Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Black, George (1813–1902)

by J. Ann Hone

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

George Black (1813-1902), pastoralist, was born on 24 April 1813 at Lawgrove, Perthshire, Scotland, son of Captain George Black and his wife Marjorie, née Lawson. He was educated at Perth Academy and on his father's death sailed in the St Mungo to Port Phillip, arriving in December 1840. He was manager of the Boneo property near Cape Schanck and then ran Perricoota on the Murray River. In 1851 he bought the isolated Tarwin Meadows run near Anderson's Inlet in South Gippsland. Believing 'there was money in mud', he drained the flats, cleared the ti-tree, planted shelter trees, English grasses and strawberry clover (the first in Victoria), and sowed Marram grass on the sand dunes. He leased a hundred sq. miles (259 km²) from the Bass River to Cape Liptrap and in 1858 acquired the pre-emptive rights of the West Tarwin run, bidding above the upset price. In the 1860s he bought the best of this land and only relinquished leasehold of the rest under pressure from selectors in the late 1870s. His main interest was breeding quality stock; Tarwin carried Hereford and Shorthorn cattle, and horses which in the gold rush brought as much as £130 a head. Black later supplied horses to Francis Clapp's omnibus company and the Indian army. The cattle were driven to the Melbourne market through Hastings and Frankston and the G-B brand topped the market consistently in the 1880s.

Black was for many years the only settler in the area and he lived a lonely and often dangerous life. He had several encounters with escaped Tasmanian convicts and bushrangers and it was said that the bushranger Dan Morgan worked for him as a boy. Black's first homestead was made of wattle and mortar daub and then replaced by a house built mainly of timber from the Duke of Wellington, one of the many wrecks on the coast in Black's lifetime. The station abounded with game and fish and Black had to use domestic cats to exterminate the rabbits he had unhappily introduced. He spent his leisure reading and made a special study of medicine which occasionally he had to put to practical use. In 1871 he had married Isabella Emily Watson. At his death on 17 August 1902 he was survived by a daughter and two sons, George Murray (1874-1965) and Archibald MacGregor (1875-1943), who in partnership ran Tarwin as a dairy farm until 1915.

Select Bibliography

  • A. Henderson (ed), Early Pioneer Families of Victoria and Riverina (Melb, 1936)
  • C. Daley, The Story of Gippsland (Melb, 1960)
  • B. Collett, Land Settlement in the Foster area, South Gippsland, before 1890 (M.A. thesis, University of Melbourne, 1962)
  • Maud Black records (on ADB file).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

J. Ann Hone, 'Black, George (1813–1902)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/black-george-2999/text4301, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 15 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

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