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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: newmarket saleyards collection (2)

Storytelling at its best

Author
by Jackie Gatt
Publish date
21 February 2011
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Comments (2)

Jackie is a volunteer at Museum Victoria. She has been documenting and researching the Newmarket Saleyards Collection.

On Saturday Liza Dale-Hallett and I were lucky enough to head along to the 150th Newmarket Saleyards Reunion. It was a fabulous day under the shady peppercorns and oaks, with a turnout of over 250 drovers, buyers, transporters and auctioneers returning to share stories and catch up with old mates. Chequered shirts, moleskins and akubras set the dress standard for the day while a cold beer in hand was a necessary addition to any reminiscing.

Crowd at 150th anniversary Crowd at the 150th anniversary Newmarket Saleyards Reunion on 19 February.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Although these days some of the ‘boys’ don’t get around that quickly, it was all too easy to imagine them striding around the saleyards, calling out to each other over the fences and down the lanes. They happily recounted anecdotes about their days at Newmarket – some were bold and some were bawdy, many were full of intrigue and most of them gave an insight into the tough life lived by drovers. Some chestnuts were enlightening, explaining things a city-girl would never otherwise know, while some memories were more sombre, recollecting mates that had passed on. I was regaled with yarns from Barney, Knocker and Marbuk; Bluey, Paddy, Waxy and young Strop. And while Jingles had me captivated with stories of getting up to no good, Dick warmed my heart with entertaining tales of his beloved dogs. Brothers Laurie and Lindsay were the gentlemen drovers, eloquent orators and fine historians; and larrikin Spot proudly showed off his new grandson. Men came from as far away as Queensland while others live just up the road and didn’t have so far to get home.

Three attendees at the 15oth Newmarket Saleyards Reunion L-R: Greg Nichols, Peter Woodhead and Graham Spargo.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Volunteer Jackie with Dick Chandler at the reunion. Volunteer Jackie with Dick Chandler at the reunion.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

It was a day of storytelling and reminiscing at its very best and although there wasn’t a sheep dog in sight, it was easy to imagine Newmarket in its glory days as Australia’s premier saleyards.

Some exciting donations were made to Museum Victoria and we look forward to adding them to our Newmarket Heritage Collection.

Links:

Newmarket Saleyards Collection

MV Blog: Newmarket Saleyards turn 150

Newmarket Saleyards turn 150

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
17 February 2011
Comments
Comments (23)

Have you ever passed the weathered, rough-hewn post and rail fences near the corner of Smithfield and Flemington Roads? These are the remains of the former Newmarket Saleyards which opened 150 years ago this month.

Newmarket Saleyards Newmarket Saleyards, highlighting the laneway running between the stock pens showing detail of bluestone pitches and post and rail fencing.
Image: Robert Cutting
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Cars, trucks and trams thunder along Flemington Road these days and but there was a time when the roads were full of traffic of a different kind. For decades, thousands of head of cattle were driven along here ‘on the hoof’ by working dogs and drovers, many from as far away as Queensland. In the late 1800s Newmarket was on the city fringe, but as Melbourne expanded, the chaos, sounds and smells of rural life collided with the city. Increasingly, trucks and rail were used to transport livestock during the 20th century and a stock overpass, built in the 1960s, reduced the risk of escapes. There are plenty of stories of stray cattle trampling through local houses, turning up at the pub, the milk bar, and even the Zoo. After the auction, drovers ran livestock to nearby abattoirs or to be transported to the paddocks of their new owners.

  A yardman directing cattle at Newmarket Saleyards A yardman directing cattle at Newmarket Saleyards, 1960.
Image: Laurie Richards Studio
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The vast Newmarket Saleyards were the most important in Australia, setting the price for livestock nationwide. It became a ‘town within a town’ with its own essential services, including a telegraph office, cricket club, newspaper and radio station. Record numbers of animals were sold here during World War II.

Covered walkways between the stock pens at the Newmarket Saleyards Covered walkways between the stock pens at the Newmarket Saleyards where auctioneers stood and conducted sales.
Image: Robert Cutting
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Regional stockyards led to the decline of Newmarket which finally closed in 1987. Museum Victoria acquired significant objects from Newmarket and volunteer Jackie Gatt has been working with curator Liza Dale-Hallett to document the collection, which is featured on Collections Online this month.

You can still see bluestone paving, stock pens, covered walkways and brick buildings on the site, but new housing occupies much of the original 57 acres. Every year since its closure, drovers, agents and auctioneers who worked at Newmarket hold a reunion on the third Saturday of February each year to catch up with old friends. This year there will also be a community celebration day on Sunday 20 February, 11am-2pm, to honour the 150th anniversary.

Bill Glenn mosaic Detail of the Newmarket Saleyard mosaics, featuring Bill Glenn, a drover at the Newmarket Saleyards, and his cattle dog.
Image: mural artist Elizabeth McKinnon, photographer Robert Cutting
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

Newmarket Collection on Collections Online

Brochure about Newmarket Collection (PDF, 2Mb)

ABC Landline: Saleyard of the Century

Poster for Community Day on 20 February (PDF, 6.2Mb)

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

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