Into the Golden West: the McKillops of Buddah, 1782 to 1974 by Robert F McKillop. Castlecrag, MWA International, 2007. A high quality 286-page book on A4 art paper with 10 maps, 104 colour photographs or artwork and 203 black & white photographs/artwork. Price $40 plus packaging and postage.
Into the Golden West was MWA’s first publishing venture. It tells the story of a family of Catholic Scottish Highlanders who came to New South Wales in the late 1830s as assisted migrants. Two branches of the family, the children of Alexander MacKillop and the descendants of his brother Duncan followed very different careers. The book explores their careers and achievements over the years within the wider context of the social, economic, technological and environmental issues facing rural Australia.
The story commences with the birth of John MacKillop in Brae Lochinbar in 1782 and examines the conflict and change that led to the family’s emigration in 1837 and 1838. Most of the family arrived in Sydney on 1 March 1839, but moved to Melbourne soon afterwards. The eldest son, Alexander, married Flora MacDonald from Cranachan in Brae Lochinbar and their children, particularly the eldest, Australia’s first Saint, Mary MacKillop, all devoted their lives to serving the Catholic Church. Their remarkable careers are covered in detail.
A key focus is on the extended journey of John’s third son, Duncan MacKillop, from Sydney ‘into the golden west’: initially to Bathurst and thence to Summerhill (Orange), Wellington and finally to the purchase of the Timbrebongie Run in today’s Narromine district. Duncan’s descendants developed and managed a portion of this property, known as Buddah, through five generations. Using the comprehensive records handed down by the family this history covers the profound changes that occurred at Buddah between the 1850s and the sale of the property by the family in 1974. Over 700 employees are identified in the book and there are oral histories from many of these. An epilogue chapter traces the management, technological and environmental changes that occurred at Buddah specifically and in the district generally between 1974 and 2007.
They mirror the wider transformation of rural Australia. It was a transformation from pastoralism to agriculture (including a pioneer citrus orchard), from dryland farming to large-scale irrigation and then to the conservation and sustainable management of our resources. The work examines these changes within the context of the wider technological, economic, social and ecological changes that have occurred in Australia. The community at Buddah was a microcosm of Australian immigration, covering local Aborigines, fellow Scots and Chinese immigrants in the nineteenth century, Swedes and Finns in the early 20th century and the broad ethnic mix of post-war migrants.
Particular attention is given to the economic, social and political context in which key decisions were made, particularly the allocation of water resources in the Macquarie Valley for irrigation. It concludes with an optimistic assessment of the innovations being made by the current generation of farmers to ensure the sustainable management of resources over the longer term.
The appendices provide a tree of the McKillop family and associated families; records of employees on the property between 1863 and 1886, 1906 to 1929, 1930 to 1950 and 1951 to 1982; together with valuable documentation of the financial ups and down of the holding company, McKillop & Sons, from 1918-19 to 1973-74.
Portrait of Duncan McKillop. McKillop family
Mother Mary MacKillop (seated) with her sister Annie and brother Father Donald. Courtesy Sisters of St Joseph Archives
The McKillop family at Buddah circa 1893. McKillop family records
Buddah woolshed in the 1930s. DG McKillop photo
The McKillop & Sons lorry taking a load of Buddah oranges from the packing shed to the railway at Narromine in 1926. McKillop family collection
Baling oaten hay at Buddah in the late 1930s. DG McKillop photo
Dr David Leece, Agricultural Science, 21:2, September 2007, p 37 – brief extract
Into the Golden West is a history of the McKillop family, pioneers of agriculture in the Macquarie valley in central-west New South Wales. The family purchased land adjacent to the Macquarie River a few kilometres north of Narromine in 1863. By the time the family relinquished the property in 1974, it had become one of the leading farming and grazing enterprises in the region, combining irrigated horticulture and agriculture with dryland winter and summer cropping and sheep, wool and cattle production.
Into the Golden West is well-researched agricultural, social and industrial-relations history. It draws extensively on fully-referenced primary and secondary sources, which are elaborated by extensive end notes. The primary sources include family documents and diaries and recorded oral histories. . . . Beautifully presented and very well illustrated with 104 colour and 203 black-and-white photographs and 10 clearly drawn maps.
This book is illustrative of the backgrounds and contributions made by 19th century pioneers and their descendents to Australian agriculture, a legacy which all Australian should be grateful.
Neil Inall, Foreword
It’s rare for a historian to be as revealing about their family’s business operations as Robert McKillop is in this book. And the depth of his research is remarkable. … He goes back hundreds of years to when his forebears were forced from the land in the Scottish Highlands and they like so many others decided that maybe the only way to prosperity was to establish themselves 12,000 miles away in unknown land.
Cover photo Into the Golden West here