MAX. We used to get a heck of a lot of wash out
of the hills from up here....in 1939 that's
when the rabbits got going madly here. They
eroded the country right through to Pericoe
They were that bad?
MAX. Oh, God, yes.
So it was more to do with rabbits, the river sanding up, than farming practices?
MAX. Oh, yes. Definitely. It was. Look the rabbits were that bad ....going down to log farm there was an orchard, about an acre and a half, and it had a paling fence around and to catch some rabbits they took two or three palings off there early in the night and went out through the night and put the palings back on and the next day they went out to get these rabbits and they were piled up that high in the corners they were getting out over the top of the paling fence. There was no grass and they'd sour the ground out with their urine and that's when the ti tree took over in this area. It spread like something mad.
*** Excerpt from Max Sawers' interview in 'The Forgotten Corner Interviews'.
Rabbits, along with land clearing, closing down of small butter factories and World Wars 1 & 11, caused great changes in the Towamba valley.
The first rabbits were reported around the turn of the 20th century. Their devastation of the soil was so dramatic that farmers were forced to put rabbit netting around their paddocks. Many were not in any financial position to do this. As a result, good pasture was eaten out and some farmers lost an income. However, rabbit skins became popular and most farmers and particularly school children made a small income this way. The local skin buyers did regular rounds of the farms collecting skins and later rabbit carcasses. A rabbit canning factory opened at Wyndham where carcasses were processed.
September 30, 1898
* Sat. 8 Oct. will be the last day this year on which the scalps of noxious animals will be received and paid for at Wyndham.
16 April 1902
* At Eden the invasion of the district by rabbits appears to have commenced. For some time past it has been rumored that rabbits have been seen at Towamba, but proof positive of their presence was forthcoming when Mr. James Mc Donald, of River View, unearthed a nest containing 7 young ones.
'Australian Town and Country Journal'
14 June 1902
* Over 1100 wallabies have been trapped by Mr. M'Leod at Towamba since last Christmas. Rabbits are also increasing very fast in the district, and unless some steps are taken to keep them down, they will soon be the worst pest the district has ever known.
Oct 17, 1902
* Rabbits have made their appearance here already, several being seen lately. Burrows have been found 10 feet deep, with young ones in.
Sep 25, 1903
* S. Sherwin of "Fairfield" dug a rabbit burrow out on Friday and it contained 6 young rabbits.
Oct 27, 1905
* Saturday last was scalp day but only between 500 and 600 scalps were paid for. Hares are getting scarce, thus providing the wisdom of paying for their destruction. On the other hand, rabbits are increasing rapidly. Residents state that "bunny" is actually swarming hereabouts and no attempt is made to check their inroads beyond a few shots or a little amusement now and then with the dogs.
November 10, 1905
* Foxes have been paying attention to duck ponds and turkey roosts lately. Mrs. W. Robinson of "Fairfield" and others have suffered severely from their depredations.
Aug 24, 1906
* A meeting of landholders was held here on Thursday afternoon to consider the rabbit question. A syndicate was formed to purchase a Hicks' Ideal Poison Cart and start operations against "bunny" as soon as possible.
September 12, 1906
* Five poison carts are operating over Towamba way, and already several dogs and poddies have fallen victims.
September 30, 1908
'The Bega Budget '
* Mr. A. Binnie, of Towamba, inquired the price of wire netting. He also stated that he contemplated enclosing all his land with wire netting, and inquired if he could cause his neighbors to put up half the netting or could he have it affixed to their fences. Mr. Haslingden said, he did not think a contribution towards fencing could be enforced unless it was shown a neighbor benefited by the fence. Mr. H. Bolman, of Towamba, applied for a mile of wire netting. The application was approved.
October 14, 1908
'The Bega Budget' (excerpt)
Towamba, at present, presents a pleasing appearance, everywhere being clothed in a mantle of lovely green. Farmers are busy with the plough, and dairymen are beginning to smile once again. Some of our fanners are fighting great battles with bunny. Mr. Alex Binnie, of Log Farm, is fighting him for all he is worth, and has just wire-netted about 60 acres of his cultivation land to cope with the pest.
October 28, 1908
'The Bega Budget'
Mr. Furness, Inspector of Stock, returned at the end of last week from a fortnight's inspection of holdings in the South. He states that along the Towamba river trapping is coming into extensive operation. Towards Yambulla end in that locality and at Wangrabelle rabbits are surprisingly scarce. The same may be said at Nangutta. On all his properties Mr. Wm. Weatherhead poisons continuously, summer and winter; and his holdings are an object les son in rabbit suppression. The inspector states that in the Burra gate district, when the farmers rea lise what a great factor cleaning up the land is in rabbit destruction, suppression on holdings will not be such a formidable task. He did not see rabbits in very great numbers in Wog Wog district. At Bondi where only twelve months ago the pest were swarming in millions the reduction in numbers is marvellous, and rabbits are comparatively rare. In some parts of Wyndham district, through negligence on the part of owners rabbits are numerous. In this locality there have been in stances where men have offered to do the labor of poisoning if per mitted to collect the pelts. Skins are bringing a fair price, and fair wages can be earned. 'It is a shame,' said the inspector,' to see the fine lands in this Patures Protection District given entirely over to the rabbits.' Bemboka district is a sufferer in this respect, though some owners are making a determined fight of it. Still, so bad are the rabbits in this locality that in one place they have stripped the bark off whitethorn shrubs four feet from the ground. Everywhere owners who are poisoning com plain that simultaneous action is not taken by neighbors. Poisoning cannot be a success unless carried out systematically and continuously. Where determined action has been taken by a farmer right in an infested area, it has been repeatedly demonstrated that the rabbits can be kept down, and the carrying capacity of the land more than doubled. Throughout the district the more determined fighters are going in for wire-netting, so that their particular rabbit grievance will be with their own land.
