Axe Creek] to facilitate the registration of electors in the neighborhood of the Axe, the Emu and Sheepwash.

• An inquest is held on the body of Thomas Wallace at the Albion Hotel, Sandhurst. Wallace had attempted to blow out a tree stump near Heathcote. The attending doctors, having decided that his leg requires amputation, also decide to convey him from Heathcote to Sandhurst Hospital. He is loaded into an American spring cart, made as comfortable as possible, and the trip from Heathcote to Sandhurst, said to require seven or eight hours, commences. The party stops at various hotels on the way, both to check on Wallace's comfort and to partake of some fortitude. The trip actually takes 13 hours during the night - 6pm to 7am - in an open wagon, in the rain. He has his leg amputated but dies within 24 hours.

August, 1858

• The impoundings continue: August 7 (7 head), August 9 (11 head), August 11 (34 head), August 16 (6 head), August 21 (2 head), August 28 (9 head).

• Another letter is written to the Editor, Bendigo Advertiser, about the non-existence of the promised bridge over the Axe Creek.

• There are 30 lots of Crown land covering 5,307 acres thrown open for selection in Axedale.

• Two bodies are found dead in the bush a little distance from Heffernan and Crowley's station [former home station of Robert Ross, and now "Marydale"] under mysterious circumstances. Constable Carroll of Axedale attends. One man, is found about four miles from the Axedale Police Station to where he was conveyed to await the Coroner's inquest. He has his throat cut. It is considered that he has been brutally murdered. The inquest is postponed, awaiting the calling of witnesses. When the inquest finally takes place, at the Raglan Hotel, it is supposed that the death is the subject of a suicide as a razor was found lying near to the man's hand.

• Kieran McSweeney publishes a letter, via The Bendigo Advertiser, to Mr. C.G. Duffy, President of the Board of Land and Works, lamenting the non-materialising McIvor Road bridge over the Axe Creek.

September, 1858

• As the jury is unable to reach a verdict in the death of the body found in the bush, in August, another inquest is held. The verdict is that the man, William Gresley, died as a result of severe wounds inflicted by person or persons unknown, an act of wilful murder.

• An inquest is held into the death of George Regent who was thrown out of a spring cart near the Axedale Hotel. He was in the company of another man, G. Charles Bull, a barman at the Sportsman's Arms, Wild Duck Creek, two women and three children. The accident is witnessed. There was a belt of rock across the McIvor Road at the location, with a fall of about 8 inches [200mm] and a large piece of stone lay just in front. The deceased, after driving over the belt of rock, was thrown out when the cart hit the stone. A verdict of Accidental Death is returned.

The impoundings still do not stop. Costelloe's impoundings for the month are: September 7 (5 head), September 18 (5 head), September 27 (1 head).

October, 1858

• James Cook, of Emu Creek, writes a letter complaining of practices at the local pound [Code Lane] that are contrary to requirements. The pound has been operating for about 3 months and no board of charges has been exhibited, as required by the Act. Cook says that out of 500 cattle recently impounded, all but 5 have been impounded by Mr. Costelloe whose run is a large trap for the cattle of the small settlers. A following article suggests that the Axedale Pound has been instituted for the purposes of extortion and oppression. The situation is a product of the squatters' run policy of a few years back. Costelloe, the Axe Creek publican, is seen as the main culprit and is 'a good-for-nothing monopolist of public land.' The article ends with 'It is pretty evident that this spider [Costelloe] and his trap are becoming an intolerable nuisance, and steps must be taken to put them down.

• Mr. James Boyd, Esq., MD, is appointed vaccinator for the district of Axedale.

• The Axe Creek Pound rates appear in the Government Gazette.

December, 1858

• William Crago is announced as the successful tenderer for the Axe Creek bridge at Axedale. There are three tenderers: for the bridge itself and each of the two approaches. [This is the bridge over the Axe Creek, in the Parish of Axedale, at current day Longlea, not over the Campaspe in Axedale township.]


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January, 1859

• Mr. R.M. Jacomb, Official Assignee, places an advertisement in the Government Gazette calling for a meeting of creditors in the estate of the insolvent, Robert Ross, for the purpose of obtaining directions as to the collection of the estate and its future management. All creditors are requested to attend at his office, Imperial Chambers, Collins Street West, Melbourne.

