One of north-eastern Tasmania’s greatest hunters was Joseph Clifford (1856–1932), a bush farmer at The Marshes, on Ansons River. Clifford was an incidental snarer of tigers who cottoned onto the live tiger trade as they grew scarcer and more valuable. He was born to ex-convict farmer John Clifford (c1822–1919) and bounty immigrant Mary Ann Lock (aka Anne Viney, c1828–94) at Georges Bay (St Helens). In 1879, as an illiterate 23-year-old farmer, Joseph married 20-year-old farmer’s daughter Emma Summers (c1859–1937). Their four sons and two daughters grew up at The Marshes, where the marshland stretched along both sides of the Anson River and the herbage was plentiful for the stock.
Tigers were also relatively plentiful. In August 1889 a ‘case of native tigers’ was shipped out of Boobyalla to Launceston on the coastal trader Dorset. It was a mother and three cubs destined for William McGowan, manager of the zoo in Launceston’s City Park, who received 21 live thylacines, mostly from the north-east, between June 1885 and July 1893. Perhaps some of them came from Grodens Marsh, across the river from the house at The Marshes. Here Joseph Clifford claimed to have seen a tiger sneak amongst the sheep in order to kill a lamb. He believed that tigers struck the sheep at dusk or dawn, particularly in foggy conditions, taking motherless lambs and any weak ewes. He claimed to have seen as many as nine tigers at one time and developed the belief that they hunted in packs. When the working dogs dragged their chains into their kennels with fear, Joseph released the so-called staghounds, hunting dogs, to tackle the interlopers. These dogs were a mix of great Dane and greyhound, and while used chiefly in possuming they had no fear of tigers.
On one occasion, at a place called the Thomas, Joseph came across five tigers chasing a bandicoot. Most of his staghounds pursued the group, but one dog went after a tiger that broke away on its own. His third son Harry Clifford (c1891–1974) recalled that:
‘When he [Joseph] got down to where the other two [the lone dog and the lone tiger] was they was [sic] both standing up on their hind legs like two dogs fighting’.
Harry and Emma, his mother, were both scared of tigers. Harry recalled his mother telling him that she saw tigers killing their sheep. One time as Joseph arrived home from a hunting trip, Emma said, ‘Oh the tigers have been here again after the sheep.’ ‘Why didn’t you let the dogs loose?’, Joseph replied. ‘Of course’, said Harry, looking back, ‘she was too scared to go out’. On another occasion when the dogs were let loose they ran down a tiger at Dead Horse Creek, east of the homestead. Harry recalled that ‘the next day the others [other tigers] set up in the little paddock down there howling like dogs’, as if lamenting a missing family member.
Joseph claimed government bounties for perhaps 27 adult and 2 juvenile thylacines (worth £28) in the period 1892–1903, including at least 5 adults in 1897. These would have been incidental killings in the course of landing thousands of kangaroos, wallabies, pademelons and brush and ringtail possums. Snaring was essential to the survival of many poor bush families, and the temptation to snare illegally out of season, tanning skins to sell locally, was strong. In 1905 Joseph suffered a serious setback when a zealous constable found a stash of 337 possum skins and some kangaroo skins concealed under a hay stack at The Marshes out of season, for which he was fined a very hefty £59 17 shillings. He would have needed a very good legal hunting season to make up for it.
The switch to the live tiger trade
While the demand for live tigers was low, there was insufficient inducement for some hunters to undertake the considerable trouble involved in keeping them alive and getting them to market. Sarah Mitchell of Lisdillon near Swansea, for example, was offered £6 for a live tiger by the Sydney Zoological Society in 1890 but ended up £5 out of pocket when it died in transit.
The price of a live tiger had probably increased by 1901, when Joseph Clifford brought a thylacine threesome home on the back of a horse, apparently having snared the mother without killing her. He kept the mother and two pups in a barn at The Marshes, with the idea of selling them, but he couldn’t get them to eat. He caught live native hens and wallabies to feed them but the captives took no interest. Finally the thylacine family starved to death, leaving Joseph to claim £2 for presentation of their carcasses under the government bounty scheme and whatever additional money he could get for the skins themselves.
This incident brought about a change in thinking. Joseph originally used necker snares, with the intention of killing his prey, but now he switched over to footer or treadle snares in order to spare tiger lives and collect a bigger prize. Reasoning that thylacines might survive longer in something resembling their natural habitat, he built an enclosure for them on a marsh at nearby Wurrawa. It was a chicken-wire pen about six metres long by two wide, with tall timber posts. It was here that Harry Clifford remembered his father teaching him, as a teenager, to immobilise a tiger by grabbing its tail from behind and lifting its hind quarters off the ground. How many live tigers the Cliffords caught in the early 1900s and who they sold them to is unknown. The most likely recipient is William McGowan of Launceston’s City Park Zoo, who received six tigers June 1898–June 1901 (three of those are known to have come from the Great Western Tiers), and another 24 June 1901–February 1906. Mary Grant Roberts of the private Beaumaris Zoo at Battery Point in Hobart also started buying tigers in 1909, followed by James Harrison of Wynyard in 1910, but as mentioned previously there were also mainland buyers.
Harry Clifford’s tiger experiences
Harry Clifford saw at least fifteen tigers during the first half of his life, without even going out of his way. ‘We didn’t go shooting tigers’, he asserted. ‘They came to us’, that is, they entered the Clifford property and ended up in Clifford snares mostly set for other animals. However, Harry did set two tiger traps at The Marshes, both like heavy duty rabbit traps. He placed one on a crossing log on the Anson River, a typical setting for a snarer, but it seems he never landed his intended prey.
On one occasion while snaring Harry Clifford met a female tiger on a track. He had just slung a wallaby over his shoulder which he had taken out of a snare. As he advanced towards the next snare his dogs grew excited and began to retreat behind him, betraying what lay ahead. Harry was not the first person to assert that a tiger on a track would not move out of the way of a human. The female sat steadfastly on the track ahead of him. Guessing that the object of her interest was the large slab of fresh meat on his shoulder, he slowly lowered it to the ground in front of him and backed off. As the tiger grabbed the wallaby, three pups emerged from the scrub to feed. Next day when Harry returned only the skeleton of the wallaby remained.