August 14, 1909
'The Bega Budget'
* A Towamba correspondent to the Budget says the rabbit trapping industry has been wonderfully flourishing this winter in that locality. He alone has accounted for, and sold 5000 skins, besides at tending to the dairy. Same correspondent says strychnine baits are not dangerous to stock. He saw a bullock eat forty baits without any ill effects. His opinion is that there is not strychnine enough in 50 baits to kill one beast.
October 30, 1909
'The Bega Budget'
Proposal to Can The Rabbit.
A LARGE AND ENTHUSIASTIC MEETING AT WYNDHAM.
In response to an advertisement which appeared in the Bud set a very large and enthusiastic meeting of farmers was held in the Wyndham School of Arts on Satur day afternoon to consider the question of establishing a rabbit canning factory. Mr. T. Moore was elected chair man, and he briefly referred to the object of the meeting. Apologies for non-attendance were received from Mr. Shipway, Burragate, and Mr. Watson, Pericoe. Mr. Hutchinson (who had a flattering reception) had great pleasure in welcoming the large gathering which had responded to the advertisement, and he was sure this representative meeting showed that they meant business. Certain resolutions would be sub mitted and he was sure they would be carried and promptly acted up on. He had known the district and its people for over a quarter of a century and could claim amongst the latter some of his best friends. Now that they had practically commenced this movement he was sure they would not rest until they had outed their common enemy, the rabbit. Systematic poisoning had failed to keep the rabbit down to anything like harmless numbers, and in some cases at least wire netting had also failed. They were now face to face with one of two alternatives - either to put the rabbit to commercial use or give the rabbit possession. Various objections have been urged against the canning proposal, and one was that we could not get sufficient rabbits to make a factory pay. He, in common with many others held quite a contrary opinion. It is generally admitted that we could get 3000 per day, if necessary. Some urge that if canning be the most economical way of dealing with the rabbits, why haye not factories been established in place of freezing works. In answer to that he might say that in other places on the railway line rabbits are caught in millions and sent away by rail to Sydney where immense sums have been invested in large freezing works, and then placed in cold storage. We have no such facilities of transit here, and it is therefore useless to talk about freezing. With regard to the cost of tinning the rabbit, he had not been successful in getting exact figures, but he did know that the cost of a 2lb tin in Melbourne is 7¼d, while in London it would very likely be 8d. An average rabbit would, probably, fill a 2lb tin, and assuming this, the proportions may be worked out thus: Cost of tin 1.25d; freight from factory at £2 5s per ton would work out at .48d per tin; allowing 1d per tin for cooking and canning say 3000 rabbits every day means that £12 10s could be spent in wages daily; label .2d; freight to London, 5d per tin: commission and other charges 1d per tin; cost of flesh delivered at factory 1½ per tin; box to hold 4 dozen tins 1s, equals .25d per tin. These charges give a total cost of placing the 2lb tin on the market at 6.18d per tin, or a little under 6¼d, and which is sold at 8d. This gives a profit of 28 per cent, and after a lowing the farmer 7d per pair at the factory. [In his computations Mr. Hutchinson appears to have overlooked the value of the skin. - Ed. B.B.]
Mr. Hutchinson concluded a highly interesting ad dress by making a strong appeal for support to the movement. Mr. W. J. Moorhead J.P. said as Mr. Hutchinson had been good enough to mention his name in connection with the present movement he might state that for four years he had in his mind the idea of starting a canning factory, but he could never muster up courage to bring the matter forward in a public way. Lately the question had been taken up by one news paper and ventilated in a practical way. There was no desire to force the project on to the people, and they did not want an exclusive proprietary company. They wanted to see every man in this and neighboring districts served by the factory have an interest in the work of getting rid of the rab bits which were their common enemy. Every man, directly or indirectly, lived on the pastoral, farming, or mineral industry. The proposed scheme was not an impossible one but highly practical while the cost was reasonable. Preserved meat was common enough, but so far no rabbit canning factory so far as he knew had been established in the State. He saw no reason why the project should not be a success and he was sure the farmers were prepared to find the capital. He thought a supply of 1000 rabbits a day would be a fair thing and that is calculated to return a net profit of £5 5s a week clear of all expenses. He thought the first step should be to appoint a couple of delegates from each centre to constitute an inquiry committee as to the support likely to be forthcoming, and to report to the next general meeting. These delegates could collect information of various kinds essential to the success of the movement. He thought it would be better to have the rabbits sent to a factory alive. This might be against the law but he believed that could be got over, for a dozen rabbits in a cage would do less harm than on the land. He thought large numbers of rabbits could be caught in enclosed patches of barley by means of automatic traps. He would like to hear a general expression of opinion from gentlemen present. After considerable desultory and somewhat irregular discussion of a varied nature it was moved and carried: 'That this meeting select two delegates each from Eden, Rocky Hall, Wolumla, Towamba, Burragate, Wyndham, Candelo, Pambula, Nethercote, Pericoe, and Cathcart, to collect information as to the support likely to be accorded the movement, and report the result to the next general meeting.
