27th December 2005
New Book recalls the time when a 1000 horses roamed the one Scone Stud
In the late 1800s, an era before motor transport and in which the Australian population was less that four million, one pastoral property near Scone in the Hunter Valley, ran more than a thousand horses of a variety of description including thoroughbreds.
Serviced by the Kingdon Ponds waterway and the Dartbrook on the southern side of Scone, this was the now much reduced holding known as Turanville and at the time it was home for Thomas Cook, a nephew of Henry Dangar, a member of a family which wrote much of the history of early development of the Hunter Valley.
The history of Turanville, a base on a number of occasions for major horse sales, is recalled following the publication of two books, Horses in the Hunter 1820-2005 by Judy White and Horsemen of the First Frontier (1788-1900) by Keith R. Binney.
The latter book, one which is available from the Horseman’s Bookshop, 89 Anzac Parade, Kensington, 2033, phone (02) 9662 2633 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, ranks as the greatest review of the foundation of the horse industry since the late Douglas Barrie published The Australian Bloodhorse fifty years ago.
Keith Binney has performed a monumental feat of research in the production of Horsemen of the First Frontier and turned the results into a very readable and important review of the history of horse breeding in Australia. It is a history that is mostly centred on NSW, a fact that is not surprising as the State was the birthplace of the nation.
His review traces the ancestry of not only the pioneer horses but that of the people who carved pastoral empires out of the wilderness and who contributed to the making of the Australian horse. These families include history figures John Macarthur, William Cox, William Lawson, Archibald Bell, Samuel Marsden, John Oxley and Dr D’Arcy Wentworth, to mention the early ones.
The great horse breeding families of the Hunter Valley such as the Thompsons (still at the Widden Stud eight generations on), the Whites (mammoth breeders in the Valley, at Mudgee and at Kirkham near Camden; still owners of Belltrees, Scone, the home for Judy White), the Dangars, Potter Macqueen (founded Segenhoe and supplied the first Hunter Valley thoroughbred sire), the McIntyre’s (still an active horse family in the Scone district) and the Bowmans (another pioneer family still active in the region).
The Dangar name has disappeared from the Hunter Valley rural telephone books but has been left on many Upper Hunter landmarks. Much of the area was explored and surveyed by Henry Dangar (1800 – 1861), one of five brothers who each had big pastoral holdings in the Singleton or Scone districts including Turanville.
The White family, one established in the hunter Valley by Somerset, England born James White and his wife Sarah, made a huge contribution to the development of the thoroughbred in this part of the world. Three of their most famous properties were Edinglassie, Muswellbrook and Belltrees and Segenhoe – settled originally by Potter Macqueen – in the Scone region.
Also named James, one of his sons ranks as one of the biggest and most successful racehorse owners in history. At one time he bred a small number of horses here to northern hemisphere time and sent them to England, where one of them finished sixth in the Derby.