June 24, 2015

Horse 1923 - Droving Sheep Down George Street - Can You Do It?

Usually when I have a blog spot of this nature, I have links down below so that you can go off and check the facts for yourself, or to get an insight into what sparked this ramble but this time there aren't any. Not even I can provide a link to what does not exist and as far as I can tell, never has done.
I had a bunch of posts going all at once and none of them really resolved themselves (and then there was this sideshow with ABC 1's Q and A going on as well) and so rather than come to a complete halt, I looked back at a note which I'd made for possible future posts which read "Stock Route Down George Street".

The legend is this. At some point, some disgruntled farmers got angry and in protest decided to drive a herd of sheep down George Street and was perfectly legally allowed to do so because George Street is a registered stock route.
Now I'd head of quite famous stock routes such as the Canning Stock Route; so I thought that there must be a hint of truth in the rumour and I decided to check it out.

How do you verify such a thing? My initial thought was that this was some sort of traffic issue, since moving a lot of stock down a public road was bound to cause congestion. I thought, that this must be contained in some sort of traffic legislation such as the Motor Traffic Act. 1909 or perhaps the Australian Road Rules Legislation 2003 but neither of those revealed anything either.
Neither was I able to find anything by asking Uncle Google or even the searchable database at the library for articles in either The Bulletin or The Sydney Morning Herald.

Frustrated, I did that most annoying thing that proper journalists do and that blog writers almost never do - I phoned up someone at Sydney City Council. After being sent around the world of phone operators for a while, I was then informed that there are or were things known as Travelling Stock Routes and Travelling Stock Reserves and that these were defined under the: Local Land Services Act 2013¹, the Crown Lands Act 1989² and the Crown Lands Consolidation Act 1913³.
The problem with being given such an arcane set of information is that when you actually bother to visit these pieces of legislation, there is no handy schedule or map which informs you where any of the reserves and routes might be. Worse, the Department of Trade and Investment's Crown Lands division, tells you "there are over 6,500 TSRs throughout NSW, covering an area of approximately 740,000 hectares" but if you follow the links, you end up back at the information about the other three acts which I already just found out about and weren't at all useful.

Now after about three hours of frantic searching and returning little, I'm convinced that there are such things as Travelling Stock Routes and Travelling Stock Reserves but it's just that nobody has a clube where any of them are. They aren't freely published on any map by the NSW Government and I'm not even sure I know who'd be the best people to speak to anyway.
I do rather like the idea that some irate farmers decided to drive a herd of sheep down George Street because in searching for any of these things, I'm growing bonkers crazy mental.

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
   (And I think the same was written in a thumbnail dipped in tar)
'Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
   "Rollo's gone down George Street droving, and we don't know where he are."


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