John Farrant

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John William (or William John) Farrant was born c1920.[1] According to family his wife was dead when he left for the goldfields. He left his children with Miss Stokes and returned with a leather pouch of gold for each child's future, but was not seen again. .

Goldfields Involvement, 1854

According John Farrant's obituary he was killed at the Eureka Stockade. He is not listed on any official lists so he could be one of the participants who were wounded, ran away, and died in the bush. It could also be a story to explain his disappearance to his abandoned children.




James W. Farrant, son of John Farrant. Adelaide News, 9 February 1927
EIGHTY TOMORROW ... Mr. James William Farrant, of Ashford road, Keswick, will celebrate his eightieth birthday tomorrow. He was born at Gawler, and educated at Sevenhills College. Later he lived at Kapunda, where his father conducted a hotel. Then came the rush to the goldfields, and Mr. Farrant, sen., whose wife had died, left his family at, Gawler and went to Ballarat. He was killed in the fight at the Eureka Stockade. Young Farrant, who had by this time developed a love for horses, joined Mr. John Prest at Penwortham, near Watervale. After staying there for six months he went to Hummocks Station, north of Port Wakefield. "There were some real outlaws to be handled," said Mr. Farrant. "Among them was a noted buckjumper at Red Banks Station, which I rode for a wager, and won." That exhibition in the saddle secured for Mr. Farrant a contract for breaking in remounts for the Indian Government. When only 18 years of age Mr. Farrant went to Port Lincoln, and worked for Mr. Andrew Tennant, of Tallala, and afterward for Mr. W. R. Mortlock, at Yalluna. He mustered cattle with the late Sir John Lewis for Levi & Co. In August. 1883, Mr. Farrant was offered the management of Lake Everard run, owned by Messrs. Hamilton & Mills. The property was in a wild state, and stretched beyond the boundary of the settled districts. Natives were a source of danger. Sheep killing by aborigines necessitated an incessant watch. In 1890 Mr. Farrant was transferred to Teetalpa, where he remained for 15 years. He then decided to take up land in the South-East, where he lived and farmed until the 1914-15 drought. Mr. Farrant married Miss Gertrude Norman, of Yunta. Two sons and five daughters constitute the family, namely, Messrs. J. W. Farrant and Walter Farrant, Mesdames A. Davidson, E. Davidson, and Bendel, and Misses Martha and Norma Farrant. There are 16 grand children.[2]