The following delegates were duly elected. Eden, W. J. Moorhead, N. Hutchinson; Rocky Hall, Jas. Whitby, Robert Farrell; Wolumla, Robert Scott, W. Vaughan; Towamba, A. Porter, J. T. Mitchell; Burragate, Geo. Keys, James Binnie; Wyndham, Thomas Moore, A. A. Young; Candelo, H. Golden, Jacob Britten; Pambula, James Buckett, J. H. Martin; Nethercote, W. J. Swinnerton, A. Fourter; Pericoe, J. H. Ryan, W. Watson; Lochiel, Terence Smith, D. Hart; Cathcart, A. C. Stewart, J. Bo land. Speaking to the resolution to ap point delegates, Mr. Robert Farrell said he was thoroughly in accord, with the whole movement. They were now keeping rabbits instead of cows, and he wanted to make the former pay for his keep; and if they were successful enough to get rid of the rabbits they could tin beef, veal, and poultry; anyhow, they must make the thing 'go' (loud applause). He was sure the factory would be a success, and they would soon have others springing up in different centres. If the present movement were taken up in an enthusiastic and unanimous way he had no doubt whatever about its success. The question of the factory site was discussed at considerable length, and it was finally decided that it would be wise to leave its consideration until the delegates made their reports at the next general meeting. Many speakers thought it would be unwise to include places which would very likely secede and form factories of their own. Candelo was mentioned as a likely place to have its own factory, and Mr. W. J. Collins of 'Collinswood' in a commendably public-spirited way said no matter what Candelo might do in the future, he would support the present movement, and he was sure others would do the same. This sentiment was loudly applauded.
Mr. George Keys thought, that when considering the question of a site it would not be wise to include those places which would be almost sure to start factories of their own in the event of the pioneer factory proving a success. Mr. Farrell: The factory would not cost very much and we should be men enough to find all the money, if necessary. At the same time he appreciated the spirit of those farmers at a distance who were willing to help the experiment. Mr. Hutchinson said they could not do anything more until next meeting when the delegates would make their reports. A vote of thanks to the chair man and Mr. Hutchinson closed a most enthusiastic meeting.
The Sydney Morning Herald
Monday 17 January, 1910
THE RABBIT PEST.
PROPOSED CANNING FACTORY.
CANDELO- A public meeting convened under the auspices of the Candelo Agricultural Association was held in the School of Arts for the purpose of discussing the rabbit-canning proposal, which is regarded as the only means of effectually combating the rabbit pest which is largely on the increase throughout the district. Mr.G Porter, vice-president of the Agricultural Association, occupied the chair. Mr N Hutchinson, general secretary of the proposed Eden, Bega, and Monaro rabbit and meat canning company, addressed the meeting, and read a communication from the Agent-General for New South Wales and from various other sources relative to the canning project and the probability of a demand for rabbit flesh in the home markets. Mr. Hutchinson, who has laboured strenuously in the interests of the movement for the past couple of months purely for the benefit of the rabbit-infested district, placed some valuable facts and figures before the meeting. The demand for canned rabbit in the old country is rapidly growing, whole fur skins have sold as high as 3/7 per lb. At the conclusion of Mr Hutchlnson's address the following resolution was carried - "That in the opinion of this meeting, the only means of effectually combating the rabbits is to market the flesh and skins on a co operative basis ". The prospectus of the proposed company is now in readiness, and an active canvas for shares will be entered upon throughout the district. It has been decided that the seat of operations of the company shall be within a radius of three miles of Wyndham, which is generally considered the most central. Trapping and poisoning have failed to suppress the rabbits, so that the establishment of a canning factory appears the only means of ridding the district of the pest.
February 18, 1911
'The Southern Record and Advertiser'
* The establishment of canning works at Towamba is now a dead cert. Nearly the whole of the allotted £3000 shares at £1 each have been sold, and the opening ceremony of the factory is expected to take place in April. The industry, it is claimed, will be the means of distributing about £500 a week throughout the district.
The Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 13 April, 1911
* A project of much interest to landowners in (the southern districts has just been launched at Wyndham. A company has been formed with the object of establishing a rabbit canning factory. Over 3000 shares have been taken up. Shareholders have fixed a site for the factory, and the building will be expedited, so that operations may begin this winter. Inquiries made show that canned rabbit will be purchased in any quantity by the British Admiralty. A Victorian expert, previously engaged in the canning trade has been assisting the movement, and will act as manager. Rabbits are overrunning the country in which the factory will operate. The movement is primarily to rid the land of the pest and should the venture prove successful no doubt other factories will be opened in adjoining rabbit infested localities. The capital required is, only £1200.
April 22, 1911
THE RABBIT CANNING FACTORY.
It is a matter for satisfaction all round that the Rabbit canning Factory in the southern end of the district has at last taken de finite form, and the plucky promoters are to be congratulated on the consummation of their efforts. It is somewhat of a reflection upon the larger and more wealthy centres of the district that it was left for the small localities of Wyndham and Burragate to launch the first substantial project in these parts to cope with, or at least minimise, the greatest pest we have yet encountered. And in this connection it is interesting and significant to recall the fact that it was one of the smallest of the outlying centres that showed the way down here with the co-operative making of butter. South Wolumla launched out in that direction at a time when the dairymen of Bega, Candelo, and other bigger centres were looking askance at the mere mention of the dairymen controlling the business themselves. Yet they were soon glad to fall into line, and it is not too much to say that the project just launched at Wyndham will be the forerunner of similar movements in the larger centres, which are just as much in need of such action as the Wyndham district is. All honor is due to the plucky promoters, and everyone is hoping that success will attend their efforts.
The Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday 22 June 1911
SOUTH COAST AND MONARO.
FAVOURABLE WINTER PROSPECTS.
RABBIT CANNING FACTORY.
(FROM OUR SPECIAL REPORTER.)
On the far South Coast the prospects for the winter are better than has been the case for several years, and plenty of natural grass is available. In many instances the paddocks are waving with it. As a result of many lean years the farmers financially have a lot to pull up, but the favourable conditions now prevailing should go a long way to encourage them in the future. The corn crops in many parts were not quite up to the usual standard, on account of the extensive rains in the months of January and February, when the crops were in flower. At Pambula the butter supply continues to increase. Cattle are in good condition, but farmers state that the whole of the southern parts are overstocked, and unless foreign buyers come in there is no outlet for them. There is a big demand for pigs, and it seems strange, with the natural advantages enjoyed here, that the matter of pig-raising on a big scale has not been taken up before this. The dairyman must have pigs to consume his milk after separation, as only the cream goes to the factory. Having no pigs it has naturally to go to waste.
