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'Scraps from the Ovens'

The Argus noted that tensions rose between diggers and squatters at the Ovens diggings over the issue of horse grazing. The squatters had recently taken to collecting the diggers’ horses and charging them a fee to return them.

25 January 1853
Published Source
Australian National Dictionary Centre, The Gold Rushes and Australian English: a resource for researchers, teachers and students, Australian National University, 2005, http://www.anu.edu.au/andc/res/aus_words/gold/index.php. Details
This material is provided by the Australian National Dictionary Centre, a joint project of the Australian National University and Oxford University Press Australia.


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Spring Creek, Jan. 25, 1853. A matter most particularly affecting the interests of the diggers is now exciting considerable attention on the Ovens gold fields. Several of the neighbouring squatters have taken it upon themselves to say that diggers shall not be allowed to turn out their horses to graze in the neighbourhood of the diggings, without paying them certain fees for so doing. Now it has always, since diggings commenced in the Colony, been tacitly understood that diggers paying for licenses were permitted to turn out their horses to graze, without craving the permission of the so-called "lords of the soil," and that in the vicinity of the diggings the Impounding Act was virtually suspended. In this neighbourhood, however, certain squatting gentlemen have thought fit to collect the horses grazing in the bush, and to drive them away in mobs to their home-stations, when they herd them out during the day, and place them in paddocks at night—refusing to give them up to their owners till certain fees more or less exorbitant are paid to them. Some parties in ignorance of the law in this case made and provided, have been induced to pay these fees, but others have consulted the Impounding Act, which clearly declares it illegal to detain stray cattle in a private paddock beyond three days. I am acquainted with a case myself in which the owner of a horse last week demanded his horse from the paddock of a neighbouring squatter (who is also a territorial magistrate). The stockman in charge refused, in his master’s absence, to allow the horse to be removed: the owner of the horse is, however, determined to have his horse given up to him without paying the charges demanded, and will, if another application is not attended to, bring the matter before the Police Bench. It is also proposed among the diggers to petition the Lieutenant-Governor to enquire into the proceedings of the squatters in this neighbourhood, and either to suspend the Impounding Act within certain limits, or to set apart a reserve for the diggings, as promised in a late official communication to the diggers at Mount Alexander. Argus, 28 January 1853