Memories of William James or James william Farrant.
Men who have done most, seldom make, much of it in the telling. The mere outline of life may seem uneventful to those of the present day who have inherited a ready-made Australia. But foundations of States are laid on the lives and souls of men. Some who have gathered little wealth for themselves id the course of a long career .must yet be counted as emphatically successful, seeing that they have made good in many tasks that went to the founding of the industries of the country, and who proved themselves adequate in time of need Ogilvy has hit off this type in his poems, "Hearts of gold" and "A white man" — By the trouble that never will tame you, By the toil that will never withhold, Whatever the dull world name you, I know you as Hearts of Gold.
It did take a brave heart, anyhow, to face all that went to real pioneering in1 this country- And though lie was - not born until 1847, by reason of more than half a century's strenuous work, Mr. W. J. Farrant, surely, has some right to be counted among the makers of the State. There would be material for a Rolf Bolderwood novel in his life if all were fully told. The mere mention of bringing down a big mob of Queensland wild cattle in "good order and condition" implies very much, not only of skill, but character, in the understanding of men and the management of beasts. A horse breaker at an age when most boys are now at school, drover, station manager, opening up "new country" away towards the Western Australian border, student of native life and ways, working on more than 20 years after the loss of an eye, certainly, this is a fine record. Australian poets have written of the thunder of hoofs and of the long days and nights of watching; but, really, only the old hands who have been through it themselves fully understand, though perhaps they, like the subject of this sketch, may count it as "just what a man would do."
His Early Days.
Mr. Farrant is a native of Gawler. He was born in 1847, but probably he gathered his very earliest impressions at Kapunda, where his father had a hotel when it was one of the most flourishing inland towns of South Australia and the toiling bullock teams were "bringing down" the copper that meant everything to the life of the State. A dusty pageant of prosperity those northern roads must have been—all creaking wheels and plodding hoofs, and sound of whips and multicoloured objurgations in a welter of red dust. Your Tiulloeky" of those days might be an ex convict or the son of a duke; but none cared so long as the loads "came down." Then came the lure of gold, and men's thoughts turned towards the Victorian goldfields. Mr. Farrant's father, whose wife had died, gave up his hotel, left his small son and two little daughters at Gawler, in the care of a Miss Lock, and went to Ballarat. He must have been successful, for once he came back, gave each child a little leather bag of gold, arranged for their future welfare, and went away, never to return. He was killed in the fight at the Eureka Stockade.
A Young Horse Breaker.
William James Farrant was sent as a i boarder to Sevenhills College, near to Clare, where the teachers were Father Kranaweither (Superior), Fathers Tephiner and Palluuba, and Brothers John and George. Among the early scholars were men afterwards well known — Messrs. James and Daniel Cudmore; Laurence, Richard, and Frederick Counsell; Charles Heggerty, of Gawler: Bundle Macdonald, of Mount Remarkable; Frederick Briggs, of Adelaide; Philip Brady, of Mintaro; and Charles Babbage, of Adelaide. But in those days the attraction of outdoor life was irresistible to manly boys. Added to this, young Farrant had all a true Australian's love for horses. "I was always fond of them," he said, "especially of breaking them in. I started with John Prest, of Penwortliam, near to Watervale, who had a large number of unbroken colts of all breeds. After six months with him I went to the Hummocks Station, north of Port Wakefield. The native name was Bungbungor. It had just changed hands, having been sold by Capt. Ellis to Mr. John Hope, of Clare, and Dr. Moorehouse, of Adelaide.
Mr. Kennedy was manager. I can tell you. there were some real outlaws to be broken in! , There was a horse at Red Banks Station, a noted buckjumpor. Dr. Moorehouse and Mr. Kennedy had a bet on whether I would be thrown by him. He was brought over to the Hummocks, and I mounted him, and was not thrown. Mr. Kennedy gave me the £5 he won on the wager. Mr. John Hope, of Clare, was so pleased at my work with buck jumpers that he offered me employment at his Koobinga Station, where I was for six months breaking in horses as remounts for the Indian Government. "After several years of such work the young rough rider went to Port Lincoln (in 1865), and it is worthwhile to note that he was, then only 18 years old. He went across,in the old steamer Royal Shepherd, intending to go to Dr. J. Harris Browne's Koppio Station, but he was engaged by Mr. Andrew Tennant, of Tallala, as horse breaker, and afterwards worked for Mr. W. R. Mortlock, at Yalluna, and on other stations near to Port Lincoln. He mustered cattle with the late Sir John Lewis for Messrs. Levi & Co.
From Drover to Station Manager.