On Monaro, landholders consider the present season the best experienced for some years as regards natural fodder. Dairying is not gone in for to any great extent. If the farmers went in for rugging and housing their cattle in a severe climate, such as Bombala has in the winter, better results would be assured. There are a number of large station properties in this part, the principal being Gunningrah, Buckalong, Bibbenluke, Maharatta, Aston, Koorang and (unreadable). Maharatta and Bibbenluke (unreadable) and 26,000 acres respectively, have been surveyed, and will be available for closer settlement within a few months, but the residents state this will be of little use without a railway. The reason no doubt why dairying is not extensively carried on at Bombala is on account of the expense of bringing the product to the market, as the nearest port is about 50 miles distant, over mountainous roads. The advent of a railway to Bombala would tend in a great measure to encourage this industry, for which the district has every natural advantage. At the present time the locality is mainly dependent on sheep breeding and the wool Industry, it being estimated that no less than 20,000 bales went out last season, practically the whole of which was shipped to Sydney market for disposal. The sheep are principally merinos, which thrive to excellent advantage in this district, both as regards wool and mutton. As a result of the closer settlement scheme of the Government, some 15,000 sheep and 1300 pure shorthorn cattle from Maharatta Station were recently disposed of. The herd was established over 40 years ago, the foundation being high-priced imported stock, which had been kept pure by the frequent Introduction of fresh blood from the best studs. The sheep disposed of were all pure Wanganella and Burrawang blood, and noted wool-cutters.
The vast expanse of cleared, undulating country extending for miles as far as the eye can reach, the major portion of which is in the hands of a few stations, approximately totalling 100,000 acres, is the most startling feature of this district. With its natural advantages and the establishment of closer settlement on this vast territory the district should become one of the most flourishing in the State. A feature that must eventually play an important part in the development of this part of the State is the construction of the Cooma to Nimitybelle railway, which is nearing completion. The earth works are well forward, and rails have been placed in position for a distance of about 15 miles out of Cooma in a total length of 23½ miles. The municipal council at Bombala has been moving lately in the matter by urging the Government to commence the railway extension on the second section from Nimitybelle to Bombala, a distance of 40 miles. The reply received from the Works Department was to the effect that the Government had not yet decided when the extension would be commenced. The reply has occasioned much disappointment, as it is claimed that the establishment of this railway would be the means of opening up a lot of fine property now in the hands of a few, and give an impetus to wheat-growing and farming of all descriptions. There are hundreds of thousands of acres to be developed, and it is asserted that the district has thus been kept back for many years for want of a railway. Although the land at present available for wheat growing is very limited, the progressiveness of the district is demonstrated by the fact that the town possesses an up-to date flourmill, the full output from which is disposed of locally.
Cathcart, Rocky Hall, Wyndham, and Bemboka are small centres of a scattered district, and rather sparsely settled. Unfortunately this part of the country for a few years past has experienced adverse seasons, with the result that a good number of the settlers have gone elsewhere. It is confidently expected, however, that with favourable conditions settlement will increase. The district being practically wholly dairying, everything depends upon the rainfall. Round about Bemboka, Bombala, Cathcart, Bega, Candelo, Pambula, and other centres the rabbit has become such a nuisance that it was recently decided to establish a rabbit canning factory at Wyndham, near the town, the opening of which will take place early in July. The financial success of the venture is already assured on account of a great number of the farmers having shares in the company.
This will turn what has hitherto been considered a pest into a revenue-producing commodity, as an unlimited market is already assured for the product. The building is finished, and is composed of iron, with concrete floors throughout. It is expected that at the outset quite 40 men will be employed in and about the factory, and it is hoped within six months that employment will be found for 100. It is expected that 2000 pairs of rabbits will be daily dealt with for five days in each week, and it is stated that one firm in England alone is prepared to handle all the tinned rabbits that can be turned out during the next five years. The British Admiralty is also expected to be a large purchaser. Mutton and veal will be also dealt with. When the works are in full swing employment will be found for six expert tinsmiths, three skinners, and 60 or 70 trappers. If there should be a falling off in the supply of rabbits during the summer months store cattle, sheep, and poultry will be dealt with.
Round Burragate the country is excellently adapted for trapping operations, and this part is within easy distance of the factory. All these combined factors should tell in favour of the trapper making good wages. Already many applications have been made to local landholders, and no trouble is experienced in getting the necessary permission to trap with- out a bonus. One fur dealer at Wyndham recently packed and despatched from that centre six bales, each containing about 400 lb of rabbit skins, the number in the parcel totalling about 30,000. This is an enormous quantity of skins, the bulk being obtained by trappers and poisoners operating on the holdings of farmers living in the vicinity of Pericoe, Towamba, and Burragate.
At Nimitybelle some splendid yields were recently obtained from experimental potato plots. Eight varieties were planted, six being manured with 4 cwt of manure per acre. The whole yield averaged well over eight tons per acre, and in three instances the splendid yield of nine and a quarter tons was obtained. The area sown with frost-proof potatoes without manure yielded over ten tons to the acre. Some farmers throughout the district had an average of about-seven tons per acre.