Harry believed that a thylacine would rip a hole in a sheep under the front leg where there was no wool and bore a hole into the rib cage in order to eat the internal organs. It would eat the kidneys, heart and lungs, and also take the meat off the back legs. A tiger, he said, could eat bandicoots and rabbits whole. It would catch bandicoots in tussocks, pouncing like a cat nose first, holding the tussock with its front paws as it pulled the prey out with its teeth.
 ‘Priory: late Mr Joseph Clifford’, Examiner, 16 November 1932, p.5.
 Married 15 December 1879, marriage record no.656/1879, married at Georges Bay, registered at Portland, RGD37/1/38 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/results?qu=joseph&qu=clifford, accessed 22 April 2019. Emma Clifford died 17 November 1937, aged 78, buried at the St Helens General Cemetery. The four sons were Joseph (born 1880), John (‘Ginger Jack’, born 1889), Henry (Harry, c1891–1974), James (1893–1920). The two daughters were Emma Ann Jane (born 1896) and Amy Florence (‘Florrie’) (1899–1923).
 ‘Shipping intelligence’, Launceston Examiner, 19 August 1889, p.2.
 ‘Local and general’, Tasmanian, 24 August 1889, p.23; Robert Paddle, ‘The thylacine’s last straw: epidemic disease in a recent mammalian extinction’, Australian Zoologist, vol. 36, no.1, 2012, p.76.
 ‘Anson Marshes’, Daily Telegraph, 11 January 1922, p.6; Clifford family information from Deb Groves, 16 November 2019.
 John Morling, St Helens, interviewed by Deb Groves, 2019.
 Harry Clifford, interviewed for Radio 7SD, Scottsdale, c1970 (audio held by Deb Groves, Gladstone).
 Harry Clifford, interviewed for Radio 7SD, Scottsdale, c1970.
 That is, 15 adults and 2 juveniles in the name of Josh Clifford, and 12 adults in the name of J Clifford. Josh Clifford: bounties no.283, 21 September 1892, LSD247/1/1; no.30, 6 March 1893; no.251, 16 October 1893 (2 adults); no.177, 10 July 1897 (5 adults); no.336, 23 November 1898 (‘5 November’); no.375, 12 January 1899 (‘5 December’); no.88, 27 April 1899 (’15 April’); no.375, 5 December 1899 (’13 November’); no.436, 27 September 1901 (1 adult and 2 juveniles, ’26 August’); no.354, 23 June 1903, LSD247/1/2 (TAHO). J Clifford: bounties no.734, 11 January 1892; no.118, 12 May 1892, LSD247/1/1; no.160, 5 July 1893 (2 adults); no.185, 10 October 1895 (2 adults); no.338, 31 July 1901 (5 adults, ’10 July’); no.984, 25 July 1902 (‘9 June’), LSD247/1/2 (TAHO). For Joseph Clifford’s 1897 tiger killings see ‘The country’, Daily Telegraph, 22 April 1897, p.4; ‘St Helens’, Daily Telegraph, 23 August 1897, p.3; ‘St Helens’, Mercury, 27 August 1897, p.3.
 ‘Gladstone’, Examiner, 7 March 1905, p.6; ‘A heavy fine’, Examiner, 27 March 1905, p.5.
 Sarah Mitchell diary, 17 and 19 May, 9 and 26 June 1890 (University of Tasmania Special Collections).
 Harry Clifford, interviewed for Radio 7SD, Scottsdale, c1970 (audio held by Deb Groves, Gladstone).
 Jeff Richards, nephew of Harry Clifford; interviewed by Deb Groves. Jeff remembered Harry specifying that there were four or five young with the mother.
 John Morling, St Helens, interviewed by Deb Groves, 2019.
 Clifford family information from Deb Groves, 16 November 2019.
 Harry Clifford, interviewed for Radio 7SD, Scottsdale, c1970 (audio held by Deb Groves, Gladstone).
 Robert Paddle, ‘The thylacine’s last straw …’, pp.76 and 81.
 Harry Clifford, interviewed for Radio 7SD, Scottsdale, c1970 (audio held by Deb Groves, Gladstone).
 See Robert Stevenson to David Cunningham, 13 November 1941, QVM1/59, part 4, Inward correspondence 1941 (QVMAG). The same incident was reported in ‘Adventure with a native tiger’, Launceston Examiner, 22 March 1899, p.5.
 Harry Clifford, interviewed by Deb Groves, c1970.
By the 1890s farmers like Joseph Clifford and Robert Stevenson were effectively adding Tasmanian tiger farming to their portfolios of raising stock, growing crops and hunting. Since thylacines appeared on their property, they made a conscious effort to catch them alive in a footer snare or pit rather than dead in a necker snare. A tiger grew no valuable wool, but in 1890 a live wether might fetch 13 shillings, compared to £6 for an adult thylacine delivered to Sydney. A dead adult thylacine, on the other hand, was worth only £1 under the government bounty scheme.
The problem with these special efforts to catch tigers alive was that hunters only had a certain amount of control over what animals ended up in their snares or pits. Twentieth-century hunters often complained about city regulators who thought it feasible to close the season on brush possum but open it for wallabies and pademelons. Inevitably, hunters caught some brush possum in their wallaby and pademelon snares during the course of the season, which could land them a hefty fine in court unless they destroyed the precious but unlawful skins. John Pearce junior in the upper Derwent district claimed that he and his brothers caught seventeen tigers in ‘special neck snares’ set alongside their kangaroo snares. How did the tigers recognise the ‘special neck snares’ provided for their specific use? All you could do was vary the height of the necker snare to catch the desired animal’s head as it walked. Too bad if something else stuck its head in the noose. Wombats, for example, were a hazard. Gustav Weindorfer of Cradle Valley set snares at the right height to catch Bennett’s wallabies by the neck, but also caught wombats in them. Wombats were good for ‘badger’ stew and for hearth mats but the skins had no value. Robert Stevenson of Aplico, Blessington, caught wombats alive in his tiger pits—which they then set about destroying by burrowing their way out.