"From this time, "added Mr. Farrant, "I ceased breaking in horses and was employed by Dr. J. Harris Browne, at Koppio, first as drover, then as under-overseer, and finally as manager of Dr. Browne's Mikkira Station for 12 years (1870-1882)—until it was sold. In 1883 I had charge of a large mob of sheep, and delivered them without loss to Mr. J. G. Moseley, M.P., of Muraleena Station. Later 1 brought down to Adelaide from Cowarie Station, three mobs of cattle (Queensland stock), in first-rate order and condition. I have a reference from Messrs. Dean & Son to this effect, dated April 26, 1883. The cattle were very wild and gave a lot of trouble at first, but it was a remarkable point that towards the' end of the journey they became so tame as to allow the drovers to walk close to them and even plait their tails; but they knew a stranger at once." The veteran stockman described vividly making camp in open country, the mob rounded up and standing awhile, and then settling down, the camp fire lit, end each drover taking his watch, and the man in charge having the last one. Perfect quietness had to be kept, the slightest sound being enough to make a mob stampede.
Opening Up a New Run.
In August, 1883, Mr. Farrant was offered the management of the Lake Everard Run, owned by Messrs. Hamilton & Mills, of Currie street. "This run had to be opened up," he said, "being in a wild state, and beyond the boundary of tlic settled districts. There were no native wells nor any natural water of any kind, and the country was very dry. Lake Everard may be described as horse shoe shaped, and 40 miles across in some parts and narrowing down to about eight miles. Much labour was put into making trials for water supply. After 20 attempts, six wells were sunk, and a good supply resulted. Then there were the natives to be reckoned with. We had frequent visits from the blacks on ilie eastern side (Gawler Range and Moon avies natives) who gave some trouble. Later, the Western Australian blacks came, too. These eastern and western natives used to meet and hold corroborees. Sheep-killing on the part of the blacks, who must have thought the new animals a happy windfall, involved incessant watchfulness. They could get away over the salt borders of the lake, where the ground would not bear the weight of a horse. Many were their wiles. Their system of smoke signalling was most efficient.." There is not space here for all Air. Farrant's interesting descriptions of his adventures with the different tribes. It is well, however, to remember this among other difficulties, that went to the opening up of new country, and to the making of the Slate. Fifty blacks, armed with spears, boomerangs, and waddies, appearing at a boundary rider's hut and demanding food and clothes was not altogether reassuring. One station was repeatedly threatened.
At the Cost of an Eye.
It was when the run was not quite a year old that Mr. Farrant met with an accident that would have made most men give up an active career. He had been far out on the run inspecting a new well, and was late in starting back for the head station. After hours of riding he came to two tracks, and chose the roughest, but shortest; The fine house he was riding suddenly dragged the reins from his hand and bolted through the dense black mulga scrub. A twig struck Mr. Farrant in an eye, and he felt something like a tear in his hand; he was blind of that eye, for the sight had been destroyed. He went to Adelaide to see an oculist. It is something to think of—the long ride to the head station and the journey of 500 miles down by the west coast in his intense agony until a tight bandage and utter weariness made sleep possible even in a jolting mail coach over rough roads. The eye had to be removed. After one week in hospital Mr. Farrant returned to Mount Everard, and remained eight years, completing all the improvements required. The blacks were still troublesome, but nothing serious occurred. He was transferred to Tee tu I pa in 3802, and remained there 15 years, making 25 years in the one employ. It was wild country there, too.
At first the dingoes came closely up to the head station in broad daylight. Farming—and the Great Drought. When Teetulpa was sold to Mr. McBride, of the Burra, Mr. Farrant decided to give up managing stations. He removed with his family to town, and decided to go on the land. He was disappointed in not petting country applied for at Mount Bryan and Anlaby, and he bought a leasehold of farming land at Keith, in the south-east. There he lived and fanned for some years, or until the great drought of 1914-15 brour' it complete failure. The land had been poor. Some years there had been a visitation of pests which cleared all before them, and then the drought came. _ "Since then," he added, "I have been living in retirement, and am enjoying fair health at 70 years, notwithstanding 55 years among slock, includuig 37 years in charge of sheep stations."
The Family.

Mr. Farrant has been twice married. His first wife was Miss Margaret Telfer, eldest daughter of Mr. James Telfer, who was for many years manager and inspector of sheep stations for Drs. J. U. and W. G. Browne, pioneer squatters of South Australia. Of that marriage there were two daughters—Mrs. E. Davidson and Mrs. Angus Davidson. In a second marriage, to Miss Gertrude Norman, there were two sons and three daughters— Messrs. J. W. Farrant and Walter Farrant, Mrs. Bendel, and Misses Martha and Norma Farrant.[3]

See also

James Farrant, son

Further Reading


  1., accessed 24 October 2016.
  2. Adelaide News, 9 February 1927.
  3. Adelaide Observer, 05 January 1924, retrieved 19 October 2016.

External links