Members of the Eden-Bombala Railway League in discussing the Decentralisation Commission report referred to the commissioners having apparently dealt with the subject of decentralising the existing volume of traffic only, and had not taken into due consideration the developmental effect of the proposed railway to connect the port of Eden with Southern Monaro. It was pointed out that Eden already possesses in an ample degree the facilities requisite for shipping produce. The league has since resolved to co-operate with kindred bodies continuing the agitation for the construction of a railway linking up this port with the main line system at Bombala.
|Rabbit Canning Factory at Honeysuckle Creek,
Opening ceremony. July, 1911
Ramsey family at front right.
|Rabbit Canning Factory at Honeysuckle Creek,
Opening ceremony. July, 1911
June 27, 1911
'Northern Star '
* Recently Mr. De Costa, fur dealer, packed and despatched from Wyndham six bales of rabbit skins, totalling 30,000. The bulk of them were obtained from trappers and poisoners operating in Pericoe, Towamba, and Burragate.-Bunny is evidently making himself felt, around Bega.
July 8, 1911
'The Bega Budget'
WYNDHAM FACTORY OPENED.
On Wednesday last the much discussed canning factory was opened at Honeysuckle, just outside Wyndham. The day was beautifully fine, and hundreds of people came from all parts of the district for the opening ceremony.
The reason the factory is out of the town is because it is more convenient for trappers to bring in their rabbits from southern parts. The situation is an ideal one right beside a permanent supply of water, and just across the creek from the building is a large ferny hill which one would expect to see 'alive with rabbits.' The walls and sides of the factory are of galvanised iron, and the presence of a plentiful supply of substantial round timber greatly minimised the cost of construction. The rabbits, which, of course, are cleaned by trappers, are received at a convenient platform by an ex pert, who carefully looks over the bunnies and rejects any doubtful ones. The ears and feet are chopped off and bagged for shipment to Melbourne where they are converted into glue. The skinner, who had a reputation of being able to do 400 an hour, then gets to work. Many ridiculed the idea of such a record, but once he started it was soon seen that it could easily be accomplished. He first parts the skin a little from the flesh in about the centre of the rabbit, hangs the carcase by the middle on a hook, and gives the skin one pull and the rabbit is ready to be cut up. The same man is an expert in this department also, but can do about twice as many animals in the time. Five hits of the chopper is all that is required, and bunny falls in pieces into a huge tub of brine. The flesh is treated to two or three courses of brine of various strengths, and is really pickled before being put into tins. The article is tinned before being cooked, only a pin-hole being left in the tin. This is soldered while the contents are hot, and the cooling process causes the vacuum so well known to people in the trade. With the addition of an attractive label the article is ready for market. All the tins are manufactured on the premises, and some surprisingly simple labor and time saving machinery is in use. The tin is cut to size by a guillotine, and is then turned and made the shape of a tin, so that every tin will be exactly the same size. A tinsmith gets the tin round an iron cylinder and the edges are easily soldered. The bottoms fit exactly, and are soldered by being turned round in the solder so that just the edge is touched. But it is the machine that cuts the lids that is a surprise packet for the average onlooker. With it one man can cut 1500 complete lids an hour with the edges turned. It is worked by a 3-h-p. engine, and must have enormous power to do the work it does. Situated a few yards from the factory is a shed in which boys are engaged in putting the skins over wires to be dried, and the place contains hundreds in the drying process. Through the boat not calling and the machinery being thus delayed, the factory was not quite in full working order, but the men worked all the previous night and up to one o'clock that morning in order that the public might see how the rabbits are treated. A number of tins from the first batch were opened and placed on the dinner table. Everyone was anxious to taste it, and asked for 'just a little please,' but in many cases the order was repeated minus the 'little please.' There is not the slightest doubt that the article has a very present able appearance and is extremely palatable. In fact, one man re marked that he had tasted stewed rabbit, curried rabbit, baked rabbit, and boiled rabbit, but they were all put in the shade by canned Wyndham rabbit. It is far superior to much of the preserved beef sold in this district. Some poultry and beef were also in the pickling stage, but so far none has been turned out ready for market. In about a fortnight's time the first shipment of rabbit will be despatched to an English firm, who, it is thought, will take the whole output. On the day of the opening a lot of rabbits were brought in and one cart-load from Rocky Hall way was said to contain 750 pairs. Of course there are very few professional trappers in the district yet, and most of the bunnies are caught by amateurs. One young fellow with 60 traps has averaged 10s 6d a night since the factory opened. The price of 5d per pair is a very good one when it is considered that that price will rule the whole year round. The Pambula band was on the ground and enlivened the proceedings by their selections. Altogether a most enjoyable time was spent by the visitors, and if the factory is only half as successful as the opening ceremony, then a new and flourishing industry has been established in the district which will benefit the farmer and business man alike. A large crowd then assembled at the rear of the building, where the official opening ceremony took place. Mr. Thos. Moore, chairman of the directors, mounted a large copper beside the boiler and ad dressed the gathering. He said he regretted there was not a more capable speaker in his place on such an important occasion. He had to apologise to the visitors for the state the factory was in, but it was no fault of the directors. The weather was against them, and the boat took their machinery back to Sydney, thus delaying them at least a week. Although the place did not look much, it could not be put up without difficulty, and every day brought its own trouble. This was pretty well the first rabbit canning company in N.S.W. There was no doubt that Mr. Hutchinson did more than any of them in bringing the factory into existence, and he was the backbone of what the people saw that day. It was 18 months ago since the movement was started, when times were bad. The directors thought they would canvass for shares themselves, but only one man did any good. They therefore held a meeting and decided to abandon the project. There was no man more indignant at this than Mr. Hutchinson, who said the factory meant everything to the district. That gentleman kept on writing and enquiring, and collecting whatever information he could. Then the Pambula Dairy Co. thought of dealing with frozen rabbits, but the idea did not materialise. Then Mr. Hutchinson and Mr. G. Keys called a meeting at Towamba, and he (the speaker) was put on the Board of Directors. There were only a few more meetings before the prospectus was issued and a canvasser put on. Then Mr. Ingles gave them all the possible information about canning; in fact, their case would have been hopeless only for him, for he told them everything. Mr. Keys, at his own expense, took Mr. Ineles all over the district, and for this the community was very