These problems aside, it seems odd that the pragmatic Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDL Co), which later added fur hunting to its income stream, didn’t cotton on to the live tiger trade. They could have followed the example of George Wainwright senior, who sold a Woolnorth tiger to Fitzgerald’s Circus in 1896. In 1900, for example, 22 thylacines were killed on Woolnorth, a potential income of more than £100 had the animals been taken alive. Even when, later, four living Woolnorth tigers were sold, the money stayed with the employees, with the VDL Co not even taking a commission. (It should be noted that four young tigers caught by Walter Pinkard on Woolnorth in 1901 were not accounted for in bounty payments. It is possible that they were sold alive—but there are no records of a sale or even correspondence about the animals. Their fate is unknown.)
The VDL Co’s failure to exploit the live trade for its perceived arch enemy can possibly be explained by the tunnel vision of its directors and departing Tasmanian agent and the inexperience of his successor. James Norton Smith resigned as local manager in 1902. His replacement, Scotsman Andrew Kidd (AK) McGaw, harnessed Norton Smith’s 33-year corporate knowledge by re-engaging him as farm manager. It would not have been easy for McGaw to learn the ropes in a new country, among business associates cultivated by his predecessor, and the re-engagement of Norton Smith as his second allowed him to transition into the manager position. As would be expected, McGaw stamped his authority on the agency by criticising some of Norton Smith’s policies and distancing himself from them. Ahead of Ernest Warde’s engagement as ‘tigerman’, the VDL Co’s shepherd at Mount Cameron West, he scrapped Norton Smith’s recent bounty incentive scheme of £2 for a tiger killed by a man out hunting with dogs.
After Warde’s departure in 1905, the tiger snares at Mount Cameron and Studland Bay were checked intermittently. Woolnorth overseer Thomas Lovell killed a tiger at Studland Bay in 1906, but the number of tigers and dogs reported on the property was now negligible. This reflected the statewide situation, with only eighteen government thylacine bounties being paid in 1907, and only thirteen in 1908.
However, the value of live tigers continued to climb as they became rarer. The first documented approach to the VDL Co for live tigers came in July 1902 from AS Le Souef of the Zoological Gardens in Melbourne, who offered £8 for a pair of adults and £5 for a pair of juveniles. He also wanted devils and tiger cats, in response to which George Wainwright junior supplied two tiger cats (spotted quolls, Dasyurus maculatus). Given the tiger’s reputation as a sheep killer, native animal farming might have been a hard sell to the directors, and the company continued to use necker snares which were generally fatal to thylacines. What price would it take to change that behaviour? In July 1908 McGaw read a newspaper advertisement:
‘WANTED—Five Tasmanian tigers, handsome price for good specimens. Apply Beaumaris, Hobart.’
He discovered that the proprietor of the private Beaumaris Zoo at Battery Point, Mary Grant Roberts, wanted a pair of living tigers immediately to freight to the London Zoo. The Orient steamer Ortona was departing for London at the end of the month. She offered McGaw £10 for a living, uninjured pair of adults. Roberts hoped to secure the tiger caught recently by George Tripp at Watery Plains, but felt that she was competing for live captures with William McGowan of the City Park Zoo, Launceston, who advertised in the same month. Eroni Brothers Circus was also in the market for living tigers.
Almost as Roberts made her offer, George Wainwright junior tracked a tiger at Mount Cameron West, but it evaded capture. In the meantime Roberts was able to secure her first thylacine from the Dee River.
Almost a year passed before the chance arose for the VDL Co do business, when in May 1909 Wainwright retrieved a three-quarters-grown male tiger uninjured from a necker snare. Perhaps not appreciating the tiger’s youth, Roberts offered £5 plus the rail freight from either Burnie or Launceston. She wanted the animal delivered to her in Hobart within ten days in order to ship it to the London Zoo on the Persic. It would thereby replace one which had died of heat exhaustion in transit to the same destination a few months earlier.
However, the overseer of a remote stock station could not meet that deadline. The delay came with a bonus—the capture of three more members of the first tiger’s family, his sisters and mother. Bob Wainwright recalled his stepfather Thomas Lovell and brother George placing the animals in a cage. There was also a familiar story of tigers refusing to eat dead game: ‘They had to catch a live wallaby and throw it in, alive, and then they [the thylacines] killed it’. With McGaw continuing to act as intermediary between buyer and supplier, a price of £15 was settled on for the family of four.
Roberts and McGaw communicated as social equals, but their social inferiors—hunters, stockmen and an overseer—were not named in their correspondence. This made for frustrating reading when Roberts discussed hunters (‘the man’) with whom she was dealing over live tigers. She had been expecting to receive two young tigers from a Hamilton hunter for her own zoo, but these had now died, causing her to reconsider her plans for the Woolnorth family.
It wasn’t until the first week in July 1909 that the auxiliary ketch Gladys bore the crate of thylacines to Burnie, where they began the train journey to Hobart. A week later they were said to be thriving in captivity. Roberts was so pleased with the animals’ progress that after eight months she sent a postal order to Lovell and Wainwright as a mark of appreciation. She was impressed with the mother’s devotion to her young, believing that the death of the two Hamilton cubs was attributable to their mother’s absence. However, money was becoming a concern. Buying all the tigers’ feed from a butcher was expensive, and when she received a potentially lucrative order for a tiger from a New York Zoo, she found the cost of insuring the animal over such a long journey prohibitive. On 1 March 1910 she ‘very reluctantly’ broke up the family group by dispatching the young male to the London Zoo. ‘I am keeping on the two [other juveniles]’, she wrote, ‘in the hope that they may breed, and the mother all along has been very happy with the three young ones’.
Roberts was now offering £10 per adult thylacine—but there was none to sell at Woolnorth. Seventeen months later she paid Power £12 10s for his large tiger from Tyenna, and scored £30 shipping to London the last of the three young from the 1909 family group. Her tiger breeding program was over, probably defeated by economics—but what might have been the rewards for perseverance? Perhaps she would have been the greatest tiger farmer of all.
 See, for example, ‘Commercial’, Mercury, 5 August 1890, p.2; Sarah Mitchell diary, 9 June 1890, RS32/20, Royal Society Collection (University of Tasmania Archives).