• The Government Gazette invites fresh tenders for the erection of a bridge over what is called the River Axe [sic.] at Axedale.

February, 1859

• A letter to the Editor applauds the Government for calling for new tenders for the Axe Creek Bridge construction. The £1,000 makeshift bridge over the Campaspe at Axedale, erected some 'eighteen months ago', [This would have been in 1857] is already decrepid, ricketty and almost useless and will have to be replaced in a short time. The writer, A Sandhurst Merchant, trusts that the bridge over the Axe Creek will be a substantial building.

• James Farrington answers a charge of having detained a horse, the property of Michael Francis Costelloe, of the Axedale Hotel. Costelloe claimed that Farrington had agreed to purchase the horse for £40. The horse was delivered to the property when Farrington was not home and, when Costelloe visited later to collect the payment, Farrington refused. The case was dismissed as the Bench considered that they had no jurisdiction.

• Mr. O'Loughlin makes an application for a publican's licence in the name of Philip Nolan, for a hotel at the 'Axedale Creek', to be called the Campaspe Hotel. Baillie, an objector, operated the Raglan Hotel that was on the other side of the street. The licence application is granted. [Ken Arnold's book, Bendigo Its Environs The Way It Was, Vol 3, and the Accent on Axedale book, both say that Drake opened the Campaspe Hotel in Axedale some 4 years earlier. The reference to Axedale Creek, in this particular article, is incorrect as the Raglan Hotel, across the street, was in the Axedale township. The Campaspe Hotel is the present-day Axedale Tavern. Phillip Nolan was Patrick Drake's Trust partner.]

March, 1859

• Henry Kemp and Joseph Knight are charged with having assaulted one John Sullivan, at the Axedale Hotel. The prosecutor deposed that on the night in question he was at the Axedale Hotel, when he saw the two prisoners standing in front of the bar and using rather abusive language to two ladies who were behind it. He remonstrated with them, and wished them to leave the house, but they refusing, he proceeded to turn them out, and in the struggle the assault complained of, which was a very trivial one, took place. As it appeared that the plaintiff had no right to interfere with the prisoners, he being only a boarder in the house, they were discharged. A charge which had been preferred against the two prisoners, and a man named William Horwood, by Mr. Costelloe, of the Axedale Hotel, of having used abusive language to his wife was withdrawn, the prosecutrix declining to press it.

April, 1859

• More lots, including at Axedale, are thrown open for selection. [Strangely, the advertisement appears some four and five days after the sale.]

• A 2-year old boy, named Jackson, a son of parties living at 'the Axedale' [Axe Creek] is missing and has not been seen for a week. The parents had left him in the charge of Mrs. McNamara while they went into Sandhurst and they were told that he was missing when they returned.

June, 1859

• Mr. Michael Costelloe is charged under the Dog Act, by James Cahill, with being the owner of a ferocious dog, and allowing him to be at large and rush at horses, by which human life is endangered. Cahill, when confronted by two dogs, shoots one of them, and is then confronted by Mrs. Costelloe, shaking her fist at him. Mr. Costelloe endeavours to show that the road is his private property. Cahill says it is known to be public by custom. Costelloe suggests that the matter may have been settled if Cahill had gone to see him. Cahill says he was afraid of being blackguarded by Mrs. Costelloe, so he had not done that. Costelloe is fined 20/-.

• An inquest into the death of Robert Jackson is held at the Axedale Hotel [Axe Creek]. Young Jackson had been lost for about two months and his skeleton is found on Sweenies Creek Ranges. The child had wandered off. Some women in the neighborhood had stated that the child had died after being dropped by one of them. This was proved to be a rumour.

July, 1859

• A new quartz reef, which gives every indication of not only turning out payable, but very rich, has been discovered at a place called Moran's Gully, situated between the McIvor Road and the Axe Creek, at some little distance beyond Costelloe's Axedale Hotel. The discoverer, Mr. Blake, a farmer in the locality, struck the reef at about 6 feet deep and had been working it secretly until the secret oozed out. He barely had time to secure his prospecting claim of 150 yards before fourteen or fifteen claims were marked out by parties resident in the neighborhood.

• An editorial letter suggests that Crown lands amounting to between six and seven thousand acres, situate about four miles north of Axedale, upon the Campaspe, have been submitted to public competition at Heathcote, and have been sold for a mere song, without a chance of fair competition being afforded to the public at Bendigo. The pick bits were secured by gentlemen already owning property in the district. The article decries what is considered insufficient advertising of the sale.