thankful. The speaker wishes to mention the capable canvasser, Mr. Kraanstuyver. It was hard for a man to make the public believe that canning was going to be what it was. As soon as 3000 shares were taken, a site for the factory was selected, and he believed it was in the right place. He trusted the landholders and trappers would work amicably together. If they were not going to support them, what was the use of them building. The trappers had an industry for themselves, and if they wished to utilise it they would be paid a fair price for rabbits the whole year round. The speaker concluded a fitting address by thanking the employees for working day and night in order to allow the public to see the factory in working order. Mr. N. Hutchinson could scarcely find words to express his deep appreciation for the honor of formally opening the factory. The idea of canning rabbits arose out of a casual conversation, between Mr. L. Diversi and. Mr. Jno. Bo land two years ago, and the latter suggested that they might find someone who could wield a pen to take the matter up. The first letter the speaker wrote was to a Wyndhamite, Mr. Goldberg, and that person took the trouble to interview a number of farmers who all fell in with the movement. Since then he wrote a lot of letters, and he had to thank the press for publishing them. They had met all kinds of opposition, but he could not understand a single farmer standing aloof from the movement, and using his influence against it. In reply to a letter, the Agent-General in London stated that skins were sold at 3s, 7s a lb., and some of these were bought in their own district for 8d. They would send their skins direct to London, and thus save all the middleman's expenses. They wanted the money distributed in this district. When he found out what price they could get for canned rabbit, he knew they were on solid ground, and for every rabbit caught he estimated that sixpence would be brought into the district. This meant a very consider able sum when it is remembered that thousands would be caught every week. He had forgotten a lot he had to say, but there was one thing he would like to emphasise. He heard that some of the landholders meant to charge trappers a royalty. If such were the case it would be a shame, and he hoped the farmers would not take up such a selfish attitude. He thought that if any did they would not only go down to their graves un honored, but with rabbits tied to their toes. Two men who had been closely associated with the speaker, and who had stood out prominently all through, were Mr. Keys and Mr. Moore, and without these two they would never have opened the factory. At this stage Mr. Moore handed Mr. Hutchinson the first tin of rabbit turned out at the factory. Mr. Hutchinson was very thankful for the present, and would keep it and hand it down to posterity. He hoped it was only the fore runner of great things for the dist rict. Mr. Hutchinson then broke a bottle of wine over the boiler of the South Coast Canning Company. Mr. W. A. Kneen then called for three cheers for the Company which were lustily given. Mr. Ingles, the manager stood in the centre of a cart-load of rabbits to make a speech. He said it was 26 years ago since he opened a canning factory in Victoria, and had since been associated with six other factories. That day he had much pleasure in opening another factory. When he first saw the possibilities of the district he did all he could to help the canning movement, and hoped it would develop into a much larger concern, and that beef, mutton, poul try, and other articles would be treated. It would be an object lesson for the whole of the neigh boring districts. There were many trials and difficulties, but they had all been mastered. The people must help the Company. For the sake of the farmer he would like to see the rabbits disappear, but the factory would not close up for they would deal with other kinds of meats. One English firm alone would take all the rabbits they could put in tins, and would make liberal advances. Many were surprised at the small cost of the factory, and that nearly everything was paid for. He had to thank the people and directors and also Mr. Hutchinson for many kindnesses and considerations. It would have been wrong if someone else but the latter had opened the factory. He hoped the concern would be a dividend paying one, and that it would effectively cope with the rabbits and be the means of circulating money through the district. The guests then sat down to an excellent luncheon - in fact, it was as good as many banquets - which was provided by the Wyndham ladies. After the inner man had had his requirements fully attended to, a toast list was quickly gone through. Mr. Ingles proposed 'The Factory,' and said there was a general feeling that the Co. should go ahead. He hoped there would be no friction between the landholder and trapper. They would pay a fair price all the year round for rabbits. The whole community should join in helping the Company, and then everything would go with a vim. Mr. G. Keys proposed 'The Shareholders,' He said he was asked to do a little canvassing, and was successful at Pambula, Wolumla, Candelo, and especially Bega. He hardly met with a refusal. It would be surprising to many to know that the business people supported the movement better than the farmers.
Mr. C. Parbery proposed 'The District,' and expressed pleasure at being present. A great change had taken place in the district during the past 40 years. It was then practically a squatter's run. The place had since been closely settled, and butter and cheese factories had sprung up in various parts. Then the rabbit came and things looked gloomy, but now they had a way of coping with them. He was glad Bega had assisted the establishment of the factory. If it was a success no doubt others would be started elsewhere. The people of Wyndham deserved a lot of credit for their enterprise, and he would be pleased to see it turn out a huge success. Dr. Clouston proposed 'The Imlay Shire Council.' He said that some time ago he got bogged and that bog was named after him, and ever since he had been asked to propose this toast wherever he went. Some day he would tell the Councillors what he thought of them. He was pleased to see such a large crowd present, and it showed the people took a great interest in their factory. Cr. Baddeley responded, and said that at one time when they had about eighteen feet of rain in six hours, Dr. Clouston tried to drive his motor through a bad bog and got stuck, and the 'place had been immortalised as Clouston's Bog.' The place had been fixed up since and there would be no more bogs. He would specially mention Mr. Keys in connection with the canning factory, for, if anything, he was an enthusiast, and if he took a thing up he put his heart and soul into it. He hoped the industry would be of great commercial value and also be the means of reducing the rabbits. Mr. R. Farrell proposed 'The Press, and said that in the establishment of the factory the district papers gave great assistance. Some went to the trouble to write leading articles, while they all had something to say. The toast was responded to by Messrs. W. A. Smith (on behalf of the 'Star' and 'Standard'), L. Sheehy ('Magnet'), J. Wilkins ('Voice'), and E. Boot (Budget). Mr. J. McCabe proposed 'The Ladies,' and said that if anyone went hungry that day they de served to do so. Mr. Jas. Cochrane responded on behalf of the ladies, and thought they deserved great credit for the excellent spread they had provided for the guests. Mr. Parbery proposed the health of 'The Chairman,' and Mr. Moore in responding said the result of the opening was a great pleasure to him. What he had done in the past was now nothing to him, for he felt quite satisfied at the way everything had passed off.