 See, for example, ‘Trappers fined’, Advocate, 22 October 1943, p.4.
 ‘Direct communication with the west coast initiated’, Mercury, 1 September 1932, p.12.
 G Weindorfer and G Francis, ‘Wild life in Tasmania’, Journal of the Victorian NaturalistsSociety, vol.36, March 1920, p.159.
 Lewis Stevenson, interviewed by Bob Brown, 1 December 1972 (QVMAG).
 ‘Circular Head notes’, Wellington Times and Agricultural and Mining Gazette, 25 June 1896, p.2.
 Walter Pinkard to James Norton Smith, 19 July 1901, VDL22/1/27 (TAHO).
 In Outward Despatch no.46, 4 January 1904, p.366, McGaw criticised Norton Smith for not doing more to arrest the encroachment of sand at Studland Bay and Mount Cameron (VDL7/1/13).
 Woolnorth farm diary, 30 September 1906 (VDL277/1/34). This VDL Co bounty was not paid until the following year (December 1907, p.95, VDL129/1/4). C Wilson was paid for killing two dogs found worrying sheep in 1906 (December 1906, p.58, VDL129/1/4 (TAHO).
 See thylacine bounty payment records in LSD247/1/3 (TAHO).
 AS Le Souef to James Norton Smith, 11 July 1902; Walter Pinkard to James Norton Smith, 4 August 1902, VDL22/1/28 (TAHO).
 ‘Wanted’, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 1 July 1908, p.3.
 For Roberts, see Robert Paddle, ‘The most photographed of thylacines: Mary Roberts’ Tyenna male—including a response to Freeman (2005) and a farewell to Laird (1968)’, Australian Zoologist, vol.34, no.4, January 2008, pp.459–70.
 In ‘Wanted to buy’, Mercury, 18 July 1908, p.2, McGowan asked for tigers ‘dead or alive’. He had also advertised for ‘tigers … good, sound specimens, high price; also 2 or 3 dead or damaged specimens’ in the previous year (‘Wanted’, Mercury, 21 June 1907, p.2). George Tripp’s tiger must have died before it could be sold alive, since he claimed a government bounty for it (no.35, 25 July 1908, LSD247/1/3 [TAHO]).
 See, for example, ‘Wanted’, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 7 March 1908, p.6.
 Thomas Lovell to AK McGaw, 17 July 1908, VDL22/1/34 (TAHO).
 ‘The Tasmanian tiger’, Mercury, 7 October 1908, p.4.
 Thomas Lovell to AK McGaw, 24 May 1909, VDL22/135 (TAHO). This thylacine was originally thought to be a young female, but McGaw later stated that it was a young male.
 Mary G Roberts to AK McGaw, 31 May 1909, VDL22/1/35 (TAHO).
 Thomas Lovell to AK McGaw, 1 June 1909, VDL22/1/35 (TAHO).
 Bob Wainwright, 86 years old, interviewed in Launceston, 27 October 1980.
 AK McGaw to Mary G Roberts, 9 June 1909, VDL52/1/29; Mary G Roberts to AK McGaw, 10 June 1909, VDL22/1/35 (TAHO).
 Mary G Roberts to AK McGaw, 21 June 1909, VDL22/1/35 (TAHO).
 AK McGaw to Mary G Roberts, 7 July 1909, VDL52/1/29 (TAHO); ‘Stanley’, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 6 July 1909, p.2.
 W Roberts to AK McGaw, 15 July 1909, VDL22/1/35 (TAHO).
 In May 1912 she received two young tigers from buyer EJ Sidebottom in Launceston, paying him £20 in the belief that they were adults. They died three days later (Mary Grant Roberts diary, 6, 7 and 10 May 1912, NS823/1/8 [TAHO]).
 Mary G Roberts to AK McGaw, 14 March 1910, VDL22/1/36 (TAHO).
 Mary Grant Roberts diary, 12 August, 26 September and 24 December 1911, NS823/1/8 (TAHO).
Bullocks roared and rumbled through the bush. The screech of the bullockies and the whiplash of their silk crackers kept beast and burden on track as the rain poured, the bogs deepened and the rivers rose. This was how a farmer made a living—or a fortune—during the opening up of the Mount Bischoff Tin Mines. In the years 1873–77 men as far afield as Pipers River, Deloraine, Circular Head and New Ground (Harford/Sassafras) drove bullock or horse drays to Emu Bay to join locals carting tin ore from Bischoff to the wharf. And what a ‘road’ it was—a series of bullock-swallowing mires punctuated by stumps, rocks, holes, stiff climbs, creek fords and rickety river bridges. No one died on the road—mining at Bischoff was more dangerous—but taking leave of their loved ones each trip must have been a torment for the teamsters.
The first carting season in early 1873
In the early days of Mount Bischoff, when mining was confined to rooting out tin ‘nuggets’ with a pickaxe and cradling washdirt, the claim owned by Alfred Miles (AM) Walker and Ned Beecraft of Forth was a serious rival to the Mount Bischoff Co as a tin producer. Both claims needed an outlet to their market. The decision of the Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDL Co) not to precipitate its tramway from Emu Bay left them at the mercy of road transport. So they formed a Mount Bischoff Road Trust to fund track improvements and hired drivers to haul in their stores and haul out their ore.
Stowport’s Cornelius Woodward drove the first bullock dray load of Mount Bischoff Co ore towards the coast on 4 January 1873. It was a taxing trip. Woodward broke his bullock dray pole in the dreaded Nine Mile Forest, and because he had to borrow tools on foot from the Surrey Hills Station, the round trip took thirteen days. Competition for carters was fierce between the rival companies. Walker and Beecraft scored the second load out of Bischoff, driven by a man named Mott, but afterwards often had the edge on the bigger company, securing the best teams at the start of the summer carting season.