• A puddler, named Palfour, of Eaglehawk, is stuck up by two men near the Axedale Hotel [Axe Creek].

August, 1859

• An editorial bemoans the fact that voters from around the district are all compelled to go into Sandhurst for the purpose of voting.

• Patrick Connor is charged with putting excessive poundage fees on cattle belonging to Charles Ryall, an Emu Creek farmer, impounded in the notorious Axedale Pound [Code's Lane]. The bench decided that unless the land was properly protected by a fence, he could not give a decision in favour of the amount charged and ordered that 24/- and 5/6 be refunded.

September, 1859

• Edward Binstead, B. Wood, George Farrell, Charles Slowers and John Suzon (a Chinaman), were all charged on the information of Michael Costelloe, of the Axedale Hotel [Axe Creek] with having rescued from legal custody, 1,900 head of cattle, which had been seized for the purpose of being impounded by the informant [Costelloe]. There is similar information against Edward Price and James Flood. The case is remanded. The cases of Wood v. Drake, for abusive language, and Wood v. Costelloe for assault, both arising out of this case, are also remanded.

• Michael Costelloe is summoned by his employee, Mary Powell, for £13/7/0 wages for services as a nursemaid, covered by a dishonoured cheque. Judgement goes to Powell for the full amount and costs.

• Things catch up with Michael Costelloe. It is advised that, unless the claim is sooner satisfied, all the right, title and interest of Michael Francis Costelloe will be sold by public auction at Harney's Bendigo Hotel on November 1st. Details of the properties, all situated in the Parish of Axedale, are: Part of Portion A, about 120 acres, Allotment 11, Section 1, about 22 acres, Allotment 10, Section 1, about 16 acres, Allotment 3, Section 8, about 77 acres, Allotment 2, Section 8, about 77 acres, and Allotment 1, Section 8, about 76 acres. This is a total of 388 acres and a good portion of it is the Sweeney's Creek land that was once under the name of the insolvent Robert Ross.

October, 1859

• Michael Costelloe's notoriety continues after an event at Abbott's Theatre. As the final curtain is drawn on what appears to be a thinly veiled parody on local personalities, a rumour circulates through the house that there was to be an impromptu performance. At about 10 o'clock, Mr. Heffernan and Mr. Costelloe enter the hotel. Heffernan uses violent language to Abbott for permitting a particular song performance. Heffernan at last left. Up to this time, Costelloe confined his actions to threats against a performer called Thatcher and eventually went through the theatre looking for him. When Thatcher returned to the stage, Costelloe challenged him to come down. Upon coming down to see what Costelloe wanted, Costelloe struck him heavily. The blow was returned and a scrimmage broke out. Costelloe was severely handled, arrested, and bailed out for future appearance.

• A writer called 'CATO', comments on what he considers was 'a more disgusting exhibition ever witnessed, and hope never shall witness again.' [It is difficult to tell if the letter is about the stage performance or that which followed.]

• A kangaroo hunt starts from Baillie's Raglan Hotel, Axedale, capped of with a splendid dinner and a Ball.

• Title Deeds in the name of John Hughes, McCarry and O'Connor, Henry Backhaus (6) and Patrick Drake (2) are lying for delivery at the Receipt and Pay Office.

November, 1859

• Michael Costelloe is in court again in the case of Costelloe v. Hughes. This time, it is an action to recover £1,000 damages sustained by the breaking into and entering the Axedale Hotel in the execution of a search warrant on the premises of the plaintiff [Costelloe], claiming that the search warrant had been issued without a proper cause. A plea of justification had been entered by the defendant's counsel. Thomas Edward Harding, Inspector of Slaughter Yards, and a police constable, proved the execution of the search warrant, and that he thoroughly searched the house of the plaintiff, in the bedrooms and under the beds, but found nothing; the house was a licensed public house; searched also another house which witness was told was Costello's property, and in his occupation.

Costelloe deposed that he had a run which was let to Mr. Kieran for twelve months, subject to his right of pasturage for 100 head of cattle. There are three or four mobs of cattle involved in the action, some of which had been seized by Costelloe who intended to take them to the pound, but they were rescued from him. The verdict is for the defendant on one count and for the plaintiff on the second count with £5 damages.


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