'The Sydney Morning Herald'
Thursday 20 July 1911
* The rabbit-canning factory at Wyndham on the South Coast, which was opened this month, has been kept busy, tho supply of rabbits being plentiful The matter of purchasing a motor lorry for tho purpose of bringing in rabbits from the far-distant centres is now under consideration.
July 26, 1911
'The Bega Budget'
* Arrangements have been made for the carting of rabbits from Candelo and Tantawanglo to the Honeysuckle canning factory.
Some persons are said to be making from £3 to £5 a week down Towamba way out of rabbit skins.
'South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus'
28 July 1911
T O W A M B A.
Business here is progressing, and money is not scarce. The telephone direct to Eden is being erected. Corn pulling is nearly over, and would have been over long ago, only labor is so scarce - scarce is not the name for it; you can't get it at any price. The rabbit absorbs the lot. (The rabbits are very plentiful, and although thousands are being poisoned, their numbers are not perceptibly less. Skilful trappers should be able easily to supply the canning factory with all it can handle from the country lying between Lett's Creek and Burragate. The idea locally is that poisoning pays better than sending carcases to Wyndham. As it is the trappers are making big wages.
September 2, 1911
'Southern Star '
About nine tons of canned rabbit left the factory last week for shipment, and at present four teams are loading. Even bullock teams have been requisitioned, Mr. Dave Farrell's taking 120 cases. The delay in the shipment of the canned rabbit was due to the label having to be altered or added to, the word 'Australia' having to be put on. Mr. Hobbs, preserver at the factory, had the misfortune to meet with an accident off a bicycle on Saturday last, breaking his collar bone. Dr. Clouston is in attendance.
Record loads of rabbits are still coming into the factory at Honey suckle. Mr. A. Twyford, carrier from Candelo, got stuck on the Myrtle Creek mountain on Sunday night with 12,000 rabbits on. The roads have been very bad about here since the last rain. Lochiel and Pambula are beginning to send good supplies to the Factory, but Candelo and Wolumla are going to beat the Rocky Hall loads.
September 8, 1911
'The Farmer and Settler'
UTILISING THE RABBIT.
South Coast Canning Factory.
Within five weeks of the opening of the canning factory at Wyndham, on the South Coast, N.S.W., it is estimated that 30,000 rabbits had been treated and 20,000 tins put out. The factory site is admirable, as it is by the side of a permanent water supply, and is accessible by roads from all directions. Expert hands are engaged in skinning, cutting up, and treating. The ears and feet are not wasted, but are shipped to a factory in Melbourne to be converted into glue. The skins are stretched on wires and dried in sheds. There are hands busily engaged in making tins for the reception of the rabbit flesh. Trappers received 5d. per pair at the Factory, which is equal to 1/- per lb. for skins all the year round. If the trapper delivers without having to pay carriage the price is equal to 1/3 per lb. for skins. The policy of the factory is not to market to Sydney, but to go to London. It is understood that a five years' contract has been entered into with an English firm to take the output, which, in addition to tinned rabbit, will include canned beef, mutton and veal.
'The Sydney Morning Herald'
Thursday 28 December 1911
* The directors of the rabbit canning factory at Wyndham have received word that the first consignment of their product has realised a satisfactory price on the London market
September 11, 1912
'The Shoalhaven Telegraph'
Wyndham Rabbit Canning Company is in rather a bad way. The deficiency to date is £1300.
September 13, 1912
'The Bombala Times'
Wyndham Rabbit Canning Company.
The directors' report, showing the operations of the above company from its inception to June 30th, 1912 is to hand. Expenditure during, that- period was £4405 13s, and the deficiency is set out at £1300.
The report and balance sheet are to be presented at a meeting of share holders to be held at Wyndham on 14th inst. The report sets out that 1763 cases of boiled rabbit to date were sold in London for £1633 15s 7d ; 770 cases were sold at a profit of £46 18s, and 903 cases at a loss of £47 12s 6d ; 90 cases realised. £83 1s 9d without advance, 246 cases were, sold on the Sydney market for £216 10s 11d. The audit by James Robertson, Russel Crane and Co, has been taken from the inception of the Company in April, 1911, to June 30th, 1912. No depreciation has been proved to meet the reduced value of buildings and plant, which in the directors' opinion have depreciated to such a small extent that it is impossible to say how much. Canning operations have not been resumed since November, due to the un satisfactory state of the market; also, monetary difficulties had to be faced. Arrears of calls have increased to £513, and action has been taken against several to recover arrears. Shareholders who came forward generously and paid in advance their calls to 13s, enabled the directors to pay all outstanding liabilities and £200 off the overdraft, rescuing the company from liquidation. Inquiries to lease and purchase the factory have been received; also a proposal to install a plant to distil eucalyptus oil on a share basis. These matters are for discussion by shareholders with a view to defining action. The buildings and plant of the company are valued at £1227.