Mooreville Road farmer Richard Hilder recalled a trip in January 1873, when road conditions were at their most primitive. The Hilders, Thomas senior and junior, plus Richard, drove a six-bullock team and for safety travelled with two other teams. Camps had to be chosen carefully in order to feed and water the bullocks. Day One, nine hours of travelling, got them to Ridgley, where ‘swarms’ of tiger cats (spotted quolls) attacked their stores; the second night was spent at the 31-Mile Creek; the third night at Browns Marsh, within striking distance of Bischoff. As travellers did in the vicinity of Middlesex Station, Hilder engaged in a little Gothic convict mythology when he described fording the Hellyer River near the ‘3 feet thick stone wall of what was once the VDL Co penitentiary or barracks, now fallen into decay and silence’. This was Chilton, the station abandoned by the VDL Co when it withdrew from active farming operations decades earlier. The round trip took the Hilders eight days, including a non-travelling day spent in observance of the Sabbath—a big improvement on Woodward’s experience.
The difficulty of loading ore at Emu Bay
However, the road was not the only problem. There were no proper loading facilities at Emu Bay, where the 40-foot-long jetty was built without provision for a crane. The port’s exposure to the weather also meant that the steamer Pioneer, which traded weekly between Launceston and Circular Head, was often unable to load passengers and cargo on either leg of its regular voyage. In December 1873 the Mount Bischoff Co sent empty ore bags from Launceston to Emu Bay on the Pioneer, and engaged drays to fetch the ore, but on two consecutive trips the steamer failed to land the ore bags.
Improving the road for the 1873–74 carting season
The Mount Bischoff Co prepared for the next carting season by finding a shorter route to Mount Bischoff via Bunkers Hill, and surveying a road from Bischoff out into the open country. AM Walker engaged six teams, and the Mount Bischoff Co also had teams waiting for the chance to start work. However, damage to the road caused by the uprooting of trees discouraged teamsters, some of whom found they could get better money hauling blackwood logs. The result was that by January 1874 the Mount Bischoff Co had only delivered a miniscule six tons of ore to the smelter in Sydney.
Things had to change. Mount Bischoff Co mine manager WM Crosby selected sites for a Hellyer River bridge in March 1874, while long-standing Field brothers stockmen Charlie Drury and Martin Garrett advised about crossing sites on the Wye/Wey River. However, the worst part of the road was the 6.5 km between Knole Plain and the mine, including the section of it known affectionately as ‘Bog Lane’. Richard Hilder recalled that the final stage the track
‘entered a dense undergrowth of horizontal scrub through which an actual tunnel was cut with the gnarled, leafy horizontal scrub packed thickly on either side and overhead … It was so narrow that only a team in single file could pass through its 300 yards length. The bog consisted of whitish loam mixed with enormous granite boulders and tangled roots of the horizontal’.
So vile smelling was this bog in hot weather that driver and team hurried through as quickly as possible.
Hilder told the tale of an axe which disappeared in the Bog Lane mud, only to make a miraculous reappearance about ten days later after hundreds of teams had passed over it, all of them somehow escaping injury. 
In July 1874 the Mount Bischoff Co entered into an agreement with Charles Adams of Pipers River to cart ore, in exchange for which the Mount Bischoff Co would built stables for Adams’ horses. The agreement remained essentially hypothetical until the road was rendered passable by 40 men working through the spring ahead of the official carting season in November.
The Mount Bischoff Co fires up its Launceston Smelter
During 1874 the Mount Bischoff Co raised the first reverbatory furnace of its Launceston Smelter, ratcheting up the pressure to get a steady supply of ore from its mine. In December 1874 it appointed an Emu Bay agent to help it do so. The job of 60-year-old Northumbrian Captain James Patterson, was to arrange the dispatch of the company’s ore to the Launceston Smelter and the provision of stores and equipment to the miners. Since the Emu Bay wharf was so small that two parties could not work alongside each other, Patterson had to compete with Captain William Jones, the storekeeper who doubled as agent for Walker and Beecraft.
The first furnace was charged with Mount Bischoff Co ore on 4 January 1875, the event being heralded by the Cornwall Chronicle newspaper as the crowning achievement of Tasmanian industry. Three days later, the furnace was charged with Walker and Beecraft ore, pointing to the smelter’s future as a custom smelter.
Mounting tension between companies
Back at Emu Bay, tensions between the companies escalated when JH Munce, agent for the steamer Pioneer, apparently gave the impression that Adams was the only carter to be loaded up with stores for Mount Bischoff. Some carters took umbrage and engaged with Walker. Some stated that Walker treated them better loading and unloading their wagons and giving them a feed on arrival at Mount Bischoff, services which they alleged the Mount Bischoff Co refused to do. Patterson denied this was the case. One of the Mount Bischoff Co directors, ED Harrop, accused Walker of bribing teamsters with an offer of £8 10 shillings, a price which Walker had only paid while the road was bad, £6 being the normal rate each way. Harrop told Walker that if necessary the Mount Bischoff Co would increase the rate to £20 to win the carters back again. Walker counter-claimed that Patterson tried to seduce teamsters contracted to him by offering them £9 per ton—another charge which Patterson denied.
Adams carted 100 tons of ore for the Mount Bischoff Co at £6 per ton, the directors conceding him a higher rate than originally negotiated in compensation for the tramway to the open country not having been completed, forcing Adams to load at the Waratah Falls. He also carted stores up to Bischoff at £4, making his maximum potential income a staggering £1000, enough to set up a farmer for life. However, Adams found his five-horse team could move only half a ton per trip—and one trip was said to have taken him a fortnight! Had that been his average rate, the entire job would have taken him nearly eight years, which certainly alters the perspective on his potential fortune. The Wey and Hellyer Rivers were now bridged, but the Bischoff Road was so bad that sometimes all but the heads and backs of the horses disappeared, as if they were swimming in mud. Chinese whispers may have exaggerated reports a little, including one account related to Philosopher Smith that
‘a party going along the road had seen a hat and he took hold of it and found a man underneath with a dray and team of bullocks. I dare say by the time you receive this report in town the man will have been able to put a note in the crown of his hat just as he was sinking to say that he was there’.
Discharged cargoes and broken drays littered the roadside. In February 1875 30 teams were on the road, but Adams was far from happy with the slow progress of promised stable building at the Hampshire Hills, the Wandle River and Knole Plain. Fear for his horses’ safety in deplorable road conditions with new drivers and inadequate shelter forced him to consider withdrawal from a contract he felt the Mount Bischoff Co had already dishonoured. It was no help to Adams when in March 1875 Walker suggested that the two companies build cattle yards on VDL Co land at Browns Marsh, a proposition Norton Smith agreed to at a nominal rent.
