Development Arrested

Land development was arrested in the latter part of the century by droughts, a fall in wool prices and the bank crisis of 1893, in which only six banks survived. In the period of 20 years there had been three serious droughts.

However, by the end of the century there was a rapid increase in wheat growing and 1897 saw the first state wheat surplus. The stripper, invented in 1843 but not in common use until 10-20 years later, replaced the scythe. The first in the district was owned by Mr. Noble of Cullinga or Mr Graham of Woodford. The stripper could reap ten acres per day compared with one acre with the scythe.

At the same time the winnower replaced the flail in separating the grain from the chaff. Although arduous, it was a much more efficient method. The harvester (invented in 1884) was first demonstrated in the district in 1893 on Mr Trent's farm, Barwang. It was probably introduced a year or two later. By this time wheat growing was a popular sideline to sheep raising, aided by multi furrowed ploughs, bigger cultivation implements and the arrival of the railway in 1877.

The greatest impetus given to mixed farming occurred in 1907 when 52,624 acres of Cunningham Plains was divided and sold at public auction. The blocks ranged in size from 40 to 2,106 acres and realised from Three Pounds ($6) to Five Pounds ($10) per acre with small choice blocks close to Cunningar and Harden going as high as Twelve Pounds ($24) per acre. Other big properties were gradually subdivided and the Soldier Settlement Scheme after World War II saw the last major influx of new settlers. Today an area of 1,500 acres constitutes a property of average size.

Dairying is another industry that has played its part in district development, fluctuating in importance with the rise and fall of wool prices. The first butter factory, of pise and masonry construction, was built in 1891. By 1893 it was handling 1,000 gallons of milk each day. The butter produced was sold at 2d. per pound (2c) retail or 1d per pound (1c) in kegs. The factory is now a chaff mill. Any milk now produced goes to Wagga for processing.

Contact Details
Harden Shire Council
Phone: 02 6386 0100
Fax: 02 6386 0105