January 31, 1913
'South Coast Times and Wollongong Argus'
Mr. H. Keogh, of the firm of White LTD., Sydney, arrived at Eden last week, and made a tour of that and Candelo and Wyndham districts with a view of ascertaining the prospects for establishing a rabbit freezing works. Mr. Keogh is very favourably impressed with the district, and if terms can be arranged with the Wyndham Canning Coy. it is almost certain that the company will commence at Wyndham; but if not, it is likely that they will build a factory near Candelo.
'The Sydney Morning Herald'
Thursday 24 April 1913
FACTORY CLOSING UP.
* BOMBALA.-At the half-yearly meeting of the Wyndham rabbit-canning factory the balance-sheet showed a loss of £70.- It was decided, after discussion, to call a special meeting for May 17, to consider the advisability of winding-up the company, and to appoint a liquidator.
|RABBIT CANNING FACTORY AT WYNDHAM. 1910.
NOTE RABBIT CARCASSES ON CARTS.
Photo courtesy C. and G. Clements
|Rabbit Canning Factory Crew, Wyndham c1910|
April 24, 1913
'The Sydney Morning Herald'
FACTORY CLOSING UP.
BOMBALA.-At the half-yearly meeting of the Wyndham rabbit-canning factory the balance-sheet showed a loss of £70.- It was decided, after discussion, to call a special meeting for May 17, to consider the advisability of winding-up the company, and to appoint a liquidator.
April 26, 1913
'The Southern Record and Advertiser'
* Rabbit trappers are said to be almost as numerous as rabbits over Towamba way. Mumps are available round town just now. Mr. Jas. Underhill and Mr. R. Farrell, two progressive Rocky Hall farmers, have completed wire-netting their properties. A Rocky Hall farmer is asking £40 for the right to trap rabbits on his property for five months.
November 12, 1915
'The Cobargo Chronicle'
* At the half yearly meeting of shareholders of Towamba Dairy Co., to be held on 20th instant, one of the subjects set down for discussion is a proposal to incorporate rabbit freezing with the Co's operations.
March 2, 1918
'The Southern Record and Advertiser '
* Towamba correspondent to the Eden paper says. 'It is rumoured that a rabbit canning factory is likely to be erected here.' Only a rumour, we guess. The thing is about as unlikely as anything the imagination could suggest.
February 22, 1919
'The Southern Record and Advertiser'
* Mr. David Binnie, Towamba, lost 20 cows the other day, through them eating poisoned rabbits.
July 22, 1927
'The Southern Record and Advertiser '
* A rabbitskin stealing case has been engaging the attention of the local police during the week. The parties operated at Towamba, and the skins are alleged to have been sold in Candelo. Warrants have been issued for the suspects.
'Magnet' March 1929
* Towamba lass trapped rabbits but couldn't kill them so father obliged next morning. She put them in a box overnight.
18 October 1929
'The Farmer and Settler'
New Type Found in the Towamba District
* A report from Eden (N.S.W.) states that long-furred grey rabbits have made their appearance in the Towamba district. The skin of one trapped recently on Mr. Logan's property has fur of a length and quality equal to that of the imported Angora, rabbits.
'Magnet' April 12, 1930
* Trappers have commenced trapping in spite of the low price prevailing for skins but Pericoe always does its best to get rid of the pest.
'Magnet' January 31, 1931
* Now that rabbit skin prices are rising the bunnies are receiving a good deal of attention while we also appear to be the Mecca of skin buyers. So frequent are their visits that one resident often displays on his gate "No rabbit skins today."
All Kinds of Skins Wanted
Through life's many ups and downs
While fickle fortune smiles or frowns
'Tis always known that W.N. Stone
For highest price stands out alone.
Phone 3. Eden
|Skin buyers at Towamba Store. Vic Littley
and Billy Stone. No date.
'Magnet' July 4, 1931
* Rabbit skins are 3/6 per pound this week for which we are all thankful.
'Magnet' July 28, 1934
Pitt, Son & Badgery wired us on Wednesday. 125 tons offered today. The market was weaker, values being on an average 1 penny to two pence lower.
Quotes: Winters to 39 pence. Racks to 15 pence. Best heavy pelts to 70 pence. Others to 44 pence. Does to 28 pence. Damaged to 20 pence. Smalls to 14 pence.
'Magnet' June 1, 1935
* Rabbit trapping is now in full swing and prospects for the season seem bright. Our genial friend Mr. W. N. Stone is still buying and as usual is well to the fore.
'Magnet' August 17, 1935
RATES AND RABBITS
Hilarity went hand in hand with sympathy at Imlay Shire Council's last meeting when a letter was received from a Towamba rate payer through his solicitors with a cheque in reduction of a fairly large amount owing for rates.
His letter which covered quite a lot of ground complained of his valuation, spoke of the shire valuer (Mr V. Grant) as a "well paid Imlay Shire tourist" and referred to the time, "when Mr. Rodd (the clerk) put my rates up".
Rabbits, it appeared, were also a large cause for complaint. He had spent a lot of money trying to eradicate them, for others nearby were doing nothing, hence the part payment of rates. Councilor Lee suggested sending a receipt and advising that the rate could not be altered.
Councillor Wiles "He has his remedy.
Councillor Mitchell "Yay, he can appeal."
Councillor Mitchell said the ratepayer in question was to be pitied and he felt very sympathetic for all Council could do was to advise the solicitors of the facts and allow time for payment of the balance.
Councillors Lee and Wiles strongly favoured stipulating for definite monthly payments. The President suggested starting them from November and added, "He's making nothing from us now.'
Councillor Wiles, also sympathetic but added humourously, "No, but he's just paid the pound. It's wonderful what you can find if you feel in the right pocket." (laughter)
Finally on the motion of councillors Mitchell and Lee he had been given three months in which to meet the balance.