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Hebden, Charles (Charley) (1851–1915)

by Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh

Charles Hebden, n.d.

Charles Hebden, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 September 1915

"Charley" Hebden was a typical Riverina back-block squatter, tall, lean, and sunburnt, a very capable man, and withal a strong sense of humour, and I must add that there was nothing he seemed to enjoy more than a good argument.

The cutting-up of the large estates has not tended to the production of men of the stamp of the "old time" squatters, such men, for instance, as Richard Blackwood, of Hartwood, Charles M. Lloyd, of Yamma, and George Mair, of Groongal, and it is with such names that I would bracket that of Charles Hebden, albeit he was one of a younger generation.

Mr. Hebden's father, formerly of Mahratta, in the Monaro district of New South Wales, was one of our pioneer squatters of the early days. When he sold Mahratta in the early sixties, he bought into the well-known Brookong Station, near Urana, in Riverina—a property which was taken up by Henry Osborne, and which at that time still belonged to the Osborne family. Mr. Hebden became managing partner, and in 1866 appointed me to manage the station. In 1868 his son, Charley Hebden, then a lad of seventeen, came to me to learn "experience." He was a most lovable lad, capable, too, and a "worker," and, moreover, he never presumed on his position as a son of an owner. From the day of his arrival we became fast friends, and fast friends we remained all through his life, and fast friends we remain still, for I do not for one moment believe that his death has terminated our long friendship.

Charley soon became overseer, and when in 1871 I resigned my position to enter the ministry, his father was greatly pleased when I strongly recommended Charley as my successor. He was duly appointed, and filled the position admit; ably until the property, with 96,000 sheep, was sold to William Halliday.

Gogeldrie, a fine property on the Murrumbidgee, was then purchased, and afterwards sold to Mr. Waugh. Then Wanaaring, on the Paroo, was purchased, also Welbondongah, near Moree. Like a great many more of us, Charley became enamoured with the "back" country; it has a strange fascination, and for many years he made Wanaaring his headquarters, in spite of heat, flies, and chronic drought.

He bred some good horses at Wanaaring, and with some of them won a good many races at Randwick and about Sydney under the skilful training of Mr. P. Nolan. Britain, one of his own breeding, won him a good many races, and at one time it was second favourite for the Melbourne Cup. Mr. Hebden affected cross country horses, and of late years he secured some good stakes with those three good "leppers" Hallmark, Briarberry, and Tyrone, all bred by himself. He told me once that he never put more than £10 on any of his horses. He was a true sportsman, and very popular. To know that a horse was Hebden's was to know for certain that he was going out to win.

After many years of persuasion, he finally sold Wanaaring, and took up his abode at Errowanbang, near Carcoar, rather a change from Wanaaring. He was of a retiring disposition, but always took his part in all pastoral matters. From the first he was a staunch supporter of the Pastoralists' Union, and he was a member of the council at the time of his death.

It is difficult for me to write about one who was my dearest and best friend for half a century; sufficient to say that he was one of the "whitest" of men—straight, honourable, and true, the most loyal of friends, and liberal and generous to a degree. He was one of those who did not let his right hand know what he did with his left. To state a case of real distress to Charley was to receive instant and substantial assistance. He was a liberal supporter of that splendid institution, the Free Kindergarten Union of New South Wales; and the Golden Fleece Kindergarten, the work of pastoralists, is much indebted to his liberality.

He was sixty-four when he passed away quietly and peacefully at Errowanbang on the 26th of August.

Original publication

Citation details

Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh, 'Hebden, Charles (Charley) (1851–1915)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/hebden-charles-charley-482/text483, accessed 17 October 2019.

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