A shepherd’s letter home

Thomas Clark was employed as a shepherd at Forest Station, near Geelong. His letter home tells his undoubtedly relieved parents of the favourable circumstances in which he and his brother have found themselves, and also conveys a little of live in pastoral Victoria.


Thomas Clark, Letter. February 12th 1849.


Accession number: MS 7525


From the State Library of Victoria's Manuscripts collection.


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Forest Station
Geelong Port Philip Austrillia Felix
February 12th 1849

My Dear Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters, I have now taken the opportunity to write you. I hope it will find you all very well, and Mr and Mrs Michels and all their family. I hope you do make yourselves quite happy and comfortable about us, for we are both very well, and very comfortable in our present situation we are with very quiet and very pious people, if I had waited for six months I could not have got a better Master than I have for I may do just as I like he never says any thing to me that I am not doing enough , or that I am not doing it right, all the time that I have been here, but now I have no master at all for he is gone up the country, and he do not expect to be back in less than two months and it may be three or four, he is gone with one of his neighbours, with about four thousand sheep with them to try to get some more land, they do not expect to stop in less than two hundred and fifty miles they may have to go three hundred or more and then they will have to search for water

after the[y] get there, and perhaps the[y] may not find any, I have heard that there is no watter where the[y] are gone and the[y] can?t leave the shepherds without water, it is what the[y] calls the new country, Port Philip is devided into three districts, there is the settled, intermediate, and unsettled districts, the unsettled districts is the new country, and I have heard that that is very badly watered, but where we are there is a plenty of water within five minutes walk of our hut, we have two other huts here besides the one that we live in, one we have built since we have been here for one of his shepherds that he have left home with one flock of sheep, that is between twelve and thirteen hundred, and there is between seventeen and eighteen hundred gone up to the new county, he have about three thousand altogether but that is nothing to what some of the settlers have got some of them have got as much as Sixty thousand sheep and their runs do extend for thirty miles square then the[y] have a station perhaps every fifteen or twenty miles from the home station the home station is where the master or the overseer lives, the[y] have generally two flocks of sheep at a station and a hut keeper to cook the meat for the shepherds and too more the hurdles to make the yards for the sheep against the[y] come home, the sheep are always bought home at the station every night and some places the shepherd have to sleep in...

The pastoral system