Road conditions got so bad that Patterson started paying up to £10 10s per ton, horrifying the directors.  Even a presiding rate of £7 failed to mollify them. During the off season, Walker and Beecraft sold their Mount Bischoff claim to the Victorian-based Stanhope Tin Mining Company, and William King, Thomas Farrell, WH Atkinson and either George or William Rutherford all offered to cart for the Mount Bischoff Co for £6 per ton. In the meantime, the Road Trust authorised Thomas Duncanson to spend £670 making the road useable by drays, including corduroying the Nine Mile Forest, making culverts, metalling the approaches to the Hellyer River and improving the road at the 13-Mile. It was claimed that the corduroy on the long western approach to the Hellyer was being destroyed by carters who overloaded with ore in order to shut out competitors.
Retribution against the King brothers
In December 1875 the King brothers were engaged at the new rate of £6, and this despite the bad road conditions. Travelling up to Mount Bischoff, two of the Kings’ bullocks ‘knocked up’ as they entered the Nine Mile Forest. The brothers shifted most of their cargo to one dray, and left the other with the two tired bullocks at the Hampshire Hills, hiding the dray with brushwood. When they returned, they found that the spokes of the dray wheels had been chopped out and the pole removed and burned, this being interpreted as punishment for ‘collaboration’ with the Mount Bischoff Co.
A newspaper correspondent stated that King had six teams operating at the time, employing others to cart for him at a rate as low as £3 or £3 10 shillings per ton, while he pocketed the difference. Another claimed that King engaged only two other teams at £5 per ton late in the season, gaining only a trifle from the deal. Whatever the truth, many others got work at Mount Bischoff, there being 90 teams on the road during fine weather, some travelling 100 miles for the work—and most getting only £4 per ton. Some of them were turned away as the Mount Bischoff Co enforced a rule that each ore carter had to bring supplies up to Mount Bischoff. When there were no supplies to haul up, a telegram was sent to the effect that the company would now employ all carters, upon which 200 tons of tin were transported to Emu Bay in a fortnight.
The Stanhope Smelter leaves ore carting to the Mount Bischoff Co
Unlike the Mount Bischoff Co, the Stanhope Co heeded German engineer Georg Ulrich’s advice to smelt at Bischoff, using wood (or at least charcoal) as fuel, engineers Nicol Turner and Scott building the first blast furnace at the corner of Ritchie and Smith Streets—right beside the early dray track to Bischoff. The outside walls of the furnace and part of the chimney were built of basalt hewn on site, while the arches of the fireplaces and the smelting hearth were constructed of firebricks packed in from Emu Bay. The first firing was in January 1876, and within two months AM Walker claimed it such a success that soon it would be able to smelt 24 tons of ore per week—more than all the Bischoff mines produced together.
While the Stanhope Co still needed stores and equipment delivered to Bischoff, it effectively dropped out of the ore carting business at this point, leaving the Mount Bischoff Co to feed its own smelter in Launceston. In February 1876, 66 teams were working for the Mount Bischoff Co, there having been 80 dray trips in the space of two weeks. However, AM Walker, now a Waratah shopkeeper rather than a mine owner, continued his attacks on the Mount Bischoff Co, alleging that its timber falling caused an obstruction on the road. He amplified this complaint in the middle of the year after his brother Henry Walker was killed by being thrown off the Mount Bischoff Co Tramway while it crossed a gully. Walker blamed the company for his brother’s death since, he believed, it blocked the road deliberately with a fallen tree so as to monopolise the traffic between Rouses Camp and Bischoff..
The final carting season 1876–77
As the VDL Co’s Emu Bay and Mount Bischoff Tramway progressed, the teamsters knew their days were numbered, this being the last full season of dray carting. Relations between teamsters and the Mount Bischoff Co remained frosty, with Edwin Addison of New Ground presenting a raft of complaints against Patterson as the season opened. In January 1877 the company announced it would pay £6 per ton down and £5 per ton up to Waratah, with teams being loaded at Rouses Camp in the order in which they arrived.
The 1877 Rouses Camp snowball fight
However, things didn’t always go to plan. In April 1877 50 drivers and teams were stranded at Rouses Camp for days due to a shortage of ore bags. The beasts of burden were set loose to graze on Browns Marsh and the Racecourse (on the VDL Co’s Surrey Hills block) while their drivers socialised in Waratah. One day the drivers awoke to find six inches of snow on the ground around them, and with time to kill, the strong rivalry between bullock drivers and horse drivers actuated a fight—the weapons consisting of nature’s new bounty, the snow. Tom King led the bullockies, Jack Floyd the horsemen, with Fred Frampton acting as referee. The battle raged for two hours, divided into 20-minute sorties. Snowballs pounded flesh, men reeled from stinging attacks, retaliating in kind until late in the day when
‘with a “Hurrah, boys”, Captain Floyd ran up and down his lines of men, who, gallantly responding to his call, rallied and drove the bullock men inch by inch from the field and scattered them in the final decisive defeat’.
All participants then dried off in front of a roaring fire, their surplus energy exhausted. New ore bags arrived from Emu Bay after midnight that night, enabling them to complete one of the last major deliveries of Mount Bischoff ore via the Bischoff Road to Burnie.
Richard Hilder’s final Bischoff dray trip was in the following month, hauling ‘fancy goods’ (clocks, watches, jewellery and drapery) up to Waratah for storekeepers the Messner brothers. The old difficulties still obtained. Hilder’s hopes of returning to Burnie with Bischoff ore were dashed when at the 29-Mile he broke an axle, forcing him to abandon his dray and transfer his load to those of his companions. By late May 1877 the tramway had reached Hampshire, effectively halving the teamsters’ business, and by February 1878 not a bullock whip was to be heard cracking on the Bischoff Road. By then the Mount Bischoff Co, surmounting all its problems, had kicked off the shareholder bonanza that eventually doled out more than £2.5 million in dividends.
