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Bowman, John (1826–1900)

John Bowman, n.d.

John Bowman, n.d.

from Australasian Pastoralists' Review, 15 October 1900

Mr. John Bowman, who died in August at his residence, Carolside, Hobart, was one of the pioneers of South Australia. He was born in Cumberland, England, but came out with his parents to Tasmania in 1828. His father, the late Mr. J. Bowman, settled at O'Brien's Bridge, took a farm and started farming, the farm being afterwards bought by the late W. J. T. Clarke, who, with Mrs. Clarke, resided there for many years. The late Mr. J. Bowman afterwards took a farm from Mr. J. Stokle on the bank of the Big Lagoon, or Lake Tiberius, as it is called; another farm was taken later on the Coal River, known as "Woodlands." After being in Tasmania for about seven years, the father and eldest son agreed that there was not much opening for a young family to get much land in that colony. It was then agreed that the eldest son Edmund should go over to South Australia and spy out the land. Edmund came over in the craft called the Parsee. Unfortunately, the boat was wrecked on Troubridge Shoal, and the passengers lost all they had with them. However, the wreck was made known, and the South Australian Government schooner went down and brought passengers and crew into the old port. Then, later, Mr. E. Bowman, being satisfied that the colony was good enough to settle in, went back to Tasmania, and shortly after came over again and brought horses. Soon after this, in the beginning of 1839, the two younger brothers, John and William, were sent over in charge of sheep; John was thirteen years of age and William eleven years. They had an assigned servant with them, but he turned out lazy and useless; the boys had to crawl through the pens among the sheep with hay under their arms and go to feed them. The accommodation for the sheep was bad, and they had to be watered out of buckets. Through some mistake the boys, man, and sheep were landed at a little north of where Largs Bay is now. The sheep were hot out of the ship, and wanted water, and some of them died from drinking the salt water. They camped at night near the beach, making a small yard for the sheep. The boys took first watch, and then laid down, setting the man to look after the sheep, but he went to sleep, and the wild dogs rushed the sheep out of the yard, and they had a night's work to collect them; the dogs killed one or two. Next day they met some men that were cutting Brilla, or mangroves, to make potash for soap-making. The boys told these men that they had been left there by the boat, that their brother did not know they had come, and asked would they go up to Islington and tell their brother to bring them food and water. The men said, "We know your brother; he is a very good sort; we will get our boat across the creek and walk up to where your brother is camped, and tell him. "You know, my lads, it is 'everyone for himself and God for us all' in this new place; we must be well paid for it.'' 

As soon as Edmund got word he came over and took the sheep round by the Reed Beds, and crossed the sheep higher, up over the Torrens. When Mr. John Bowman came over he brought a frame-house made in Tasmania; this was erected at Islington. Soon after this, land was taken at Enfield, then called Pine Forest; here a house of pine, with thatched roof, was built for the family, also a lean-to partly of brick.

At the end of 1839 the family came over to South Australia and settled at Pine Forest. There farming, combined with sheep-farming, was carried on for a few years. As the sheep increased some of them were taken to Willunga, where a station was formed. A station was also established at Dry Creek, near where the Adelaide Stockade is now; from here the sheep were taken once a day to the Torrens to water, across Gilles Plains, and were watered near where Beefacres is now. Another station was formed half way between the Dry Creek and the little farm at the foot of the hills. There was splendid feed in these hills at this time, but the wild dogs were very numerous; as many as five dogs were seen in the moonlight worrying at the station dogs at once. The two younger brothers and a shepherd looked after the sheep while here.

Some time in 1844 the runs on the head and foot of the Wakefield were taken up, known then as the Higher and Lower Stations; afterwards some land on the Wakefield, now called Martindale, was purchased from the Messrs J. and W. Browne. As the flocks increased John and William Bowman managed the station work, while the elder brother Edmund did the town business. In 1856 Crystal Brook was purchased from Mr. Younghusband; this was managed by the three brothers, John, William, and Thomas Bowman. About twenty years of a very hard life was put in here, rising early in the morning at 4 a.m., breakfast always taken by candlelight in winter.

The valuations of runs made harder work for the sheepfarmers, rents being raised from 10s. per square mile to £5 and £6 per mile per annum. The great droughts of 1865-6 and 1869 nearly cleared the northern runs of sheep, and great numbers of squatters were ruined or cleared out to New Zealand, Queensland, and New South Wales.

Mr. Bowman devoted all the latter days of his life to establishing his late brother William's sons on estates of their own in the different colonies of Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales. He lived at Carolside, near Hobart, in the summer time, spending the winter in visiting his nephews or at his own estate, Poltalloch, on the Murray.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • probate, Examiner (Launceston), 14 August 1900, p 6
  • will, Kalgoorlie Western Argus, 6 September 1900, p 16
  • 'Poltalloch Estate', Register (Adelaide), 20 January 1904, p 8

Citation details

'Bowman, John (1826–1900)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/bowman-john-140/text141, accessed 25 November 2017.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2017

John Bowman, n.d.

John Bowman, n.d.

from Australasian Pastoralists' Review, 15 October 1900