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Treasure, Harry Louis (1877–1961)

by Peter Cabena

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

Harry Louis Treasure (1877-1961), cattleman, was born on 20 July 1877 at Wandiligong, Victoria, son of Emmanuel George Treasure, miner, and his wife Emily, née Langford, both English born. In April 1878 George moved his family—the children strapped to chairs on the sides of pack-horses—to King's Spur, on the eastern slopes of the Dargo High Plains. Their home, a two-roomed, bark-roofed log hut, was situated at the winter snow-line. The family, with its nine boys and two girls, made a living in the bush by milking cows, growing vegetables, packing goods for the nearby gold-mines, fossicking, and by operating a small store, hotel and post office.

In 1888 George acquired a one-third share in the Dargo High Plains cattle-run; when local mining activity began to decline, the family turned to cattle for a livelihood. All the children assisted with farm work, but Harry and his brothers were given an elementary education by a teacher employed by his parents. In 1888 Harry attended the Dargo school, receiving board with the local policeman in return for odd jobs, but returned next year to work on the family property.

On 4 March 1903 at College Church, Parkville, Treasure married with Presbyterian forms Clare Victoria Gamel, a schoolteacher from Beechworth. Over the following half-century they and their five children became the principal, and finally the only, cattle graziers on the Dargo High Plains. When rabbits ravaged the bush pastures in the immediate vicinity, Treasure bought a property at Castleburn, south of Dargo, as the family's winter abode. Each summer, when the snows melted, they returned with their stock to the high plains where Harry and his sons eventually built a substantial weatherboard homestead from local timber.

A renowned bushman, axeman, buckjump rider and horse-breaker, Treasure could cope with a multitude of tasks, including housebuilding, storekeeping and butchering. He was a councillor of the Avon Shire for over thirty years from 1918 and a supporter of the Bush Nursing Centre at Dargo. He took his children into the family business, among them his daughter Freda who could ride and work cattle as well as any man. Harry died on the Dargo High Plains on 28 December 1961; survived by his wife, daughter and three sons, he was buried with Anglican rites in Dargo cemetery. His estate was sworn for probate at £49,678.

Select Bibliography

  • H. Stephenson, Cattlemen and Huts of the High Plains (Melb, 1988)
  • The Gap, 1963
  • Herald (Melbourne), 9 Nov 1951
  • Bairnsdale Advertiser, 18 Jan 1962
  • P. Cabena, Grazing the High Country, Victoria, 1835-1935 (M.A. thesis, University of Melbourne, 1980)
  • private information.

Citation details

Peter Cabena, 'Treasure, Harry Louis (1877–1961)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 23 February 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

View the front pages for Volume 12

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