Some notable Bischoff teamsters, with help from Richard Hilder
In 1869 Launceston-born Adams (1834–1910) found gold nuggets on his Pipers River farm, after which time he invested in the Back Creek Alluvial Gold Mining Co and prospected for tin in the Georges Bay area (St Helens). Adams visited Mount Bischoff in 1874, presumably as a prospector and/or potential investor, only three months before he made his offer to cart 100 tons of Mount Bischoff Co ore at £6 per ton.
Thomas Addison aka ‘Grandfather Addison’
The ‘grand old man’. He could handle a bullock team ‘to perfection, and with a sonorous, commanding voice he guided his fine team through treacherous mud or over rocky road or the shocking broken corduroy. He had no strong apprehension of ever being stuck fast. We all loved Grandfather Addison’.
A number of members of the Alexander family carted Mount Bischoff ore. Joseph Alexander (c1841–1917), the son of Matthias Alexander, was born at Illawarra near Longford, but became a Table Cape farmer and later a publican and storekeeper in various centres along the north-west coast. 
He was the only teamster to drive a four-wheeled vehicle, with 10 or 12 Devon bullocks. His two pole bullocks drowned in a bog at the 27-Mile in the autumn of 1876 and had to be left there. Sam Dudfield attempted to go through the same bog in February 1877, and had to be rescued, revealing the wooden yoke, iron bow and putrid bullock remains still there in the bog.
William ‘Hermit’ Applestall
Very tall and angular, supposedly seven feet tall but stooped, independent and morose, he drove a bullock team for William Henry Oldaker, bringing a young lad and dog for company. Applestall would camp with his team of ‘well-matched brindle bullocks’ away from everyone else, hence the nickname ‘Hermit’. He never overloaded his team, never hurried, never kept other teams waiting.
‘Roaring Billy’, farmer on the New Country Road south of Burnie who was noted for his good bullock team and skillful handling of same. Also hauled split timber and logs out of the forests along Mooreville Road and at Stowport.
One of the ‘Scotch twins’ (with Jamie Dennison), who had the biggest and smallest draught horses on the Bischoff road. He had a ‘splaw-footed, raking, eagle-eyed animal that repeatedly stumbled and fell but was the pet of his master’ and would call out to the other ‘Scotch twin’: ‘Jamie, ma mon come smart, an’ help ma to git ma pet oop agin’.
The man presumably celebrated by the name Cassidys Marsh, an appetising spot on the old dray track somewhere between Knole Plain and Waratah. Probably John Martin/Macassin Cassidy (1853–1929) of Bengeo near Deloraine—more likely to be him than his father, the Irish ex-convict or immigrant John Cassidy (c1812–96).
Black River ventriloquist who amused bullock drivers with his impressions of farm animals in the dead of night, also a dab hand with a bullock whip.
James Denison (Jamie Dennison)
One of the ‘Scotch twins’ (with Jamie Blair) who always drove together. Very fond of his horse Roly-Poly, the ‘miniature, nimble-footed chestnut gelding which no hardship of the Bischoff road could knock out’.
Samuel Dudfield (1855–1935) was born at Longford to two ex-convicts, James Dudfield, who described himself as a gardener, and Ann/Anne Orrell (aka Arwell/Orwell). He farmed at St Marys Plain, Cam River (Tewkesbury), in the inner north-west. Richard Hilder described how he attempted to go through the 27-Mile bog that had drowned Andrews’ two bullocks in the autumn of 1876. It was now nearly a year later in February 1877, and Dudfield’s team had to be rescued, revealing Andrews’ wooden yoke, iron bow and putrid bullock remains still there in the bog. Dudfield was reported to have shot a thylacine at St Marys Plain in 1895, which he intended to submit it for the government bounty.
Presumably Burnie hotelier and well-known prospector Thomas Farrell (c1857–1926). Mount Farrell near Tullah is named after him, recalling his discovery of the White Hawk Mine, one of the early mines on the Mount Farrell field. He discovered and for a time managed the King Island Scheelite Mine.
Leader of the horsemen in their snowball fight against the bullock drivers at Rouses Camp in April 1877.
From Ulverstone, he was referee in the Rouses Camp snowball fight in April 1877.
M Gillam aka ‘Greasehorn’ Gillam
Disliked by some for the barrage of questions he asked about the origins and doings of the VDL Co while camped at their early settlements. He carried cart grease in a long Hereford bullock horn, hence the nickname ‘Greasehorn’.
Later a Mount Bischoff Co employee who also operated a dairy farm on Lot 6201, an old Mount Bischoff Co block at Knole Plain approximately 1880–84. Hills was probably the first to stock Knole Plain with any success, John Bailey Williams having failed as a wool-grower there in the 1860s. Hills had two large, fenced paddocks laid down with ‘artificial’ grass, and was supplying milk to Waratah. His successor there was George Martin, who in 1891 advertised for sale the 100-acre Knole Plain dairy farm with a four-room cottage, detached kitchen, cowshed and stable.
William House & ‘Red’ Stephen Margetts
A pair of bullock drivers ‘which no course speech or manners could in any way defile’. They were ‘courteous and kind in word and action, good and reliable drivers who could face without flinching the real danger of the road, bridge or river, considerate to their cattle, and good company to their companion drivers. Examples for all to follow on the Bischoff road 50 years ago’.
A horse driver from Penguin who was ‘far too old a man for the rough and tumble of a teamster on the Bischoff road’. ‘He spoke of them [his two horses] and caressed them like a real lover.’ At camp, with the billy boiled, he would wash and comb his horses’ manes, ‘at the same time speaking to them with soothing words and affectionately caressing them’. One night his horses escaped from camp, and so anxious was he to find them that he did not even stop to put on his boots, following with bare feet and rejoicing when they were found.
Leader of the bullockies in their snowball fight against the horse drivers at Rouses Camp in April 1877.
Launceston-born William King (c1823–1905) attended the Californian gold rushes and became a publican before settling down to farm at Table Cape and Boat Harbour during his last 40 years. Despite the incident where his wheel spokes were destroyed in 1875, Mount Bischoff ore carting apparently helped turn around his fortunes.
A bullock driver from Greens Creek (Harford). Hilder described his unusual way of yoking up his team of miniature bullocks and his cavalier attitude to braking them.
Presumably illiterate Cornish tin dresser Richard Mitchell (1852–1909), who left England in 1875, working briefly in New South Wales before arriving in Tasmania late that year. A man of that name carted tin for the Mount Bischoff Co from November 1875 until at least March 1876. He later managed the East Bischoff Mine (1879–81) and the Waratah Alluvial (1881–85) at Mount Bischoff, but was better known for floating the Anchor Tin Mine Ltd in London in 1895, the deal being made controversial by the addition of the name of the premier, Sir Edward Braddon, to the company’s prospectus. Mitchell died in a London hotel room while trying to float a company to work the All Nations Mine near Moina.
A driver for Walker and Beecraft, he wore a white, long-sleeved moleskin waistcoat. ‘His voice had a pleasant drawl, and his speech was a rich corruption of good English. It was real fun to listen to Harry give a description or ask a question’.
The VDL Co’s ‘reliable man’, who also spent years hauling celery pine and blackwood logs out of the forests at Mooreville Road and Stowport Road, and hauled logs to sawmills during construction of the VDL Co Tramway. He drove a team of fine bullocks. ‘For kindness, patience and goodwill no man could exceed Charlie … a real Christian gentleman.’
A teamster who drove a team of five horses for his uncle, Thomas Summers of Mooreville Road. He had a mother and several children on the dray in February 1877 when he overturned the dray at the Wey River, but with no damage to the occupants.
Bullock driver for FW Ford on the VDL Co tramway construction and probably also on ore carting.
Woodward (1853–1943) carted the first load of ore from Mount Bischoff on 4 January 1873, completing the trip in thirteen days after breaking a bullock dray pole.
 Richard Hilder, ‘By road to Bischoff in 1873’, Advocate, 10 November 1923, pp.10–11.
 ‘A visit to the Mount Bischoff tin mines’, Cornwall Chronicle, 27 August 1873, p.2.
 ‘A trip to the tin mines’, Cornwall Chronicle, 2 December 1874 p.3.
 William Ritchie to James Smith, 12 December 1873, no.362, NS234/3/1/2 (TAHO).
 James Norton Smith to James Smith, 27 November 1873; WM Crosby to James Smith, 3 December 1873, NS234/3/1/2 (TAHO). The work was carried out by James Smith and Charles Sprent respectively.
 William Ritchie to James Smith, 17 December 1873, no.365, NS234/3/1/2 (TAHO).
 William Ritchie to James Smith, 9 March 1874, no.65, NS234/3/1/3 (TAHO).
 Richard Hilder, ‘Lost and found’, Advocate, 27 June 1931, p.9.
 William Ritchie to James Smith, 6 July 1874, no.195, NS234/3/1/3 (TAHO).
 AM Walker to James Smith, 21 October 1874, no.321, NS234/3/1/3 (TAHO).
 ‘A pair of veteran colonists’, Tasmanian Mail, 25 March 1899, p.18.
 James Patterson to James Smith, 23 February 1875, no.89, NS234/3/1/4 (TAHO).
 ‘Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Company: the first smelting’, Cornwall Chronicle, 6 January 1875, p.2.
 EL Martin, ‘Discovery and early development, 1871–1875’, in DI Groves, EL Martin H Murchie and HK Wellington, A century of tin mining at Mount Bischoff, 1871–1971, Geological Survey Bulletin, no.54, Department of Mines, Hobart, 1972, p.33.
 WM Crosby to James Smith, 13 January 1875, NS234/3/1/4 (TAHO).
 FW Ford to James Smith, 14 January 1875, no.23, NS234/3/1/4 (TAHO).
 James Patterson to James Smith, 16 January 1875, no.29, NS234/3/1/4 (TAHO).
 AM Walker to James Smith, 14 January 1875, no.22, NS234/3/1/4 (TAHO).
 James Patterson to James Smith, 23 January 1875, NS234/3/1/4 (TAHO).
 ‘Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Company’, Tasmanian, 16 January 1875, p.4.
 ‘Personal’, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 17 August 1910, p.3.
 Minutes of meeting of directors of the Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Co, 8 and 15 March 1875, NS911/1/1 (TAHO).
 Minutes of meeting of directors of the Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Co, 25 February 1875, NS911/1/1 (TAHO).
 Minutes of meeting of directors of the Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Co, 1 March 1875, NS911/1/1 (TAHO).
 ‘Our tin mines’, Cornwall Chronicle, 3 September 1875, p.3; Minutes of meeting of directors of the Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Co, 9 August 1875, 1 November 1875, 15 November 1875, 22 November 1875, NS911/1/1 (TAHO).
 Minutes of meeting of directors of the Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Co, 6 September 1875, NS911/1/1 (TAHO).
 ‘Concerning Mount Bischoff’, Launceston Examiner, 27 April 1876, p.2.
 ‘A dastardly act’, Tasmanian, 15 January 1876, p.12.
 ‘Concerning Mount Bischoff’, Launceston Examiner, 27 April 1876, p.2.
 ‘A Shareholder’, ‘Carting to and from Mount Bischoff’, Launceston Examiner, 23 May 1876, p.4.
 ‘Mount Bischoff’, Cornwall Chronicle, 13 December 1875, p.2; ‘Mining’, Launceston Examiner, 5 October 1875, p.4.
 AM Walker, ‘Tin smelting at Mount Bischoff’, Tasmanian, 25 March 1876, p.7.
 Minutes of meeting of directors of the Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Co, 21 February 1876, NS911/1/1 (TAHO).
 Minutes of meeting of directors of the Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Co, 24 February 1876, NS911/1/1 (TAHO).
 William Ritchie to James Smith, 24 July 1876, no.213, NS234/3/1/5 (TAHO).
 Minutes of meeting of directors of the Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Co, 7 December 1876, NS911/1/1 (TAHO).
 Minutes of meeting of directors of the Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Co, 14 December 1876, NS911/1/1 (TAHO).
 Richard Hilder, ‘By road to Mount Bischoff: Chapter 3’, Advocate, 16 October 1926, p.12.
 Richard Hilder, ‘By road to Mount Bischoff’: Chapter 4’, Advocate, 6 November 1926, p.26.